On August 15 the library’s cookbook club met for dinner with Mexican cookbooks by Rick Bayless, the most we’ve ever tasted and rated in one meeting…seven cookbooks. It was also our one year anniversary meeting which we celebrated at the home of one of our members, where we were able try two of Rick’s recipes for imbibing.
Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking From the Heart of Mexico first published in 1987 and then again in 2007 with Deann Groen Bayless.
Mexico One Plate At a Time published in 2000 with JeanMarie Brownson and Deann Groen Bayless.
Rick and Lanie’s Excellent Kitchen Adventures: Chef-Dad, Teenage Daughter, Recipes, and Stories published in 2004 with Lanie Bayless and Deann Groen Bayless.
Mexican Everyday published in 2005 with Deann Groen Bayless.
Fiesta at Ricks: Fabulous Food For Great Times with Friends published in 2010 with Deann Groen Bayless.
Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks published in 2012 with Dean Groen Bayless.
More Mexican Everyday published in 2015 with Deann Groen Bayless.
Rick grew up in Oklahoma City where his parents owned the barbecue restaurant, Hickory House and his uncles owned the Jones Brothers grocery stores. He went on to attend the University of Oklahoma where he studied Mexican cooking and Spanish and Latin American culture and then did his doctoral work in anthropological linguistics at the University of Michigan. His first chef job was as an executive chef at Lopez, a Southwest/Mexican restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio.
From 1978 to 1979, Rick hosted the 26-part PBS TV show, Cooking Mexican before he and his wife Deann moved to Mexico for six years to write their first cookbook, Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico published in 1987. Craig Claiborne, writing in The New York Times, said it was “the greatest contribution to the Mexican table imaginable.” That same year, they opened their first restaurant, Frontera Grill in Chicago. Then in 1991 they opened Topolobampo, a Mexican fine-dining restaurant.
As of this writing, Rick now has nine cookbooks, the two we did not review were: Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen and Salsas That Cook. His cookbooks have received James Beard Award and Julia Child IACP status, along with weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
Along with his cookbooks, his restaurants have also won accolades, including a James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Restaurant in 2007 for Frontera Grill. Since his first two restaurants he has gone on to include a fast-casual Xoco in 2009, and a quick-service Tortas Frontera at O’Hare International Airport, along with Frontera Fresco at some Macy’s stores and Northwestern University. In 2016 he opened two new restuarnts in Chicago, Lena Brava and Cerveceria Cruz Blanca, a craft brewery and Oaxacan-style taqueria.
If you don’t know Rick from his cookbooks or his numerous restaurants you may know of him from winning the title of Bravo’s Top Chef or from his PBS TV series, Mexico One Plate at a Time, which is in its 11th season. In 2012 Rick was nominated for a Daytime Emmy award for Best Culinary Host.
If you can’t get to Chicago to visit one of his restaurants, you can find his line of salsas, cooking sauces and chips at most local grocery stores under the label Frontera.
In addition to his culinary work, Rick gives back to his local community and farmers through a variety of ways, including his Frontera Farmer Foundation. He was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals for his work.
Rick’s achievements and awards are too numerous to continue to name, but the most interesting is the one given by the Government of Mexico, the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest decoration given to foreigners whose work has benefited Mexico and its people.
Club Rating: 3.1
“Easy to follow, some ingredients difficult and hard to find.” M.C.
“Very interesting for entertaining.” C.P.
“Nice, very, very simple.” K.M.
“Was not very interested, although loved the corn soup.” O.H.
“Too many recipes need to be made and served right away. Liked the information and suggestions. Too much meat for me (vegetarian).” T.H.
10 out of 11 club members would recommend Rick Bayless cookbooks to a friend. 6 out of 11 club members had heard of Rick before, some from his TV cooking show.
Rick lives in historic Bucktown, a neighborhood in Chicago with his wife Dean Groen Bayless. His home is a former tavern that dates back to 1903. You can view photos of his kitchen here.
Mexican Everyday (2005) with Deann Groen Bayless this cookbook is a collection of 90 recipes for “everyday” food. Many of the recipes were featured on the fourth season of PBS’s “Mexico–One Plate at a Time” cooking show. Special features include a guide to the Mexican pantry with full-color photos and Rick’s secrets to eating and living a healthy life (even if you love to cook and eat). Nominated for a James Beard Award in 2006.
- Home-Cooked Beans p.82
- Smoky Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos p. 149
More Mexican Everyday (2015) with Deann Groen Bayless this cookbook is a follow-up to his bestselling Mexican Everyday. In this book he continues his teaching methods of “everyday” Mexican cuisine building tasty meals out of a few ingredients in a short amount of time. Recipes include breakfast, grilling, slow cookers, rice cookers, and dessert.
- Butternut-Pecan Muffins with Brown Sugar Crumble p. 239
- Herb Green Chicken and Rice p. 258
- Mexican Chocolate-Pumpkin Seed Cake p. 338
- Coconut Bread Pudding p. 351
Fiesta at Rick’s: Fabulous Food For Great Times with Friends (2010) with Deann Groen Bayless this book is actually a companion volume to Mexican Everyday for the not-so-everyday cooking for parties and celebrations. Includes 150 recipes with themes like a guacamole bar cocktail party or a Mexican mole fiesta, you will find advanced preparation tips and day-of gameplans, even a fiesta playlist.
Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking From the Heart of Mexico (2007, first published in 1987) with Deann Groen Bayless who traveled to the six distinct regions of Mexico, this cookbook brings back what they found in Mexican towns, kitchens, and markets. The introduction provides some background to Mexican cooking through historical influence, regional tastes, local markets, types of Mexican restaurants and street food.
- Fresh Corn Chowder with Roasted Peppers p.99
- Mexican Rice Pudding p. 286
- Fresh Cantaloupe Ice pg.301
Mexico One Plate At A Time (2000) with JeanMarie Brownson and Deann Groen Bayless this book is the companion to his PBS series of the same name. By this time, Rick was well known as chef promoting Mexico’s diverse cuisine. The book received a James Beard Award for Best Cookbook of the Year, International Division in 2001. Rick begins each “plate” with an introduction followed by a traditional benchmark, advice, the recipe along with tips for working ahead. He finishes each plate with a Q&A from his testers. The book ends with a Mexican culinary glossary.
- Shrimp Ceviche “Cocktail” p. 16
- Potato-Chorizo Tacos with Simple Avocado Salsa p. 96
- Rice with Roasted Poblano, Spinach and Fresh Cheese p. 180
Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks (2012) with Deann Groen Bayless this book has 60 recipes from his restaurant’s most requested offerings. Frontera Grill is located in Chicago.
- Bartender’s Recipe Margarita Pitcher Recipe for a Party p. 20
- Peach (or Mango)-Basil Margarita Pitcher Recipe for a Party p. 51
- Guacamole with Watercress and Sesame p. 170
- Grilled Corn and Poblano Guacamole p. 174
- Sesame-Green Chile Pecans p.215
Rick and Lanie’s Excellent Kitchen Adventures: Chef-Dad, Teenage Daughter, Recipes, and Stories (2004) with Lanie Bayless and Deann Groen Bayless this cookbook offers more than 100 international classics, along with some American family favorites. The book gives us a glimpse beyond the Rick we know him as–famous chef, to the Rick his family knows him as–dad. Nominated for a James Beard Award in 2005.