Posts filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011

The Emily Bayless Project: The Superstars

Rick Bayless Everyday Mexican Over the course of 2011 I cooked every single recipe in Rick Bayless' amazingly delicious cookbook "Everyday Mexican", I re-counted the story of each recipe on my blog here. As a self-proclaimed expert on this cookbook I cannot recommend it enough for home cooks. The recipes are: simple, healthy and extremely rewarding.

My motivations for starting this project were vague (bragging rights?, compulsive checklist disorder?) but the outcomes were definitive and many. Thanks to the project I have a much better grasp on general kitchen technique as well as simple Mexican flavors. I can whip out a delicious meal in the time it takes you to translate Cien años de soledad. Improved kitchen prowess aside the best part were the memories I made in the process. The project gave me an excuse to spend lots of time with people I love. At least half of the recipes in the book were shared with our friends and family. Albondigas are not just meatballs, they are the memories of New Years Eve 2010, Puerco a la Mexicana reminds me of Elian's annointing. I could go on and on. the cookbook is now not just an instruction manual, it's the record of a year well spent with people I love.

I am now officially addicted to cookbook projects and have something new in mind for 2012 but before we leave the Bayless behind, I'd like to take a look back at the highlights!

Most likely to Make on the Regular-Tacos de Acelgas and Enjitomadas con Crema y Queso Anejo

Special Ocassion Treat-Albondigas These are so good that when Arnold warmed up the leftovers I asked him what he cooked that smelled so delicious!

Major Fail-The tuna. Screwing up that beautiful sashimi-grade tuna broke my sushi-loving heart.

Best for a group-Tortas or Tinga Tacos. The tortas are fun to put together as a group and the Tinga is a set it and forget it taco treat.

Favorite Recipe-Pollo en Escabeche de Cebollas Caramelizadas, Zanahorias y Jalapeños. This recipe was so good. I want to eat some right now. Do you want to eat some right now? Well you can because here is the recipe!

This recipe serves four. I like it with rice or tortillas on the side. Rick says it's also good with fried black beans and potatos.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp dried organo
  • 4 (2 bls total chicken breast halves, bones and skin intact-this is important, don't get skinless/boneless)
  • 1 white onion, cut into 1/4 slices
  • 2 large carrots, sliced 1/4 in thick on a diagonal
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 to 4 canned pickled jalapeños
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  1. Combine black pepper, alspice, oregano and 1 tsp salt. Sprinkle half the mixture over the chicken.
  2. Health oil in a large skilled over medium. Cook the chicken skin skide down, turning once until richly browned. Remove to a plate, leaving behind the oil.
  3. Add the sliced onion and carrots to the skillet and stir until the onion is browned. Add the garlic for  1 minute, then add the remaining spices, vinegar jalapeños and broth. Nestle the chicken pieces skin side up in the mixture, cover the skillet and simmer until the chicken is cooked through (15 minutes).
  4. Taste the broth and season with salt if appropriate. Buen provecho!!!
Posted on January 8, 2012 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #78-Tortillas de Maiz aka THE END!

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I've eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. I'm working on a re-cap of the whole project, but until then enjoy pictorial tortilla tutorial! 

Thanks to my friend Rachel for taking all the pics for the post.

Posted on January 4, 2012 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #77-Puerco a la Mexicana

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Puerco a la Mexicana: Pork Tenderloin a la Mexicana

This dish will always bring me great memories. It was homey and comforting on a late fall night: full of fire-roasted tomatos, roasted poblano chiles, savory pork and sweet onions. As usual though the dish wasn't overly important, it's just a tool to set the stage for special times with the people you love.

We cooked this dish for Elian's godparents the night of his baptism's rehearsal/anointing. The anointing is a special service for the parents and godparents in which the child is blessed with holy oil. Elian is not known for his sedate, retiring personality but on the night of his anointing he suddenly turned into a small adult, wise beyond his years. He sat next to me politely singing along and when it was his turn to be blessed he smiled seriously at Sister Peggy who rubbed oil on his chest and forehead. After he had been anointed he turned to me, touched his chest and made the sign of the cross on my forehead. Satisfied with his work he hopped off his chair and I watched his little hands repeat the process with his godparents and father.

