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Rick And Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures: Recipes and Stories

Rick And Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures: Recipes and Stories

by Rick Bayless, Lanie Bayless, Deann Groen Bayless, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
Renowned chef, author, and television personality Rick Bayless has prepared gourmet meals for his share of celebrities. But when asked about his most memorable cooking experiences, he immediately answers, "with my family and friends, at my home or theirs-whether around the block or around the globe." Lanie Bayless has grown up cooking and eating with her chef-dad in


Renowned chef, author, and television personality Rick Bayless has prepared gourmet meals for his share of celebrities. But when asked about his most memorable cooking experiences, he immediately answers, "with my family and friends, at my home or theirs-whether around the block or around the globe." Lanie Bayless has grown up cooking and eating with her chef-dad in their restaurant, at their home, and in other people's homes from Oklahoma City to Tokyo-with stops in Mexico, Morocco, France, Thailand, and Peru along the way. But her perspective is different from his. He's the celebrated chef with decades of cooking and traveling experience, and she's a teenager with ideas of her own.

Rick & Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures is a lively, multigenerational dialogue between two not-always-like-minded cooks. Each brings a unique outlook to the wide variety of flavors, cooking techniques, ingredients, and travel experiences they shared during the four years they worked on this book.

For Rick, sharing a meal is one of the most powerful catalysts for common understanding between parents and kids, friends and families, and people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This unique cookbook of more than 100 international classics (as well as down-home American favorites) offers simple, step-by-step recipes that will draw everyone to the table. Here the wisdom and experience of a famous chef are transformed into the everyday advice of an at-home dad.

Author Bio: RICK BAYLESS is the chef-proprietor of Chicago's hugely successful Frontera Grill and its elegant neighbor, Topolobampo. He has been named Chef of the Year by the prestigious IACP and the James Beard Foundation. He is the author of four best-selling cookbooks and has produced and starred in two public television series, the second of which is in its fourth season.

LANIE BAYLESS grew up in a restaurant-literally. She has a room just above the Frontera Grill's kitchen. Lanie learned a lot of what she knows about food and cooking from her parents.

CHRISTOPHER HIRSHEIMER is the photographer of Authentic Vietnamese Cooking, The New Irish Table, and Fried & True.

Editorial Reviews

This lively book serves as a forum for dialogues between TV chef Rick Bayless and his teenage daughter Lanie. Swapping recipes and critiques, father and daughter present two distinct outlooks on cooking techniques, ingredients, and culinary traditions. Rick and Lanie also exchange stories about the family's adventures in Japan, Mexico, Morocco, France, Thailand, and Peru.
Publishers Weekly
Of the myriad lessons to be found here, the most resounding is this: to be the teenage daughter of an internationally known chef is a very good thing. Proud papa Bayless takes his family to Mexico, the land that launched his culinary success via cookbooks (Mexico: One Plate at a Time, etc.) and a PBS series; to his Oklahoma barbecuing roots; and farther afield, to France, Morocco and Thailand. Both writers prepare each recipe, though rarely together, and commentary from the two highlights the pleasures of cooking from the opposite perspectives of seasoned master and joyful rookie. W.C. Fields disliked performing with children for fear of being upstaged, and Mr. Bayless might be wise to take heed. His travelogues are at best ho-hum next to Lanie's, which brim with brutal honesty. "Morocco is a spectacle of wind-swept deserts," he proclaims, while for Lanie, "It was kind of like everywhere else we visited. Except that you had to wash your hands in front of everyone." Recipes for Kebabs and Paella arise from this trip. In Thailand it's Red Curry with Duck and Street Vendor Pad Thai. Dad and daughter tackle Red Mole with Chicken in Oaxaca, assuring readers that multiple ingredients don't always make for a complex challenge. "I really don't know what the big deal is," says Lanie. Photos. (Oct. 20) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.87(w) x 9.75(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Rick & Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures

Chef-Dad Teenage Daughter Recipes and Stories
By Rick Bayless Lanie Bayless Deann Groen Bayless

Stewart, Tabori & Chang

Copyright © 2004 Rick Bayless
All right reserved.

Chapter One

MEXICO {with a side trip to Peru}

* * *

Rick: The sky was clear blue as we started our descent over the spectacular thousand-year-old ruins of Monte Alban and into the Oaxaca valley. It's always sunny here in December-one reason I've been coming every winter for the past two decades. Another reason is that we've made so many friends here that this small town in the southern highlands of Mexico has become our Mexican home.

