Reviewer Conny Withay:Operating her own business in office management since 1991, Conny is an avid reader, volunteers reading the Bible to the elderly, and makes handmade jewelry. A cum laude graduate with a degree in art living in the Pacific Northwest, she is married with two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and one granddaughter.
Author: Ricardo James
Publisher: Front Table Books
“The basics in Mexican cooking are those foods that accompany every meal: salsas, guacamoles, moles, and frijoles. These aren’t condiments that you take or leave like mustard or relish. Without the basics, Mexican food would not be complete,” Ricardo James writes in his book, Daily Tortilla: Authentic Mexican Recipes.
At one hundred and ninety-two numbered pages, this paperback cookbook targets those interested in making authentic Mexican meals from scratch. With beautiful full-page photographs of completed creations, it is a collection of tasty dishes from Mexico. In addition to a clever acknowledgment page, there are cooking and metric measurement equivalent pages along with an index and author’s biography.
Each recipe covers one to four pages with its authentic and American name along with preparation time, followed by a paragraph explaining the dish’s specialty. Ingredients are listed on one half of the page while number directions are on the other. Serving size and occasional notes with suggested options are included.
In the introduction about the author’s upbringing involving Mexican food, he states several characteristics make the dishes authentic by being fresh, using a “platform,” limiting the ingredients but utilizing different combinations, and preparing with a blender, pressure cooker, or metal strainer.
By using the four basics listed above, mixing and matching with other foods is the key to good Mexican cooking. Different versions of these basics may be pico de gallo, salsa verde con aguacate, mole poblano, enchilada sauce, or frijoles refritos.
The next chapter is about making seven “platforms” with detailed instructions on pan, corn and flour tortillas, sopes, gorditas, totopos, and tamales. With a total of almost one-hundred and fifty recipes, the next four chapters have main dishes, first courses, drinks, and desserts.
Some interesting dishes are queso fundido con chorizo (melted cheese and sausage), tinga de pollo (chicken hash), sincronizadas (cheese pockets with ham), tacos de verduras (vegetarian tacos), sopa de fideo (noodle soup), pozole (pork and hominy stew), lasana con habanero chile (habanero lasagna), and ensalada de nopal (cactus salad). Drinks range from a watermelon-mint cooler or cantaloupe-ade to hibiscus iced tea, rice water, or basic Mexican smoothie. Some of the desserts include flan, hot chocolate, and platanos fritos.
By learning to cook authentically, any chef can prepare these delicious Mexican concoctions. Having full-page quality photographs with simple-to-understand directions makes the recipes more enticing and unusual.
Thanks to Cedar Fort for furnishing this book in exchange for a review of the reader’s honest opinion.