Like so many good memories, the night began with a shared meal, but when ever I eat this dish I'll think of the time spent with friends who generously offered to stand with us at the altar and commit to love our child as Jesus did. I'll think of how we all attended his blessing together and remember how our son impulsively blessed us back. I'll think of his tiny fingers, fragrant with blessed oil crossing their heads with far more authority than any toddler should posses. It's a lot of memories for one little dish to bear, but this dish is a classic, rich and comforting, just like being with the ones you love.

Posted on December 21, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #76-Puerco Adobado a la Parilla y Parilla con Camote

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Puerco Adobado a la Parilla con Camote: Grilled Pork Adobado with Smoky Roasted Sweet Potatoes

On Tuesday nights we host a bible study at our house. I love the people in the study not just because they provide an amazing environment to ask questions and wrestle with ideas of faith  but also because they bring food to my house. If there was an advertisement for our group it would read something like "Come one, come all. Bring your thoughts, a bible and your A-Game when it comes to snacks."

Occasionally the food erupts into full-blown impromptu dinner parties. On this particular Tuesday in November I sent out an e-mail saying something like "Come to house there will be Bayless pork." Then somehow pork and mashed potatoes and salad, and macarons and etc etc appeared with people at my door. Ah, the power of internet!

The pork that birthed this dinner was satisfying. A pork tenderloin can be a bit bland but the rub included a healthy amount of ancho chile powder which gave a lovely warmth to the meat. Also that little itty-bit of pork somehow fed seven satisfied people for dinner. A true loaves and fishes moment.

Posted on December 14, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #75-Pollo a las Brasas con Cebollitas

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Pollo a las Brasas: Grilled Roadside Whole Chicken with Knob Onions

I'd like to call this series "Foods I cooked in November at night in poor lighting conditions  and then incompetently color-corrected into fluorescents wonders." How is that? Too self-pitying?

Feeling sorry for myself is really a big fat waste of time because this chicken was good! It was also, uh? Well, it was a whole chicken and there was quite the process to prepping it. The process involved cutting out the backbone and then smashing it into submission until it was sort-of butterflied not to mention pulling out innards.

There are two people who make up my marriage. One spent a childhood killing chickens and one spent the last decade conquering a fear of touching raw meat. Guess which one I am?

So yeah, Arnold was in charge of de-spining/smashing the chicken. He was only too happy to do so though because he is really into chicken. While I cringed in horror reading the directions he happily ripped and banged, gleefully setting aside the organs for later. I made the marinade with orange juice and garlic and ancho chile powder. It was a moment to go down in the "marriage is great!" books. I am good at following directions, Arnold is good at smashing things. Win-win.

Posted on December 12, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #74-Pescado de Horneado al Jalapeño

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Pescado horneado al Jalapeno: Jalapeno-Baked Fish with Roasted Tomatoes and Potatoes

I've been on a hot-streak with fish lately so I was feeling confident about this dish. It is very classic Everyday Mexican. There are potatoes on the bottom, fish on top and a reduced fire-roasted tomato, jalapeno, garlic sauce that blankets the whole thing. Best of all? You bang the whole thing in the oven making it low-maintenance. Wheee! I made it for my friend Hernan's 3xth? birthday.

Rick says the flavors of this dish are classic Mexican and my friend Lisa agreed. When she took her bite she sighed and said "This tastes like something we'd be eating on the beach in Cabo." I've never been to Cabo, but I think I need to go because it tastes friggin awesome. Until then, I'll just have this fish to keep me warm.

Posted on December 7, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #73-Escabeche de Pollo Asado con Verduras de Temporada

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Escabeche de Pollo Asado: Grilled Chicken Breasts with Yucatecan Spices

Each time I cooked a Bayless recipe for the first time I noted who was with us for the meal and anything significant that happened that day.  Overtime the Bayless cookbook has become not just a source of inspiration but also a record of our year, the happy days we spent building our deck and the special events we shared with special people. we made the chicken dish above for Elian's godparents before we attended the baptism preparation class that kicked my ass which is fortunate because it's best to eat kick-ass chicken before an ass-kicking.

