Old Mexico + Modern Flavors = "Mod Mex"

Visitors to the Dos Caminos restaurants in New York, D.C., and Puerto Rico may order their favorite classic Mexican dishes, but are invariably surprised by the inventive flavors on their plates.

It's just an example of the "old Mexico meets modern flavors" philosophy of head chef Scott Linquist. In his new book, "Mod Mex," Linquist shows how simple it is to take the same old flavors and add make them taste fresh. The book features over 125 recipes from the award-winning chef. He visited The Early Show to demonstrate his takes on two brunchtime classics -- the Bloody Mary and French Toast.

DOS CAMINOS MARGARITA
(Makes 16 small Margaritas)

To Make Basic Fruit Mix:
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup Simple Syrup (see recipe below)

For Each of the 16 Small Margaritas:
1 ounce fruit mix
1-1/2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce triple sec
Kosher or coarse salt, to rim the glasses
1 lime, cut into wedges

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.

For each Margarita: add the fruit mix along with the tequila and triple sec and a dash of salt. Shake hard 20 times.

To rim the glass with salt, put about 1/4 inch of salt into a small, flat dish. Run a lime wedge around the outside top of the glass. Invert the glass into the salt.

Pour over fresh ice or serve straight up.

Simple Syrup:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and the water. Bring to a gentle boil and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and refrigerate until cool.

CHIPOTLE BLOODY MARIA
(Serves 8)

4 cups V-8 or other tomato-based vegetable juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon freshly grounded black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 to 1 tablespoon celery salt
1/2 to 1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 canned chipotle chilies in adobo
2 cups silver tequila
8 ribs celery, for garnish
8 lime wedges, for garnish

Combine all of the ingredients except the tequila, the celery, and the lime wedges in the jar of an electric blender, and quickly blend to mix. Adjust seasonings to taste. Fill 8 (12-ounce) glasses about half full with ice. Add 1/4 cup of tequila to each glass. Pour 1/2 cup of the bloody Maria mix, stir, garnish each glass with a rib of celery and a lime wedge, and serve.

PAN TORREJAS
(Serves 6)

1 (about 1 pound) day-old rectangular loaf of brioche or egg bread
8 large eggs
3 cups milk
3 cups heavy cream, plus 1 cup for whipped cream
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for whipped cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups crisp rice cereal
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups maple syrup
2 cups mixed berries (raspberries, sliced strawberries, and blueberries)

Serves 6

Cut the brioche into 6 slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, 3 cups of the cream, 1 cup of the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the sliced brioche to the batter and let the slices soak until completely saturated with the liquid.

Meanwhile, put the cereal into a plastic freezer bag and crush into a coarse coating using your hands. Pour the cereal into a flat dish or pie plate. Dip each slice of soaked bread in the cereal, turning to coat it evenly.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt 1 to 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add as many slices of the soaked bread as will fit comfortably in the pan without crowding and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning once. Transfer the cooked slices to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while cooking the remaining bread, adding more butter to the skillet as needed.

Once all of the toast is cooked, in a bowl, beat the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of sugar into soft peaks and set aside. In a saucepan, combine the maple syrup and berries, bring just to a simmer, remove from the heat, and let stand for a few minutes. Cut each slice of toast in half and diagonally divide among six plates. Garnish with whipped cream and warm berry sauce.

LOBSTER TACOS
(Serves 6 to 12)

Kosher salt
3 (1 lb) lobsters, or 1-1/2 lbs cooked lobster or shrimp
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

Roasted Tomato-Chipotle Salsita:
3 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium-size yellow onion, cut in half and sliced into thin strips
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 canned chipotle chilies in adobo, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 ounces piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar), finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons) or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Jicama Slaw:
2 small navel or Valencia oranges, peeled and cut into segments
1 Serrano chile, sliced very thinly crosswise
1/2 lb jicama, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 small red onion, cut half lengthwise and sliced crosswise into strips
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

12 6-inch corn tortillas
1 ripe avocado, peeled and seeded, and sliced lengthwise into 24 pieces
Lime wedges
Salsa of choice

If cooking the lobster, bring at least 4 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add the lobsters, cover the pot, and return the water to a boil, and cook the lobsters for 7 minutes more, or until the shells are bright red. Remove with tongs, wrap each lobster in a piece of aluminum foil, and let cool. Using a nutcracker or the back of a large knife, crack the shells and remove the meat in large chunks. Put the meat into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Make the Salsita:
Preheat the oven to 350. Put the tomatoes on a baking sheet and bake until they start to dry and turn brown, about 30 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove and cool on the baking sheet.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and the onion and sauté over medium heat until the onion turns lightly brown, about six minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat.

In a small saucepan, combine the chipotles, vinegar, piloncillo, and salt over low heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has a syrupy consistency, about five minutes. In a large bowl, toss together the roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, garlic, and chile-vinegar syrup and taste to adjust the seasonings.

Make the Slaw:
Toss all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and season to taste with salt. Set aside. Refrigerate if made more than 1 hour ahead of time.

Preheat a barbecue, gas grill, or boiler. Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and heat them on the grill for 5 minutes.

Toss the lobster meat with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and grill the pieces just long enough to warm the meat through and char the outside, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove and cut into bite size pieces.

In each tortilla, put a slice of avocado, a scant 1/2 cup of lobster meat, and 2 tablespoons of salsita, and garnish with about 2 tablespoons of slaw. Roll into a cone, fold the bottom upward to hold the filling inside, and serve with lime wedges and plenty of table salsa.

Go to page 2 for recipes for Coconut Flan, Corn & Chipotle Pancakes, Chilaquiles and Ensalada Noche Buena.