Saturday, September 25, 2010


Stovetopreadings announces the arrival of guest reviewer, Jennifer McCord. The Seattle resident is a publishing veteran (see below) who loves to cook and is an avid collector of cookbooks. When I asked her if she wanted to write about some of the books we cover, she enthusiastically said yes. Her first entry is Rick Bayless's brand new cookbook, FIESTA AT RICK'S.

I had just returned from a family reunion in Minnesota, where our culture includes smorgasbords. Reading Rick Bayless’ FIESTA AT RICK’S: Fabulous Food for Great Times with Friends (WW Norton & CO.; $35.00; ISBN: 978-0-3930558-99-4) reminds this reviewer of what it means to celebrate good food together with friends and family. This cookbook makes it easy to imagine creating one’s own festival with Mexican food. The pictures are so enticing that you know the food will be scrumptious. There are many interesting chapters: Guacamoles, Nibbles & Libations; Ceviches, Seafood Cocktails and Oysters, Small Dishes for Party Snacking (Mexcian Tapas); Inspirations from Taquerieas, Mexican Diners and Street Vendors; Live-Fire Fast and Slow to Sweet Inspirations from Street Stalls, Bakeries and Ice Cream Shops. Bayless provides menus for four distinctive and memorable parties each denoted under the appropriate section. Each party comes with its own complete game plan, including a music playlist.

Bayless also includes basic helpful information. For instance he writes about the various kinds of avocados and limes providing useful and effective ways to store and use them. His tips on how to heat up store-bought corn tortillas were also a hit in my household this week.

The guacamole recipes provided me with some new insights into flavors and ideas as the fall approaches, such as Grilled Garlic and Orange Guacamole. The posole fiesta really grabbed my attention. Posole is one of my favorites. My mother and I cooked this dish during my visits home. We would get out the old recipe and then decide what new additions or deletions we might make this year. Should we add a little more of this spice or a little less, or just cook like it we always did? The decision depended upon the time of year and what peppers we could get. With the local farmer’s markets showcasing the various peppers available right now, this would be the optimal time to try some of the recipes in this book. We tried Bayless' recipe for his Classic White Posole. You serve the posole and everyone gets to make their own finishing touches with such extras as cabbage, radishes, ground chilies, lime wedges and oregano. What a feast!

FIESTA AT RICK’S stimulates the eyes with many gorgeous color photos, and the palate with intoxicating tastes that have made him the go-to expert on Mexican food for three decades. Enjoy.

Jennifer McCord made her first cake when she was nine years old. Even though the cake did not turn out as she expected, the experience began a life long love of cooking. She read M.F.K. Fisher in her late teens and decided to follow her advice. Cook with the cook whose food you have found delightful. Therefore, she has cooked with a host of cooks from bakers to restaurateurs following her palate and learning how to better her own cooking.
Jennifer has her own publishing consulting company where she operates as an editor, publishing management consultant and book packager. She and her husband Murray, live in Settle, Washington. Jennifer can be reached at

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