Sharp eyes might notice that the lovely grilled chicken above features a huge diagonal slash down the middle. This is not some kind of remedial plating fancy, it's because I can't figure out how to grill efficiently and cut everything open to make sure it's done.

I lack basic understanding of how to control the heat. It's burnt on the inside, raw on the inside etc. etc. It's for this reason that I generally only choose meat that can still be eaten slightly raw (see beef/fish) but as you know the Bayless project is about trying out new recipes.

Chicken as you know can't be eaten raw. So...

I cooked it, I cut it open. Raw. I cooked it some more! Somehow still raw. Godparents arrive. Chicken smells delicious, but inside? Still raw!!!! Ten years later it was done and delectable but man what a journey. I use a stove-top grill. Is the heat too high? Too low? Should I be covering with foil? Please share your collective stove-top grill related wisdom.

Posted on December 5, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #72-Pollo Pulquero

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Pollo pulquero: Slow-Cooked Chicken with Tomatillos, Potatoes, and Fresh Herbs

There's been a lot of car trouble recently in the Perez household. Last week our Honda got hit while we were crossing an intersection and the week before that a biker slammed into our Prius. Fun stuff. The pioneer problem of the car catastrophes was our loyal little 97 Ford Thunderbird giving up the ghost.

While I was expecting the Thunderbird to die at some point, it was still a confusion when it happened. Even more confusing? Trying to haul two people to work and one child to daycare in different directions with one car. For a week I was staying at work for ridiculously long days and Arnold was busting out a two hour commute. It sucked and it would've sucked more if my friend hadn't called me a week into the car crisis and said:

"Do you want to go out for dessert tonight? Oh, and by the way I thought beforehand I could drop off my car so you could just borrow it until you can buy a new one. Anyways, let me know what time is good."

I don't have words for the kindness the people in our life constantly shower on us. There are so many who don't have someone to call to request a favor while we are spoiled with people who see our needs and take care of them before we even wrapped our heads around the problem. It's pretty amazing.

We didn't end up going out for dessert that week but I did have the opportunity to make her and her sister some pollo pulquero. It was a solid, little dish:  simple and hearty, it's named after the workers who harvest pulque for tequila. There was nothing wrong with that dish, but that night sitting out on the deck I wished that it was something more. I wanted it to be extraordinarily delicious as if chicken could somehow re-pay the kindness the people we love lavish on us. It's a silly notion, there is nothing to do with kindness except to say thank you and give it back as freely as you can to everyone you know yet somehow I still feel that somehow I can return the favor with food.

Maybe I need to start investing time in a chocolate-based cookbook project?

Posted on November 30, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #71-Trucha con Macadamias, Chile Serrano y Ejotes

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Trucha con Macadamias, Chile Serrano y Ejotes: Trout with Macadamias, Serrano and Green Beans

Note: This recipe really made me sad about my food styling skills: I wanted so badly for the pictures to reflect how delicious this fish was, but natural light is starting to be in very short supply so you make do with what you got, right? Cue end to my pity party.

I'll put the spoiler up front: this dish was delicious. Crazy delicious! Soak up all the sauce with some tortilla chips after you are done, contemplate licking the pan delicious. In general I'm not a fan of trout or green beans. I don't dislike them, they're just un-exciting. Macadamia nuts are a different story. They are yummy and expensive. This makes me both happy and anxious cause I hate ruining expensive ingredients.

I served this to my family and two of my friends. We ate it in the backyard in late fall on a beautiful night. My presentation? Not so beautiful! When I served it, it looked exactly like the picture below: Yikes!

The "rusticness" of its appearance aside, this dish was heaven. It reminded me a lot of Asian food in that it was perfectly balanced: it had heat (chile), acid (lime), sweet (green beans) and salty (toasted macadamia nuts). Improvement in my ability to balance flavors has been one of the best things I've learned throughout the cookbook project. Each week I've been working with very similar ingredients and flavors. I think that the repetition has allowed me to pay closer attention to technique and preparation. I don't have to ask myself what to do with poblano chiles, I know how to prep those suckers in my sleep. Knowing the basics allows me to pay more attention to balancing flavors. Similarly at the end of each recipe Rick reminds me to taste and adjust. I follow the instruction each time and I like to think it's improved my cooking: one taco at a time.

