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Cookbook of the Month May 2013: MEXICAN EVERYDAY Salads and Sides, Main Dish Salads, Soups

Arriba! Welcome to Cookbook of the Month for May 2013, which is MEXICAN EVERYDAY by Rick Bayless.

This is the reporting thread for the first three chapters of the book:

Salads and Other Easy-to-Make Sides, p 46-64

Contemporary Main-Dish Salads, p 92-115

Classic Main-Dish Soups p 118-132

Please note that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Let's cook!

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  1. Home-Cooked Beans (Stovetop, Slow-Cooker or Pressure Cooker), p. 82

    I am so excited about Bayless month that I jumped the gun and made a couple things early.

    I made these on the stove in a ceramic pot. Bayless says in the headnote that his favorite beans are cooked in the slow-cooker, and in many respect I agree, especially if you need the beans to stay whole.

    I used pinto beans, as I planned on turning some of them into refrieds. Goya brand, which around here, is the most consistently fresh. Bayless doesn't soak, and I also did not. He has you just put the beans into the pot, cover with 2.5 qts of water, add some lard or bacon drippings, chopped onion, and epazote or an avocado leaf is optional (I did not add either). I deviated a bit, because I put the bacon grease and onion into the pot first, and sauteed the onion for just a bit before adding the beans and water. I also deviated by adding the salt at the beginning of cooking, where he adds it at the end. Then you cook, if you are on the stovetop, for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the beans are completely tender. I'm afraid I don't recall how long I cooked them, but it somewhere in that range.

    The beans came out uniformly tender and perfect. I used some for refried beans, and the rest went into the freezer to await use in future preparations.

    13 Replies
    1. re: MelMM

      Good on you Mel for tackling a bean dish. I must admit the first time I cooked beans from dried was for the hummus recipe in Jerusalem, and I was impressed with the difference good dried beans make in terms of texture. One question though, is it an old wives tale that adding salt to beans will prevent them from softening properly? I thought I read that in what of Mark Bitman's books. He suggests you salt at the end, but you didn't and yours turned out fine, makes me wonder.

      1. re: delys77

        Turns out the no-salt edicts are untrue (here's a little story about it from Chow: http://www.chow.com/food-news/54972/d...), but my understanding is that adding acidic ingredients early on *will* keep beans from softening.

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          Thanks Caitlin, that is one less thing to fret over.

          1. re: delys77

            Yes, Caitlin is right. It is an old wive's tales, which is why I ignored that instruction. I have found that it is much preferable to cook beans with the salt in from the start. They end up more evenly seasoned and better in every way. I've been cooking beans for eons, and I used to follow the old wive's tale. But eventually, having an inquisitive mind, I questioned it, and found it untrue. And I have lately been vindicated by all the respectable sources.

            1. re: MelMM

              Absolutely agree with you on this one. Once I started salting my beans near the beginning, they ended up improving their flavour tenfold. I don't do it any other way now.

              1. re: Allegra_K

                Gotta say, one beef I have with Gran Cocina Latina, which was a contender for COTM, is that the author seems to have not bothered to question this. It seems to me if you are going to write the authoritative tome on a bean-heavy cuisine, you would question and experiement. But then again, neither has Rick Bayless.

                1. re: Allegra_K

                  I cooked my pinto beans in the crockpot yesterday (I'm about to make the cowboy beans as a side dish for our BBQ dinner) - and although I'd never heard this old wives' tale about salting, I haven't actually salted them at all yet. I planned to season the cowboy beans anyway, so I didn't think they needed it. Next I will try cooking a batch with salt first, so I can compare the results. Thanks for this discussion!

            2. re: Caitlin McGrath

              Not only do I add salt but also a bay leaf or 2, and chopped garlic and sage. Makes a world of difference.

          2. re: MelMM

            I made black beans in the slow-cooker for the first time the other day, due to Rick Bayless' recommendation, and they turned out PERFECTLY. I doubt I'll ever make them any other way from now on! I also salted at the beginning and didn't soak. 8 hours on high and they were incredibly creamy and tender. I might try 8 hours on low next time if I want them to stay a little firmer, but to turn them into refried beans, these were perfect.

            1. re: MelMM

              Made these beans yesterday using small red chili beans, and they ended up being so perfectly creamy and flavourful that they disappeared by the next evening and I now have a replacement pot on the stove, this time with black beans and avocado leaves. I've never added lard to whole beans before, only for refried versions, and I can say that I will be doing this again and again. It just brought such a simple yet luxurious note to the legumes that we couldn't stop dipping into the bean pot throughout the day. As mentioned before, I also salted during the early cooking stages. Sometimes (especially if the first run is for sopa de frijoles) I'll toss in a bay leaf and a pinch of mexican oregano, maybe even a garlic clove, but so far I'm really liking the aroma of the avocado leaf wafting through the air. Very promising.

              1. re: Allegra_K

                What kind of flavor did the avocado leaves impart?

                1. re: BigSal

                  It was a very subtle herby note.....sort of like anise with an earthy hint of bay, I think. The scent was really drawn out after toasting. I do question the quality of the leaves that I used--the package looked pretty crumpled and the colour wasn't very bright but I pounced on it anyway since I had never seen avocado leaves around here before. I wonder if something fresher would have a more distinct flavour. As it was, I added about 4 leaves to the pot.

              2. re: MelMM

                Home Cooked Beans

                Not much more to say. We love these beans and make this in the slow cooker quite often. Bacon grease with pinto beans is my favorite. perfect every time

              3. Fried Beans, p. 84

                These are what I know as "refried" beans. I used the home-cooked beans from p 82 for these. You just heat some lard or bacon grease in a skillet, add some minced garlic (I think this is a good occasion to use a press, as you - or at least I - don't want identifiable bits of garlic in my beans), saute for a minute, then add beans with some of their cooking liquid. Mash the beans with a potato masher or spoon to the desired texture, and cook until they thicken to the desired consistency. I like my refrieds mostly, but not completely smooth, and I like them a bit on the thin side. Bayless says we are looking for the consistency of very soft mashed potatoes. I say a bit thinner than that. If you accidentally get them too thick, you can always thin with a bit of bean liquid. Add salt to taste, and you're done. Easy as pie.

                What is there to say about refried beans? They are what they are, and I happen to adore them. These are made just right, with no extraneous (and imho inappropriate) seasonings. OK, some purists might argue that the garlic is extraneous and inappropriate, but I'm not going there.

                Bayless does give the option of using vegetable oil instead of pork fat, which I think is a sin, and of using canned beans, which I can't recommend.

                4 Replies
                1. re: MelMM

                  I made these as well, with bacon grease - delicious. The garlic is perfection.

                  1. re: biondanonima

                    I agree that bacon grease the the way to go here.

                  2. re: MelMM

                    Fried Beans (Frijoles Refritos), p. 84

                    Like MeIMM, I made the home cooked beans (frijoles de la olla) first and then proceeded with this recipe. Very hearty and satisfying.

                    Out of curiosity, I pulled out some of my Diana Kennedy books just to see how her recipes compare to Bayless's. Her recipe did not include garlic, but did include finely chopped white onion and 6T of lard (as opposed to the 2-3T Bayless suggests).

                    1. re: MelMM

                      Fried Beans, Pg. 84

                      This was the second time I made these fried beans. The first time I made the Home-Cooked beans with pintos in my slow cooker. This time, to save time, I used canned black beans. Having no bacon drippings on hand we fried 6 slices of bacon till crisp, removed from skillet to drain leaving the behind the fat. Since we prefer the beans to be more chunky than smooth when G mashed them he just lightly crushed them. The cooked bacon was crumbled over top.

                      I love these beans. So simple and so very tasty! They were served with the Chipotle Chicken Tacos on page 200, w a few other condiments. ¡ Frijoles Refritos, hurra.

                    2. Roasted Mushroom Salad with Spinach and Chorizo (or Bacon) Pg. 109

                      I received my book late last week and was fingering through it looking for a first dish to make that didn't scream Mexican as I wanted to gently introduce my partner to the book. I landed on this dish and decided to give it a try because we were having an evening cocktail party and I needed something to make that met my above requirements, plus was super easy to put together given the other kitchen projects I had on the go.

