Baco: Vivid Recipes from the Heart of Los Angeles is an amazing foodie book for when you want to pull out all the stops to make incredible dishes.
I am absolutely in love with the Bäco Bread with Creamy Poblano Feta Dressing. The smell of the fresh flatbreads baking fills the house and the dressing is lickable. A huge thanks to Chronicle Books for letting me share it with you! The picture is mine. The photographs in Bäco are beautiful.
My review with my pics and thoughts on all the dishes I tried is below the recipe.
Baco: Vivid Recipes from the Heart of Los Angeles by Josef Centeno and Betty Hallock, photographs by Dylan James Ho and Jeni Afuso (Chronicle Books, 2017.)
Makes 10 flatbreads
1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 cup [240 ml] warm water
3 2/3 cups [440 g] flour, plus more for dusting
2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp [80 g] ghee, at room temperature
3 Tbsp plain yogurt
Avocado or olive oil for cooking
Whisk together the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl. Set aside til foamy, about 10 minutes.
Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the ghee, yogurt, and yeast mixture and mix with a wooden spoon or by hand until thoroughly combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside til nearly doubled in volume, about 1 ½ hours.
Punch down the dough, turn it over onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead it again for a few minutes. Cut the dough into 10 pieces and roll each into a ball. With a rolling pin, roll out each ball into in 8-by-4-in [20-by-10-cm] oval, dusting with flour as needed.
Heat the oven to 300°F [150°C]. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large heavy bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Place one piece of dough in the pan, adjusting the heat as needed so that the bread is browned on the bottom and the top starts to bubble and puff, about 1 minute. Flip the bread and cook until the second side is browned, about 1 minute longer. The breads should be spotted with well-browned areas and still pliable.
Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining breads, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Serve warm.
Makes 1 ½ cups [280 g]
3 poblano chiles
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 cup [14 g] fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup [16 g] fresh mint leaves
1 cup [140 g] crumbled feta
Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp to 1/3 cup [15 to 80 ml] water
One at a time, char the poblano chiles by placing them directly over the open flame or a gas stove or grill. Turn them with tongs as they are roasting, until the skins of the chiles are charred and blistered all over, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. While they’re hot, place them in a large sealable bag to steam for about 10 minutes. Don’t let the chiles steam for too long or they’ll start to turn brown. Remove the charred skin, rubbing it off gently with the back of a knife. Cut open one side of each chile and remove and discard the stems, seeds, and ribs. Set aside.
Toast the cumin seeds in a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Put the poblano chiles, cumin, cilantro, mint, feta, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, and salt in a blender and purée on medium to high speed, adding water a tablespoon at a time, until smooth. Use just enough water to blend the mixture to the consistency of hummus. It shouldn’t be too liquidy. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Baco: Vivid Recipes from the Heart of Los Angeles
by Josef Centeno
This is an ultra-fresh, vibrant, colorful, flavorful omnivorous book. The contrasts of flavor, texture, and color are phenomenal. His aesthetics are great. Everything we’ve tried has been delicious and interesting. The recipes aren’t terribly difficult, but I headed straight for my better grocer for some of the more special ingredients. He suggests substitutions for some that are more rare in the recipe headers.
The book itself is very artsy and gift quality. The photography’s beautiful and there are little design features like the top right corner of the pages are rounded, which I thought was just to look cool, but seem to make the pages easier to turn. Huh.
1) Sichuan Pepper Lamb Top Round with English Pea and Parsley Salad – p 246 & 38 and Sweet Potatoes with Aonori Marscapone Butter, Feta and Honey – p 188. All of the contrasting color is visually stunning and the flavors are just outstanding. The cut of lamb is not fatty at all, and the flavor crust on it is wonderful. This is the best sweet potato recipe I’ve ever tried. The aonori is just crushed up nori, so if you have nori sheets in your pantry, you can just run one through your spice grinder and you’ll be set. The lamb calls for 1 teaspoon of cubeb pepper. My grocer didn’t have it (Amazon does!), so after reading a description, I substituted ½ teaspoon each of allspice and peppercorns. It was delicious.2) Tuscan Melon with Persian Cucumber Salad with Cacik – p 110 & 92. Fantastic sweet, earthy, and crisp salad. I only made ¼ of the cacik recipe, because that’s all that was needed under the salad, but it’s a little like a tzatziki with walnuts and raisins. It’s too delicious to not make ½ of the recipe.
