Customer Reviews: The Homesick Texan Cookbook
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on October 30, 2011
I love this book! Every recipe works and works beautifully. I've been cooking from it ever since I bought it a couple of weeks ago and have written about it twice for Patch. I can't say enough good things about her green chile chowder and her jalapeno mustard chicken (Patch review below.) Thank you, Lisa Fain! I can't wait for your next book.

If you're interested in reading more about this book in Patch, go to these links:
Sunday Night Supper: Kid-Tested Jalapeno Mustard Roast Chicken

I spend too much money on books, particularly cookbooks, which are usually hard-covered and filled with beautiful, colored pictures. If I don't cook from them right away, I never cook from them and then they sit like expensive art books on the shelf. A few weeks ago, I bought Lisa Fain's cookbook, The Homesick Texan, and was determined to get my money's worth from it. (The book lists for $29 and Amazon sells it for $17.59.)

Ever since that book landed on my doorstep, I've been reading Fain's poignant and vivid essays about growing up Texan. Because most of her recipes aren't all that complicated, I've actually been cooking from the dang thing.

This week, I decided to make her jalapeno mustard chicken, which calls for honey, yellow mustard, lime juice, ginger, garlic, cumin, jalapeno and cilantro. I'll just admit right now, I'm a cilantro junkie. It makes me high and I look for reasons to smell, chop and eat it. Fain writes that she made this recipe, which calls for a half cup of cilantro, for her friend who was homesick for Texas. Her friend said it was the best roast chicken she ever ate. The only problem is that Fain recommends that the chicken sit in its marinade for eight hours. That's a long shift. But the marinade isn't hard to make - you dump a bunch of ingredients in the food processor, cover the chicken with it and go about your day. The main ingredients are cheap and easy enough to buy and keep in your fridge until you're ready to use them, so you just have to make this recipe on a day when you'll have time in the morning to think about what you'll be eating that night.

For me, yesterday was that day. The night before, I took a roasting chicken out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator to defrost. Unfortunately, I hadn't bothered to look at how much it weighed. It was over seven pounds and the recipe called for a 3-4 pound roaster. Fortunately, I had enough cilantro, honey, mustard and garlic cloves to double the marinade. The chicken was $1.99/pound. If we had leftovers, so what? Two points to Mom for making two dinners at once.

Fain says the secret to success for this dish is to butterfly the chicken, remove its spine and lay it flat on a roasting pan, a process she calls spatchcocking. This, she writes, "is just a fancy way to say 'cut out the backbone and lay that bird flat.'' "

If you're from Texas, and you know about hunting, removing the backbone of your dinner probably sounds easy enough to do. But I'm from New Jersey and have never hunted or deboned anything in my life. And the thing about a seven-pound roasting chicken is that it looks like it once had a life. It may be headless but it's the same weight as a new baby, and looks about as helpless. I removed the roaster from its plastic wrap, put it on a cutting board breast side down, stared at it, and couldn't bring myself to remove its spine. It seemed too cruel. So I made the marinade (took about ten minutes), spread it all over the chicken, covered it with plastic wrap, put it in the fridge and went for a walk with my neighbor. I told her about the chicken and my fear of crippling it.

"You should have asked the butcher to do it at the supermarket," she said. Oh yeah, the butcher. I'd forgotten about him. You shouldn't.

Eight hours later, I screwed up my courage, took out a poultry knife and a fork, and cut the spine out of its back. I felt like a hunter, instead of a gatherer, and it felt pretty good. I put the chicken in the oven. The whole house immediately started to smell delicious. Two hours later, it was done. I let the chicken rest a bit, made some pasta, chopped up raw vegetables and called for my kids. It was 5:45. My friend was coming over later that night to have a cup of tea while her daughter took a lacrosse clinic in town, and I had to get my older son to and from the geometry tutor before she arrived. We had to eat quickly. I started to carve the chicken and told my younger son to call for my older son. My older son either either didn't hear him or ignored him. Finally, I started to yell.