                      The result......big time winner! I must admit I don't usually like warm salads, but this one was worlds apart from the texturally unappealing one's I have had in the past.

                      I couldn't find any good looking chorizo so I went for a nice thick cut bacon. A friend of mine recently gave me some mexican oregano so I was good to go on that score. I set about tidying up my mushrooms and prepping the bacon and red onion, all of which get tossed onto a lined baking sheet and into a hot oven they go. He suggests about 20 minutes total cooking time but after that period of time the onions were still too firm for my taste. I wanted a good browning to make sure the salad had the lovely roasted flavour the recipe title promises. I ended up leaving them in for closer to 28 minutes, with a good amount of tossing at the end (say every 3 minutes or so).

                      The onions were nicely browned, the bacon had rendered, and the mushrooms had crisped very nicely. The dressing is just a combo of a bit of olive oil, lime, oregano, salt, and a touch of water that is warmed in the microwave before being tossed with the salad greens and the roasted onion/mushroom/bacon.

                      Great main course salad, with lovely crunch from the bacon and the roasted goodness from the oven roasted mushrooms and onions. The dressing wasn't overly acidic which went over very well at our house, and the greens were dressed just right.

                      The only real modification I made was that I upped the mushrooms by a few oz, and decreased the bacon to 6 slices. Both of which worked very well for us. Serving wise the recipe yielded enough to feed three hungry fellows, but I'm not sure it would have been enough for 4 as the book suggests.

                      I would definitely repeat this dish.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: delys77

                        This sounds really amazing! Thanks for bringing this recipe to my attention. I especially like the idea of substituting bacon for the sausages. Mushrooms & bacon are a winning combination. By the way, try Oyama on Granville Island next time you're looking for a good chorizo. :-)

                        1. re: geekmom

                          Thanks Geekmom, I've heard of them before but never tried any of their products, definitely will next time I'm on Granville Island.

                        2. re: delys77

                          Roasted Mushroom Salad with Spinach and Chorizo (Bacon) p. 109

                          My first foray into Mexican Everyday, and inspired by delys' positive review and detailed instructions, I purchased some "full-flavored mushrooms" and got going. Hands down, this was the winner of my dinner menu last night, which included three other Mexican Everyday dishes that were also praised by my guests.

                          What a delicious take on the usual warm tossed spinach salad--as Bayless says, "a warm spinach salad gone far south." Like delys, I used bacon (couldn't find Mexican chorizo) and I upped the amount of sliced roasted mushrooms from 8 oz. to 12 oz. They are so deliciously chewy and full- flavored that you can't have too many! I also could have decreased the number of bacon slices slightly and will do so next time (though no one complained about too much bacon either!) My mushrooms and sliced onions also took several minutes longer to brown than the 20 minutes recommended in the recipe--about 35 minutes.

                          I followed the "Riff" and substituted balsamic vinegar for the lime juice. As Bayless suggested, I added a chopped canned chipotle pepper to the dressing. I'd found a poblano chili at the market and roasted and sliced it before tossing it into the salad. Finally, I loved what the smoky chipotle and spicy-sweet balsamic vinegar did for the flavor of the dressing.

                          The salad served four easily as a side--but delys is right; you might need to increase the amounts for serving as a main-dish salad. I'll certainly make this again. Even my son-in-law, who generally shies away from what he describes as "flabby cooked mushrooms," loved this roasted and slightly chewy version.

                          1. re: delys77

                            For anyone without the book, the recipe can be found here: http://www.greencitymarket.org/recipe... Sounds wonderful!!!

                            1. re: GretchenS

                              Gretchen beat me to it, I found the recipe here today as well: http://www.pink-parsley.com/2010/01/r...

                          2. GULF COAST-STYLE WHITE RICE PILAF – p. 88

                            Simple, delicious and weeknight-friendly! What more could you ask for in a dish? Quick and easy as this is, Rick does provide an alternate cooking method for folks who love their rice-cookers. I have to say that ever since I purchased my Zoji, I’ve rarely made stove-top rice but this seemed so simple I cast my Zoji aside (with apologies) and decided just to go w the recipe as Rick set out.

                            I won’t go into details as to how this comes together because I found the recipe online for those who don’t have the book. Here you go:

                            http://www.food.com/recipe/gulf-coast...

                            This recipe reminded me why I love RB and this book so much…with just a few seemingly everyday ingredients you truly can produce an aromatic and flavourful dish that is far greater than the sum of its parts. I had the rice ready about 40 mins before we were ready to eat so I also would add that this dish held perfectly in my warming oven.

                            This is a recipe you may quickly discount because, let’s face it, we know how to make rice and this one just has a bit of onion and garlic stirred in. I’ve made many recipes in this book and I’ve passed this one up before for just that reason. It was a mistake. This is lovely.

                             
                             
                            10 Replies
                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                              Gulf Coast Style White Rice Pilaf Pg. 88

                              Thanks very much to Breadcrumbs for the very well written posting on this dish. I used the rice cooker method and also added the poblano and thyme he mentions in one of his variations. I couldn't find poblanos so I had to go with anaheim peppers, which I believe are a little more tame. That said the flavour of the rice was very nice, with just a hint of heat, and lovely herb flavour.

                              When making the variation for the rice cooker I did stray a little bit from his instructions to simply saute the rice and then add everything to the slow cooker, instead I sauteed the rice along with the onion and the garlic, then placed it in the rice cooker along with the rest of the ingredients.

                              Very nice side dish that has enough flavour to stand on its own without competing with any other dishes.

                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                Gulf Coast-Style White Rice Pilaf, p. 88

                                Thanks BC for pointing this one out! I had grander plans for dinner yesterday but they had to fall by the wayside for lack of time ... but I had everything on hand to make this rice, and so I did! Concur that it was lovely and very flavorful despite the lack of tomato. I had to cook the rice an extra five minutes or so on account of my extra-slow oven. Otherwise, everything worked perfectly. Great dish, and I really want to try the poblano variation next. I love roasted poblanos and I bet they are just fantastic when infused into the rice. Served with Quick Cowboy Beans, sauteed chard, and sliced avocado.

                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  Gulf Coast Style Rice Pilaf

                                  Let me add my voice to the chorus of fans of this dish. I make this often in my rice cooker. I have tried many different types of rice for this (basmati, long grain, jasmine, sushi) and I have to say that sushi rice is my favorite. It makes a very moist rice dish that I just love. Pilaf is probably a misnomer for the final result, but I find it to be a real comfort food.

                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    GULF COAST-STYLE WHITE RICE PILAF, p. 88.

                                    Decided to try this the other night because I was making the CHIPOTLE SHRIMP on p. 252, and Rick Bayless says he prefers white rice as an accompaniment--plus there were several positive reviews. I have to concur; the recipe produces light and separate grains, gently flavored with the white onion and garlic, plus chicken broth for liquid. Very easy and quick, requiring the choping of one onion and crushing of some garlic, 5 minutes of attention to saute the rice in oil lightly, add the other ingredients, and then bake unattended in the over for 25 minutes more. The relatively dry and "neutral" pilaf was perfect with a saucy and spicy recipe like the chipotle shrimp. A sprinkling of chopped flat-leaf parsley made it even fresher tasting and added a nice green touch to the pure white rice. In his notes Bayless recommended "the meatier texture of medium-grain rice." I only had long-grain and short-grain in my pantry, so I went for a stroll in my supermarket aisles and quickly found "River" brand enriched medium grain white rice (out of Houston, TX, which is pretty darn close to the Gulf! )

                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                      Gulf Coast-Style White Rice Pilaf, p. 88

                                      I made this to serve with the Salmon in Luxurious Green Pipian. I made a half recipe (except I kept the full amounts of garlic and parsley). I used basmati rice (the only white rice in the house at the moment) and vegetable broth in deference to a pescetarian guest. I agree that it's both very simple and very good, both on its own and as a vehicle for sauce.

                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        Another vote of confidence for this rice - I made it to go with chipotle meatballs and cowboy beans the other night, and it was delicious. I used brown rice since it was all I had in the house, and I found I needed about double the amount of liquid called for, and double the cooking time (typical for brown rice).

