WCL: WCL's What's New: Rick Bayless in Cascabel

For 25 years, celebrity chef Rick Bayless has been a fixture in the Chicago culinary community turning a spotlight on Mexican cuisine. He's a three-time James Beard award winner, runs three very popular Chicago restaurants, has authored seven Mexican cuisine cookbooks, created his own line of food products and for 8 seasons has brought the taste of Mexico to viewers on the Live Well Network's "Mexico: One Plate at a Time."

As if he doesn't already have enough on his plate, in just one month Rick will star in the new theatrical feast Cascabel. Rick stopped by to chat with us about the 25th anniversary of Frontera Grill, tell us all about his new acting gig and show us how to make "Guac on the Beach" - a favorite dish featured in Cascabel.

Check out Rick's performance in Cascabel!
What: A theatrical feast co-created by Rick Bayless, Tony Hernandez and Heidi Stillman. Experience an unforgettable theatrical adventure while enjoying a sumptuous feast, world-class circus acts and a tantalizing love story starring Rick Bayless
When: March 23 - April 22, 2012
Where: Lookingglass Theatre in the Water Tower Works
Purchase Tickets: lookingglasstheatre.org/content/box_office/cascabel

Make sure to catch Rick Bayless on "Mexico: One Plate at a Time," which airs weekdays at 3:30 p.m. on the Live Well Network .

Rick Bayless's "Guac on the Beach" Recipe

1. Grind tortilla chips in a food blender to make the "sand" and pour some on spoon to make the bottom layer

2. Add a dollop of guacamole on top of sand

3. Put crab piece on top of guacamole and garnish with a cilantro leaf

Sundried Tomato Guacamole Recipe (Guacamole Tomate Deshidratado) Of course, when good tomatoes aren't available, you could just leave them out of guacamole ? except that I'd miss that gentle sweetness/tartness they add. So when I've gotta have tomato-flecked guacamole, and it's winter, and the fresh tomatoes are awful, (and I won't settle for tomatillo guacamole or pumpkinseed guacamole or roasted garlic guacamole), this is what I make. It's essentially my no-holds-barred summer guacamole with sundried tomatoes replacing the fresh ones, and the addition of few little cubes of crunchy jícama for freshness. Not summer, but not bad at all.

The best sundried tomatoes to use here are the pliable kind, the ones with a texture similar to that of a dried apricot. (Oil-packed ones are okay, but not my favorite.) In most of my local groceries, they're carrying little packages of pliable sundried tomatoes hung up in the produce department. There's a smoked version that's dynamite for this guacamole.

Makes about 3 cups, serving 8 to 10 as a nibble

3 medium-large (about 1 ¼ pounds) ripe avocados
1/2 medium white onion, chopped into ¼-inch pieces (about 1/3 cup)
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (usually 2 serranos or 1 jalapeño), stemmed, seeded (if you wish) and finely chopped
1/4 cup soft sundried tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (patted dry on paper towels if oil-packed)
1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off), plus a little extra for garnish
1 or 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
A little Mexican queso fresco or other fresh garnishing cheese like feta or salted farmers cheese, for garnish (optional)

Cut around each avocado, from stem to blossom end and back again, then twist the two halves apart. Dislodge the pit and scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl. Using an old fashioned potato masher or a large fork or spoon, mash the avocados into a coarse puree. Scoop the onion into a small strainer and rinse under cold water. Shake off the excess water and mix into the avocado, along with the chiles, tomatoes and cilantro. Taste and season with salt and lime juice?the guacamole usually takes about 1 teaspoon of salt; lime juice is a matter of personal preference.

Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate until you're ready to serve (for best results, this needs to be within a couple of hours). Scoop the guacamole into a serving dish, sprinkle with a little chopped cilantro and queso fresco (if you're using it) and you're ready to serve.