on March 17, 2013
I preordered this book the day Amazon offered it, expecting a collection of recipes from Pati's PBS programs. When I started reading it, the recipes were the third thing I admired -- right after the numerous Mexican Cook's Tricks and the extensive descriptions of Mexican ingredients. This is my third Mexican cookbook (after Diana Kennedy and Roberto Santibanez), but it should be everyone's introduction to Mexican flavors, techniques, and gusto because it works so well on four levels, each of which is worth the price of the book:
1. Mexican Cook's Tricks -- There is a "trick" at the end of most of the recipes. They are short and most apply more broadly than just the subject recipe: how to cook an egg, prepare enchiladas, marinate meats, prepare chiles. These are as addicting as nachos (or Margaritas): You can't eat just one. After you finish one, you poke around to find more.
2. Mexican Ingredients -- What stops you from reading the "cook's tricks?" There are about 60 green-highlighted sidebars, most of which describe a Mexican ingredient and how it is prepared and enjoyed: tamarind, corn versus flour tortillas, several varieties of chiles, hibiscus flowers, cinnamon, and buying avocados. A few succinctly describe cooking processes for rice and beans. By the time you've read eight or ten of these sidebars you want to cook.
3. Recipes -- The recipes are for home cooking. This is the food that Pati, a busier-than-we-are soccer mom, serves her family. They are not the traditional servant-prepared recipes that Diana Kennedy features. They are contemporary flavors that use ingredients you can find in a large supermarket with a broad selection of Latin products or, better still, one of the small stores that serve Mexican/Central American immigrants you can find even in small towns. I've made several recipes (and others on her website) and have always had good results. The recipes are flexible and you can substitute pork for beef or adjust the chiles and other flavors to taste. One tip: It's efficient to prepare meals from the book over consecutive nights so you can re-purpose the food as Pati does -- salsas, beans, meats, tortillas.
4. Gusto -- What draws these three elements together is Pati herself. Her culinary philosophy and approach to cooking are lively, fresh, and magnetic. The introductions to each recipe are informative and personal and her advice and judgements are level-headed. You can benefit from adapting her style, regardless of what you cook -- Mexican, Chinese, or American.
If you want to cook Mexican for your family, order this book and buy an avocado and a few chiles. But read the book first to learn how to buy the avocado and handle the chiles.
Pati Jinich, a native of Mexico City, proves a most engaging guide to homestyle Mexican dishes from street foods to colonial gems, Middle Eastern influences to comfort foods from across Mexico: you'll find references to Guadalajara, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Michoacán, the Yucatan Peninsula and Mexico City. Her PBS show Pati's Mexican Table features two seasons of episodes that revolve around a certain ingredient, holiday, or theme.
I was lucky to receive a review copy of "Pati's Mexican Table; The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking" several weeks ago courtesy of Pati's publicist, and in that time I've tried several recipes from the various sections, including two of the salads (red leaf, avocado, and grapefruit salad with olive-mint vinaigrette and the spinach goat cheese salad with caramelized pecans and jamaica vinaigrette), a soup (Mexican alphabet soup), several of the egg dishes (huevos rabo de mestiza, Mexican frittata with poblanos, potatoes, and feta), and two of the desserts (triple orange Mexican wedding cookies, Alisa's marbled pound cake). I also made the tamarind, apricot and chipotle sauce for use with another dish.
Pati's easygoing manner and clear explanations translate well to the written page; many of the recipes in "Pati's Mexican Table" come complete with a "Mexican Cook's Trick" sidebar with the types of tips that add an extra layer of authenticity: you'll find tips on enhancing the flavor of cucumbers by rubbing them with the cut ends, that your masa should have the consistency of Play-Doh, tips on working with tortillas before adding sauce, and using rice flour in tortes. These little tidbits are the types of things that you don't often find in cookbooks, and it's a nice touch that makes you feel like you're being let in on a family secret.
The recipes are clearly laid out and easy to follow. You'll find show favorites like Chicken with Tamarind, Apricots and Chipotle Sauce, Chicken À La Trash, Mexican Meatballs with Mint and Chipotle, and Steak Tacos with Jamaica-Jalapeño Sauce, along with vegetarian-friendly recipes, some kid-friendly recipes, and even a few gluten-free recipes to boot. There are also some international dishes like watermelon and tomatillo salad with feta cheese, tomato and mozzarella salad with pickled ancho chile vinaigrette, and crab cakes with jalapeño aioli that are given a fun Mexican-inspired twist.
