View Full Version : Recommendations for a great Southwestern cookbook?
09-18-2001, 02:10 PM
After protesting for years that I don't like anything remotely Southwestern, I'm finally getting into it -- at least from my narrow perspective of it.
Last night we went to dinner at this incredible restaurant called Nava (I know Susann loves this place :) ), a trendy spot that serves up very innovative dishes with southwestern flair. Anyway, I raved about the place all night, and now I want to try some things at home.
I'm going to the bookstore after work (then to half.com ;) ), but thought I'd try to garner some suggestions first. Anyone have any favorite books that feature inspiring, contemporary Southwestern dishes? And of course, books with commendable seafood and vegetarian sections are preferable. :)
09-18-2001, 02:26 PM
Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that any of the books by Mark Miller are excellent. I think Coyote Cafe won several awards. We used to enjoy eating at Red Sage when we lived in D.C. I just got his bread cookbook, but haven't had a chance to use it yet. You might want to search on Amazon and get all of the titles that he wrote.
09-18-2001, 02:38 PM
Thanks, Susan! I'll look for that today when I'm at the store. :)
09-18-2001, 02:52 PM
I second the Mark Miller recommendation.
In addition, I highly recommend a cookbook called Southwest: The Beautiful Cookbook by Barbara Fenzl (sp?). Gorgeous, gorgeous pictures and great recipes. The book went out of print for a while and now seems to be back in print. The old edition I use has a recipe for Chili Blanco that I adore, although now I make it w/o the chicken.
I have a book called Southwestern Vegetarian by Stephan Pyles that is a bit fussy, but the food is good. I just get irritated when you're drooling over a recipe, and then realize that you have to make 3 other recipes that will become ingredients in this one! But that aside, the food is good and the photography great.
09-18-2001, 03:07 PM
Although you specified Southwestern cuisine, you may want to check out books by Rick Bayless. He focuses on traditional Mexican food, he spent a great deal of time in different regions of Mexico learning authentic cooking techniques. I believe that several of his books have won James Beard and ICAP (only reason I know that is through The Good Cook) awards of excellence. His recipes may be somewhat time consuming, but the flavors that result are incredible! From what I can tell, traditional Mexican cuisine is less cheese and sauce laden than Southwestern or Tex-mex. There is more of a focus on fresh herbs, chiles, limes and based on the cookbook I have, plenty of fish and veggie based meals. Good luck with your exploration of a new food genre - I hope you like it as much as I do.
BTW, keep an eye out for recipes that include corn fungus (forget the Mexican word, wish I had the cookbook here for reference). Mexican cooks harvest the mushrooms or fungi that grow on ears of corn - it is a delicacy. At first I turned my nose up to it, but, after tasting a dish my DH's cousin (a chef at a great restaurant in Manhattan) prepared for us, I was hooked!
09-18-2001, 03:28 PM
09-18-2001, 04:27 PM
Anything by Jane Butel is tops for Southwestern cooking. Her "Southwestern Kitchen" is fantastic. Easy recipes, great taste. My copy is tattered from so much use. I make her Carne Adobado at least once a month (in fact, making it tomorrow). Lots of salsa recipes, lots of red and green chili recipes, seafood, vegetarian, and great desserts. You can see her collection of books on her website.
I have taken her cooking class and it was probably the most fun I've ever had cooking!
09-18-2001, 04:27 PM
I really enjoy W. Park Kerr's "El Paso Chile Company's Texas Border Cookbook" and its' sequels.
(The Mexican Chocolate Brownies are great!)
09-18-2001, 05:12 PM
I have a freind who's parents head to Arizona every winter (I live in N Minnesota) and one year for Christmas she brought back El Norte: The Cuisine of Northern Mexico by James W. Payton.
The author gives a brief descripton and history of each dish, and most have very simple ingredient lists. A very traditional cookbook. Due to where I live, I have had a few problems obtaining some of the chiles/chile powders, but nothing that wasn't doable.
I'll second the suggestion for Southwest: The Beautiful Cookbook. Not only are the recipes fantastic, but the pictures of the food and the SW scenery are gorgeous, too.
I have three of Rick Bayless' books, and love them all, too.
09-19-2001, 09:07 AM
These suggestions are all so great -- I couldn't find Coyote Cafe yesterday, but I'm going to another store today to scour the shelves for all the one's y'all suggested. Then I'm taking (yet another) trip to half.com
You should see my wish list on their site. :o
I'll let you know what I end up buying!
09-19-2001, 09:45 AM
WmS's cookbook Savoring Mexico has some wonderful dishes from all the various state of Mexico and quite a few are either vegetarian or seafood.
Plus this month's Southern Living has some great recipes in their Lighten Up section!
I am planning on getting Rick Bayless' One Plate at a Time (or something like that). You might look for Dean Fearing's Southwest Cuisine. Coyote's Pantry is a sequel to the Coyote Cafe book and has rubs, marinades, salsas, relishes, dressings and that sort of thing.
09-19-2001, 11:03 AM
Feel like posting that Mexican brownie recipe? Please?
I would be most grateful, as would all the chocoholics in my circle of friends and family.
09-19-2001, 07:41 PM
You might want to look at books published by Sunset Magazine that have a Southwestern bent. I have a couple of old cookbooks done by them, and I've subscribed to their magazine, and they often have excellent recipes geared towards the cuisine of Mexico and the Southwest. In fact, I have Sunset's Low-Fat Mexican Cook Book, published in 1994 that I bought off a bargain table.
09-20-2001, 09:20 AM
Here ya go!
Border Brownies (From the El Paso Chile Company's Texas Border Cookbook)
5 ounces Mexican Chocolate
6 Tablespoons Butter
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons Triple Sec (I have substituted 2 T sherry, with a dash of orange and almond extract added)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
MELT butter, add chocolate, and melt.
