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Looking for Mexican

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
My mother was never really had a palette for anything in that region but after our family cruise, I introduced her to some really nice tacos with fresh corn tortillas, some fajitas, and this great mole. I'm sure I'll be asked to replicate some now that we're back since Mexican food isn't very well represented here at home. I did some googling for corn tortillas but I'm finding tons of recipes. I'd rather work from a reputable book and tweaking it myself so I'm wondering if anyone here can recommend authentic cookbook of Mexican, even Columbian flare foods.

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post #2 of 11
Hi HeadlessChicken :)

I've never gotten deep into Mexican cooking, but I certainly enjoy taking a more casual course. I cookbook that I've found very easy to cook from is Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday. I would say it's a good place to start type book.

Check it out. Oh, don't forget that your local library is a great place to preview cookbooks before you buy them. Even if you don't see a particular book there, still ask! Some libraries have a large pool that they can pull books from.

good luck,
post #3 of 11
Rick Bayless' Mexican Kitchen is also very good. Recipes are a little more complicated than Mexican Everyday.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Sounds good guys, will give them a try whenever I can next hit my library or Indigo. Thanks all.
post #5 of 11
Any of Rick's books are very good. I own a couple of them myself. Also for traditional mexican cuisine any book by Diane Kennedy is wonderful. She was really the first to introduce Americans to Mexican foods beyond tacos, burritos, flautas, etc. You can also look at the books of Mark Miller and Stephan Pyles. They aren't mexican, but are Southwestern cuisine. The recipes may not be authentic mexican, but they capture the flavors and the culture of the American Southwest and Mexico.
post #6 of 11
I'm not sure how this works, but I think Mexican Americans don't really take Mexican cuisine seriously enough to create the demand for English cookbooks you'd think the popularity of the food would entail. There's tons written in Spanish; along with an online recipe posting scene that's almost as prolific as the one you see in English. Spanish language foodblogging is just starting up, though.

Linda, my wife, has recently taken an interest in cookbooks about Mexican cuisine for the American audience. So we've seen quite a few recently. Here are some highlights.

Diane Kennedy -- Strongest recommendation for The Art of Mexican Cooking. Also, Cuisines of Mexico is also very good, but not the "bible" that Art is. You have to watch out for Kennedy's shopping and "substitution" advice. Most of her writing is from a time, not that long ago, when Mexican ingredients were not as available as they are now -- either in the supers, ethnic markets in most large and medium cities, and online. The pursuit of authentic ingredients -- especially for the right chilies -- pays huge dividends. Kennedy's substitutions often really aren't very good. Despite the fact that Art is in a new, modernized edition, the editing hasn't quite caught up.

Frida Kahlo -- The book is Frida's Fiestas. It's not the single source you seem to be searching for, but it's got a lot to recommend it. Some very good recipes. In addition to her career as an artist, Kahlo was an excellent folklorist and a prolific entertainer. The mix leads to some excellent cooking. Trust Kahlo not to over-elaborate the simple when simple is better. Then there's the illustrations; not to mention her own compelling history. Although not the book you sought, it's a book you really want. Buy it.

Rick Bayless -- He's a marvelous cook, a good recipe collector, a good teacher and very creative. BUT he's very quirky. His recipe choices tend to be less casera (homestyle) or typical (regional) than quirky. In short, Bayless's recipes are truly and authentically Mexican without being the recipes you get in Mexico. Bayless' educational background was in anthropology, and this comes out in his cookbooks. He's as intensely intrested in the people and the stories as in the food itself -- and (at the risk of repetition) he likes quirky. When he researches a recipe and finds 11 cooks who do it more or less the same way and one who adds raisins -- the raisins will find their way into his cookbooks. Bayless is the best there is at Bayless style Mexican cooking, but he's not the god of Mexican cuisine his reputation might lead you to believe. Take him with a grain of salt and a squeeze of lime -- you'll be fine.

Some of the basics of Mexican cooking here in el Norte include:

Very fresh, high quality produce. Always.

The right cheeses. Try not to substitute if possible. If you must substitute consider the melting properties of the specified cheese. Cheeses are often chosen for the propensity not to melt. Also -- cheddar cheese is unlike any Mexican cheese. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

When possible, buy Mexican style dairy. "Crema agria" is not quite the same same as sour cream. It's kind of half way to creme fraiche. Crema fresca is creme fraiche. Mexican style cheese and dairy (although made here) tend to be very expensive in chain supers, but inexpensive in ethnic stores. The savings pay for the trip, and the clientele and choices take you into a different world. A good Mexican market is the cheapest cruise you can take.

The right dried chilies. These are available online. Try not to substitute -- especially for regional food. It makes a huge difference.

Take your time. A lof of Mexican cooking is long cooking. Oaxacan style Moles Coloradito and Negro for instance can take several days to make -- not to mention several days to shop for -- even here in SoCal where everything is available. A lot of Mexican cooking involves long marinating. Relax.

There are some pretty good ready-made products out there. Lots of excellent Mexican cooks in the US use canned enchilada sauce, salsa fresca (tomato sauce with chilies), refried beans, and so on. Stay away from "Taco Bell" brand. Look for La Vittoria, El Pato, Goya and so on. Which to use and which to avoid becomes obvious with experience.

Assume everything you thought you knew was wrong. For instance, anglo Americans make enchiladas by dipping the tortillas in sauce, to soften them. No. Wrong. Unh hunh. Sorry.

Maggi seasoning sauce gets used tons. You don't see it in recipes. But you sure as heck see it Mexican home kitchens. The Mexican Maggi is slightly different than the asian Maggi, but they're fungible if you only want one bottle in your pantry. It's one of those small touches that makes a big difference.

Buena suerte,
post #7 of 11
Look on YOUTUBE, there are some good cooking demos on making homemade Tort, tamales, mexican tacos, Salvadoran Papusas, just about anything you want....Bill
post #8 of 11
Excellent suggestion. I've been using it for about a year now - great book
post #9 of 11


I've discovered poblano chilis. and tomatillios.

Really good. And homemade salsa verde.

wished I knew more about the cheeses.
post #10 of 11
Give this a shot and see what you think:

post #11 of 11
I second the Rick Bayless books, his mole rojo recipe is really good, although I usually change a few things, I like my mole a little bit more thicker and rustic than his version.

There is mole base in a jar and that stuff is terrible.

For the corn tortillas you can use fresh Masa. If there is a Mexican grocery store in Toronto they should have it there.
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