                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                          Thanks for inspiring me to try this rice. I made it as a side for grilled london broil and roasted carrots. I was planning to just make plain white rice so this was a nice way to change it up a bit with ingredients that I always have on hand. I will definitely be repeating this one.

                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                            Made this rice last night, and was very impressed with how well it turned out! Since I had a few random vegetable bits to use up, I threw in a diced carrot, half a chayote, green bean chunks, and some green pepper when I stirred in the garlic.

                                            I have been trying to replicate my mother-in-law's simple version of rice for years, and this, with the added veggies, is the closest I've ever gotten. The Mr. was very happy indeed and asked me to copy the recipe down. A keeper!

                                            1. re: Allegra_K

                                              Allegra, I like your idea of tossing in some chunks of veggies at the beginning with the garlic.
                                              I've made this rice twice since my first foray earlier this month. I'm used to making a pilaf with only chopped onion, and I love the depth of flavor that the garlic gives to the final dish. The leftovers reheat well, too.

                                              1. re: Goblin

                                                I like this quite well also. I used his 'riff' of starting in a skillet and moving it to the slowcooker. Worked great. And I had some leftover with a raw egg on top for breakfast the next day.

                                          2. Ensalada de Camotes con Cebollas Caramelizadas, Berros y Chile Guajillo
                                            (Sweet Potato Salad w/Caramelized Onions, Watercress & Guajillo Chile Dressing)
                                            Page 75-76

                                            Rick calls this "really delicious, if a little unconventional" and I'd say he's right on both counts. I've made this for home consumption as well as for a cooking class and it was successful in both areas.

                                            It's pretty easy. To make the dressing oil (olive or reg. veg.) is heated in a skillet. A couple stemmed and seeded guajillo chiles and some whole garlic cloves are added to the hot oil and cooked for about 30 seconds +/- depending upon how hot the oil is, or isn't. The chiles are removed and put in a blender jar. Vinegar and some salt is added to the pan wiht the oil and garlic and cooked for another 30 sec. or so and then removed from the heat to cool. When the pan has cooled the garlic and flavored oil is added to the chiles in the blender jar and blended until totally smooth.

                                            When you put the oil and garlic in the blender save the skillet with the light film of oil. Put it back on the heat and add a large red onion cut in 1/2" dice. Cook until onions have caramelized. Toss in 2# of sweet potatoes that have been peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes. Shake the dressing and pour about a 1/2 cup of the dressing over the potatoes in the pan, add in a little bit more salt, cover and cook the potatoes for about 10 minutes. I never think the sweet potatoes will get done in that length of time but they always are. Remove the cover and let cool; most of the dressing will have been absorbed by the potatoes and if it isn't, it will be as the potatoes cool.

                                            Break the thick stems off 2 bunches of watercress and arrange into individual "nests" on salad plates, spoon the sweet potato mixture into the center and drizzle on some additional dressing. Or, alternatively, ring a large platter with the watercress, put the sweet potatoes in the center and drizzle more dressing over the top. It's not in the recipe, but some crumbled Cotija cheese goes really well with this dish.

                                            * You can use regular yellow/orange sweet potatoes for this, but if you live near a Mexican market and can get the "camtoe morado" (Mexican sweet potatoes) you can use those but cook them longer; they are sweeter so you'll get a greater contraste between the sweetness of the potatoes and sharpness/pepperiness of the watercress.

                                            ** RB suggests 4 other dressing options, Chorizo Dressing (pg. 59), Chipotle/Balsamic Dressing (pg 56), Queso Añejo Dressing (pg 52) or Roasted Garlic Dressing (pg. 56). To my taste, I think the first 2 sound like winning substitutions, not sure about the last 2.

                                            *** He also recommends subbing yucca, malanga, parsnips or small sweet turnips for the sweet potatoes. Or for something totally different use roasted eggplant in place of the sweets.

                                            I like this recipe; it's usually hit when I serve it and there are endless variations.

                                            1. Jicama Salad with Watercress, Romaine and LIme-Cilantro Dressing, p. 71

                                              I wanted to make a side salad to serve with the book's Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas (which I will talk about on it's respective thread), and these paired nicely together. I had forgotten how delicious jicama was! The "riffs" suggest adding diced mango, which I think I would do next time, to add color and to play up the sweetness of the jicama.

                                              I used both watercress & romaine, as the recipe originally states. For the dressing, I would cut back on the oil ( I used vegetable oil) to allow the other ingredients to stand out more, as I found myself adding a little bit more lime juice, cilantro, etc. I only used 1/4 jalapeno, with membranes & seeds, which was spicy enough for me (just taste as you go). Very refreshing!

                                               
                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: lesliej

                                                Jicama Salad with Watercress, Romaine and Lime-Cilantro Dressing, p. 71.

                                                Like lesliej, I found this to be a great accompaniment to the rest of my Mexican menu last night. Crunchy, refreshing with the watercress-romaine leaves, and the lightly-spicy lime-vinaigrette dressing perfectly complements the slightly-sweet Jicama. One of the smaller guests at my table had never encountered Jicama, and she loved its flavor and texture, which she described as a combo of apple and celery. I love the fact that Jicama doesn't discolor when sliced into matchsticks ahead.
                                                I've also made a note to reduce the amount of oil in the dressing next time to enhance the other flavors. I'd also added the optional chopped jalapeño pepper, which I liked.

                                                1. re: Goblin

                                                  You are right about the cut jicama, Goblin; I initially dropped the "sticks" in a bowl of water with a dash of lemon juice out of fear they would discolor, but found that it wasn't necessary after noticing some extras I didn't submerge never did turn brown even after sitting out for a couple of hours.

                                                  1. re: lesliej

                                                    The water trick is a good one because these can get a little slippery if left out too long.

                                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                                      That's a good tip dk, thank-you. I had no idea.

                                              2. Quick Cowboy Beans, p. 86
                                                Recipe here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/01/din...

                                                Wow, these beans were super-flavorful and delicous! They turned out great even though I used canned pinto beans. (Which I normally don't buy -- I only had them on hand because my husband bought them -- but I wouldn't hesitate to buy them again as they turned out well. I used Eden Organic brand which is BPA free.) To start, four strips of bacon are chopped and sauteed in a pot until brown, add two cloves of crushed or minced garlic (I did mine on the microplane), then 1/2 of a 15 oz can of fire-roasted tomatoes (I used about a 1/2 cup of pomi). Simmer for 3-4 minutes to blend the flavors, then add two undrained cans of pinto beans (or the equivalent amount of home-cooked beans), salt, and simmer on low for 15 minutes. While the beans are simmering, chop and add hot chilies to taste (I used a small spoonful of my chopped salted chilies). When done, top with cilantro.

                                                These beans had so much smokey, spicy flavor from all the additions. A very zesty pot of beans! I'm sure they would be even better with home-cooked beans, but I was very impressed that canned beans turned out so tasty. This recipe is a definite keeper. Served with the Gulf Coast Style Pilaf and swiss chard sauteed with garlic, and all mixed together on the plate very nicely!

                                                Oh, and for the vegetarians out there, I think you could do these beans without the bacon. I would use canned chipotles instead of fresh chiles for a smoky flavor. The bacon did contribute a lot to the dish though, don't leave it out unless you have to!

                                                The linked recipe is faithful to the book except that in the book RB recommends using fresh chiles (2 serrano or 1 jalapeno) as opposed to canned. I think any kind of chili would be fine though -- just use what you like and have available.

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: Westminstress

                                                  This sounds wonderful- I love that they turned out well with the canned beans. Those things are life-savers for harried evenings.

                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                    Yeah, for a while I disdained canned beans entirely in favor of fresh-cooked from dried. There's no doubt that home-cooked beans are better. But lately I find myself appreciating the convenience of canned beans.

