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|Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen:
Recipes and Techiniques of a World-Class Cuisine
excerpted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant flavors of a World-Class Cuisine
... more great recipes by Rick Bayless on our GREAT CHEFS page!
(...) Cut 2 squares of medium-heavy plastic (at our restaurant, we cut up
a medium-weight garbage bag) to fit over the plates of your tortilla
press (a little bigger than the plates is fine). Open the press (if
you're right-handed, you'll want the opened top plate to your left,
the pressure handle to your right) and lay 1 square of plastic on
the bottom plate. Center a ball of dough on the plastic, flattening
it a little with your hand to make it stick, and cover with the other
square of plastic. Close the top plate, then fold the pressure handle
over onto the top plate and press down somewhat firmly. (Knowing just
how hard to press will take a little practice too light and
you'll have an uneven, thick tortilla; too heavy and it'll be too
thin to get off the plastic.) You're looking for a round that is 5
to 6 inches in diameter and less than 1/8 inch thick.
Fold back the pressure handle, open the top plate, and, while the
plastic-wrapped tortilla is still lying on the bottom plate, take
hold of the top piece of plastic and quickly pull it off. Now, pick
up the tortilla by the plastic with one hand, and flip it over,
uncovered side down, onto the slightly separated fingers of your
other hand it'll cover your fingers and half your palm. (If
you're right-handed, I suggest that you pick up the plastic and
tortilla with your left hand and flip it onto your right. As you
get good at all this, work to align the top of the tortilla with
the top of your index finger, with the circle extending just slightly
past the tip of your middle finger; this will leave an inch or two
of tortilla hanging down below your littlefinger.)
Starting at one edge, quickly peel the remaining plastic off the
tortilla (go too slowly and you'll risk ripping the tortilla), leaving
the raw, flattened disc of masa on your hand. If the dough is too
soft, you'll have difficulty peeling off the plastic; to correct
the problem, work a little masa harina into the dough and continue.
3. Baking the tortillas. Lay the tortilla on the cooler end of
the griddle (or cooler skillet). Now, the practiced hand of most
Mexican señoras will get that tortilla on the griddle in
a flash with a deft, swift move that seems just the opposite of
what you'd expect. Rather than turning her hand over to release
the tortilla onto the griddle, she moves her hand (held at a 45-degree
angle to the griddle) away from her, letting the overhanging portion
of the tortilla go down first, then quickly rolling her hand out
from underneath the tortilla (the movement looks as though she's
brushing something off the griddle with the back of her hand), letting
it smoothly fall flat. It looks easy, but practically all of us
North Americans get to the "sweeping" part, think we're
going to burn the backs of our hands (especially the backs of our
little fingers), and jerk straight up rather than away from us,
leaving behind a ripped or folded-over tortilla. You simply need
to summon your courage realize that feeling the heat on the
back of your hand isn't the same thing as burning yourself
and just learn to do it. Turning your hand over to release a tortilla
this size onto the griddle usually gives you a rippled tortilla
that's impossible to cook evenly. (A word of advice: Try pressing,
unmolding and laying the tortillas on your countertop before you
start with the griddle. You can scrape up the dough, roll it back
into a ball and do it all again. You'll notice that once you have
that unmolded tortilla on your hand, you need to get it off and
onto the counter or griddle quickly or it will start to stick to
When you lay the tortilla on the griddle, it will immediately stick.
If you have your temperature right, it'll release itself within
15 seconds, at which point you should flip it (with your fingers
a la mexicana or with a spatula) onto the hotter surface. (If the
heat is too low, the tortilla will dry out before it releases itself;
if too high, it'll blister. Both translate to "not great texture.")
In 30 to 45 seconds, the tortilla should be speckled brown underneath.
(If it browns faster, the temperature's too hot.) Flip it over,
still on the hotter surface, and brown the other side for another
half minute or so. A perfect tortilla is one that balloons up like
pita bread after this second flip something you can encourage
by lightly pressing on the tortilla with your fingertips or spatula.
Or, you can encourage ballooning, as many Mexicans do, by stacking
a finished tortilla or two onto one that's just been flipped.
Always taste your first tortilla: If the dough is too dry, the
texture will be heavy (it'll probably have cracked around the edges
when pressed, too).
As tortillas are finished, collect them in a cloth-lined basket.
