The ¡Salpicón Cookbook! Reviewed by the Chicago Tribune’s Bill Daley

Urbane Mexican recipes are the draw of ¡Salpicón!

BOOK SHELF

 

June 03, 2009 | By Bill Daley

 

What it is: Sophisticated, urbane Mexican cooking and savvy food-wine pairings have long been hallmarks of dining at ¡Salpicón!, the Chicago restaurant opened in 1995 by chef Priscila Satkoff and her husband, Vincent, the wine director. This handsome cookbook will let you replicate the flavors and spirit of ¡Salpicon! at home. The more than 80 recipes include appetizers, soups and salads, entrees, side dishes, sauces and desserts.

 

Praise and quibbles: Priscila Satkoff is an enthusiastic cook whose passion for Mexican flavors and fresh American ingredients translates cleanly to the printed page. Recipes are clear, and she takes care to explain possibly unknown foods and techniques. Gorgeous color photos present the finished dishes in a contemporary way fitting for so-called “modern” Mexican food, yet the look might be daunting for novice cooks. Vincent Satkoff offers not only wine suggestions for nearly every dish but has written a prefatory essay on the “why” of matching wine with Mexican food. Particularly useful is a chart listing principal ingredients, the wines to pair with them and the rationale behind the choice. You’ll want to photocopy it and take it with you on your next Mexican night out.

 

Why we think you will like it: More and more, authentic-tasting Mexican food is gaining new fans who realize it is a cooking style distinct from the familiar Tex-Mex. The Satkoffs give you the tools to create these meals at home. Adventurous cooks will have lots of fun with such recipes as grilled cactus and seafood Napoleons with chipotle cream or beef tenderloin with shiitake mushrooms in a morita chile and tomatillo sauce.

 

Chilled avocado and crab soup

 

Prep: 30 minutes

 

Cook: 20 minutes

 

Makes: 6 servings

 

This soup recipe is adapted from chef Priscila Satkoff’s “The ¡Salpicon! Cookbook: Contemporary Mexican Cuisine.” Vincent Satkoff, her husband and wine director of their ¡Salpicon! restaurant in Chicago, likes a buttery chardonnay to pair with this dish.

 

3 cups water or chicken stock

 

1 rib celery, leaves removed, coarsely chopped

 

1 small leek, white and pale green parts only, coarsely chopped

 

1 clove garlic, crushed

 

2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, coarsely chopped

 

4 cups whole milk

 

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

 

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

 

9 ounces fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shell

 

2 canned chipotles in adobo, thinly sliced, optional

 

1. Heat the water, celery, leek and garlic to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover; cook until the vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes. Puree the vegetables and their water in a blender. Strain through a sieve into a bowl.

 

2. Puree the avocados and 2 cups of the milk in the blender. Add remaining 2 cups of the milk; blend on low speed until smooth. Transfer to a bowl; whisk in the vegetable mixture. Whisk in the lime juice; season with salt and pepper. Cover; refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours.

 

3. Divide equal amounts of the crab among 6 cups or small soup bowls. Ladle in the soup; garnish with chipotle.

 

Nutrition information

 

Per serving: 254 calories, 53% of calories from fat, 16 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 16 g carbohydrates, 15 g protein, 401 mg sodium, 5 g fiber

Best Mexican Restaurants 2010 by Chicago Magazine

iSalpicón!

 

The hardest thing for a chef to do is to show up in the same kitchen day after day, year after year, and continue to excel long after the excitement of a new restaurant has faded. That’s exactly what Priscila Satkoff accomplishes at iSalpicón!, which keeps chugging along after 15 years in Old Town. If you’ve forsaken iSalpicón! for a younger mistress, you’re missing out. The newly remodeled space still has the sharpest Tequila list in town and a menu packed with standouts, such as salmon al hinojo-two delicate grilled fillets on fennel and spinach in a creamy tomatillo-serrano sauce. Prices may have crept up over the years, but so has the graciousness of the staff-and the reliability of Satkoff’s cooking. (Photo) Pastel tres Leches at iSalpicón! 1252 N. Wells St.; Chicago, IL, 312.988.7811