My older son sauntered into the kitchen in his boxer shorts. "I'm not hungry," he said, yawning. "Civilized people don't eat before 6 p.m." If you have a teenager and it's the end of the day, you know they are either famished or up to no good. I glared at him while I carved. "When someone makes you dinner, you sit down and eat it."

My kids started to bicker. I brought the chicken to the table. They dug in. I waited for their reaction.

"Oh my God, this is shamefully delicious," my older son said. "Can you perpetually have a bowl of this sitting in the kitchen? This is friggin' delicious."

"Can you make this every night?" my younger son said. He reached for the platter. "This sauce is amazing. Can I have more?"

Yes, they really said all that. This chicken is the best chicken any of us ever ate. It would have gone well with the frisee salad I meant to serve, but we were so busy gobbling up the chicken that I forgot about that. We finished the meal in great moods. While we were cleaning up, my older son kissed and hugged me. My younger son started to sing. "Laura Fromm, she is the bomb..." Before I sicken you any further, let me just say, this chicken is the bomb. Make it tonight.
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on September 21, 2011
From common roots in Texas, Lisa went east to NYC and I went west to Oregon. However, we all have a yearning for chicken fried steak, King Ranch casserole, migas, etc. The day the book arrived I made the Tex-Mex Meatloaf with Chipotle-Tomato Glaze. Delicious! Next up was the pico de gallo. Perfect! The stories bring the recipes to life and the photography is beautiful. The Homesick Texan Cookbook not only makes you want to cook, it makes you want to head for Texas at the first opportunity.
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on September 13, 2011
I have several books Texas/tex-mex cuisine, and love the recipe notes and photos in this cookbook. Growing up in texoma, I love these dishes that have been perfected by Ms. Fain on her blog. The apps are fab especially the chipotle pimento cheese and I have tried the pies which are fantastic. I can't wait to cook through the entire book.
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on September 19, 2011
...very disappointed in the binding quality. I, too, have a brand new pre-ordered copy of Ms. Lisa's book. While browsing through the book, about half way through, the binding of the bottom half of the page does not hold, and the pages nearly fall out of the book. I have contacted Ms. Lisa about this, and she is deeply and sincerely apologetic. She suggests returning and replacing the book via Amazon. She's seen the other reports on Amazon about this issue and is working with her publisher to find a solution.

Now, with that out of the way, being a homesick Texan myself, I was so excited when I found Ms. Lisa's blog! Then I found out she was releasing a cookbook?! I couldn't wait to buy it (it's the only item I've ever pre-ordered) and I don't regret my purchase (even with the binding issue, which I am confident the parties involved will do everything in their power to correct). My husband is going to be so fat, full, and happy on this gem of Tex-Mex cooking that I now possess! I can't wait to buy a copy for my cousin & his wife, who are stationed in Tennessee, and only ever get to come home to Texas once every year or two! I may not try every recipe in this cookbook, but you better believe I'll be working my way through to trying ALMOST all of them! Thank you, Ms. Lisa!
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on September 15, 2011
I've been reading Lisa Fain's blog for quite some time and lot of her recipes have become family comfort food standards around here (Chipotle Mac and Cheese w/Bacon). Some (puffy tacos?) may have even gone a little ways towards convincing my now-wife that it would be worth marrying me. We eat pretty well around here, and a lot of credit goes to The Homesick Texan.