Some people tell me I must have been a Oaxacan in a previous life since I feel so at home walking the downtown streets, sitting in the cafés around the square and browsing through shops that sell everything from fantastical wooden creatures to Mexico's finest works of art. I'm totally at home with the food, too. I can slip right into a breakfast of huevos rancheros or spicy chilaquiles (a crunchy-soft tortilla concoction), then move onto a midday meal of caldo de gato (cat's tail soup-a dramatic name for chicken-vegetable soup), chicken in black mole (Oaxaca's most famous fiesta dish) with rice and corn tortillas as soft as a chamois rag, and finish with a crunchy-crystalline frozen "ice" made from some kind of tropical fruit.

The food is the main reason I keepcoming back. Well, the food and the art. And the generous-spirited people. And the way everyone seems so much calmer and more in swing with nature and the seasons than we are in the United States. That's why, when Lanie was born, I decided I needed to give her Oaxaca once a year. For Christmas-America's most important, but most commercial, holiday. I wanted her to know that there are people on earth who can create amazing parties by reaching deep into theft spirits-not their pocketbooks. Parties where no one gets a gift (except maybe a little candy from a piñata), but everyone leaves totally satisfied.

We've known Javier Mendez and Toni Sobel (and their four kids) for so long I can't even remember when we met. And for years now, we've shared Christmas dinner at the same outdoor restaurant with its dirt floors, hammocks, an amazing pit-cooked lamb barbacoa and a pet monkey. Hours of Christmas dinner that turn into stories and laughs, because we all invite lots of other friends and acquaintances.

But this year I had asked Toni if we could all cook a pre-Christmas dinner together-something I'd been wanting to do for years-Oaxacan recipes she'd learned from her mother-in-law. (She was raised in New York, but came here and married a local 37 years ago.) Really, I asked if we could cook dinner with Andrés, her 15-year-old son. I'd heard stories of his legendary cooking prowess. If he could really cook, I wanted him to make a mole with us-one of the hardest (and most special dishes) in Mexico's cookbook.

That's why, on the 21st of December, a Sunday, Toni, Javier, Andrés, Deann, Lanie and I headed for the nearby town of Tlacolula (though I probably wouldn't have if I'd known how torn up the road was; they're building a new super-highway to the coast). One thing that sets Oaxaca apart from most of Mexico is its markets: each little town throughout the Oaxaca valley has its market day and specialty. Sunday is Tlacolula's market day.

The Tlacolula market has a profoundly rural feel to it. (When I tell you that they sell livestock toward the back of the market, you get what I mean.) Life seems so basic here: stalls of every day clothes (nothing fancy), cooking equipment, tools, simple sundries and decorations, music (cassettes and burned CDs) and mescal (local liquor), all jammed into the streets around the church and food market building.

On Sundays they can't contain all the food in the permanent buildings; it spills out into a concrete-paved square just behind the L-shaped market. Because the area is rural, and quite poor, much of the food is displayed on colored or palm mats on the ground. Not thrown out willy-nilly, but lovingly, beautifully arranged into displays that reflect the people's deep-seated respect for their food. The square is a whirl of colors and smells, punctuated by the staccato chants of sellers calling out prices, quality and selection, sometimes with the aid of an electric megaphone. Dozens of varieties of dried chiles, each giving off a unique, spicy "perfume." Sweet-smelling, deep-red tomatoes. Piles of spinach and other greens. Aromatic fresh herbs. The list could go on almost endlessly.

Because our group was big (and not particularly organized) we wandered this way and that, up and down the aisles, through the front patio and then to the back, until we'd bought everything we needed for our meal. Toni-who knew just what she wanted-kept deferring to me (the chef), while I kept deferring to Andrés (because I wanted to see what he would choose). But somehow it all got bought.

My favorite part of the Tlacolula market is the bread building, where they sell large and small rounds of thrillingly delicious bread-much of it baked in old wood-fired ovens. I started buying: first, the little pita-like rounds with coarse, red-dyed sugar; then the chocolate-studded egg bread baked in old sardine cans; then the little streusel-topped buns they call conchas. I didn't want to stop except that I realized we'd all go into sugar overload if bread was all we ate while cooking. Besides, it was already past noon.

