|It's been a whirlwind month, our trip to Mexico - the release of
Fiesta at Rick's
with its book signings and demos, the release of our signature beer
"Mirasol" created for us by Goose Island, and Rick's radio show on
Martha Stewart Living Sirius Radio. It's hard to believe that all
of this fit into just one month.
City was fabulous. We had a very large group this year, over 40
people including the couple who bid on last year's Frontera Farmer
Foundation trip, Bonnie and Hank Miller. (Check out their
impressions of the trip further on in the newsletter.) We had the
chance to meet and eat with many chefs who have been Rick and Deann's
friends for years. I'll feature three of them in upcoming
newsletters. It's so incredible to spend four days with people who are
willing to talk virtually non-stop about food. It's a foodie's
idea of paradise.
Fiesta at Rick's
book sales are really going well, so well in fact, that we've heard it
will make the New York Times best seller list this week. We had
the offical press party release at Rick and Deann's house this week,
featuring many of the recipes from the book. Summer Margarita, the
Guacamole Bar, Mole over a live fire, chocolate pecan pie bars and
paletas. Throw in a mariachi band, and you have the making of a
is a Belgian-style blonde ale bright with the citrusy notes of
tangerine and ugli fruit and the spicy note of green coriander. It
was crafted for us by Goose Island, and it was designed to pair with
such menu items as guacamole, ceviche, oysters and taquitos. We're now
serving it on tap at the bar, so come in and give it a taste.
Goose Island does have plans to sell it in bottles soon and I'll let you
know when it becomes available.
Spotlight on Frontera
The rooftop garden is in full swing which means that gazpacho and our rooftop salsa will be back on the menu in
This year we're growing 10 varieties of tomatoes, including Golden
Girl, Lemon Boy, Valley Girl, and Shady Lady, and 4 varieties of chiles,
Arbol, Serrano, Early Jalapeno and Habanero. The ingredients
couldn't get any fresher since they're picked 4 floors up, and then
brought straight down to the kitchen. I can't wait to taste the
dishes Richard creates with this year's crop when his new menu starts on
the evening of August 10th using the bounty of this garden.
Rick's upcoming events
August 4th and 11th
The last two in Rick's five part series of radio shows on Martha
Stewart Living Radio, Sirius channel 112 and XM channel 157. The
shows air at 7pm ET/ 6pm CT. You can still take advantage of the
30 day free trial offer from Sirius.
August 10th Ft. Wayne, Indiana
Rick will be participating in a charity event for "Blessings in a
Backpack." This non-profit organization provides backpacks filled
with food every Friday for children in the school lunch program to
ensure that they have nutritious food for over the weekend. There
are a limited number of tickets still available for this worthwhile
event. If you're interested, call 260-424-9080.
August 16th Palo Alto, California The
Commonwealth Club is hosting a reception for Rick which will include a Q & A session and a book signing from 7 - 9 pm.
August 17th San Francisco, California There is a second event hosted by the
Commonwealth Club at noon. Rick will be sitting down with Chef Joey Altman for an hour discussion, followed by a book signing.
August 17th San Anselmo, California
is hosting a fiesta for Rick and Deann at Marinitas Restaurant at
4pm. The event includes appetizers, margaritas, and an autographed
copy of Fiesta at Rick's.
August 27th Superstation WGN TV Rick will be demoing one of the recipes from Fiesta at Rick's live during the 7:30 segment of the WGN News.
August 28th Skokie, Illinois Come
join Rick at Macy's Old Orchard for a demonstration that includes
samples of the dishes he'll be making, plus a book signing. The
event starts at 2pm. Seating is limited, so RSVP to
Meet Bonnie and Hank Miller
have made so many good friends in the years since we started taking a
couple with us on our annual Mexico trip. This year we had the
pleasure of welcoming Bonnie and Hank Miller into the fold. Bonnie
bid on the "Trip of a Lifetime" silent auction item at last year's
Frontera Farmer Foundation benefit as a surprise 50th birthday present
for Hank. She knew right away when she read about the trip in the
newsletter that it would be the perfect gift for Hank, since every time
he watched Rick on TV he would comment that he wished he could go with
Rick to Mexico, and try all the authentic food that Rick savored on
it happened, Bonnie was in Chicago (the Millers live in California)
for a conference over the weekend of the benefit, and she was able to
bid on the trip. As she said, winning the trip was the easy part,
the hard part was keeping it a secret from Hank for nine months until
his birthday. I love the way that Bonnie ended up presenting the
gift. She had Rick autograph one of his cookbooks, along with the
inscription that he was looking forward to spending time with Hank in
Mexico in July.
