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Mexico One Plate at a Time

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Mexico One Plate at a Time Cover

ISBN13: 9780684841861
ISBN10: 068484186x
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Excerpt

Guacamole

Was there ever a fruit as sensual as an avocado? So rough-hewn, dare-to-touch-me masculine on the outside, so yielding, inviting, soft spring green and feminine inside? Writers have proclaimed that the avocado, tomato and chile are among Mexico's gifts to the world. And they name guacamole, where all three come together, as a perfect work of art.

It's no wonder that this perfect fruit begs to be mashed to enhance its melting, naturally spreadable quality. Early Spanish settlers called guacamole "the butter of the poor." The Aztecs recognized its possibilities when they coined the word "guacamole": "guaca" for avocado and "mole" for sauce.

Mashed avocado invites you to add flavors — think flavored butters here. Yet, considering how perfect it is in itself, the challenge is to exercise restraint. There are Mexican purists who stop at a sprinkle of salt on their avocado mash and call that guacamole. But I think you can employ a little creativity, setting some limits: no mayonnaise or sour cream. Avocado flesh by itself has an unctuous quality and subtle flavor — no need to dilute it. As for the add-ins, these flavor pinpoints seem more welcome when the guacamole is intended for chips. On the Mexican side of the border, guacamole's role is more as a salsa, something you spread on a taco. A smooth version blended with tomatillos can be a delicious drizzle over practically anything edible.

The second recipe here, the contemporary one, produces guacamole that is boosted with roasted poblanos, roasted tomatoes and roasted garlic. Roasting heightens sweetness, yielding a deeper-flavored guacamole. Though this contemporary version is good in and of itself, it is a perfect sauce for salmon steaks or grilled chicken. Whether you choose traditional or contemporary, feel free to pare these recipes down or add to them. They're yours to make your own.

Traditional benchmark: In my opinion, the best guacamole is a simple one — one that glamorizes the flavor of really delicious avocados, plain and simple. That starts with hand-mashing thoroughly ripe avocados to a chunky-smooth texture, then underscoring the avocado's natural richness with a little tang from lime juice, perhaps a little perfumy cilantro, maybe some crunchy onion and a hint of hot green chile. And tomato, too, might go in to boost the flavors with sweetness — though that's not always necessary.

When to think of these recipes: Guacamole is tremendously versatile. It almost defines the phrase "casual party food," but it's so simple to make that there's nothing to keep you from whipping up a batch for Wednesday night dinner, to spoon, say, onto a simple soft taco or over grilled chicken or fish. Guacamole in a warm corn tortilla is a favorite (if not totally balanced) lunch of mine.

Advice for American cooks: Decent avocados are quite readily available, but they're not always ripe. You may have to buy them a few days before you need them to ensure that they'll be soft-ripe.

Classic Guacamole

Guacamole Clásico

Makes about 2 1/2 cups, serving 6 as an appetizer, 8 to 10 as a nibble

Fresh hot green chiles to taste (about 2 serranos or 1 jalapeño), stemmed

1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup),

plus a little extra for garnish

6 ounces (1 medium round or 2 plum) tomatoes (you want

these ripe, though absolute red ripeness isn't as important

here as it is, say, for chopped tomato salsa)

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus a little extra

for garnish

3 medium-large (about 1 1/4 pounds total) ripe avocados

Salt

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

A few slices of radish for garnish (optional)

1. Roasting the chiles. Lay the chiles in a small ungreased skillet set over medium heat. Turn them every minute or so until they have softened (they'll darken in spots), 5 to 10 minutes. Mash them into a coarse puree, using a mortar, or finely chop them. Place in a large bowl.

2. More flavorings. Scoop the chopped onion into a strainer and rinse under cold water; shake off excess water and add to the bowl with the chiles. Chop the tomatoes into small bits — skin, seeds and all is my preference. You should have a scant cup. Add to the bowl along with the cilantro.

3. The avocados. To cut an avocado in half, you have to negotiate the large egg-shaped pit in the middle. Make a cut down the length of 1 avocado straight through to the pit. Continue cutting all the way around the pit until you wind up where you started. Twist the two halves in opposite directions and pull them apart. Scoop out the pit (the hueso, or bone, in Spanish) with a spoon. Then scoop out the avocado flesh from the skin and add to the bowl. Do the same with the remaining avocados. Use an old-fashioned potato masher or the back of a large spoon to mash the avocado flesh into a coarse pulp, mixing in the other ingredients as you go.

4. Seasoning the guacamole. Taste the guacamole and season with salt, usually a scant teaspoon, then add some of the lime juice and taste again. Continue seasoning with lime until the guacamole has enough zip for you. Cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface, and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

5. Serving. Unless you're serving guacamole dolloped on tacos or the like, the classic way to present it to your guests is in a Mexican lava-rock mortar (molcajete), sprinkled with chopped onion and cilantro. Sliced radish, if you have it, looks pretty here, and to the Mexican eye completes the very popular, patriotic red-white-and-green motif.

Working Ahead: Guacamole is good when freshly made, but, in my opinion, it tastes even better when the flavors are allowed to mingle for about half an hour before serving. If well chilled, it'll keep for several hours. After that, the flavors get out of balance and the avocado starts to turn brown.

Copyright © 2000 by Rick Bayless

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Josh Hyrkas, June 30, 2008 (view all comments by Josh Hyrkas)
Just like his PBS show (which this book is a companion for), you want to taste everything in this cookbook. This is true Mexican cooking at it's best!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780684841861
With:
Bayless, Deann Groen
With:
Brownson, Jeanmarie
With:
Bayless, Deann Groen
With:
Brownson, Jean Marie
Author:
Bayless, Rick
Author:
Isberner, James
Publisher:
Scribner Book Company
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Mexican
Subject:
Cookery, mexican
Subject:
Mexico
Subject:
Regional & Ethnic - Mexican
Subject:
General Cooking
Subject:
Cooking and Food-Mexican
Subject:
Mexican food; cooking; tacos; guacamole; burritos; tortilla; Cinco de Mayo; salsa; fiesta; party food; margarita; chipotle; IACP; party food; Frontera Grill; Topolobampo; enchiladas; nachos; tortas; Chicago; cuisine; recipes; tortas
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardback
Series Volume:
MCH085
Publication Date:
October 2000
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
2 color; 24 pages of color (in 3 inserts
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9.25 x 7.38 in 42.14 oz

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Related Subjects

Cooking and Food » Featured Chefs » Chefs
Cooking and Food » Regional and Ethnic » Mexican

Mexico One Plate at a Time Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$24.00 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9780684841861 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Published in conjunction with Bayless's 26-part cooking series of the same name, "Mexico One Plate at a Time" is the author's most user-friendly cookbook yet. America's foremost authority on Mexican cooking focuses on classic Mexican dishes in more than 120 recipes that offer an unparalleled introduction to an ever-popular and adaptable cuisine. 32 pages of color photos; 120 black-and-white photos. (Global Cuisine)
"Synopsis" by ,

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.

24 color photographs of finished dishes Photographs of Mexican location shots throughout

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