                                                  2. re: Westminstress

                                                    Quick Cowboy Beans (Sort-of) p.86

                                                    After realizing that I didn't make enough tortillas, I quickly threw these beans together as an impromptu filler for a taco party last night. They ended up being the hit of the evening! These spicy, smoky beans were absolutely fantastic, even though I took a few liberties with the recipe.
                                                    Since I had a vegetarian at the dinner table, I omitted the bacon, and tossed in a minced chipotle and a spoonful of pimenton to make up for lost smoky flavour. I had one leftover roasted poblano to use up, so I chopped that up and added it as well (it turns out that RB lists this as a riff), and I kept the pickled jalapeno in there too. I used home-cooked pinto beans and simmered the lot together until most of the liquid was reduced-perhaps more than the recipe stated, but it was a good mess-free option for serving on a plate instead of a bowl.
                                                    I just adored these beans, and couldn't leave them alone. They would be perfect barbecue fare; they really reminded me of bbq style baked beans with a Mexican twist. I will be making these again for sure.

                                                     
                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                      These beans Are terrific...I've made them twice since I've had the book and have them down to make again this month. I like your additions, Allegra. Once I used a small can of Ro-Tel and it added a whole 'nother taste sensation.

                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                        I love your addition of pimenton. I don't often have bacon around (or canned chipotles for that matter) but always have this ingredient - makes it a true pantry emergency option and healthier too.

                                                      2. re: Westminstress

                                                        The cowboy beans are REALLY good. I used home-cooked pinto beans and lots of pickled jalapeno at the end. DH adored them. Don't leave out the bacon - it totally makes the dish!

                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                          Agreed. I upped the bacon a little the last time I made this dish and it was even MORE delicious...

                                                          1. re: biondanonima

                                                            I am so obsessed with these beans. I made them again tonight, but unfortunately my new jar of pickled jalapenos (Vlasic brand) are really mild, despite the word HOT on the label. I used the B&G brand last time and they had much more zip.

                                                          2. re: Westminstress

                                                            I want to thank all of you who recommended these beans! It didn't sound like a real winner but when you all piled on, I thought, oh what the heck. They're SUPER!!!!! I used dry cause we were going to be home and I needed to pick up a few things anyway. I'm not sure I've ever cooked pintos thinking I liked black bean more. There's room in the pantry for both. Since he has you start with a full pound of dried beans, they didn't all go into the finished product. So today I cooked up more bacon, garlic, the remainder of the can of tomatoes and some chopped pickled jalapenos. Simmered for a bit and dumped them in with all the beans. I'm going to be freezing these in portions for a quick great side dish or something for a taco. And tonight I'm grilling some sausage, will make the white rice referenced here and have more beans.

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              I had a small amount of these left this morning and put them in an omelet, i.e., like a chili-cheese omelet. Really good. It had been about a week since we'd eaten them and I'd forgotten just how good they are. Glad I have several more small containers in the freezer.

                                                          3. Classic Tortilla Soup, p.123

                                                            When I saw that our local grocery carried dried pasilla chilies, I decided to make this soup. I toasted the chili over the gas flame on my cooktop, but if you choose this toasting method vs. using a dry pan, you may want to hold it a bit higher than 1-2" over the flame as I did see some "sparks" ( I just raised it a bit & toasted it for a bit longer). I then used a blender (vs. food processor) to puree it with the tomatoes and the sauteed onion & garlic. I could not find fresh epazote, but I may check our local farmer's market later this summer as I am curious to know how it would enhance the soup's flavor.

                                                            I only added about one quart of chicken stock (NOT reduced-sodium) to the cooked puree, which I was happy with, as I'm afraid the tomato/chile flavor would have been too diluted with much more. Which leads me to this - I would definitely use the "fire-roasted" tomatoes, as this is not a spicy soup. If you wanted to add more heat you could add a bit of dried crushed red pepper to the onion/garlic saute, or you could add some cayenne to the tomato/chile puree, to taste.

                                                            I added the remaining ingredients per the recipe: the diced chicken, avocado, shredded Mexican Chihuahua, and broken tortilla chips (Pepper-Jack cheese could also be substituted to give it more kick). I forgot about the lime, but a squeeze of juice may have been nice. A good, basic recipe, delicious on its own, which could easily be jazzed up to your liking (in fact, his "riff" on adding greens sounds wonderful).

                                                             
                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: lesliej

                                                              Very pretty presentation Leslie.

                                                                1. re: juliejulez

                                                                  Thank you, delys77 & julie - I'm having almost as much fun with my rarely-used serving pieces as I am cooking from Rick's book!

                                                                2. re: lesliej

                                                                  A follow-up to the soup: we had it again tonight, and after sitting in the fridge for a day the flavors have definitely improved! The smoky flavor of the dried pasilla stood out and it simply tasted better overall. Just heat any leftovers gently, so the chicken doesn't toughen, and throw on the toppings. Nice to know for a make-ahead meal!

                                                                  1. re: lesliej

                                                                    Classic Tortilla Soup with "All the Trimmings", page 123

                                                                    This was our dinner tonight. I cut the recipe in half. Our soup was very spicy in a delicious and wonderful way. I not only saw sparks, my first chile caught fire! In the end, I used one smaller chile. Since I didn't have a 15oz or 7.5oz can of tomatoes, I roasted 5 campari tomatoes using the dry skillet method.

                                                                    Served with the diced avocado and homemade tortilla chips [no chicken or cheese.] On the side, I made some nachos from leftover beans from dinner the other night and some cheese. Served with one half of an avocado with leftover pico de gallo.

                                                                    We really enjoyed this and didn't think there was much difference between this recipe and the one in Authentic Mexican that I have used in the past.

                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                      Yes, smtucker, I was sure my chili would catch fire, too - I suppose I pulled it away just in time(!) I wonder what gave your soup more spice? My pasilla was extremely mild, so the only things I had going for "heat" were the fire-roasted tomatoes. Your chili was probably much more flavorful than mine.

                                                                      1. re: lesliej

                                                                        I think that we have to assume that my chili was much hotter than yours. Since he gives no weight for the chili, it is also hard to tell how large is a large? My bag had some really large ones, so I just grabbed a smaller one and used it, so it is also possible that I used more for my quart of stock.

                                                                        If jalepenos and serranos are any indication, the amount of heat in any particular chili can vary greatly. [I am no chili expert though.]

                                                                  2. Green Bean Salad with Red Onion and Salsa Dressing, p. 73.

                                                                    Another simple presentation with a lot of south-of-the-border charm. Lightly-cooked al dente green beans are tossed with a thinly-sliced red onion and a dressing (pureed) of 3/4 cup oil, 1/2 cup "good quality" bottled salsa (preferably green tomatillo salsa), 2 TBS fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, and salt to taste. Bayless says it would be a great picnic dish because the salad is served at room temperature. I found it very convenient to make ahead for dinner.

                                                                    I would make one change to the recipe's instructions. Bayless recommends the microwave to cook the beans, which he had recommended be the little haricot-vert type. But I couldn't find these, and I found that my burly supermarket beans took several minutes in the mike to become tender and by then they had lost a lot of their green freshness. Unless I have really young and tender beans, next time I will steam/boil and shock them in cold water to preserve their color. I did use green tomatillo salsa, the hot variety, and liked it a lot.

                                                                    17 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Goblin

                                                                      I'm not sure if there's a Trader Joe's on The Cape, Goblin, but they sell frozen haricots verts that are actually quite tasty... thin and sweet and hardly need cooking at all to revive. Great for those "in a pinch" moments. In fact that's what I'll use when I make this salad this week-end.

                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                        Hi Gio,
                                                                        There is a Trader Joe's on the Cape, in Hyannis, which is not too far from me. Thanks for the suggestion for the frozen haricots verts. I'd love to have these on hand for all manner of preparations.
                                                                        I did polish off the rest of the Green Bean Salad for lunch today, and I thought that the dressing was really good. Not too spicy but with a little kick--could go on lots of things. The recipe makes extra dressing so I added some to my bowl and sopped it up with some bread and was a happy camper.

                                                                        1. re: Goblin

                                                                          Oh good!! We're making the bean salad tonight so thanks for the heads-up about the dressing. And we also have a nice loaf of crusty bread.

                                                                      2. re: Goblin

                                                                        Cooking up a storm Goblin, sounds delicious!

                                                                        1. re: Goblin

                                                                          Green Bean Salad with Red Onion and Salsa Dressing, Pg. 73

                                                                          For this tasty salad I used the sugar snap peas variation and it was delightful. The peas were from TJ's as I mentioned above and come sealed in a microwavable bag so I used that method which worked out very well. The pea pods were cooked perfectly. It's a good thing the plump peas were sweet though, it mitigated the disappointment of eating unstrung peas. Since it was just the two of we simply destrung as we ate. But I did like the snap peas in this application. Next time I'll take the time to destring them and just use another microwave safe dish.

