Emily Bayless Project #21-25

I have a list of things I’d like to do in my life. One of them is to cook every single recipe in a cookbook. I chose to cook my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. This series is a record of that adventure. You might remember that we had a big taco party for Christmas. Can I just put in a plug for tacos as a party food? They are perfect. Almost everybody likes them and best of all each person can customize the taco to their own personal preferences. No worries about vegetarians, or dairy-free. Just set it all out on the table and have at it!

Tacos de Mariscos a la Vinagreta: Seafood Salad Tacos with Tomato, Radish and Habanero

No. 21-I was a little scared to cut a habañero chile. I had a "chile in the eye" experience once at a Thai restaurant and I've been a little wary of cutting the buggers every since. You'll be happy to know that I made these tacos without incident. These are really nice for a summer day, they're a little bit like ceviche with a fresh clean flavor. The radish provides crunch and the teensy tiny (you cut the habañero up small as instructed, right?) bits of fire enliven the palate. I served these at a Christmas party so they weren't as popular but I could imagine them being perfect on a hot summer day with a corona and lime.

Frijoles Refritos: Fried Beans

No. 22-It is absolutely horrifying that this is the most appetizing picture I managed to take of these beans. They were so delicious and quite frankly this picture is a little gross. That's what I get for trying to take pictures at night. Boo to short winter days.

These are just regular canned black beans fried with some bacon and garlic. They were delicious and still really healthy although this largely rests on how much restraint you show when throwing in bacon. I held back mightily and was shocked at how much flavor a little bit of bacon gives. I love black beans, they were rich and creamy and satisfying.

Arroz Salsa: Classic Mexican Red Rice

No. 23-I don't really like red rice. I know, I'm sorry, but it's just not my way. What is cool about this recipe though is that my friend Rachel taught me a new technique she learned in Peru. Having never cooked rice out of a rice cooker I assumed that I would have to fry the rice in a separate pan and then throw it in the pan. That's two pans dirty for rice I don't want to eat! That's when Rachel introduced me to the genius concept of using your rice cooker insert as a pan. After telling her she was in big trouble is she burned it she got to work. Rachel is very confidant and not afraid of me. I find this to be a personality flaw but we're friends anyways. :)  I can testify that this works so for all of you who love red rice... You are welcome!

Albondigas al Chipotle: Chipotle Meatballs

No. 24-On New Year's Eve Arnold gets very nostalgic and sentimental. It's a very important family holiday in Colombia and we are almost never there to celebrate. On top of this, it's also fun and tropical on New Years Eve, in contrast to cold and foggy here. I knew this year would be especially hard because we've spent the previous two years in Colombia. So on New Year's EveI try to make it special for him. We do whatever he wants. And on Dec. 31, 2010 he woke up and said "I want albondigasand I want to invite Sade and Hernan over." And instead of saying "Really, you want to invite people over with no notice on New Year Eve?" I said "You got it buddy! Albondigas and Argentine friends it is."

Let me tell you nostalgia has never tasted so amazing. I think the secret to these meatballs is that they have bacon in them. You process the bacon with garlic, breadcrumbs and mint and it becomes this pretty yet unappetizing pink mush. If you are me you then proceed to mix this with pork to create deformed albondigas. Then you bake them in the oven with a crisp chipotle/tomato sauce.

I was so in love with these things. The bacon keeps the meatballs moist while the tomato sauce provides a sharp relief against the richness. The mint adds a little sumthin special too. The next day when Arnold was re-heating some for lunch I asked him what smelled so good. He said "The albondigas". I couldn't believe it! The smell was so intoxicating I actually didn't associate it with something I had made. Amazing.

Crema de Hongos y Papas con Chile Poblano: Mushroom-Potato Crema with Roasted Poblano

No. 25-I've made a sad discovery on my cookbook journey and that it that I don't really like Poblano chiles. I don't hate them, I just not that in to them. It's dissapointing because they are among the more annoying ingredients to prep. You know, char the skin and remove it and all that. Still, I'm soldiering on because that's the point. About 10 years ago I didn't like fish at all and obviously that is madness so there is still plenty of oportunity for me to change my mind.

I liked this soup. It's winter and what is more homey than potatos and mushrooms all floating around in a light but rich broth? Oh yeah, if you add bacon.  Then it is better! I believe I also added nopales too which made me feel like I was acting crazy like a rockstar. Bacon and nopales were both optional add-ins for this recipe. One thing I love about this book is that each recipe is followed by suggested modifications, so you can make a recipe vegetarian or seasonal. For example I think out of season tomatos are generally disgusting. Apparently Rick does too because he always has subs for out of season tomatos, as one should because mealy tomatos are nasty. Amen.

As part of my Mighty List I'm cooking my way through Rick Bayless' Everyday Mexican cookbook. You can see all the previous entries to the series by clicking here.

Posted on February 2, 2011 and filed under Mighty List.