That's when we decided to eat goat barbacoa. I don't think I've ever been in this market without eating at least one soft taco of slow-cooked goat barbacoa: goat meat that is first marinated in a spicy red-chile rub then cooked slowly for a long time with these amazingly aromatic avocado leaves, until meltingly tender. Tacos of goat barbacoa are like a brass band of flavors in your mouth. Now, I understand that maybe some people don't want a brass band in their mouths, but you should try it at least once. At least that's what I tell Lanie. One bite. You might find that it's the best stuff on the planet. Especially when you open up that great big white corn tortilla filled with juicy, spicy goat meat, drizzle in a little tangy green tomatillo salsa and then lay in a couple of slices of avocado.

From Tlacolula, Toni and Javier's house is about halfway back to Oaxaca City. It was early afternoon when we turned slowly through their wrought iron gate and made our way to the carport behind the brick, one-story house. They have a big yard-not exactly what you'd call perfectly manicured-filled with a here-and-there collection of fruit trees-orange, lime, tangerine, guava, grapefruit, fig, avocado, native plum. Once we unpacked all our stuff onto the counter that divides their kitchen from the dining and living rooms, there was hardly anywhere to cook. Toni sent Andrés outside to set up the special outdoor stove to toast the chiles and other ingredients for the moles.

What are moles? Well, that's a little hard to say, at least until you've immersed yourself in Mexican culture. Then you know that when there's a special occasion, you make some kind of meat or chicken (even fish in some places) in mole-a sauce, a very special sauce. Usually the sauce is very traditional, based on chiles (mild to hot) and lots of other ingredients including nuts, seeds or corn that are blended to give the sauce a wonderful consistency. Some moles, made with fruit in addition to other ingredients, are a little sweet. "Special" is the operative word for all moles, though.

A note about those chiles: Mexico uses more varieties of chiles than anywhere else on earth. Certainly, cooks there like some of their food to be spicy, but not all the chiles they use are all that hot (what they call picante in Spanish). The really hot varieties are typically not used in moles and other sauces, only in salsas.

Oaxaca is called the "Land of the Seven Moles" (they range in color from pale green to jet black, with all kinds of earthy colors in between). Andrés was making two of them for us-the easiest ones: the amarillo (translates as "yellow" even though it comes out a color we'd call "orange") and the coloradito (translates as "brick red"). Both start by dry-toasting dried chiles on a griddle (we used the typical Oaxacan clay griddle), along with onions, garlic and tomatoes. It's a strange step by American kitchen standards, but a step that gives Oaxacan food its particular flavor.

For the amarillo, Andrés first soaked some lightly toasted dried guajillo chiles (cranberry-red, six inches long, medium-spicy) in hot water until soft. Then he blended them with spices like cinnamon and allspice, plus the griddle-roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic. He put this mixture into a big pot and cooked it until it got darker and thicker. After thinning out the mixture with some chicken broth, he added a little corn tortilla dough to thicken it and then simmered it with the chicken and the huge, aromatic green leaves called hoja santa. (I told you moles are kind of complex, and they take a while to make.) And that was only one of the three dishes he was making with us, cooking in old-fashioned clay pots on a standard gas range in a dead end galley-style kitchen that was better suited to one cook, not four or five. Andrés was unfazed. I was impressed.

The second mole, the coloradito, was actually a little bit more involved than the amarillo. But I like it even better-partly because it's richer with red chile flavor, nuttier and seasoned, as many of the moles are, with a little chocolate at the end, adding just a little sweet hint of chocolate woven into the savory flavorings.

So Andrés cooked and cooked, while we pitched in where we could. His mother used her new food processor to blend some black beans to a smooth paste (the way they like beans in Oaxaca) and then fried the paste in a little oil (Oaxacans also use pork lard) until the beans got thick and a little shiny. Andrés loves those fried black beans spread on a tostada (crisp-fried corn tortilla), topped with a little lettuce, some cheese and a salsa he makes out of cooked tomatillos (those slightly sour-tasting, green tomato-looking vegetables that have a papery husk on the outside) whirred in a blender with a special Oaxacan smoky chile and some garlic.

Just as the moles were finishing their simmering, Lanie and Laní (Toni and Javier's 19-year-old daughter) were making a dessert I hadn't had for years. I first made it while living in Mexico City, where it is called isla flotante (floating island), as it is in France, where most people assume the dish originated. It probably came to Mexico when Maximilian, a Hapsburg emperor, claimed the "throne" of Mexico back in the 1860s and decided he couldn't live without a whole battalion of French chefs. Enough history, though I still wonder how this family came to know the dessert as huevos nevados (snowy eggs). They're fun to make and everyone loves them. First Laní and Lanie made a pudding out of milk, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch and egg yolks. Then they beat egg whites until stiff, scooped them up in rounds and dropped them on top of the simmering pudding to cook. When the egg whites were firm, they transferred them into serving bowls (they used coffee cups) and spooned a little pudding over the top.

