Friday, September 17, 2010

Cookbook Club-Rick Bayless

If you're a regular reader of my blog you know about my cookbook club.  Maybe you've read about us gathering to cook from, and chat about, our favorite cookbooks, such as: Ad Hoc at Home, Insalata's Mediterranean Table, A Platter of Figs, or the A16 Cookbook.  This is an amazing group of cooks and diving into a book head first is so much fun when you've got your friends around to do it with you.

This month we took on Rick Bayless.  Rather than limit ourselves to one of his amazing titles, we opened it up to any of them.   If you haven't cooked or eaten Rick's food you're missing out.  His restaurants in Chicago are absolutely stellar and his recipes bring Mexico to your kitchen with detailed instructions and outstanding explanations along the way.  I had the pleasure, along with Kelly who's also in the cookbook club, of doing some food styling for Rick many years ago when he was doing several appearances in the Bay Area.  I can't think of a more gracious or humble food personality (and I've worked with plenty).  James Bead award winner, TV star, chef, restaurateur, cooking teacher, writer, and so much more...he was destined to inspire a wonderful meal.  And it absolutely was.

We ate SO much I'm not entirely sure where to begin.  I'll break it down by book and we'll see how that goes:

From One Plate at a Time we started with the Roasted Poblano Guacamole then moved onto the Guajillo Braised Pork and Potato Tacos.  A trip to my favorite "mexicatesstan", La Palma, brought me to the perfect tortillas for those tacos-they are truly the very best in SF and make every supermarket tortilla pale in comparison.  I made a quick Mexican style slaw with cabbage, radish, jalapeno, carrot, and pepitas to go with the tacos-we loved it right on top.

From Rick's recipe-filled website, we had Avocado Dressed Shrimp a la Mexicana and Warm Chorizo Spinach Salad.  Just these two would have been enough food but, no, we didn't stop there.

We were wowed by the vegetarian Tamal Azteca.  This was a rich and filling dish, full of flavor and easily enough to feed a crowd.  Imagine a Mexican style lasagna with a huge punch of chipotle...I think this would be perfect after a day of skiing-it had plenty of heat to warm you from head to toe.

From Fiesta at Rick's, his latest book, we had unbelievable Watermelon Mojitos (sorry, drank 'em too fast-no photo) and these handmade gorgeous Tamal de Frijoles Negros con Queso de Cabra (Black Bean and Goat Cheese Tamales). 

Finally, from his 1987 title, Authentic Mexican, we finished the meal with a perfect flan.  Not too sweet and just the right texture.  We realized he's included flan in many books since but, this felt like an original.  Take a peak:

If you haven't started your own cookbook club yet, I can't recommend it enough.  It's so much better than a regular old book club!  And, if you're lucky enough to pick Rick Bayless as your inspiration for the night, I can only hope your meal is as delicious as this one.

Happy Cooking!

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