                                                                          We both loved the flavor of the vinaigrette. I used Green Mountain medium hot salsa, and all the other ingredients as written. G grilled a few slices of crusty bread and like Goblin we sopped up the delicious dressing. I too served the salad with dinner which was the Smoky Pork Tinga on page 191.

                                                                            1. re: Goblin

                                                                              Green Bean Salad with Red Onion and Salsa Dressing p. 73

                                                                              This was quite delicious. I did not have haricot verts, just regular ol supermarket green beans, and I boiled them vs using the microwave. Also, I didn't entirely make the salsa dressing... it was super high in calorie because of all the olive oil, so I opted to just take some of my salsa and mix with about a tbsp of olive oil, and It still was a nice "dressing" type thing, just not as liquidy. We ate at room temperature and it was very good. Like he mentions in the book, this would be a great contribution to a summertime picnic.

                                                                              Oh, the salsa I used was the Rustic Roasted Tomato Salsa on page 146, I'll review that in the appropriate thread. I served this with the Chipotle Meatballs from p 287 and the freshness of the salad was a nice contrast to the more heavy meatballs.

                                                                               
                                                                              1. re: Goblin

                                                                                Green Bean Salad with Red Onion and Salsa Dressing - p 73

                                                                                I've made this a few times now and have decided that I really like it, with one adaptation: I am not a huge fan of big pieces of raw onion, and nor are the rest of the family, so even thinly sliced I found a whole small red onion was way too much; we ended up picking through the bowl for the green beans and then tossing a lot of red onion at the end of the meal. Instead, I take about a quarter of a red onion & finely mince it then toss with the green beans & dressing.

                                                                                I made the salsa dressing with plain old Herdez medium tomato salsa, and it turned out wonderfully. I am really enjoying the sauces and condiments in this book that are variations on "put salsa in a blender with a bunch of other stuff and puree". This is a particularly nice example, and it makes tons so you can play with the leftovers. I felt like that old lady in the Frank's Redhot sauce commercial - I put that s*** on everything! It's great on scrambled eggs, spinach salad, the black bean & ground beef hash I made for lunch, poured over top of diced sweet potatoes at dinnertime...

                                                                                1. re: geekmom

                                                                                  Geekmom, whenever a recipe calls for raw onions before I start the recipe I first slice what I need then steep the slices in either sugar water or apple cider vinegar as I did when I made this salad. White vinegar can be use as well This lessens the raw, bitter factor very well. Sort of an instant pickle, if you will...

                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                    Nice idea, Gio - I'll try it next time!

                                                                                    1. re: geekmom

                                                                                      I also soak in vinegar, but if I am in a huge hurry I will put them in sieve and run them under cold water for a few minutes, this also helps cut the offending flavour compounds back a bit.

                                                                                      1. re: delys77

                                                                                        What I particularly hate is the oniony aftertaste that sticks around in your mouth afterward. Is rinsing or soaking in vinegar helpful with this too?

                                                                                        1. re: geekmom

                                                                                          I find that if the onion is very finely minced or sliced the vinegar gets rid of that acrid onion flavour quite well. Rinsing helps but doesn't do as good of a job. Just think shallot vinaigrette, the shallots that go in are raw but are usually very pleasant, mostly because they have been swimming in some acid for a while.

                                                                                    2. re: Gio

                                                                                      Another recipe in the book called for pickled red onion and Bayless said to just squeeze lime juice over the onion slices and let them sit. Delicious.

                                                                                      1. re: Njchicaa

                                                                                        Did that with the grilled chicken and really enjoyed the results.

                                                                                  2. re: Goblin

                                                                                    I finally made this salad tonight and OMG I am in love. Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

                                                                                    Super easy to make. Instead of microwaving the beans I steamed and shocked them to keep the green color and crisp texture. I used 1/2 cup of Herdez Mild Tomato Salsa as that is what I know and love from Cozumel. Making the dressing literally took less than a minute and that includes adding the stuff to the blender and the blend time.

                                                                                    I've already sent the recipe to all of my friends and family. A-MAZ-ING.

                                                                                    1. re: Goblin

                                                                                      I made this tonight. The only modification I made was to use some leftover sumac and sesame seed red onion (I use these to top kale salad from seriouseats...they're sliced thin and soaked in a couple of changes of plain cold water and topped with ground sumac and sesame seed). They worked perfectly with this recipe. I quite often nuke plain ol' green beans and they always turn out perfectly crisp-tender. We'll be making this one again.

                                                                                       
                                                                                    2. Smoky Chipotle Balsamic Dressing, Pg. 58

                                                                                      This dressing is delicious. I made it for third time last night to be tossed with a salad made of Romaine hearts, red onion thinly sliced (and steeped in apple cider vinegar), and a few arugula leaves. The ingredients are: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, several chipotles in adobo including the sauce, dried Mexican oregano, a pinch of salt. Everything is put into a mini food processor and pulsed till smooth. Taste for seasoning and toss with the salad. Excellent!

                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                        Gio, a question about this dressing. I'm curious as to how many chiptole you added. I see RB suggests 1 or 2 along w a tsp of the adobo. I have found I've needed to reduce the quantity of chipotle in most of the recipes in this book as my chipotles were exceedingly hot. Up until recently La Costina and Goya were the two brands most readily available here.

                                                                                        I visited a Latin American market on Friday and picked up some La Morena brand as I remembered that was the brand pictured in the book. That said, when I read the section on Chipotle this morning he doesn't mention La Morena (odd because that's the brand in the photo) and notes he's had "good luck" with the quality of "San Marcos" brand.

                                                                                        What brand are you using?

                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                          Breadcrumbs I used 2 chipotles and how ever much RB said to use of the sauce. It's the Embasa brand (product of Mexico) that we buy at our local supermarket, a New England chain. We don't find it too spicy but your sense and my sense of what's too spicy may differ. In fact, tonight we having the Pork Tinga, which G is preparing as I type, and I'm going to use 4 chipotles as the recipe calls for either 3 or 4.

                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                            Thanks Gio. I suspect the intensity of heat varies by brand and I'm keen to give these a test run. Good to know you were able to use 2. I hope to do so as well. I love hot, spicy food so this isn't normally an issue for me. I suspect the brands I've used may have just been over the top HOT!

                                                                                            ...no CdM avatar today?.... ; )

                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                              BC, I've used La Morena (in fact, that's what's in the fridge now) and San Marcos and prefer the La Morena or Embasa. I do think they are fairly spicy, and like you and Gio, I can tolerate a fair amount of heat.

                                                                                              No matter the brand, I've had some chipotles in adobo that were down right incindiary and others that were quite tame and flavorful. FWIW, I usually go with the least number of chipotles en adobo in th recipes out of this book

                                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                Thanks DD, as always, very helpful. I just took a little taste of a La Morena chili and while it was quite hot, it definitely doesn't have the scorching heat of the prior brands I've used so I'm happy to have the opportunity to purchase these locally now.

                                                                                                Thanks again!

                                                                                          2. re: Gio

                                                                                            Good to know this is good. I planned to make it last Thursday but had a last minute overnight guest so we ended up going out to eat. I might still make it this coming week.

                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                              Smoky Chipotle Dressing

                                                                                              Just wanted to mention that I also loved this dressing on the Roasted Mushroom Salad with Spinach and Chorizo (Bacon), which I reviewed earlier on this thread. The original recipe specified lime juice but the Riff said to try substituting balsamic vinegar and a chopped chipotle pepper--which is just like in this dressing recipe. We loved what the spicy smokiness of the vinaigrette did for the roasted mushrooms. I used one chipotle pepper in this version --might try two next time because they were so good.
                                                                                              I appreciate the advice on which brands of canned chipotles to use.

                                                                                            2. Gulf Coast - Style White Rice Pilaf, Pg. 88

                                                                                              We used jasmine rice for this dish which I think we rinsed one rinse too many because the finished pilaf was much too soft. However in the end the flavor was very tasty.