I loved the unique salad dressings like the olive-mint vinaigrette and the hibiscus flower vinaigrette; these will become a regular staple in my kitchen. I found that for two of the dishes I tried, the Mexican alphabet soup and the triple orange Mexican wedding cookies, that I made a few small tweaks to the recipes as written. There's a good sampling of recipes taken from the show's two seasons; I did a quick scan on the show's website, and it would appear that at least one recipe from each show made it into the cookbook. I did miss seeing a few of my show favorites like Juju's birthday cake and the blackberry pecan tamales, but you can quickly and easily print these out at the show's official website. Gorgeous photography and a user-friendly bilingual index (Spanish recipe titles are printed in italics) round out the book. No nutritional info is provided.
Many recipes call for a variety of fresh and dried chile peppers (poblano, jalapeño, serrano, guajillo, chipotles in adobo) and Mexican grocery staples like piloncillo, flor de jamaica and masa, but the majority of ingredients should be readily available in your grocery store.
Verdict: Fans of Pati's TV show and those looking for an easy, tasty introduction to homestyle Mexican cooking will be sure to enjoy "Pati's Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking" (let's hope there are many more seasons and a second cookbook to boot!). ¡Provecho!
Review copy courtesy of Pati's publicist - ¡muchas gracias!
on March 5, 2013
At first this reviewer thought "oh, not ANOTHER Mexican cookery book!" yet first impressions can be very deceptive… In fact this is a bit of a special little gem.
The key aim of the book is to provide a range of recipes for making everyday, authentic Mexican food for everyday families. Some of the recipes are not your typical "Mexican fare" but they are said to be 100% Mexican. You may just need to adjust your perceptions and expectations (and all for the better). In many areas what we think of to be a typical food from a region is, in fact, nothing like what the locals would eat over there. Localised food for a localised taste, if you will, often lacking in true authenticity.
After an interesting, personal overview of the author and what makes her tick it is straight into the recipes. Split into chapters of salsas, pickles & guacamole; salads; soups; anytime vegetarian; seafood; poultry; meat; sides; desserts and drinks there is going to be something new to try here, that is surely clear. Whilst this is a book you can clearly pick up and down, select a recipe and go, you really should take a sequential read through at least once to immerse yourself in the background, hints, tips and diverse comments given by the author to the various dishes and Mexican cuisine as a whole.
You should not be surprised to note that the wide range of recipes will surely have something for everyone. No boring variations on a variation here. The recipes are ably accompanied by a lot of wonderful full colour photographs, so clear and inviting that you want to reach through the page and start munching away. The recipes are well-written, easy to follow and convey all the bits of information that you need including a typical preparation and cooking time. Hurrah! OK, the measurements are only listed in an imperial format and in today's international climate that's a bit of a no-no but c'est la vie! At least you can get a handle on how long an unfamiliar recipe might take to make.
This book is more than just a collection of recipes. It is a deceptively cunning tool to get you inspired to try and make your own Mexican food as well as to try a lot of possibly new things. Certainly this reviewer can see it responsible for a bit of a dietary shift for many households once the cook gets addicted. An everyday book for everyone. Does the author have anything left for a further volume?
