The best advice I ever received when preparing a meal for guests was to choose one or two more complicated dishes – basically the stars of the meal – then fill in with more simple or readymade dishes. For instance, if you are making a dinner, choose a simpler appetizer, dessert (or purchase one), and side dish. Then focus on the main dish as the star of the meal. This is sage advice and should be followed by anyone who wants to both serve a great meal but also be a relaxed hostess concentrating on the guests more than the food. When preparing a meal for guests, my ambition is usually to greet my guests and give them my full attention until the meal is ready to be served. This means that most of the meal is already prepared and just needs some final touches before serving.
Too bad I didn’t follow that advice the other night…
Motivated by the movie Julie and Julia, I recently decided to channel one of my favorite chefs, Rick Bayless (who is also the winner of Top Chef Masters). Rick’s take on Mexican food is so intriguing to me because it departs from standard Mexican restaurant fare and delves into regional Mexican cuisine that is both delicious to view and to enjoy as a meal. He also seems to have a calm deportment in the kitchen, even while running through a crowded and chaotic kitchen. I’m simply in awe of his culinary skill and his demeanor.
Throwing out sage advice I was determined to prepare a dinner using five (yes 5!) Rick Bayless recipes. The meal took 5 hours to prepare and I have to admit, I was exhausted by the end. There’s some last minute prep work required so you simply can’t have the meal completely prepared when guests arrive. I would recommend ALL of the recipes but perhaps you should do only 2 at a time and fill in with simpler recipes. Of the five, the simplest was the favorite of the guests, Potatoes and Green Chiles.
I only changed a few ingredients for all five recipes. They are perfect as is! For instance I sprinkled the potatoes with a little red pepper spice before serving.
Since I followed the recipes I have linked each of the photos, with the exception of the Mangoes, on this page directly to the Rick Bayless site so you can print them from there. The Tequila Flamed Mangoes recipe is in his book Mexico One Plate At a Time. Enjoy preparing and devouring this meal…maybe not all at the same time!