MIX egg and sugars, add Triple Sec and vanilla.
ADD to chocolate mixture.
MIX in flour and pecans.
POUR batter into a greased and floured 9x9 pan.
BAKE at 350 degrees for 25 minutes in a preheated oven.
LET REST in pan 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack for cooling.
CUT in squares.
(These brownies improve when allowed to age for about 24 hours)
(Mexican Chocolate is sugar, chocolate and cinnamon mixed together. It makes killer cocoa, too.)
(Ibarra brand is good, I haven't tried Abuelita, but it is similar)
You do need to weigh the chocolate, as each disk of chocolate tends to vary a bit in weight.
Here it is, finally! (My word processor did some weird conversion translating Word into Word Perfect and lost some fractions, which wouldn't be any use at all!)
09-20-2001, 09:48 AM
Thanks, Little Bit! But please don't go to much trouble. Since you've told me the recipe name and the book it's in, I can always find it in a bookstore if you can't easily find your copy. I really appreciate your help. :)
09-20-2001, 10:23 AM
Our paper's food section had a review of Rick Bayless's Mexico One Plate at a Time cookbook yesterday:
Rick Bayless, Mexican cuisine's champion in the United States, finds people in this country woefully unsophisticated when it comes to the variety of foods eaten in Mexico.
In order to educate us beyond what he considers the "spaghetti and meatball stage" of Mexican food awareness, Bayless has hosted "Mexico One Plate at a Time" on PBS. The companion cookbook -- written with his wife, Deann, and JeanMarie Brownson -- can stand on its own.
"Mexico One Plate at a Time" is divided into four sections: starters, snacks and light meals; soups, stews and sides; entrees; and desserts and drinks.
Recipes are identified as traditional or contemporary. They include a discussion about the proper time of year to serve the dish and give special advice for North American cooks on how to find the ingredients and how to cook them. Many identify at what point the recipe may be made ahead and finish with questions and answers that came up in testing.
I like the details Bayless includes to help you choose and prepare ingredients properly for the best results for a particular dish.
For example, when making tortilla chips for chilaquiles, a casserole of barely softened crispy tortilla chips in a spicy broth, he specifies using medium-thick corn tortillas, ones that weigh 10 ounces per dozen.
The questions and answers after the chilaquiles recipe address what kinds of tortillas make the best chips, whether storebought chips will work (they will), plus some cooking tips.
Bayless stresses the importance of the balance of a dish, with the proper ratio of ingredients for the best flavor. Even the amount of filling in a taco is important: Too much filling overpowers the balance of flavor between the filling and the corn tortilla. About 1/4 cup of filling is fine for a 6-inch tortilla.
When the weather turns cooler, I intend to make chicken green chili tamales. Bayless says making tamales is a social event, a time to visit with friends and family. Tamales take time and some skill to assemble, but the batches are generous and tamales freeze beautifully.
In case you aren't sure what to drink with your one plate at a time, Bayless discusses the merits of wine, beer, tequila and margaritas. He prefers his wines full flavored, his beer without the lime, his margaritas straight up and his tequila before the meal.
"Mexico One Plate at a Time" ends with an excellent Mexican culinary glossary, followed by an Internet guide for mail-order sources for ingredients and plant seeds.
The sample recipe included from the cookbook is Tomatillo-Braised Pork Loin. I can't vouch for this cookbook personally, but I know others mentioned Rick Bayless on this thread (and I do have another of his cookbooks), so I thought I'd pass this along.
09-20-2001, 10:30 AM
Thanks for posting that review! I've had my eye on that book for a while now (I have his Mexican Kitchen and love it). Off to half.com I go to see if I can get it!
09-20-2001, 04:07 PM
Emily, I am *so* glad you went to Nava. But don't leave us hanging. I want details! What did you order? Did you try the sea bass? Do tell, do tell!
09-21-2001, 11:38 AM
Susann, I think this had to be positively one of the most exquisite dining experiences I've had in Atlanta. The atmosphere is amazing, but of course you know that, and we sat outside around the fountains.
I started off with a green bean and arugula salad, which was wonderful in its simplicity (what I want to know is where they get their arugula!!) and a Negra Modela, then ordered the Herb-cured Tuna with Spicy Basil Slaw. They were phenomenal -- I was in heaven with the tuna, and the slaw was fantastic -- I tried to e-mail the chef for the recipe, but couldn't find his address. I was actually torn between ordering the tuna or the seabass, but the tuna won out. :)
I'd love to go back sometime. Do you have any other recommendations?
As for my book, thanks so much to everyone for your great suggestions. Rick Bayless's books were a little to meat-heavy for me, and some of the others were a bit too traditional on first glance. I wanted to flip through Coyote Cafe first to see if I liked it or not, but I couldn't find the dang thing anywhere, so I looked up the restaurant on the web, assuming that the menu would give me some vague idea of the book's contents. That sold me, so I bought it on half.com for $12.00 -- along with 4 others..... :o
09-21-2001, 11:42 AM
Thanks so much! Can't wait to try these!
09-21-2001, 02:41 PM
Emily, I cannot give too much as far as recommendations go. Every time I go, I fully intend to try something new, but I just love the sea bass so darn much. The lobster taco is amazing. Oh-what am I thinking? I haven't mentioned the best dessert I have ever tasted:the b and b block. It is a block of dark chocolate with the most silky chocolate mousse inside, all served with a delicate cookie garnish. Unfortunately, we used to go so often because my soon-to-be-ex husband's best friend works there. He and I are still on good terms, so maybe I will have Nava in my future, after all. I really am glad you went!
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