Rick Bayless is Mexican cooking's great American voice. An award-winning chef and author of bestselling Mexican cookbooks like Authentic Mexican
, he's found a way to present honest recipes in a friendly, relaxed fashion that nonetheless touches every technical base. One Plate at a Time
takes his approach a step further. Bayless offers more than 120 recipes, providing traditional versions of much-loved classics like Green Chile Chicken Tamales, modern renditions of the basic repertoire, and dish "anatomies." These detail what a given dish should taste and look like, when it's best served, and how American cooks should approach its preparation. This goofproof strategy will appeal to old cooking hands and culinary gringos alike.
Ranging from soups and starters to entrees, light meals, desserts, and drinks, the chapters present a wide range of dishes, from the simple (such as guacamole, updated with roasted poblanos, garlic, and tomatoes) to the more complex (a classic red mole with turkey, for one, followed by Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Apricot-Pine Nut Mole). Other winning recipes include Seafood in Mojo de Ajo (with toasted, slow-cooked garlic), Smoky Chipotle Beans with Wilted Spinach and Masa "Gnocchi," and, for dessert, a definitive vanilla flan with instructions for preparing it in three versions: light, creamy, and rich. Throughout, recipes are followed by paragraph-long "postmortems" (is Mexican vanilla worth searching out, for instance) that further extend reader understanding. With 32 pages of color photos and an extensive glossary, the book is an inspired place to start or continue a Mexican cooking journey. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Rarely has a cuisine been so epically dissected, analyzed, pined over and exemplified in the name of a tasty dinner. Indeed, cookbook is perhaps too tame a description for this latest venture from Bayless, the popular chef and author (Salsas That Cook, etc.). Each recipe begins with a stream-of-consciousness consideration that at times runs a bit too jolly. "No food translates into more carefree fun than a singing dish of queso fundido," declares the author. Following the lead-in, a paragraph provides the "Traditional Benchmark," wherein the ideal version of the dish is captured. Thus, readers learn what makes the perfect flan or Pozole (Pork and Hominy Stew). Next come a few words on "When to Think of These Recipes"DChiles Rellenos when you're pulling out the stops, Tamales for hanging out with the gang. A third paragraph offers "Advice for American Cooks," such as what peppers you can substitute in your Adobado Chicken. Then, at last, come the recipes. Bayless provides both a traditional and contemporary version of most dishes. Among his many happy surprises are a relatively unknown "street-style" enchilada, which is dipped in chile sauce and quick fried, and a grilled Cactus Salad. Each recipe is followed by answers to Frequently Asked Questions. How saucy should the filling be for your taco? Or maybe just tune in and read along to the PBS version, with one of Bayless's Mango Coolers in hand. (Oct.)
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