BY MARCELA VALLADOLID
Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
(Clarkson Potter) ISBN 978-0307451101 0307451100
Marcela Valladolid provides 100 recipes for authentic Mexican food, made easy for North American cooks. Her Mexican cookbook includes cooking techniques, fast Mexican recipes and information on ingredients used in Mexican cooking.
Marcela Valladolid makes it easy to prepare authentic Mexican dishes with her simple recipes and helpful explanations about Mexican food ingredients. She dispels misconceptions about Mexican foods (e.g. cheddar cheese and crunchy beef tacos are not Mexican foods).
The 240-page Mexican cookbook arranges recipes by course, from Mexican appetizers to desserts. Each chapter begins with an introduction. For example, Marcela Valladolid explains the differences between the thin, healthy shredded meat burritos found in Mexico and North American burritos, stuffed with beans, rice, meat, guacamole, sour cream, cheese and salsa.
Marcela Valladolid also introduces each recipe. In the easy chicken mole recipe, Marcela explains that she visited the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla, the birthplace of mole poblano, the national dish of Mexico. She notes that traditional Mexican mole takes days to make, but the Fresh Mexico cookbook version is much faster.
Cooking Mexican food
Sidebars describe Mexican food ingredients, like Ibarra chocolate, used to make her mole recipe. (Cinnamon, almonds and vanilla flavor Ibarra chocolate.)
Another sidebar describes crema, thick, unpasteurized fresh cream, used as a topping for enchiladas and other Mexican dishes. Marcela Valladolid suggests substituting sour cream, if you can't find pasteurized crema.
Other recipes include Mexican cooking tips, such as how to make tortilla chips by cutting and deep-frying tortillas.
Full-page color photos depict delicious Mexican recipes such as chorizo quiche.
Differences between fresh and dried chiles
The Fresh Mexico glossary explains the differences between fresh chiles (Anaheim, arbol, guero, habanero, jalapeno, poblano and serrano) and the differences between dried chiles (ancho, chipotle, guajillo, morilla or mora and mulato).
The glossary of Mexican food ingredients includes Mexican cheeses. It describes anejo or cotija cheese as a salty, crumbly cow milk cheese, similar to feta.
A whole chapter features Mexican salsa recipes. Made with dried and fresh chiles, they include grilled, sweet, fried and raw salsas. Among Marcela Valladolid's recipes are tomatillo cilantro salsa and salsa borracha, made with ancho chiles and tequila.
Symbols designate low-fat Mexican recipes and quick Mexican recipes that can be prepared in less than a half-hour.
The Mexican cheese list suggests substitutes if you can't find the real thing, e.g., you can substitute a dry mozzarella for creamy Oaxaca cheese.
Sample Mexican recipes
Cuitlacoche (corn fungus) crêpes with poblano chile cream. Avocado mousse. Goat cheese tart with chipotle raspberry chutney. Duck burrito. Butternut squash chipotle bisque. Cactus salad with avocado dressing. Mahimahi smoked in banana leaves. Shrimp stuffed nopales (cactus paddles). Salpicón (cold shredded beef salad). Homemade chipotle mayo. Cilantro pesto. Creamed rajas (poblano strips). Amaranth macaroons. Cocada (coconut squares). Tamarind martinis. Michelada preparada (Mexican hangover cure, made with beer poured over Clamato juice ice cubes).
- Appetizers & small bites
- Soups & salads
Marcela Valladolid used to work at her aunt Marcela Rodriguez's cooking school in Tijuana. She later enrolled at the Los Angeles Culinary Institute and then the Ritz-Escoffier Cooking School in Paris.