Posted on November 28, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #70-Birria Jaliscience

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Biria Jalisciense

Reckless is a good way to describe my approach to dinner parties. I like to invite a whole bunch of people over and then proceed to cook something I've never ever tried before or even eaten for that matter. I'm not sure why I continue to do this because the moment when everybody bites into something (and I have NO idea what it's going to taste like) strikes fear into my heart every time.

This is exactly what I did with Birria Jalisciense and let me tell you birria is no joke. It's supposed to be goat but seeing as I wasn't in the mood to run around Sacramento looking for goat meat I took Rick up on his suggestion to use a bone-in lamb shoulder. I did this despite the butcher's suggestion that it would easier to cook it without the bone.

"I need the bone for flavor." I said snottily, as you do if you are completing recipe #70! of a year-long cookbook project.

Cut to me wrestling a GIGANTIC bone out of a huge piece of lamb a short six hours later. In front of my guests of course.  Have I mentioned that I sometimes get a little bit queasy when I have to deal with bones in meat? Yeah....

It was an ideal scene: me grunting and turning slightly green while yanking on a gigantic piece of bone and flinging lamb around the kitchen. Nothing says hospitality like kitchen hysteria. After about 10 minutes I had to call Arnold in as the relief pitcher.

On the upside birria is delicious and apart from the bone issue a piece of cake to make. You just throw goat/lamb in the slow-cooker with fire-roasted tomatoes, a load of ancho chile powder and some potatoes and it emerges phoenix like as a rich, earthy stew. A squeeze of lime, some cilantro for color and you are good to go. My friends ending up asking for seconds so I guess I'll just have to keep living on the edge.

Posted on November 21, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #69-Nieve de Limon con Moras

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I've eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Nieve de Limon con Moras: Fresh Lime Ice with Berries

Do you have an ice cream maker? I don't. Sometimes I wish I for one but I have no self-control and I feel that an ice cream-maker in the house would equal bad news for my cholesterol levels. It's a timeless Faustian dilemma for the ages. Ice Cream Maker or Health?

Rick Bayless who magically understands me and my struggles helped me out by putting this recipe for lime ice in the book. It's light and sweet and refreshing on a hot summer day. Best of all, no ice cream maker needed! Get the recipe here.

 

Posted on November 16, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Mighty List, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #68-Huachinango al Mojo de Ajo con Calabacitas

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I've eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Snapper with Zucchini and Toasty Garlic Mojo

Can I be honest? I've been really losing momentum lately with this Bayless project. I hit some kind of  whiny wall around the time I overcooked some good quality tuna.  I was tired of braising stuff, I hated poblano chiles. It was too hard photographing food at night, blah, blah, blah.

It was during this bout of "cookbook ennui" that I made this dish and good lord, hold on cause Huachinango al Mojo de Ajo is not just fun to say, it's a game changer.

Mojo de ajo means bathed in garlic and that is a good way to explain this dish. First you pan fry up some snapper (or in my case halibut). It's important to season the crap out of your fish. It gives it this wonderful salty crusty finish which contrasts nicely against the silky sauce. Next up pan-fry any in-season vegetable of your choice (I chose zucchini) and then you dump in the mojo which is made with liberal amounts of oil and garlic, with a sprinkle of lime to liven things up. I didn't find this recipe on line but I did find one that is very similar for Mojo de Ajo Shrimp Scampi Pasta. Run don't walk to try it out. While you do that, I'll be over here behind my computer staring at this post and reminscing about this dish.

Posted on November 13, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Mighty List, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #67-Aderezo de Chorizo

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Chorizo Dressing

This should've been a Halloween post so horrifyingly bad is the picture I took of this salad dressing. Seriously? So gross.

The dressing however was not at all gross. Chorizo dressing mixed with some balsamic vinegar and Mexican oregano is a total win and when you mix it up with some oven-roasted potatoes you end up going somewhere good if not terribly photogenic.

Get a very similar recipe here.