on June 6, 2013
I recently discovered Pati by watching The Chew cooking show, she was a guest and made a wonderful Chicken Aztec Casserole, (in the book), I made it for dinner that evening and it was a huge hit. I immediately purchased her book and have since made Chicken Enchiladas in Salsa Verde, yummy! Chicken A La Trash, the trash comes from the strange list of ingredients that come together to make something very wonderful tasting, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, poblano chiles, prunes, yes prunes, and of course chicken, ya gotta try it. Sticky Chicken with Apricots, Tamarind, and Chipotle, another good one. Crispy Chicken Milanese, I've made this one 3 times with her Green Rice. Mahimahi in Creamy Poblano Sauce, this one is especially good if, like me, your family doesn't care for fish, the Poblano Sauce helps with the fishy taste. I've also made this using Snapper, works just as well. Her Blissful Corn Totre (kind of like a moist corn bread) can be a side dish or have it for breakfast with powdered sugar sprinkled on top, it's great! Sauteed Zucchini with Poblano Peppers, one of the many vegetable sides in the book. Also included in the book are Salads,Soups, Vegetarian, Meat dishes, Desserts, Drinks, Breakfasts, Tacos, Quesadillas, Salsas, and more. I plan to do the Julie Julia thing with this book, everything looks and sounds so good. If your looking for authentic fresh made Mexican, and not American Mexican give this book a try. Nothing so far has been any harder to make than your average intermediate recipe. Try to catch her cooking show on PBS, it's on twice a week, Tues and Thurs, she's a delight and it will help with things in her book. I Love this book, and my family loves the result!
on August 22, 2013
A very fun and useful book.
I've been cooking extensively out of Rick Bayless' excellent books for several years and hadn't planned on buying this one because at first glance it seemed like it might simply be a 'dumbed down' version of recipes I already knew.
But it's totally not. While Jinich's recipes tend to be more casual and less labor/time intensive compared to a typical Bayless dish, they are nevertheless fantastic and fresh and fun. Jinich has the palate, the native fluency with the cuisine, and the cooking chops to offer simple, casual recipes that are delicious and taste authentically Mexican.
I'm kind of obsessed with her sauteed zucchini recipe these late summer days. It's just diced zucchini, roasted poblanos, onion, garlic, salt and pepper cooked in a little butter and oil. Whenever I make it I wonder if I should maybe add some chilis or lime juice or cumin or cilantro or crema to 'improve' it. But no, it's simple and clean tasting and perfect as is. I respect a recipe that knows when to stop.
If you want to learn the classic dishes of Mexican cuisine, the books of Bayless and Kennedy are great. But Jinich lets you see how a talented and resourceful Mexican home cook living in America feeds herself and her family, making this book a treasured and very practical addition to my Mexican cookbook library.
I checked this book out of the library last month and, because my cookbook shelf is overflowing, ended up purchasing the Kindle version -- my first Kindle cookbook! The physical book is lovely, but the Kindle version is a bit awkward to navigate.
on May 10, 2013
The first book from Pati Jinich, host of public television's "Pati's Mexican Table," is the rare cookbook that flavors each amazingly accessible recipe with context, culture and personal story that make us understand the dish in a new way. Her incisive and charmed "ojo de bien cubero" sensual eye brings alive (along with the crisp pictures) everything from cilantro to guacamole. We can salsa with pico de gallo and we even learn how to douse a jalapeno-tinged four-alarm fire on our tongue. Most of all, Pati expands for those already familiar with the rudiments of Mexican cuisine as well as the uninitiated (which is lots of us--at least until we read this book) our very concept of Mexican cooking. All too many Americans have a view of this versatile and subtle cornucopia defined and bounded by the (albeit tasty!) offerings at our local Chipotle or Qdoba. It seems somewhat akin to where we stood in our kitchens when Julia Child came along and redefined French cuisine. Pati stands at that inflection point, where many have become fans of one small slice of Mexican cuisine, but those who are not Latino American may be unlikely to attempt too much, just as we might not try Wok cooking or any other cuisine which we have not had handed down to us in our mother's kitchens. Pati's avuncular (is there a female equivalent?!) style of writing, storytelling and recipe rendering is like a virtual mother or best friend guiding the reader to an array of easy dishes that cure any reticence we might have. She may not have Julia's height or voice, but she stands tall and commands loving attention to the bountiful flavors of Mexico. She is an avatar for the culture and culinary heritage of our sister nation, which is proudly part of an emerging America, and for happy and healthful eating. Now let me at that avocado...! Yes I can.
on March 5, 2013
I was previously unfamiliar with Pati Jinich, but I was intrigued by the tagline "the secrets of real Mexican home cooking". Having grown up in Southern California, I love Mexican food, but as anyone who has looked for a good Mexican cookbook knows, it is difficult to find a great instruction manual for cooking delicious, authentic Mexican food yourself!