They're best after they've rested together for about 10 minutes
(and steamed from their own heat), but still have the original heat
of the griddle.
Some writers will tell you that it's possible to press out the
dough for tortillas between two flat plates or to roll it out with
a pin, and I suppose either is feasible if you're determined and
dexterous. Then again, Mexican cooks, for millennia, have been patting
out tortillas by hand or on leaves, so why would I even suggest
a press? Simply put, without years of hand-patting experience, the
easiest way for most of us to get a consistently flat tortilla is
to press it out between the plates of an inexpensive tortilla press.
Tortilla presses are generally made of cast iron or aluminum. I
prefer the cast-iron ones simply because their weight makes them
less likely to move around. Either will get the job done with ease,
as will the massive wooden ones that you find around Mexico (18-inch-square
ones are used in Oaxaca for making tlayudas), though the wooden
are probably better suited to those whose production is high and
relentless (like for every meal). In the States, tortilla presses
are sold in many cookware stores and most all Mexican groceries.
Corn Center of the Mexican Culinary Universe
Corn is used to make tortillas and tamales, of course, but first
that corn has to be transformed into masa. And to understand what
masa is, I think it best to talk first about what it is not. It
is not "cornmeal dough," as so many American writers call
it, since using the word "cornmeal" easily conjures up
visions of a dry powdery something that's mixed with liquid.
And masa is not dough made from sweet corn, that delicious, tender
vegetable that most Americans think of as the only corn. Rather,
it is dough made from dried, starchy, decidedly unsweet field corn,
the same that is used for cornmeal, hominy and grits.
To make masa from the dried field corn, you first have to boil
the kernels briefly with calcium hydroxide (known as pickling or
mason's lime, cal in Spanish), a process that dissolves the difficult-to-digest
outer hull of the kernel and remarkably increases its nutritional
potential. The boiled corn, which is called nixtamal in Mexican
Spanish, is rinsed thoroughly.
At this point, the corn can be returned to the fire for several
hours of gentle bobbing over the heat, until it becomes tender,
puffy pozole the Mexican word for what we call hominy.
Or, the briefly boiled, rinsed corn (the nixtamal) can be made
into masa: the damp kernels they're still chalky at the core
are stone-ground into a dryish paste. For eons, the stone
grinder has consisted of the metate (the three-legged lava-rock
grinding stone) and mano (the rolling-pin-like crusher), powered
by a strong back and biceps. Since the mid-1800s, motorized mills
have helped relieve the physical work of that chore, and what they
turn out is very good because they all use stone burrs (metal ones,
they tell me, heat up the corn too much, cooking their starches
and yielding an unworkable dough). The finest ground masa makes
what most people consider the best tortillas; coarse-ground masa
is often preferred for tamales.
The fresh-ground masa is patted between palms (less common these
days), pressed out between metal or wood, or squeezed out between
metal rollers (then die-cut) to become the flat disc that's griddle-baked
into a fragrant tortilla.
|Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant flavors of a World-Class Cuisine
BURSTING WITH BOLD, COMPLEX FLAVORS, Mexican cooking has the kind of gusto we want in food today. Until now, American home cooks have had few authorities to translate the heart of this world-class cuisine to everyday cooking.
In this book of more than 150 recipes, award-winning chef, author and teacher Rick bayless provides the inspiration and guidance that home cooks have needed. With a blend of passion, patience, clarity and humor, he unerringly finds his way into the very soul of Mexican cuisine, from essential recipes and explorations of Mexico's many chiles to quick-to-prepare everyday dishes and pull-out-the-stops celebration fare.
Bayless begins the journey by introducing us to the building blocks of Mexican cooking. With infectious enthusiasm and an entertaining voice, he outlines 16 essential preparations-deeply flavored tomato sauces and tangy tomatillo salsas, rich chile pastes and indispensable handmade tortillas.
Fascinating cultural background and practical cooking tips help readers to understand these preparations and make them their own. Each recipe explains which steps can be completed in advance to make final preparation easier, and each provides a list of the dishes in later chapters that are built around these basics. And with each essential recipe, Bayless includes several "Simple Ideas from My American Home"-quick, familiar recipes with innovative Mexican accents, such as Baked Ham with Yucatecan Flavors, Spicy Chicken Salad, Ancho-Broiled Salmon and Very, Very Good Chili.