Posted on November 7, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Mighty List, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #66-Ensalada de Atun Asado-Crudo con Chayote Rallado y Aderezo de Chile Tostado

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I've eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Seared Rare Tuna Salad with Chayote Slaw and Guajillo Chile Dressing

Seared tuna is the best, right? I mean, it's fatty and satisfying and bright pink or rather it should be unless like me you are impatient and don't heat up your pan enough before dumping your tuna in which results in delicious sushi-grade tuna becoming over cooked.

A tragedy for sure.

I'm not sure if it was this technical failure that accounted for my 'meh' feelings about this dish. It should've been a new brainer, guajillo+seared tuna should equal ecstasy but it didn't? Was it the chayote? Did my anger over screwing up the tuna color my impression of the dish? Any guesses?

Posted on November 2, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Mighty List, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #65-Ensalada de Rajas, Papas y Atún

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures.

Ensalada de Rajas, Papas y Atun

Canned tuna+my frenemy poblano chiles=dish I didn't want to try, but I resigned myself to the fact that the point of a cookbook project is to try new things. To brave new civilizations. To boldly go where...

Whoa... Star Trek just pops up when I'm not expecting it. Sorry about that.

This salad was actually extremely satisfying. Eseent a potato salad with tuna and poblanos as accents. The whole thing was held together not by mayonnaise but a slightly spicy and extremely pleasing oil-based dressing. I was honestly shocked by how much I enjoyed it. Just goes to show you that a good recipe can be magic, bringing together disparate tastes to become so much greater than their individual parts.

Posted on October 31, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Mighty List, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #64-Polla a la Veracruzana

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Pollo a la Veracruzana: Chicken a la Veracruzana

Two words for you: Accelerated Heat. This is how my aunt described the Pollo a laVeracruzana that I made for her birthday last September. For those of you who might be wondering what accelerated heat is, I'll give you the same explanation I received. Accelerated heat is the kind that just keeps on coming, it arrives in waves. It is also the kind of heat that only afflicted my aunt and my husband. Myself and my 90 year old grandmother were shockingly immune, but just in case I've warned you. There is a 50/50 chance that accelerated heat could afflict you when eating any of the 90 million Bayless dishes with chiles.

This dish is a slow-cooker dish. Can I sing the slow-cooker's praises for entertaining? A slow-cooker allows you to serve up gigantic sums of economical ingredients to guests without having to wrangle food immediately prior to their arrival. It is a wonder intervention.

On this particular day in September I used the wonder cooker to make a chicken dish rich with pickled jalapeños (the probable source of accelerated heat), cinnamon, parsley tomatoes and green olives. De-pitting the olives was a royal pain but so worth it for the lovely presentation and the sharp bite that brings the warmth of the dish together.

We had this dish on a sweltering summer day but as fall begins to crisp the air around us I can't help but think that this is the perfect time for a little accelerated heat.

You can find the recipe here.

Posted on October 26, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Mighty List, Project EAT.

Emily Bayless Project #63-Cochinita Pibil

I have a list of things I want to do. One of them is to cook every recipe in a cookbook so I’m working my way through Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican. I’ve eaten a lot of good stuff. This series is the record of those adventures. Cochinita Pibil is where things started getting serious, meatwise. Wusses like myself prefer to cook cuts of meat like "ribeye" and fajita steak. Cochinita Pibil is a simplification of a whole pit-cooked pig and required me to wrangle a scary sized pork-shoulder. There were bones involved, it was scary.

Luckily I chose a book called "Everyday Mexican" not "stuff I don't have time to do". Instead of in-ground pig-party I wrapped the pork shoulder snuggly in banana leaves with a healthy dose of white onion and achiote seasoning.

I wasn't in love with this dish although I'm unsure whether the cause was my ambivalence towards achiote or my lack of understanding regarding proper preperation of large chunks of meat. It wasn't bad, just not my cup of tea.

Something that is my cup of tea were the violently bright red onions that I marinated to go with the dish. I swear I want to make it again just to see how pretty they were.

Posted on October 24, 2011 and filed under Emily Bayless Project 2011, Mighty List, Project EAT.