In honor of our Books, Spice, and Everything Nice theme (and spice club!), we’ll be doing a monthly round-up of our cookbooks. We have a really nice and extensive collection, but it’s easy to get lost in the sheer number of them. Hopefully these posts help! In honor of our May spice ancho chile powder, we’ll be focusing on Mexican cookbooks this month.
If you want Mexican American cuisine:
Esteban Castillo’s Chicano Eats: Recipes from my Mexican-American Kitchen (2020)
Esteban Castillo got into the food blogging business because, when he saw other websites highlighting Mexican cuisine, he never thought it looked like what he grew up eating in his California Chicano home. He launched a website and now he’s released a cookbook that highlights traditional and fusion recipes and is jam-packed with photos. It’s organized by course (snacks, main dishes, desserts, etc.), and Castillo makes sure to include notes on how to adapt many of the dishes, such as to make them vegetarian or to cook them in a pressure cooker. Recipes include birria, chicken con chochoyotes, and a champurrado-inspired birthday cake.
If you want Mexican cuisine:
Rick Bayless’s Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine (1996)
Rick Bayless has been a stalwart of public television for decades, leading viewers on culinary adventures across Mexico. He has a special interest in modern twists on classic dishes, and in this cookbook, he offers readers a feast . . . literally. Recipes range from casual favorites for a weeknight to fancy fiesta dishes for a dinner party. You’ll find everything from stuffed anchos to black bean tamales. He also offers lots of ideas for variations, as well as suggestions for how to add a Mexican flavor profile to classic American favorites, like ham and chicken salad.
Pati Jinich’s Pati’s Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking (2013)
Pati Jinich grew up in a Mexican Jewish family in Mexico City and came to America intending on a career in academia. Cooking and teaching others how to cook was only a hobby, one largely fueled by homesickness, but as she kept getting offers to do presentations on Mexican cuisine and its history, she left her career as a political analyst behind to become a chef, food writer, and TV personality. In this particular cookbook, Jinich really focuses on how to make quick and easy but sophisticated dishes that work for everyday and holidays. Recipes include red pozole, turkey with chorizo, and Mexican wedding cookies.
Roberto Santibañez’s Rosa’s New Mexican Table: Friendly Recipes for Festive Meals (2007)
A classically trained chef, Santibañez has made his name in the culinary world of both his native Mexico and the United States. In this cookbook, he offers up recipes for everything from standards you’d expect (guacamole and flan) to more unusual fare (octopus enchiladas). Beyond the standard cookbook chapters devoted to main dishes, sides, desserts, he also includes entire chapters devoted to tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas, respectively, as well as extensive information on equipment, ingredients, and techniques.
If you love tacos:
Ivy Stark’s Dos Caminos Tacos: Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Mexican Street Food (2014)
Do you love tacos? (Who doesn’t tacos?!) In any event, if you want to go above and beyond in your kitchen with tacos, this book is for you. It includes recipes for every occasion–including meat, poultry, seafood, vegetarian, and dessert tacos. There are also special sections on ingredients and using chile peppers.
If you’re looking for a health-conscious cookbook:
Velda de la Garza’s Healthy Easy Mexican: Over 140 Authentic Low-Calorie, Big-Flavor Recipes (2021)
De la Garza is a professional dietician who is passionate about the health benefits of traditional Mexican cuisine. This cookbook highlights using delicious but healthy ingredients that are common in Mexican food (avocados, corn, beans, and more) while also modifying other favorites to be lighter. Recipes range from steak tacos to vegetarian enchiladas to mango flan.
If you need kid-friendly recipes:
Lisa Wagner’s Cool Foods for Fun Fiestas: Easy Recipes for Kids to Cook (2007) and Cool Mexican Cooking: Fun and Tasty Recipes for Kids (2011)
I’ve highlighted books from this kid series before, and they are a great first cookbook for budding chefs. Each one covers basic kitchen safety, techniques, and ingredients while also offering recipes that kids can easily whip together. The Fun Fiestas book includes recipes for enchiladas, burritos, guacamole, salsa, nachos, and quesadillas, whereas the Mexican Cooking one offers up tostadas, Mexican rice, taquitos, tortilla soup, and more.
What’s your favorite Mexican dish? What are you cooking in May? What’s your favorite Mexican cookbook? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of these items or to place them on hold.