Rick Bayless Brings Together Local Produce And Mexican Flavors At Macy's Culinary Council Demo

"Food can change people's lives." It's the philosophy that drives Rick Bayless. The James Beard Award-winning chef has an epic portfolio of restaurants, packaged goods, cookbooks, TV shows, and more, but it's still the desire to bring people together that he considers most important. "Food is a fundamental human thing," he explained. "When we share food, it creates a sense of community, and we need more of that."

Bayless brings that sentiment to the home kitchen with his newest cookbook, More Mexican Everyday. A sequel to the successful Mexican Everyday, published 10 years ago, the new recipes focus on making the most out of fresh, local ingredients you can find at the farmers' market. As part of the Macy's Culinary Council, Bayless demonstrated three of these dishes for a full house.

The first course took a Mexican spin on a well-known favorite. The BLT tostadas started with tortillas fried up until brown and crispy. Fat from the bacon was the secret here to making them extra savory. Bayless then used the food processor to show how easy it is to make your own avocado mayonnaise. He added plenty of green chile for heat and the ubiquitous cilantro. Piled with tomatoes and bacon, the BLT tostadas were a fresh, mouth-watering starter.

When asked what local produce worked best with Mexican flavors, cauliflower was Bayless's first answer. He used the hearty veggie in his second recipe, spicy and garlicky grilled cauliflower steaks. A sumptuous sauce of browned butter, garlic, hot sauce, and black pepper was used to coat the cauliflower. To top it, Bayless created a mix of peanuts and tequila-soaked raisins for a sweet and salty kick.

The final dish was a quick and easy summer dessert, mango ricotta cheesecake. Bayless blended hand-dipped ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, eggs, cream, and vanilla. A few round of microwaving set the mixture, and it was poured into a crust of Mexican Maria cookies. Bayless instructed the audience to chill the dessert for an hour, then top generously with a medley of mango, mint, and lime zest. It was creamy and light, perfect for the season.

"Most people don't realize how light and flavorful Mexican cuisine is," Bayless said. "They are missing out on the range and variety of the food." With Macy's Culinary Council and More Mexican Everyday, he takes another step in giving this country's cuisine the spotlight it deserves.