Throughout, the intrepid Bayless brings chiles into focus, revealing that Mexican cooks use these pods for flavor, richness, color and, yes, sometimes for heat. He details the simple techniques for getting the best out of every chile-from the rich, smoky chipotle to the incendiary but fruity habanero.
Then, in more than 135 recipes that follow, Bayless guides us through a wide range of richly flavored regional Mexican dishes, combining down-home appeal and convivial informality with simple culinary elegance. It's all here: starters like Classic Seviche Tostadas or Chorizo-Stuffed Ancho Chiles; soups like Slow-Simmered Fava Bean Soup or Rustic Ranch-Style Soup; casual tortilla-based preparations like Achiote-Roasted Pork Tacos or Street-Style Red Chile Enchiladas; vegetable delights like Smoky Braised Mexican Pumpkin, or Green Poblano Rice; even a whole chapter on classic fiesta food (from Oaxacan Black Mole with Braised Chicken, Smoky Peanut Mole with Grilled Quail and Great Big Tamal Roll with Chard with the incomparable Juchitan-Style Black Bean Tamales); and ending with a selection of luscious desserts like Modern Mexican Chocolate Flan with KahIua and Yucatecan-Style Fresh Coconut Pie. To quickly expand your Mexican repertoire even further, each of these recipes is accompanied by suggestions for variations and improvisations.
There is no greater authority on Mexican cooking than Rick Bayless, and no one can teach it better. In his skillful hands, the wonderful flavors of Mexico will enter your kitchen and your daily cooking routine without losing any of their depth or timeless appeal. More info
| Mexico One Plate At A Time
Rick Bayless has been acclaimed widely as America's foremost proponent of Mexico's thrillingly diverse cuisine. In this companion book to his 26-part Public Television series, he takes us, with boyish enthusiasm, through Mexican markets, street stalls and home kitchens to bring us the great dishes of Mexico, one "plate" at a time. And each "plate" Rick presents here is a Mexican classic. Take guacamole, for instance. After teaching us the essentials for a perfect, classic guacamole, Rick shows how to spin contemporary interpretations, like his Roasted Poblano Guacamole with garlic and parsley. Rick's cuisine is always lively, but rooted in strong traditions.
Always the teacher, Rick begins each "plate" with some never-before-found features: traditional benchmarks (Rick's idea of the best guacamole), when to think of the recipes (weeknight dinners or casual party food), and advice for American cooks (Rick's insight into the ingredients that make the dish). He rounds out each "plate" with suggestions for working ahead.
To complete the journey into the Mexican mindset, Rick, with help from his testers, ends each "plate" with a question-and-answer section detailing just about everything a home cook might want to know: What are the best cuts of beef for grilled tacos? The best cheeses for quesadillas? Is one grill better than another? Rick draws from his years of living in Mexico, pulling us into the Mexican kitchen, to teach us how to create authentic Mexican dishes in our American kitchens.
Rick is an Indiana Jones of the stove, a Julia Child of Mexican cuisine in black jeans and a T-shirt. Rick's goal: to enable folks all across the United States to create dishes that weave in the rich tapestry of Mexican flavor with ingredients that are widely available. He always provides ingredients that make the dish authentic, but he also delivers with the right substitute if an ingredient is hard to find.
Experience food you can't wait to make in a new and user-friendly cookbook that contains the full range of dishes -- Starters, Snacks and Light Meals; Soups, Stews and Sides; Entrées; Desserts and Drinks. Rick serves up such classic Mexican plates as Tomatillo-Braised Pork Loin, Quick-Fried Shrimp with Sweet Toasty Garlic, Chiles Rellenos, Cheesy Enchiladas Suizas, and Mexican Vanilla-Scented Flan.
And for an exciting taste of the unexpected, try Rick's contemporary interpretations of the classics -- Crispy Potato Sopes with Goat Cheese and Fresh Herbs, Grilled Salmon with Lemon-and-Thyme-Scented Salsa Veracruzana, Broiled Flank Steak with Tomato-Poblano Salsa and Rustic Cajeta Apple Tarts with Berry "Salsa."