                                                                                              It starts out like any other pilaf in that the rice and diced onion are cooked in an oven proof pan till the grains of rice are translucent but not brown. This gives you the whitest rice. Pressed garlic is added, cooked a few seconds then chicken broth is poured into the pan with a bit of salt. Stir to mix everything, bring to a boil, cover pan, place into a pre-heated oven on the middle rack, and bake for 25 minutes. Quite an easy do frankly.

                                                                                              As I said, the rice was softer than any we've made but again, it was cook's mistake. Actually, I rather liked it that way for a change, but I don't think it was supposed to be like that.

                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                BTW: The Salads and Other Easy-to-Make Sides chapter ends with page 91...

                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                  Hi Gio, I reported on this dish up-thread:

                                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9004...

                                                                                                  I agree that it may have been your rice-rinsing that resulted in a softer rice in the finished dish. I believe Rick mentions somewhere in the book that he recommends medium-grain rice however I didn't have any on hand so I used long grain white rice and it worked beautifully. As I noted up-thread, I rarely (read almost never) make stovetop rice since I purchased my Zoji so it came as a pleasant surprise to get such terrific results w this stovetop/oven method.

                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                    Hi BC, I just came back here to note that I posted my report of the rice pilaf in the wrong place. Not only You but Delys and Westminstress reported on it as well. I must have been asleep to pass all of you by.

                                                                                                    Yes, the jasmine would have worked well if it had not been over rinsed... Tasted great, however.

                                                                                                  2. re: Gio

                                                                                                    That's interesting. I used a bag of California basmati which had been hanging around for a long time. I find California basmati to be very unlike Indian or Pakistani basmati and I don't like it for Indian meals. I find it makes pretty good Mexican rice though! It makes me wonder, what other types of rice have folks been using this month?

                                                                                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                      I've been using up a bag of medium-grain white rice I bought in the US to make this dish. Haven't had time to report, but It seems to have worked well, though I'm eating low-carb at the moment so I didn't actually try it.

                                                                                                  3. Red Chileatone with Mushroom Chicken and Zucchini, p. 127 Mexican Everyday

                                                                                                    Still getting over a bad cough, I am craving soup over and over these past few weeks. As a result, I have made made 3 Mexican themed soups since the beginning of May, this one being my least favorite so far. Easy to prepare, it left something to be desired. Kind of on the bland side.

                                                                                                    The other two soups I made were much more to my liking. The first was the turkey enchilada verde soup off the Homesick Texan website. I used braised pork shoulder instead of turkey and it was excellent. The second, and my favorite recipe of the three, was the Homesick Texan's tortilla soup recipe. I hear this one was based on a Rick Bayless recipe, but I don't know which version of his she used as her inspiration. In any case, all three soup recipes are good candidates for weekday meals.

                                                                                                    1. CLASSIC VINAGRETA FOR FIVE MOODS – p. 49

                                                                                                      RB explains that the acid you select for this vinaigrette sets the “mood” for your dressed salad. I went with the “carefree smiles” of citrus and elected to use lime juice in my dressing. A classic blend w 1 part acid to 3 parts lime. Salt joins the mix then RB provides a number of “riffs”. I chose 3 of his 4 adding garlic, fresh garlic chives from the garden and pepper. The greens I had on hand today were iceberg lettuce and romaine. To this I added some Campari tomatoes and a little fresh cheese (similar to a bufala mozzarella). We served this for lunch alongside some empanadas I purchased.

                                                                                                      The perkiness of the dressing paired perfectly with the rich flavours of the empanada dough and beefy filling. Luckily I have some dressing leftover because I can imagine it would be lovely with grilled fish or seafood too so hopefully time permits and we can put this on the menu again later this week.

                                                                                                       
                                                                                                       
                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                        Classic Vinagreta for Five Moods, Pg. 49, "Roughhouse" Variation

                                                                                                        For the salad I made I used the fifth variation of the dressing. Why not. Life's too short to use a wimpy vinagreta... For the salad itself I used Romaine, iceberg, arugula, cilantro. The vinagreta consisted of EVOO, and apple cider vinegar which makes it 1/3 roughhouse, minced scallions and grainy mustard makeup the other 2/3 of the roughhouse riff.

                                                                                                        Toss it all together and you have a zesty, tangy, happy salad. For the record I use Bragg's apple cider vinegar... Much more oomph to the zing. The recipe makes quite a lot so there's more than enough for another salad.

                                                                                                      2. Seafood Corn Chowder (Sorry forgot the page and don't have the book with me)

                                                                                                        This was a very nice soup with lots of flavour despite the minimal work. We had this for dinner along with a small green salad and some nice bread and we were very contented.

                                                                                                        While Rick suggests corn on the cob, we won't have any nice corn till the end of the summer here so I went with some frozen corn instead. This worked just fine and i wouldn't hesitate to do so again in the future. Essentially the soup is a milk base with the addition of pureed corn, poblano, and some other odds and ends (sorry working from memory). Rick suggests you strain the soup through a mesh sieve, but I didn't both with this as I wanted a thicker soup. In our case we were doing a meatless day so we added the shrimp at the very end, as per his suggested variation.

                                                                                                        Overall the results were very satisfying, with a rich velvety texture from the milk base and the pureed corn, plus a nice bit of smoky flavour from the poblano. The diced shrimp gave it a nice toothsome bite, and rounded out the meal very nicely.

                                                                                                        My only quibble is the texture. I was happy I didn't sieve the soup as I think it would simply have been too thin had I done so, but completely un-sieved Rick is correct in saying that there will be some coarse texture from the corn skin. I don't want a watery soup, but I also don't want a gritty one. The solution might be to half the soup so you still retain some body but get a slightly smoother product.

                                                                                                        Overall I would happily make this again.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: delys77

                                                                                                          Made it last night with frozen corn and was very happy with it. It was easy to prepare and made with ingredients I normally have on hand except the poblano pepper. I didn't bother to sieve it and didn't mind the rougher texture. Will definitely be making it again.

                                                                                                          I took leftover Yucatecan-marinated fish and turned it into fish cakes to go with the soup. I didn't add any meat/fish to the soup so we each had that, a fish cake, and some steamed broccoli. Yum.

                                                                                                        2. Vegetarian grilled eggplant salad - p 114

                                                                                                          This is a vegetarian riff on the Skirt Steak Salad on p. 111. I was using the BBQ for other things last night so this was a perfect use for the eggplant I had in the fridge. 1 large eggplant & 1 large red onion are cut into 1/2 slices, sprayed with a bit of oil and lightly salted, then grilled until browned on both sides. Meanwhile, you make a simple dressing by quickly frying some crushed garlic in a bit of oil, stirring in 1/4 cup broth or water (I used water and it was fine), then turning off the heat once the liquid comes to a boil. Whisk in a finely chopped chipotle chile and 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice. Once your eggplant is done, serve with this dressing poured over top.

                                                                                                          This simple dressing takes the already lovely flavour of smoky grilled eggplant to a new level. The onion is nice too, but for me the eggplant was the star here. What I really like about this preparation is that it's so light with almost no oil, but the eggplant is so flavourful and more-ish. There's enough dressing to go with two medium-large eggplants, so if you have several eggplant lovers at the table go ahead and grill two. :-)

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                            Glad to hear you enjoyed it Geekmom. We also had eggplant last night, but not from Mexican Everyday. It was one of Naomi Duguid's recipes from Burma, and I must say it wasn't to our taste. I am a bit jealous, I should have used my lovely eggplants for a preparation like yours above.

                                                                                                            1. re: delys77

                                                                                                              There's nothing else you can do except go out and grab another eggplant, delys77 :-) Wear your sunscreen!

                                                                                                          2. Grilled chicken Salad with Rustic Gaucamole pg. 107

                                                                                                            This deceptively simple looking salad actually has a few flavor twists that made for a delightful dinner. I made a half batch, subbing boneless skinless thighs for the recipe mandated chicken breasts, and used a riff suggestion of frisee and watercress for the greens. I would do so again, and again, it so totally worked as a flavor combination.

