Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lorena Garcia's New Taco Classics, reviewed

I make no secret of the fact that I love tacos, or that I insist upon a cookbook being colorful, easy-to-read, and loaded with mouth-watering pictures. Lorena Garcia's New Taco Classics lives up to, and surpasses, both of these. Prepare to find yourself running to the kitchen in search of ingredients only pages into this book, because she makes you want to stop what you're doing and start making tacos. But this book is so much more than just tacos. By the time you cook your way through, you will be an ace at preparing Latin American street food.
Beginning with teaching you how to make the base (or vessel as she more accurately refers to it) for your taco (or empanadas, telitas, arepa, or tamale), she then provides you with recipes to make an amazing amount of fillings based upon what you crave (or what is in your cupboard or available locally), then the crunchy aspect of the slaw or salad, and finally the salsas. You will soon be mixing and matching from what she offers here to suit your own tastes.
There is a staggering amount of recipes for making the base. My experience has been either flour or corn, but she employs carrot, beets, cilantro, and black beans in addition to that.
When I make tacos, I tend to stick to my usual, and that is a thin spread of homemade refried beans. She provides many recipes for spreads here using a wide variety of beans including black-eyed peas, fava beans, garbanzo beans, and pintos. The recipes are easy and intensely flavorful due to her carefully chosen selection of complementary herbs and spices.
Recipes for sauces abound, from savory to sweet, all quick and easy, and all so delicious that you will be spooning them over everything, if not eating them directly from the bowl. A cilantro fan, I make her green cilantro sauce in minutes and find myself labeling it onto almost anything that I can find, including my taco meatloaf.

Her chapter on Picos was eye-opening. As she says,
There's so much more to pico than a few chopped tomatoes, onions, and chiles.” I confess to being stuck in that rut most of the time, but have happily expended my repertoire thanks to her, now using corn, mint, peaches, and pineapple, although her toothsome Brazilian Pico de Gallo remains at the top of my list.
If you want to take a walk on the wild side, trying replacing your usual salsa with pickled vegetables. The section on how to make these will have your mouth watering, and make just change your taco making forever. The cilantro (you can substitute parsley) lime pickled onions are heavenly!

The wide variety of fillings will shock you. She employs the use of everything from simple pulled pork or beef to beef tenderloin, sausage and peppers, and fried chicken.

The chapter on creams and the one on sides is worth the price of the book alone. Making my own, fresh creams, was very appealing and, as one who is often stumped for ideas for sides, this section proved invaluable. Consider Grilled Avocado Salad, Peruvian Corn Gratin (with Parmesan, mascarpone, spinach, and hearts of palm -- Heaven!), grilled cauliflower, herbs rice, and the amazingly easy seasoned lemons and limes that truly add so much flavor. I no longer eat avocados without squeezing them with the juice from a seasoned lime.

I cannot recommend this book enough, for taco or Latin food lovers, yes, but also for people who are interested in expanding their daily cooking into something a bit more flavorful. Anyone can make these easy recipes, and you will certainly be glad that you did.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

~~louise~~ said...

Sounds like my kinda cookbook Pattie. Your review is an enormous help. Thanks! I''l be pinning...