Talk Takeaway: Cooking with Chef Rick Bayless

Posted on Nov 9, 2012 11:45am

Check out these recipes by Chef Rick Bayless that appeared on today's show!

Apple-Fennel Guacamole
(Makes about 3 cups)

Ideas for serving: This is a guacamole to put on a dress-up table with lots of fresh vegetables for dipping, maybe some garlic toasts or grilled pita, even some rustic tortilla chips. That said, my favorite way to serve it is as a condiment with grilled chicken or fish on an Indian-summer afternoon sitting in my backyard, which happens far too infrequently.

1 medium fennel bulb, stalks and fronds cut off
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ medium apple (a crisp-textured one like Granny Smith works here), peeledd, cored and cut into ¼-inch pieces

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 ripe medium-large avocados
1 generous teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 large fresh Serrano or 1 small jalapeño, stemmed, seeded if you wish and finely chopped

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the fennel bulb in half, and then cut each half into 3 wedges. Lay them in a single layer in a small baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil. Measure in ¼ cup water, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt, cover with foil and slide into oven. Bake until the fennel is tender, about 1 hour. Cool.

Remove the fennel to a cutting board and pull off any exterior layers that seem fibrous. Cut out and discard the pieces of core that hold each wedge together, then chop the remainder into tiny pieces – the tinier the better.

While the fennel is cooking, scoop the apple into a bowl, sprinkle it with the lime juice and toss to combine. Refrigerate until you're ready to use it.

Cut the avocados in half, running a knife around the pit from top to bottom and back up again. Twist the halves in opposite directions to release the pit from one side of each avocado. Remove the pit, and then scoop the flesh from each half into a large bowl. With an old-fashioned potato masher, a large fork or the back of a large spoon, coarsely mash the avocado.

Add the thyme, chopped green chile, apples (including all the lime juice) and half of the chopped fennel to the avocado and stir to combine. (Refrigerate the remaining fennel to add to a salad or pasta dish.) Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate until serving time.

When you're ready for the guacamole, scoop it into a serving dish and carry it to your guests.

Smoky Spiced Cashews

(Makes 3 cups)

Cook's notes: If you can't find powdered chipotle, you can use powdered ancho or guajillo, though the flavor will be a little different.

3 cups (about 1 pound) raw cashews
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons agave syrup (light organic gives the best flavor) or honey
1 to 2 teaspoons powdered chipotle chile
½ teaspoon ground black pepper, preferably freshly ground
½ teaspoon ground allspice, preferably freshly ground
1 teaspoon salt

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, mixing to distribute the spices evenly. Spread the cashews in an uncrowded layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or a nonstick baking mat.

Bake, stirring thoroughly every 5 minutes to coat the nuts with the flavorings, until they have a shiny, dryish coating, about 15 minutes. Stir every few minutes as they cool to ensure they don't stick together, and they're ready to serve. The nuts can be stored in an airtight container for several days at room temperature or for several months in the freezer.

Cilantro-Jalapeño Margarita
(Makes 1 cocktail)

Bartender's notes: Jalapeños vary wildly in their spiciness (as does each person's penchant for that spiciness), so you'll want to taste the one you're using and determine what you think is the perfect amount. I really love the spicy, grassy-green freshness that jalapeño infuses into this libation, a flavor that's made all the more delicious by the bruised cilantro leaves. Salt is essential in this drink, in my opinion, because of the way it dances with the jalapeño and cilantro.

Coarse (kosher) salt
1 lime wedge
1 to 3 thin slices jalapeño (from a jalapeño that has been stemmed, halved, seeded and sliced


2 fresh cilantro sprigs
1 ½ ounces 100% blue agave Blanco tequila
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce Cointreau
½ ounce agave syrup (light organic syrup gives the best flavor)
6 to 10 ice cubes (about ¾ cup)

Spread the salt on a small plate. Moisten the rim of a 6-ounce martini glass with the lime wedge and upend the glass onto the salt to crust the rim.

In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the jalapeño and 1 of the cilantro sprigs with a cocktail muddler or a wooden spoon until roughly mashed. Add the tequila, lime juice Cointreau, agave or simple syrup and ice. Cover and shake vigorously until frothy and cold; tiny ice crystals will appear in the drink after about 15 seconds of shaking.

Bruise the second sprig of cilantro by slapping it vigorously between your palms (this releases the aroma). Place in the salt-rimmed glass, strain the contents of the shaker into the glass and serve immediately.

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