                                                                                                            This compound salad basically has three parts all tied together with one marinade/sauce/dressing. First the dressing--heat oil add peeled halved garlic cloves, and halved jalapeno (I seeded my chile this time, and in the end wished I hadn't--getting the "heat" right seems to be my biggest Bayless challenge), cook for about 2 min. Remove to a FP. In fact I thought adding sizzling oil to my FP was a bad idea, so I put the garlic and pepper in the FP, but set the oil aside to cool, while adding cilantro, black pepper, lime juice to the FP, whizzed, added my now cooler oil, whizzed again. Dressing done.

                                                                                                            Pour a third of the dressing on the chicken. Get grill, charcoal in my case, going. Grill some sliced onion until slightly soft and slightly caramelized, set aside. Grill chix over direct heat for 2 or 3 minutes, then indirect heat to finish, my thighs took about another 10 minutes. While they are finishing assemble the guacamole, chopping up the cooked onion, add in an avocado and 1/3 of the dressing, mash. Set aside. Mix the greens in a bowl with the remaining dressing.

                                                                                                            To assemble, put a serving portion of the greens on a plate, add guacamole in the center, the grilled chicken on top of that, garnish with cheese, serve.

                                                                                                             
                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: qianning

                                                                                                              Grilled chicken Salad with Rustic Gaucamole pg. 107

                                                                                                              I also made this salad last night though I was not as enthusiastic about the results. The marinade/dressing was a bit too tart for my taste. I think the ratio of oil to acid was off. I deconstructed the guac, opting to add roasted onions, roasted peppers, and chunks of avocado to the salad instead. Used iceberg lettuce and added tomatoes and cucumbers as well. Served topped with warmed tortilla chips and crumbled cheese. Fine for a week night meal but nothing to write home about.

                                                                                                            2. Ceviche Salad with Avocado, Cilantro, and Green Chile - p. 103

                                                                                                              I took a few liberties with this, but what else is new? After being somewhat disappointed with the seafood salad tacos on p. 103, which weren't ceviche-like enough for my taste, I decided that if I wanted ceviche, I should just make ceviche.

                                                                                                              The marinade, I made according to the directions in the book. You just squeeze a cup of lime juice (hardest part of the whole recipe, right there), and put it in a blender with some garlic, a couple serranos, some cilantro, and salt. I held back some of the cilantro to add after marinating. Whiz it all up.

                                                                                                              Now for the seafood. The recipe calls for fish or shrimp. The shrimp are cooked shrimp. I prefer shrimp ceviche made with raw shrimp, so that's what I did. I did a quick defrost of 1 1/4 lbs of shrimp in a light brine. Then peeled the shrimp and chopped them into chunks about 1/2". Poured the marinade over the shrimp pieces, stirred it a bit, and put it into the fridge for 2 hours, stirring it once halfway through the marinating time.

                                                                                                              After the shrimp has marinated, you drain off some of the marinade, and add a diced avocado (mine was huge, so I ended up with a very avocado-y dish, which is fine by me). Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed, then garnish with cilantro or green onion. I added only cilantro at the end, some of it stirred in, and some sprinkled on top.

                                                                                                              Now, Bayless has you serve this on lettuce leaves, but I like to spoon my ceviche onto tortilla chips, so I just served it in a bowl with chips on the side. Mr. MM, who loves ceviche almost as much as I do, and I, both loved this. A great blast of lime, with some punch from the chiles, garlic and cilantro (but not particularly hot, or overwhelmed by any of these flavors).

                                                                                                              I'd like to add a note about the seafood. Bayless calls for "sashimi grade" fish (which is meaningless), or cooked shrimp. I've eaten a ton of ceviche in my day, and I'm sure very little (or none) of it was made with "sashimi grade" fish. And there aren't any rules as to what constitutes "sashimi grade", so it's really a useless designation. What you want, whether you use fish or shrimp, is seafood that has been frozen. That is what kills the parasites. The great thing about shrimp is that it freezes better than almost any other seafood, and it thaws in a water bath in a matter of minutes. The reason I chopped the shrimp was to allow for better penetration by the marinade. Otherwise it can take a long time for the shrimp proteins to become denatured to the point that it seems "cooked".

                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                Thank you for this review, especially the info you added regarding the frozen seafood. I've always avoided making ceviche because I was concerned about using the likely medium to low-quality frozen fish and shrimp available to me.
                                                                                                                I do have a few slightly ignorant questions. Are parasites the only thing that one should be concerned about when using fresh fish? Should I be worried about any bacteria, or does the acid make it safer?

                                                                                                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                  The acid will kill surface bacteria, but it will only kill bacteria to the extent it can penetrate the fish. The good thing is, most of the bacteria tends to be on the surface. Parasites, on the other hand, will not be on the surface, they can be deep in the flesh, which is why you have to either cook thoroughly or freeze to kill them.

                                                                                                                  I eat ceviche regularly (made with raw shrimp) at my favorite local Mexican place. I know they are not serving particularly high quality seafood, and I am sure the shrimp is frozen, because pretty much all shrimp has been frozen. It's the frozen part that gives me peace of mind. I would recommend, for ceviche, buying your seafood frozen and thawing it yourself right before use, instead of buying seafood that has been frozen, but is being sold already thawed ("fresh") at the seafood counter. This way, you know exactly how long it has been thawed, and you have control over how it is handled. Most of the stuff in the seafood counter (especially shrimp) has been frozen, but you have no idea how long it's been thawed, and the longer it is sitting out thawed, the more you have to worry about bacteria.

                                                                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                    Thanks MM, this was very helpful. I have had ceviche a few times in Mexico when visiting beach desitinations. My hope was always that the fish was freshly caught and would therefore be safe. Luckily for me I have never had a problem, but I have always shied away from making it at home. Your post has given me some confidence that I could manage it with Shrimp.

                                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                      Thank you so much for this extremely useful info! Looking forward to trying my own now, plus experimenting with all the ceviche recipes in some of my other books.

                                                                                                                  2. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                    A question from me too, Mel.. Do you devein the shrimp after thawing & peeling, before the shrimp are marinated for the 2 hours?

                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                      Deveining is up to you, depending upon the size of the shrimp and how prominent the vein is. In this case, the shrimp were frozen, in the shell, but already deveined. Nothing easier than that! When I have regular shrimp, with the veins intact, I just make a judgement call. Generally, if I see grit in the vein (it is dark), I will devein, and if I don't, I won't.

                                                                                                                    2. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                      Just realized it might help if I posted a photo...

                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                      1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                        This sounds good, I'm going to try it!

                                                                                                                      2. Roasted Poblano Potato Salad with Flaked Tuna, Pg. 94

                                                                                                                        Another perfectly coordinated combination of ingredients and flavors that come together to create a hearty, savory dinner salad. All the components were already in the pantry so it was an easy matter to get it on the table in jig time. Fresh poblanos are called for but mine had been in the freezer so I revived them under a stream of hot water, sliced the stem end off, split and thinly sliced them. The slices were first blotted dry then pan-roasted in a dry cast iron skilled till seared. A couple of extra steps but it seemed to work quite nicely.

                                                                                                                        Once again the 4 minute microwave of potato chunks was employed and the potatoes are set aside to cool. Heat olive oil in a fry pan, add thinly sliced red onions, and cook about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat then add champagne vinegar, Mexican oregano, black pepper, poblano strips. Mix together, let this cool a bit then add 2 tins of tuna that have been drained, and chopped cilantro. I used Italian tuna in olive oil.

                                                                                                                        To serve arrange some lettuce leaves on a dinner plate, place scoops of salad in the middle, drizzle over top any dressing that was left in the pan. I used a combination of shredded iceberg, baby spinach, and arugula and included chopped avocado. Delicious, relatively quick and easy, and very satisfying. No need for bread here...

                                                                                                                        1. Classic Mexican Red Rice p 90

                                                                                                                          So, this was a bit of a disappointment, it turned out rather dry. Not sure if it was something I did, or the recipe. You start out by mixing rice around with oil for about 5 minutes, then you add in a cup of chicken broth and a cup of salsa. It says you can used bottled salsa but I used the Rustic Roasted Tomato Salsa from p 146 since I had a lot of it already made. Then you bring it to a boil, cover, and pop in a 350 oven for 20 minutes. Then, it says to add peas and bake for 5 more minutes, but I forgot that part.

