Food for thought: ChefBud at Wilkinson Public Library

Food for thought: ChefBud at Wilkinson Public Library

[Press the "Play" button to hear Telluride's ChefBud ]

ChefBud's new program, Books and Cooks, premieres at Wilkinson Public Library at noon, Tuesday, May 5.

IMG_5521smaller You won't find Telluride's Bud Thomas stranded on some high horse when it comes to preparing food. The talented young chef believes in keeping it fresh and keeping it simple.

5-5 BooksCooksPoster A McKinsey study of the last recession (1990-1991) found companies that remained market leaders or became serious contenders were the ones that invested in R & D and stayed in the public eye. ChefBud's response to the current downturn was to turn up the heat on a new venture. He teamed up with web wonk Dennis Lankes of TellurideWorldWide.Com to market himself and his business by creating a live cooking show,, now with viewers from London to the Far East.

Programs for are shot Wednesday at 2 p.m. at venues around town. In March, Bud and his wife Jenna, a talented amateur chef, were cooking up peanut butter and jelly crepes for a rapt group of local first-graders in the kid's section of the Wilkinson Public Library, when program director Scott Doser approached with another one of his great ideas.

The "Books and Cooks" series will feature host ChefBud interviewing local amateur and professional chefs, as they prepare recipes from their favorite cookbooks. First up: Jenna whipping up Mexican taste treats in honor of Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for the Fifth of May and a holiday marking an unlikely Mexican victory in 1862, outnumbered by the French two to one.

Some people know how to beat the odds.

For a sneak peek at Jenna's Cinco de Mayo recipes, see below:

Horchata De Almendra
2/3 cup    rice, medium or long grain rice is fine
1 1/4 almonds, blanched
3-inch piece cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela
4 ½ cups water
1 cup sugar, plus a little more if desired

In a large bowl, combine rice, almonds, cinnamon stick and 2 ½ cups of water – here it should be hot tap water.  Cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Pour the mixture into the blender, add the sugar and blend on high for several minutes, until the mixture is as smooth as possible – there’ll still be a hint of grittiness when you rub a drop between your fingers. 

Strain through a fine sieve (if yours isn’t very fine, line it with cheesecloth), pressing on the solids until only a dryish pulp remains.  Pour into a pitcher, add the remaining 2 cups (cold) water (or the milk), taste and sweeten with a little more sugar if you wish.  Serve over ice.  In Oaxaca, they swirl a little pureed red cactus fruit (tuna or jiotilla) into each glass, turning the horchata rosy, then top the drink with cubed cantaloupe and broken pecans.

Classic Guacamole
2    serrano chilies, stemmed
½     medium white onion, finely chopped
2      plum tomatoes
¼ cup    coarsely chopped cilantro
3    ripe avocados
2T    fresh lime juice

Roasting the Chiles.  Lay the chiles in a small ungreased skiller set over medium heat.  Turn them every minute or so until they have softened (they’ll darken in spots), 5-10 minutes.  Mash them into a coarse puree, using a mortar, or finely chop them.  Place in a large bowl.

More Flavorings.  Scoop the chopped onion into a strainer and rinse under cold water; shake off excess water and add to the bowl with the chiles.  Chop the tomatoes into small bits – skin, seeds and all is my preference.  You should have a scant cup.  Add to the bowl along with the cilantro.

The Avocados.  To cut an avocado in half, you have to negotiate the large egg-shaped pit in the middle.  Make a cut down the length of one avocado straight through to the pit.  Continue cutting all the way around the pit until you wind up where you started.  Twist the two halves in opposite directions and pull them apart.  Scoop out the pit (the hueso, or bone, in Spanish) with a spoon.  Then scoop out the avocado flesh from the skin and add to the bowl.  Do the same with the remaining avocados.  Use an oldfashioned potato masher or the back of a large spoon to mash the avocado flesh into a coarse pulp, mixing in the other ingredients as you go.

Seasoning the Guacamole.  Taste the guacamole and season with salt, usually a scant teaspoon, then add some of the lime juice and taste again.  Continue seasoning with lime until the guacamole has enough zip for you.  Cover with plastic wrap, placing directly on surface, and refrigerate until you are ready to serve. 

Serving. Unless you’re serving guacamole dolloped on tacos or the like, the classic way to present it to your guests is in a Mexican lava-rock mortar (molcajete), sprinkled with chopped onion and cilantro.  Sliced radish, if you have it, looks pretty here, and to the Mexican eye completes the very popular, patriotic red-white-and-green motif.

Working Ahead:  Guacamole is good when freshly made, but, in my opinion, it tastes better when the flavors are allowed to mingle for about half an hour before serving.  If well chilled, it’ll keep for several hours.  After that, the flavors get out of balance and the avocado starts to brown.

Both recipes are from One PLate at a Time by Rick Bayless.

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