the end of every trip, we all share our favorite memory from the
trip. Hank told me that although he had many to chose from, the
top one was the opportunity to work alongside Richard and his team in
preparing the main course for our staff dinner. He got to
experience the camaraderie of our team, learn some new techniques, brush
up on his knife skills, and share in the accolades of one of the best
dinners we've ever had. Bonnie also had many favorites, but for
her, it was the pleasure she got at seeing Hank live out one of his
dreams that made this trip so special.
Frontera Farmer Foundation Profile
I first talked to Rene Gelder from
Ellis Family Farm in Benton Harbor,
not long after she was awarded a $12,000 grant to purchase a mulching
mower and rotary tiller for their fruit farm. The first thing that
struck me at the time was her passion for farming. I've often heard
people talk about their profession as a "calling," but I don't think
that I've ever met a person who personifies that statement to the extent
that Rene does. Maybe that has to do with the fact that her great
grandparents on both sides were farmers, which makes her a 4th
generation farmer, or maybe it's that for the last 12 years, up until
last year, she worked side by side with her dad. (Her father
retired last year because of his health.) The Ellis family farms
28 acres of their original farm land, plus another 30 acres of
surrounding farm land which they have slowly accumulated as neighboring
farmers started retiring. Rene, her husband Bruce, their children
Mathew, Marc and Mary, plus Mathew's wife Christina, are all involved
not only with the day to day operations, but also with the eight
Chicagoland farmers markets, and their wholesale business.
mulching mower that they bought with the grant money has made a huge
difference in both time and labor in maintaining their fruit
trees. In the past, trimming the fruit trees meant collecting the
brush, hauling it away, and then burning it. This process used to
take five days to complete. The new mulcher breaks down the limbs
right where they lay, which is a huge savings in terms of labor, and it
grinds up the branches into very small chips that decompose within a few
months. The trimming process has been reduced from five days to
Check out their
for more information on what they grow annually, what's available
currently, and what bakeries and restaurants are using their
products. You should also check out Christina's blog for an inside
peek into daily life on the farm, which you can find under the current
tab on their site.
Kitchen Gadget Adventures
is the Zyliss Quick Blend Shaker which I use for making salad dressing
and marinades. The container holds 16 ounces and has the ounce and
millimeter measurements clearly marked on the sides so there's no need
to use another measuring cup. There's also an aerator inside to
help blend your ingredients. With its covered leakproof spout, it
makes serving and storing your leftover dressing a snap, plus all the
pieces are dishwasher safe. The Quick Blend Shaker is sold in most
stores that carry the Zyliss line and retails for $5.99.
New from the Test Kitchen
Rick and I discussed what recipes to work on this month, we both
naturally gravitated to summer BBQ's. Rick wanted to include one
of his favorite grilling recipes,
Brava Steak with Lazy Salsa, which is from the
Fiesta at Rick's cookbook.
wanted to include a recipe for corn, since it's now so abundant at the
farmer's market and I came up with the idea of putting a twist on
grilled corn on the cob with crema, chile and queso anejo which is so
popular all over Mexico. My recipe is a deconstructed version of
this popular dish.
The finishing touch to this menu had to be an ice cream. Try my
Mango Ice Cream made with a sour cream base.
We think that these dishes will make for the perfect summer BBQ.
I've heard about the
American Express Members Project from
their television commercials, so I decided to check out the web site.
The project is divided into three parts: vote, volunteer and
donate. The first part - vote - is open to everyone. You can
vote once a week for your favorite charity. At the end of the
three month period, (the current voting period ends August 22nd), the
five charities with the most votes will receive funding from American
two - volunteer opportunities. They will match you up with
charities that are looking for volunteers. You can donate as
little as one hou. In addition to feeling good about giving back,
you can also earn Membership Rewards points.
three - make a donation. They have over one million charities
listed on their site. You're able to donate either money or
Membership Rewards points to the charity of your choice.
See you next month.
Test Kitchen Director/Web Site Culinary Director
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