The dishes at the Mendez family table couldn't have been more fabulously flavored. They could have been fancier and more elegantly served for sure. In fact, the table itself was very simple: just a spoon at each place to scoop up the sauce of the mole and a stack of tortillas to use for picking up the piece of chicken in our bowls. But when we tasted the dishes, it was as if a perfect symphony was being performed. Now that's true elegance because it's not just about appearance but about something that's from within, something that has taken generations (if not centuries) to get right.

The whole experience turned out to be about much more than the food, of course, as it always does when people enjoy being with others. Whether anyone exactly says the words or not, it's about celebrating a slice of life, and food is the spur that gets it all going. The better the food, the better the time you'll have-if you've surrounded yourself with life-loving people.

As first helpings gave way to seconds, stories and reminiscences started flowing. Laughs spilled out all around And before we knew it, hours had passed. The sun was descending behind those ruggedly beautiful mountains that hug the valley.

A few days later, on Christmas Eve, all the parish churches paraded their Christmas floats through Oaxaca's main square, followed by the church's brass band, a collection of carolers and-yes, this is true-the church's fireworks master shooting off all kinds of wildness. The whole crowd-whether standing or tucked into the little cafés around the square-seemed to be caught up in celebrating this one instant, this one slice of life. It was that same exuberant love of life we'd experienced at the Mendez table, only on a much bigger scale. That's what I love about Oaxaca at Christmas. That's the kind of Christmas I always want to share with Lanie.

* * *

Lanie: I can't believe the road out to Tlacolula was so bumpy. I thought I was on one of those horrible Six Flags tides that seems like it's never going to end even though it really only lasts 30 seconds. Thank goodness for air conditioning in Toni and Javier's van. Meant we could keep the windows up even though it's hot. It's dry season-dusty. Dusty and bumpy is not a good combo. In summer it's all green here, but I don't get to see Oaxaca much in summer, since I come for Christmas. Every year since I was born.

We went out with Toni and Javier (known them forever) and Andrew (son-15-real name Andrés) to buy stuff to cook at the market in Tlacolula. It's sort of like all the other big markets in Mexico. Stuff everywhere: spread on plastic sheets, hanging on racks, under colored tarps. Jackets, dresses, pants, underwear (like you're going to stand right there and pick it out in front of everyone). Spoons and cooking pots. Tons of CDs and tapes (all being played at the same time, I might add).

Anyway, you get through all the stuff in the streets and then you walk across this big churchyard and you come to the food part. There's one main open place for food-tons of food. But not organized like at the Jewel or Dominick's grocery story. And-let me be honest here-some of it doesn't smell all that great. Especially the d-r-i-e-d f-i-s-h.

Well, it turns out that Andrew, who is supposed to be in charge, really doesn't have a list. Only these recipes folded up and stuck in a pocket. Which means we have to keep reading them over and over and going from stall to stall-and sometimes back again. We finally found the right tomatoes. And got the dried chiles (now there's a smell). And the flesh cheese. And then we decided we were hungry and couldn't wait to cook all the food So we went inside this building where there were breads (beautiful pries of fresh, fresh breads-some with big sugar crystals on top). That's also where they serve the goat barbacoa. Yes, goat.

I don't really like goat that much. But at this market that's all you can get besides bread. And my dad said I had to eat more than bread. (Surprise! He says he loves goat!) I chose the goat soup-called consome. (Like I was going to choose the goat tacos....) Besides, if you think beef soup and you put enough chopped onion and cilantro in it, you can make it taste okay. It's not like this is a restaurant or anything. There are just tables with benches and chairs around them right there in that big cement building. And the lady who makes the food has a pot sitting on a charcoal fire and a cutting board on a table and a bucket of water to wash dishes. Like camping. Only she has to do it every day.

We got back to Toni and Javier's house-over the same bumpy road-and started cooking outside under the carport. When you prepare dried chiles, you either have to have a great big exhaust fan or be outside or somewhere the chile fumes can blow away. Or you just cough a lot. So we were under the carport browning the chiles (and garlic and onion and tomato and tomatillos) on a portable stove hooked to a gas tank like we use on our gas grill at home.


Excerpted from Rick & Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures by Rick Bayless Lanie Bayless Deann Groen Bayless Copyright © 2004 by Rick Bayless. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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