With 130 recipes that redefine the way we think about flavor, comes Bäco by Josef Centeno – James Beard nominated chef and owner of five restaurants in downtown LA: Bäco Mercat, Bar Amá, Orsa & Winston, Ledlow, and P.Y.T.
Layer textures and explore spices and sauces with recipes that span from simple to show stopping!
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Recipe: Josef Centeno's Poblano-Feta Dip
This creamy dip of roasted poblano chiles and feta cheese is loosely based on kopanisti, a cheese made predominantly on the island of Mykonos. The cheese inspired a popular dip of the same name. The crumbly, sharp, and spreadable cheese is mixed with red peppers during production. (In Greek, the word kopanisti refers to something that has been “beaten.”) The dip is a mixture of feta cheese, red peppers, lemon, herbs, olive oil, and garlic. I use roasted poblano chiles and add a little cumin and a lot of cilantro and mint. It tastes smoky, earthy, spicy, tangy, and fresh. Use it as a spread for sandwiches and burgers, a dip for crudités, a condiment for roasts, or a dressing for salads.
MAKES 1 1⁄2 cups [280 g]
3 poblano chiles
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup [14 g] fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup [16 g] fresh mint leaves
1 cup [140 g] crumbled feta
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp to 1/3 cup [15 to 80 ml] water
One at a time, char the poblano chiles by placing them directly over the open flame of a gas stove or grill. Turn them with tongs as they are roasting, until the skins of the chiles are charred and blistered all over, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. While they’re hot, place them in a large sealable plastic bag to steam for about 10 minutes. Don’t let the chiles steam for too long or they’ll start to turn brown. Remove the charred skin, rubbing it off gently with the back of a knife. Cut open one side of each chile and remove and discard the stems, seeds, and ribs. Set aside.
Toast the cumin seeds in a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Put the poblano chiles, cumin, cilantro, mint, feta, lemon zest, lemon
juice, garlic, vinegar, and salt in a blender and purée on medium to high speed, adding water a tablespoon at a time, until smooth. Use just enough water to blend the mixture to the consistency of hummus. It shouldn’t be too liquidy. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
When I arrived in Los Angeles 15 years ago, it was clear that Josef ’s cooking was leading the charge in terms of inventiveness, technique, and sense of adventure. Unbeknownst to him, he became a mentor to me, and ushered in the next generation of chefs that have redefined L.A.’s food culture. I can’t wait to cook my way through this retrospective of his work.
—Travis Lett, Gjelina, Gjusta, GTA
Josef ’s ability to weave a swath of traditions into forceful and deeply satisfying dishes has made him a pioneer in the resurgence of L.A. dining. Detailed and lyrical—a little Turkish and a tad Tejano—Bäco is the perfect manual for just how he does it.
—Patric Kuh, food critic, Los Angeles Magazine
I can't stop reading Bäco! I had the good fortune to work for and be inspired by Josef many years ago. Now I'm inspired again by this collection of recipes that demonstrates exactly why he is one of the most influential chefs of the New Los Angeles Cuisine.
—Jeremy Fox, Rustic Canyon
A few pages into this cookbook you get an insight into what moves this soulful chef—drifts of spices, vivid flavors, memories, dreams, something he’s read about or tasted in his travels. More than just recipes, Josef lays out a philosophy, urging cooks to follow their imagination wherever it leads. A classic for the cookbook shelf.
—S. Irene Virbila, former restaurant critic, Los Angeles Times
Praise for Bäco
Josef Centeno is a James Beard–nominated chef and owner of five restaurants in downtown Los Angeles: Bâco Mercat, Bar Amá, Orsa & Winston, Ledlow, and P.Y.T.
Betty Hallock is a food writer and former deputy editor of the Los Angeles Times food section. She and Josef live together in downtown Los Angeles with their two dogs.
About the Authors