Food and friends, food and family. Good cooking, for Rick, is the unspoken animator of friends and family as they gather to share a meal. Rick's recipes lend themselves to weeknight family meals or celebrations. Take part in a tamalada, the tamal-making party before the party, or the ritual of a barbacoa, an earthy experience that Rick has made possible with a kettle grill in the backyard. More info
|Mexican Everyday (Recipes Featured on Season 4 of the PBS-TV series In his previous books, Rick Bayless transformed America's understanding of Mexican cuisine, introducing authentic dishes and cooking methods as he walked readers through Mexican markets and street stalls.
As much as Rick loves the bold flavors of Mexican foods, he understands that preparing many Mexican specialties requires more time than most of us have. Mexican Everyday is written with the time sensitivities of modern life in mind. It is a collection of 90 full-flavored recipes—like Green Chile Chicken Tacos, Shrimp Ceviche Salad, Chipotle Steak with Black Beans—that meet three criteria for "everyday" food: 1) most need less than 30 minutes' involvement; 2) they have the fresh, clean taste of simple, authentic preparations; and 3) they are nutritionally balanced, full-featured meals—no elaborate side dishes required. Companion to a thirteen-part public television series, this book provides dishes you can eat with family and friends, day in and day out. Color throughout. More info
| Salsas That Cook : Using Classic Salsas To Enliven Our Favorite Dishes
Salsas That Cook is a breakthrough in contemporary American cooking. Here, Mexico's classic salsas get put to work in our kitchens in the same way we use a variety of international condiments, from teriyaki sauce to balsamic vinegar, to enliven and redefine the flavor of many American favorites. While most of us have enjoyed salsas as chip dips, salsas show great versatility when weaving complex flavor into simple dishes, from pasta to potatoes to meats, fish and vegetables.
Salsas embody the essence of Mexican flavor: the lusciousness of slow-roasted tomatoes, the full-flavored spice of chiles, the fragrance of cilantro and the mellow sweetness of garlic. Rick Bayless, the country's leading progenitor of real Mexican cooking, writes the six salsa recipes with such detail and personality that even beginning cooks will turn out masterful creations.
The uniqueness of this book, though, is in the way these six salsas are used. Here they give their pizzazz to chile-glazed roast chicken, grilled pork tenderloin and seared sea scallops with jalapeño cream. Familiar Mexican favorites have always used salsas for vitality, and many are here, from tangy guacamole to tortilla soup and grilled chicken tacos. In Salsas That Cook, the magic of Mexico transcends all borders. More info
| Authentic Mexican 20th Anniversary Ed: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico
Americans have at last discovered Mexico's passion for exciting food. We've fallen in love with the great Mexican combination of rich, earthy flavors and casual, festive dining. But we don't begin to imagine how sumptuous and varied the cooking of Mexico really is.
After ten years of loving exploration, Rick Bayless, together with his wife, Deann, gave us Authentic Mexican, this now classic, easy-to-use compendium of our southern neighbor's cooking.
This all-embracing cookbook offers the full range of dishes, from poultry, meat, fish, rice, beans, and vegetables to eggs, snacks made of corn masa, tacos, turnovers, enchiladas and their relatives, tamales, and moles, ending with desserts, sweets, and beverages. There are irresistible finger foods such as Yucatecan marinated shrimp tacos and crispy cheese-filled masa turnovers; spicy corn chowder and chorizo sausage with melted cheese will start off a special dinner; you will find mole poblano, charcoal-grilled pork in red-chile adobo, and marinated fish steamed in banana leaves for those times when you want to celebrate; and exotic ice creams, caramel custards, and pies to top off any meal. There's even a section devoted to refreshing coolers, rich chocolate drinks, and a variety of tequila-laced cocktails.
The master recipes feature all the pointers you'll need for re-creating genuine Mexican textures and flavors in a North American kitchen. Menu suggestions and timing and advance-preparation tips make these dishes perfectly convenient for today's working families. And traditional and contemporary variations accompany each recipe, allowing the cook to substitute and be creative.
Rick and Deann Bayless traveled more than thirty-five thousand miles investigating the six distinct regions of Mexico and learning to prepare what they found. From town to town, recipe by recipe, they personally introduce you to Mexico's cooks, their kitchens, their markets, and their feasts.
If, like the rest of us, you have a growing love for Mexican food, the reliable recipes in this book and the caring, personal presentation by Rick and Deann Bayless will provide meal after meal of pure pleasure for your family and friends. More info