3) Bäco Bread – p 176 and Roasted Golden Beets with Radishes, Cucumbers, Hazelnuts, and Creamy Poblano Feta Dressing – p 218, 22 & 80. These are the recipes from the cover, so I had to try those out. Wow! These are my favorite in the book. I can’t believe how easy it is to make flatbread at home, and they’re perfectly pillowy, and the smell of the fresh bread has everyone waiting at the table. The earthiness of the beets with the mellowed out pickled onions, the sharp breakfast radishes, the sweet crisp of the cukes, the pop from the dry-cured olives and feta, and the fresh herbs combine to make the most amazing salad. And that poblano feta dip is lickable! I made the chicken below with it. Perfect dinner.
4) Braised Chicken with Leeks, Tomatoes, Berbere, Thyme, and Yogurt – p 234. Lovely spicy chicken with leeks and tomatoes, braised in wine and stock.
5) Tuscan Kale with Crushed Fenugreek-Nigella Meatballs and Sherry Raisins – p 137 & 135. Delicious dinner, and there’s a full bunch of Tuscan kale on each plate. The miso is not mentioned in the meatball name, but that flavor is nice and pronounced. Nigella is sometimes called black cumin or charnushka, if you’re having trouble finding it.
6) Sauteed Peaches and Shishito Peppers with Goat Cheese, Cashews – p 221 & and Saffron Honey – p 33. Fantastic!
7) Baharat-Spiced Porcetta – p 258 & 35 with Chimichurri – p 84 and Red Endive and Blood Oranges with Blue Cheese, Dukkah, and Banyuls Vinaigrette with Hazelnut and Fennel Dukkah – p 104 and 48. Delicious! The whole house smells lovely from the slow roasting pork. The bitter greens and citrus salad offset the richness of the pork so nicely. My grocer doesn’t carry red endive, so I used regular, but you could use radicchio if you wanted to have the color pop like in the book.
8-10) Panko Crusted Shrimp with Chives and Mexican Sriracha – 148 with Jicama Salad with Mango, Fennel, Cucumber, Peanuts, Lime, and Fish Sauce Vinaigrette – p 147 & 71. Yum! Fresh, easy, tropical tasting dinner. I added a little mayo to the sriracha sauce. You only need 1/5 of the fish sauce vinaigrette recipe for this, so that’s all I made. This makes a ton of salad, so I tossed extra peanuts into the leftovers for lunch the next day. Nice.
11) Barley Porridge with Ginger and Sauteed Oranges – p 212 with Breakfast Dukkah – p 52. Wonderfully fragrant, tasty breakfast in less than a half hour.
Some others I have flagged to try: Snap Pea and Asian Pear Salad with Grapefruit, Burrata, & Hazelnuts – p 107 * Fennel, Kale, Shaved Cauliflower, and Apple with Creamy Dill Dressing and Bacon Bread Crumb Persillade – p 113, 95, 54 & 55 * Crudites with Walnut-Miso Bagna Cauda – p 114 & 56 * Blistered Green Beans with Fenugreek-Chipotle Tomato Sauce – p 116, 67 & 39 * Creamy Romesco Soup with Grapefruit, Nigella, and Fresh Horseradish – p 120 * Caesar Brussels Sprouts – p 125, 22 & 54 * Caramelized Cauliflower with Mint, Pine Nuts, Lime, and Yogurt – p 132 * Sauteed Broccolini with Mexican Sriracha and Queso Fresco – p 134 * Coffee-Rubbed Beef Carpaccio with Juniper Tarragon Vinaigrette and Crispy Shallots – p 157, 40 & 72 * Slow-Roasted Berbere-Cured Ocean Trout with Lemon Tempura and Citrus Olive Salad – p 166 and 163 * Fuyu Persimmon Salad with Grapes, Red Walnuts, and Sherry Vinegar – p 186 *Rutabaga and Pancetta with Lemon, Anchovy & Capers – p 190 * Eggplant with Avocado, Persian Cucumbers, Herbs, and Cipollini-Buttermilk Dressing – p 194 & 74 * Berbere Chicken and Creamy Pecorino Rice – p 196 * Imjadra with Cherries, Parsley, Sumac, Yogurt, and Fried Shallots – p 230 * Skirt Steak with Horseradish Yogurt and Beets bi Tahini – p 182
I’ll update this as I play in the book more.