I haven't gotten to any of the recipes in the book yet, but I did read the entire book the day I got it (yesterday). I have no doubt it will be everything Ms. Fain's blog is and more.
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on September 17, 2011
Living in Chicago I my culinary hero has been Rick Bayless and I started to look down on Tex-Mex with it's Frito Pie, etc. But the last few years I've been reading Lisa's blog and I've realized Tex-Mex is a classic American cuisine as authentic and rich as Cajun or Creole. The recipes are simple, easy to find ingredients, and without a doubt good eats. I'm honored to have Lisa's book on the shelf with Rick Bayless, and I know he would be too.
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on September 13, 2011
Have been using her recipes from the Homesick Texan blog for years. Cheese enchiladas are excellent.
Beginners will be the most pleased!
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on September 29, 2011
I ordered this book on the date of publication because I have subscribed to the Homesick Texas website for years. Ms. Fain understands the pride Texans take in the wide diversity of products available to us in the Lone Star State. I made her refried beans and they were better than any others that I have eaten, and I've eaten my fair share. The chicken fried steak is exactly as my mother made it. What more could one ask for? She connects the food of her youth with all the emotions one feels from being Texan, either born here or moved here as quickly as possible. This is a great cookbook.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 20, 2014
Author Lisa Fain has written a cookbook that filled with home-style recipes and delightful stories. Reading, yes reading, her cookbook is much like reading a good book that's filled with recipes. I loved reading her stories about living in Texas, missing Texas, and finding the ingredients she needed to prepare the dishes she missed while living in New York. While I am not from Texas, I could truly understand her hankering for the foods she misses as I was in a similar situation. In fact, my mother brought tortillas and all the ingredients needed to make some Mexican food when she came to visit me long ago. I could not find the ingredients I needed to make some Arizona-style Mexican food and my mother, being a good Mom, brought all the fixings. We enjoyed a comfy Arizona-style meal of enchiladas, beans and tortillas. It was a wonderful visit thanks to her kindness and she helped cure my homesickness for some good Mexican-style food.

Dare I digress...The Homesick Texan's cookbook is filled with lovely stories, lovely photos and best of all lots of homey recipes waiting to be cooked. One of the recipes I would like to try as it is so unique is the recipe for Ruby Red Sweet Rolls. As the recipe contains grapefruit, I won't be able to prepare and eat this recipe due to some medications I am currently using. I've never seen a recipe like this one and I would love to try it. The recipe is below:

Ruby Red Sweet Rolls

1 tablespoon or 1 packet yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons Ruby Red grapefruit zest
1/2 cup Ruby Red grapefruit juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ruby Red grapefruit zest
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup Ruby Red grapefruit juice
2 teaspoons Ruby Red grapefruit zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1. Mix the yeast with the warm water and let it sit for 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the zest, juice sugar, salt, egg, butter, and 1 cup of the flour. Mix together until a lumpy batter is formed. Slowly add the remaining flour until a soft, pliable dough comes together. Don't worry it it's sticky.

3. Cover and let it rest 15 minutes. After it's rested, turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until it's smooth. Place dough in a bowl, cover, and let rise until it's doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

4. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. On a floured surface, roll out the risen dough into a large rectangle, about 9 by 13 inches, with the longer side facing you. For the filling, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and zest. Spread the butter on the dough and then sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over the butter.

5. Starting on one of the long sides, roll the dough and pinch ends to seal. Cut off 1-inch slices from the rolled dough and place sliced rolls in the baking dish. Cover and let rise for an hour.

6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While the rolls are baking, for the icing whisk together the powdered sugar, butter, juice, zest, vanilla and salt. Spread onto rolls when they come out of the oven.

Other recipes you will find in her cookbook include:

Blanche's Mustard Pickles
Cream Gravy
Breakfast Tacos
Chipolte Pimento Cheese
Avocado Soup
Sopa de Fideo
One-Hour Texas Chili
Cheese Enchiladas with Chile Con Carne (I'm going to give this recipe a try as it's not the usual enchiladas in red sauce)
Chicken-Fried Steak
Salpicon (Mexican Shredded Beef Salad)
Salmon Croquettes
Cranberry Congealed Salad
Mexican Corn (Elote En Vaso)
Grandma's Chocolate Pie
Apple Fried Pies

I truly enjoyed learning about how to select, prepare and use various ingredients, especially the information concerning chilies preparation. I also enjoyed learning more about Texas and viewing the color photos found within The Homesick Texan cookbook.

There is an interactive table of contents making navigation easy.

Highly recommend.
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on April 7, 2014
I loved this cookbook. I lived in Austin for 10 years and really miss the food. This is probably as close as I will get without going back. But it is more than just a cookbook, I like the author's story as well. Something I could relate to. Really wish she was my neighbor. And she let me have her leftovers. LOL
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