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All photos courtesy of Plaridel Award Winner Astrid Barros!
The New York Times has some generally good food writers with folks like David Tanis, Melissa Clark (who looks fabulous in her mid-60s), and others. Quite often their recipes tend to be pretty damn good, even if I need to alter them for my own purposes, and this weekend was a double-hit with Two Beans and Spanish Chorizo with Pasilla/Garlic Sauce and Melissa Clark’s cold Basil Corn Soup.

The casserole was simple enough; layers of corn tortillas, a mixture of cooked pinto and black beans with Spanish chorizo, Monterey Jack cheese, and the deep flavor imparted from dried pasilla chiles and roasted garlic, all tossed into a food processor then cooked down in a reduction of smoky chile flavor and garlic.

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As if that didn’t make it, a cool lime zest crema and some pickled red onions rounded out the flavor profile. I made two versions; one with the smoky pasilla and garlic sauce and one without. Wifey found the base one without the sauce, aided and abetted by the crema and pickled onions to be very nice, regardless.

Of course, there were also spicy and non-spiced peanuts as appetizers, two Pico de gallos (one without heat and the other which could have used more heat by half), and a guacamole put together by our guest, B. Chips for all and margaritas with a recipe all applauded.

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Still, for me, the real hit was the exactingly simple chilled basil corn soup. With fresh corn scallions, a bit of garlic, a tad of salt, buttermilk, basil, and lime juice all tossed into the blender with a bit of ice, then strained of large bits with a chinoise, a very delicious and easily elegant soup purée was the result, garnished with a couple of thin radish slices and some olive oil. B insisted upon adding a slice of heirloom tomato and that didn’t hurt at all.

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Dessert as well came out nicely, a tres Leches de chocolate cake that was served with some mango sorbet. My wife was the solitary voice of mild disagreement thinking that the mango pairing didn’t work as well as the initially suggested tangerine sorbet in the recipe. She could very well have been correct in her view, though the mango worked well enough for the other guests.

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