I own, and quite enjoy, Rick Bayless' classic "Authentic Mexican", but I am so happy to have found "Pati's Mexican Table", because I think I like it even more than Rick's book! The pictures are drool-worthy, the text is so much fun to read, and the recipes are amazing! You really feel like you are sitting in your best friend's kitchen and she is teaching you to cook the food she loves.
Pati really makes Mexican cookery easy and accessible. I have made just a couple of the recipes so far (one of the salsas, and the basic salad dressing), but I have a long list of recipes on my "must cook" list. I can't wait to get in my kitchen and spend some time cooking up some delicious food with Pati's book.
Bottom line, if you want gorgeous pictures, delicious Mexican recipes, in a fun to read and easy to follow style, get this book! You won't be disappointed.
I received a complimentary advance copy of this book, with no obligation to review it, but I enjoyed it so much that I couldn't wait to share my opinion! And as you can see from the "verified purchase" badge, I ordered my own copy to keep :)
on March 24, 2015
I have approximately 50 cookbooks so I'm pretty picky about the one's I purchase. I use them to get inspiration and then I tweak the recipes to suit my families tastes. That being said, I recommend this cookbook wholeheartedly! My son doesn't eat cake and he loves the chocolate cake recipe; Even asked for it on his birthday. Her carnitas are awesome - made them for a family dinner without changing anything and everyone raved. There are a few recipes that I had to spice up a bit but all in all completely worth the money. If you haven't caught her cooking show on PBS you check it out.
on March 12, 2013
I first found Pati, oddly enough, when she was, to me, an unknown quantity when she appeared as a cooking guest with Paula Deen on Foodnetwork. She was a standout, and I immediately liked her style. I sought her out and found it hard to find any books or info on her. Then I found her show on PBS...next came this cookbook. I am so glad she's easier to find now bc she is what we Foodies need. She offers an easy style of cooking Mexican that is approachable, and she has a personality to match, making her shows a delight to watch without a lot of irritating razzmatazz, bells, and whistles. Her show does not highlight all recipes from this book, so I have a feeling there's a second book in Pati's future down the line. Her Chicken Tinga recipe is easy and fast, you can't imagine it would pack the flavor punch it does...but it did just that. It was so tasty, you'd think I worked really hard to put those flavor profiles together. I like, too, that it's a make-ahead meal, sev'l days in advance even, and you have it ready to go for a weeknight meal or a big crowd. I made it first as 'panini' quesadillas (she called them Tingadillas) one night, and then the leftovers we had on a crunchy baguette with refried beans and melted cheese another night..very satisfying and filling! I want to try her creamy zucchini soup next. As I try more, I will update.
Update: Tried the Rodrigo-style fish, made from simple ingredients. My husband LOVED it so much he must have mentioned it about 5x in 30 minutes. I used striped bass and he said it was the best striped bass he ever had, and he's a fisherman and has eaten it many times before. I guess it's a keeper! I also made the Poblano MahiMahi (substituting blackfish b/c that's what I had), and I wouldn't make it again. Just didn't hit the mark for us. Then, I made her chayote recipe as a side salad. She mentioned that they are a cross between a squash and a pear; it was very good and easy, and I say that as someone who doesn't like squash veggies very much. I thought it was a cross between a squash and a jicama. I like exploring new foods, especially fruits and veggies.
Her book is user friendly because it's easy to read. Something as simple as the correct use of negative, white space helps your eye get thru the instructions without too much strain or effort, especially as I get older! The pictures are there for many recipes. She adds a lot of useful tips and alternative suggestions for using one recipe. Some recipes have more steps than others, but you can pace yourself to start off easy and work yourself up. So this book is good for beginners and advanced alike. I recommend this book.
on March 12, 2013
I have a simple standard for a cookbook: if I can find 2-3 recipes that I really like and will regularly use, then it's a winner.
I've only tried 2 recipes from Pati's book, and those were fantastic. So I've got only upside from here, and I've already tagged another dozen recipes that I want to try. The focus on practical, casual recipes is great.
The book is also just enoyable to read. The photos are fantastic, and the book is written in a fun and engaging style. The great energy from her TV show comes across well in print. The "Fabulous" applies equally to the book and the author.
One caveat: I would recommend reading it only after eating; otherwise it just made me too damn hungry.