                                                                                                                          But yeah, the end result was a pretty dry and sort of bland rice, even though I added a bit of extra broth because my salsa didn't have a lot of water in it. Most mexican rices I've had at restaurants are nice and moist. And, I hate to say it, but I think I prefer rice a roni over this one LOL. This has been the case with every homemade mexican red rice recipe I've tried though.

                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                            My family was in the middle of cooking this dish when you posted about it, juliejulez, otherwise we probably would have stuck with the white rice pilaf after reading your comments! You're right - the dish is not all that exciting. The flavour of the salsa kind of disappears, and the rice itself came out a little on the dry side for us too.

                                                                                                                            1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                                              Yeah if I reheat it tonight I might try to add more salsa in and maybe some hot sauce or something. I have a ton left over though so most of it will probably get tossed. Oh well, at least rice is cheap :)

                                                                                                                              I will say, I did like the method of putting it in the oven... might try that out with brown rice sometime.

                                                                                                                              1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                I made the Gulf Coast pilaf with brown rice, using the oven method, and it turned out pretty well. I have trouble getting brown rice to cook evenly on the stovetop so I will probably use this method frequently with brown rice going forward. I did need to double the liquid and cooking time, though.

                                                                                                                                1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                  Very good to know, thank you! I might try that out this weekend. I'm working on switching over to eating only brown rice, and it's such a pain to do it on the stove so an oven method sounds great to me.

                                                                                                                                2. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                  If you want to get creative, there is a Mexican dish called Tumbada (which I think I spelled right) that is rather like a looser/wetter version of paella, but it's not soupy. In fact, it's a dish that RB cooked during the final of Top Chef Masters.

                                                                                                                                  When reheating the rice you could add additional stock (or clam juice, or clamato), salsa, sauteed onions/garlic and possibly a veg or 2 of your choice, along with some additional seasonings and then fold in some shredded/cubed meat or seafood and have a paella-like entree. I always seem to have a little of this and a little of that vegetable on hand, none of it enough for a full serving, but when used together they almost always are enough for the meal.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                    That actually sounds great, does this look along the lines of it? http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/22... Most of what I found was seafood but I'd probably do it with chicken, not a big seafood fan.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                      Yes, that is exactly it. Tumbada is a dish from Veracruz which is (justifiably) known for its' seafood.

                                                                                                                                      I think you'd be perfectly within convention to substitute chicken or pork for the seafood.

                                                                                                                            2. Roasted Garlic Dressing with Green Chile Salsa Pg. 56

                                                                                                                              For me this wasn't a winner. There is nothing wrong with it per se, but really it is just a balsamic vinaigrette. I used two serranos and could hardly taste them and the garlic was not noticeable at all. Not that I don't like balsamic, but I find it to be a very assertive flavour, in this case I think you would have needed twice the garlic and at least 50% more chile for it to be anything other than a basic balsamic vinaigrette.

                                                                                                                              1. Avocado-Mango Salad with Fresh (or Blue) Cheese, Bacon, and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, p.96

                                                                                                                                I REALLY enjoyed this recipe...the flavors and textures of this easy main-dish salad were unique and delicious, and I will absolutely make it again! I was able to find the untoasted pumpkin seeds in a local Mexican grocery, and toasted them in a 8" skillet. Some make a "snapping" sound as they pop and toast, and a few jumped out of the skillet, so you may want to toast them on a back burner. They also change color very quickly, so I needed to lower the heat when they started to brown. They have a mild "peanutty" taste and aroma after toasting.

                                                                                                                                I did saute a jalapeno pepper (halved & seeded) with the garlic, and added pieces of it to the blender to taste when combining the dressing ingredients (using a pepper is optional but I enjoyed the bit of heat). The end result is a creamy, nutty dressing with nice acidity from the limes. I used Gorgonzola for the cheese garnish, which was delicious with the crumbled bacon and toasted pumpkin seeds.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: lesliej

                                                                                                                                  Avocado-Mango Salad with (Goat) Cheese, Bacon, and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, page 96.

                                                                                                                                  I made this salad for dinner last night. The full recipe is online here if you don't have the book:
                                                                                                                                  http://www.fronterafiesta.com/cook/sa...

                                                                                                                                  This is a great way to make a dressing, using the entire amount of oil required for the dressing, and sautéing garlic and chiles in the oil. It lends a different taste to the final product. I was once again surprised to see microwaving in the directions, but I guess that is part of the "everyday" aspect. I just cooked the bacon in a skillet instead. We had goat cheese on hand (one of the suggested alternatives), and that is what I used. Also we had a spring mix, so that went in instead of the individual leaves called for.

                                                                                                                                  RB suggests the option of adding crab atop the salad. We couldn't get crab yesterday, so added shrimp, which went very well with the dressing and other ingredients. Delicious, and a very satisfying main dish salad!

                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                2. Jicama Salad with Watercress, Romaine and Lime-Cilantro Dressing, p. 71
                                                                                                                                  The salad itself is little sticks of jicama, the upper leaves of watercress and a few Romaine leaves cut in 1/4" slices. It's the dressing that sent this over the top. Oil (he likes a combo of oo and veg so that's what I used), lime juice, lime zest, chopped cilantro, a rough chopped jalapeno or a couple of serranos and some salt. Blend til smooth. It's gorgeous and tastes even better than gorgeous. Though I made a half portion of the salad, I made a full portion of the dressing.

                                                                                                                                  1. Tangy Avocado Dressing p. 63

                                                                                                                                    This is simple to make! You whiz together 1/2 cup oil (veg or olive), 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1 peeled garlic clove, 1/2 cup mayo, 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce, 1/2 of a ripe avocado (pitted and skin removed), 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro, salt to taste, and 3 tbsp water in a food processor until smooth.

                                                                                                                                    Refrigerate up to a day and shake well immediately before use.

                                                                                                                                    We had this dressing on a simple green salad with carrots, celery, red cabbage, and red onion. I didn't know what I was going to do with the other half of the avocado (b/c the rest of dinner was pasta and meatballs) and I didn't want to leave it in the fridge to turn brown, so I used the whole avocado in the dressing. It made it thicker than a traditional loose dressing, but we didn't mind having to spoon it onto the salad rather than pouring it. We loved it! We love avocado, limes, and cilantro so there really was no way this one could go wrong. Definitely will be repeating this one again and again.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Njchicaa

                                                                                                                                      Any indication of how long this dressing will last?

                                                                                                                                    2. Mushroom Potato Crema with Roasted Poblanos Pg. 132

                                                                                                                                      My market was out of poblanos so I went with two medium sized anaheim instead of the one poblano. I have done this a few times during the month and I find the anaheim a touch hotter, but not negatively so. Overall I think they make a good substitute, but I would defer to someone with greater pepper knowledge than I.

                                                                                                                                      The recipe calls for you to simmer some garlic and potatoes in a bit of stock, then blitz them in the blender and return to the pot. In goes some sliced mushrooms, roasted poblano, corn, thyme, and some more stock. The soup then simmers for about 10 minutes and then some cream/sour cream/crema is added before serving with a sprinkle of cilantro.

                                                                                                                                      In my case I sauteed the mushrooms before they went into the soup as I don't like the texture of boiled mushrooms. This added a nice flavour to the soup that I think would have been lacking otherwise. I went with about 2 tsp of salt as my stock had no salt. Overall the dish was simple and relatively tasty but a bit lacking in umph. I don't think I would make it again, but if I did I would likely use sour cream or some other acidic agent as the dish wasn't very well balanced with the cream.

                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                        Since I have all the ingredients, I think I need to try this quite soon. I think the poblanos and the crema would make at least some difference.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                          For sure the crema would add flavour, the cream wasn't bad, just didn't offer any nuance.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                          Made this last night. Agreed it was a mild soup, but we both ate it up. I went with shiitake (I may saute them beforehand as you did), poblanos (we both love them so I would probably add another small one), TJ's frozen roasted corn, and I left out the thyme. Sour cream added a bit of acidity that you were looking for.

                                                                                                                                          I'm going to save this one for a chilly fall/winter day (it's gonna hit almost 90F here in Boston).