Recipe: Habanero Poppers


Cinco de Mayo Recipes From Chef Rick Bayless

Mexico and the US share a coastline along the Gulf of Mexico which has resulted in several cross over recipes.  The jambalaya so popular in Cajun Country is actually a Louisiana spin on the classic Spanish dish paella.  West Indies Salad popular in and around the Mobile area is a variation on ceviche.  There is even an entire cuisine that sprang up along the border between Texas and Mexico called Tex-Mex.

Rick Bayless is perhaps the best Mexican cuisine chef in the United States which isn’t bad for an Irish kid from Oklahoma.  Ah, America.  Mexican food is Third Coast Cuisine and Rick Bayless knows Mexican food.

Rick, and his wife Deann, dedicated more than 6 years to culinary research in Mexico, culminating in 1987 with the publication of their now-classic cookbook Authentic Mexican (Morrow). They also opened the colorful, vivacious Frontera Grill in Chicago, specializing in regional Mexican cooking, that same year to instant success.  I was in Chicago just last week and I made a point to try Frontera first hand and I can assure you Bayless does not disappoint.

To help celebrate the Battle of Puebla Rick has offered up a few recipes perfect for the party:

Frisee Salad with Pumpkinseeds and Queso Fresco

  • 1 head frisee lettuce or curly endive, bottom trimmed, torn into 2 inch pieces (about 8 cups)
  • ½ cup toasted pumpkinseeds (pepitas)
  • 5 small radishes (about 4 ounces), trimmed, sliced in half lengthwise and then cut into very thin half moons
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled Mexican queso fresco or salted farmers cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • About ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • A small pinch of sugar
  1. Rinse the frisee and spin dry in a salad spinner or pat dry with clean towels.
  2. In a large salad bowl, combine the frisee, pumpkinseeds, radish slices and crumbled cheese.
  3. To make the dressing, simply whisk together the ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.
  4. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss well.

Green Chile Shrimp Enchiladas

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 poblano, seeded and diced
  • 1 pound shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded Chihuahua or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 pouches (8 ounces each) Frontera Green Enchilada Sauce
  1. Heat oven to 400º. For filling, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and poblano. Sauté until tender and golden, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add shrimp and salt. Cook, stirring often, until shrimp are just barely cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp mixture to a large plate. Cool completely in the refrigerator.  Once cooled, stir in 1 ½ cups of the shredded cheese.
  3. Wrap 4 tortillas in plastic wrap. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Repeat with remaining 4 tortillas.
  4. Working quickly so the tortillas stay hot and pliable, unwrap one stack of tortillas and roll a 1/8th portion of filling into each tortilla. Place seam-side down in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Repeat to use all tortillas and filling. Open sauce pouches at one corner and pour over tortillas so they are completely covered with sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
  5. Bake until the enchiladas are hot through and the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes.  Serve immediately.

For more of Chef Rick Bayless’ Cinco de Mayo recipes visit his web site HERE.

Cinco de Mayo Recipes from Third Coast Cuisine

Cinco de Mayo is not a big deal in Mexico.  It is not the Mexican Independence Day but an attempt by the US restaurant and adult beverage industries to create a second St. Patrick’s Day.  So it isn’t the equivalent of our 4th of July, rather it is closer in stature to our Flag Day.  That doesn’t mean we can’t still throw a fiesta to commemorate the Battle of Puebla.  Here are a few recipes from the cookbook Third Coast Cuisine:

1½ tequila
1/2 ounce triple sec
Juice of 1/2 large lime
Coarse salt

Mix all but salt with cracked ice in a blender until smooth. Pour salt onto a saucer. Rub the rim of the glass with lime peel. Dip glass in salt until well coated. Pour drink into glass and serve with a lime slice as garnish.

Salsa Rojo (red salsa)
3-4 small tomatoes, quartered or 1 can stewed tomatoes
1/2 onion, quartered
2-3 jalapeños or Serranos, sans stems
1 bunch fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic
sea salt

Place onions into a blender or food processor and blend for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and blend another 30 seconds. Add garlic and peppers and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste and cilantro and blend until well mixed. Chill one hour before serving.

1 tsp. sugar
2 oz lime juice
4 oz carbonated water
4 oz red wine
1 ounce Grand Marnier

In a tall glass, dissolve 1 tsp sugar into 4 ounces of lime juice.  Add the carbonated water, wine, and Grand Marnier.  Stir and add ice.

