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April 16, 2024

Cookbooks: Catalysts of Culinary Journeys

Category: Culinary

Author: Cruz Meza, Culinary Director

For numerous chefs, there exists a pivotal cookbook that served as the catalyst for their culinary journey. This single book ignited an idea, unlocking a passion for cooking they may not have realized they possessed. Cookbooks transcend mere collections of recipes; they serve as windows into cultures, histories, and personal narratives. With each page turn, a new adventure, tradition, or innovative technique unfolds.

Every recipe and cookbook, whether passed down through generations or reimagined, enriches our culinary culture at The Wellington Senior Living. Exploring culinary resources nurtures and evolves our love for food and cooking.

I downsized my cookbook collection from an extensive array to just a small selection when I moved from Arizona. Most of the books were either sold or donated. Now, with the Internet readily available, I can easily find any recipe I need.

My favorite cookbook dates to circa 1900. It contains recommendations for old techniques and sauces that are no longer commonly used. What makes a cookbook interesting to me are the author, the subject matter, and its suitability to my cooking equipment.

One of my beloved recipes that I developed is for green chili pork spare ribs.

This recipe holds a special place among my favorite dishes.

Chef Cruz Meza preparing a delicious dish in a professional kitchen, showcasing his culinary skills.

Posole Recipe

• 3/4 cup dried chiles de arbol
• 4 or 5 dried ancho chiles
• 6 cloves garlic (2 smashed, 4 finely chopped)
• Kosher salt
• 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut in half
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 large white onion, chopped
• 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
• 1 tablespoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
• 1 bay leaf
• 3 15-ounce cans white hominy, drained and rinsed

Diced avocado, shredded cabbage, diced onion, sliced radishes and/or fresh cilantro, for topping.

  1. Break the stems off the chiles de arbol and ancho chiles and shake out as many seeds as possible.

    – Put the chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water; weigh down the chiles with a plate to keep them submerged and soak until soft, about 30 minutes.

    – Transfer the chiles and 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid to a blender. Add the smashed garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt and blend until smooth.

    – Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pushing the sauce through with a rubber spatula; discard the solids.

  2. Rub the pork all over with the cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or pot over medium heat.

    – Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.

    – Add the chopped garlic and cook 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high.

    – Push the onion and garlic to one side of the pot; add the pork to the other side and sear, turning, until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.

  3. Stir in 2 cups water, the chicken broth, oregano, bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of the chili sauce (depending on your taste).

    – Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.

    – Partially cover and cook, turning the pork a few times, until tender, about 3 hours.

  4. Stir in the hominy and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the pork starts falling apart, about 1 more hour.

    – Remove the bay leaf.

    – Transfer the pork to a cutting board; roughly chop and return to the pot.

    – Add some water or broth if the posole is too thick.

    – Season with salt.

    Serve with assorted toppings and the remaining chili sauce.

Generational recipes or new culinary creations can spark nostalgia and inspire our cooking journey. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a home cook, we all have that one foolproof recipe. Don’t overlook the power of beloved cookbooks and their stories. Keep sharing and savoring the diverse flavors that await us.

The Wellington Senior Living in Liberty, MO offers senior villas, independent senior apartments, assisted living, and memory care with a variety of services and a range of floor plan options. Amenities include restaurant dining, 24-hour bistro, concierge service, housekeeping, events and entertainment, personal care, transportation services, and more. Centrally located near Liberty Hospital with convenient access to major shopping centers and attractions, including Shoal Creek Golf Course, Historic Downtown Liberty, Stocksdale Park, and Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary.

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