6 tablespoons rice
1 1/4 cups blanched almonds
1 inch cinnamon stick
Zest of one lime
1 cup white granulated sugar
4 cups water

In a blender pulverize the rice until smooth.  Combine rice with almonds, cinnamon, and lime zest and refrigerate 6 – 24 hours.  Place rice mixture into the blender and blend 3 – 5 minutes or until smooth and all gritty texture is removed.  Add 2 cups of water and pulse 3 times for five seconds each pulse.  Line a sieve with 2 or 3 layers of cheesecloth and pour a little of the mixture at a time through the sieve into a bowl.  Gather the corners of the cheesecloth, give it a twist, and squeeze out the remaining liquid into the bowl.  Pour liquid into a pitcher, add final two cups of water, and stir in sugar.  Serve over ice.

Arroz Con Pollo
1/2 cup rice
1 lb chicken breast strips (dice after cooking)
1/2 med onion, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 chili, (jalapeño for medium heat, Serrano for hotter, habanera for too hot) diced
1 15 oz can of corn (all juice removed except for 2 tablespoon)
1? cup chicken broth
5 to 10 strands of saffron (optional)
2 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
Salt & Pepper to taste
Grated Colby/Jack Cheese

Boil rice in chicken stock with saffron and 2 tablespoons cumin until done. Season chicken to taste and brown in a skillet. Remove chicken and sauté onions, tomato, and chili (add oil or butter if needed) until onions are clear. Add corn and reserved corn juice and season to taste and heat through. Add chicken, rice, and final ½ teaspoon of cumin then simmer 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Top with Colby/Jack Cheese. Use tortillas as the only eating utensils.

Traditional Flan
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
8 eggs
16 egg yolks
1½ cups sugar
4 cups milk
2 tablespoons vanilla
4 cups half-and-half

Preheat an oven to 300 degrees.  Place the 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for approximately 25 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.  Bring milk and half-and-half to a simmer. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.  Into each of the 16 flan cups spoon enough sugar/water mixture to cover the bottom of the cup. Then pour in the flan mixture. Place the cups into a baking pan with approximately one-inch of water. Bake for roughly 25 minutes.

battle of puebla

New Cheflebrity Marcela Valladolid

Though Bobby Flay remains ever in the spotlight at the Food Network the other two founding chefleberities, Mario Batali and Emeril Legasse have been pushed to the background.  It could simply be about ratings.  Just as likely it has to do with the rumored dissatisfaction many chefs now have with the network’s Disneyesque image.  The execs at Chelsae Market try to weave a squeaky clean web around their stars but the reality is that chefs, by nature, are lustful rogues.  Bourdain is the norm, Sara Moulton is the deviant.

For years now the Food Network has been under fire for programming that is personality-driven rather than chef-driven, fluff rather than serious cooking shows (I know, oxymoron).  Parent company Scripps has plans to address the network’s desire to retain its core audience while building a new one, namely reinventing the Fine Living Network as the Cooking Channel.  In the meantime Food Network has compromised by returning to the formula that built that core audience – chefs who have personality.

Enter Marcela Valladolid.

She has the personality pedigree.  Valladolid was a member of the cast of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart back in 2005 where she finished fourth.  She also bares an uncanny resemblance to cover girl Kristin Kreuk the starlet famous for playing Clark Kent’s high school sweetheart Lana Lang on Smallville.  And of course she has the mandatory celebrity Twitter presence.

Chef Marcela has the chops as well.  She matriculated at both the Los Angeles Culinary Institute and the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School in Paris where she graduated as a pastry chef.  She appeared on the Food Network 12 years ago on the old “In Food Today” with David Rosengarten.  Since then she has worked as an editor at Bon Appetit Magazine, run a catering company, hosted a cooking show for Discovery en Espanol and last summer she published her first cookbook, Fresh Mexico: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor (Clarkson Potter).

But before all of the hoi polloi of Reality TV and big time publishing, Valladolid learned to cook as a child.  Her father was a respected chef in Mexico and her aunt opened one of the first cooking schools in Tijuana.  It is that authentic Mexican food of her childhood that she is prepared to teach on her new Food Network show Mexican Made EasyMME is directed at the busy mom who wants to put out fast, healthy food with a Latin flair.  It premieres Saturday January 23 at 9:30am ET/PT.  As proof of her dedication to the true flavors of Mexico she proclaims, “there is no yellow cheese in real Mexican cooking.”


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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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