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Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee was born on a cold winter morning in 1970 in a tiny hospital on the outskirts of Seoul. She and her family immigrated to the United States in the late 70s, wearing bell bottoms with a funkadelic soundtrack playing in the background. She learned English in Pennsylvania but spent most of her formidable years in the various communities of Los Angeles. She's worked since she was 9 years old, pumping gas at her dad's gas station, slinging pizzas at the family pizza joint, and running the cash register at her parents' Mexican market. A lover of food, travel and images, she decided against a career in medicine to pursue writing and the arts. When she's not exploring the wonders of the world, she's pulling weeds in her vegetable garden in the City of Angels.
And because the recipes in this book are "quick and easy", they sacrifice depth of flavor for convenience. So, if you are looking for long, slow braises (good old time Mexican treatments for inexpensive cuts of pork and beef) you will be disappointed with this cook book. On the other hand, if you don't know too much about Mexican food and want to learn about it--and also need to get it to the table quickly--this is a great book with which to start.
It is short on recipes--only about 80. It also tries to cover all the categories: From soup to nuts, and salads and drinks. Just by reading my last two sentences, you must realize that something's going to be short-changed.
It uses canned beans and other canned products. It also uses chicken breasts in the chicken soup recipes....There is even a chicken soup recipe that uses rotisserie chicken, and a suggestion to use the bones to flavor the soup if you have the time.
It has a very nice, comprehensive section on Mexican cheeses. And Mexican words are included along with the English, so the book can be helpful if you are trying to make sense of your Mexican market. If you are wondering how it came to be that the author has a Korean name: Her parents owned a Mexican market on the West Coast, and the author studied and lived in Mexico City for a period of time. The writing is personable and her teaching/communicating skills are average.
Quick and Easy Mexican Cooking- More Than 80 Everyday Recipes by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee is based around the idea of quick to prepare, easy meals that are based off of traditional Mexican cooking. The first part of the book explains a bit of the history of cooking and the author's history with Mexican cooking, followed by lists of the seasonings and essential ingredients, a glossary of ingredients and an introduction to Mexican cheeses and easier to find substitution suggestions.
Most of the recipes, with only a few exceptions, are cooked on a stove top, not baked or roasted in an oven. The recipes are all listed with a descriptive name in English, followed by the Español name. There are gorgeous, mouthwatering full color photos of much of the food.
It's separated by recipe type. Sauces, salads, soups, entrees by main ingredient type (poultry and eggs, pork and beef, fish and shellfish), desserts and snacks and drinks. Since the author was a vegetarian at one point, she offers tips on some of the recipes like the refried beans for adapting the recipe for vegetarians, and some of the recipes like the soup would be easy to adapt as well. It's not a vegetarian cookbook, but if you're planning a dinner with guest who don't eat meat, you can find flavorful recipes in this book to serve them.
The recipes are wonderful, easy to prepare using short cuts like canned beans and grocery store rotisserie chickens. Most of the prep time is in cutting up ingredients. All the recipes are things that can be made in about an hour, a few of them go a little over that in cooking time, but the prep time is a lot shorter.
What I like best about this cookbook, other than the easy to make recipes, is also how easy they are to follow.Read more ›
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Cecila Hae-Jin Lee has created a great book of Mexican recipes that anyone can try from the classics salsas to the not so classic Herbed pumpkin seed mole.You have soups,salads, chicken, pork , beef and desserts that will keep you in fresh ingredients for as long as you like. I liked how the author used fresh product worked into the dishes to bring out the true flavor of the foods you prepare.
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So far I have used two of the recipes and have found no WOW factor in either. Both recipes that I have used needed more ingredidents. The Chili Spiced Peanuts, I might as well ate a spoonful of chili powder. To make them better I added cumin, garlic and cayenne powder. Baja-Style Fish Tacos, from a transplant San Diego guy, I found them to be very bland. The second time I doctored them up and they were much better.
I have not yet given up on this cookbook, I'll try more recipes in the future. At this time I can only give this book two stars.
This has turned out to be one of my better cookbook purchases. I grew up never learning to cook the traditional Mexican food my mom made. I was simply too lazy to learn but sure loved to eat. Now that I have a daughter I am trying my hand at homemade Mexican cooking. Unfortunately my mom lives quite a few states away, and it's hard to copy a recipe over the phone since my mom eyeballs everything instead of measuring like me. The recipes in this book are easy to follow.
So far I've made the beef stew, the black beens, green salsa, chicken enchiladas, stuffed peppers, and the meatball soup. All have come out pretty tasty. My husband doesn't really like meatballs but loved the meatball soup so much he had seconds. The stuffed peppers turned out messy and not like the picture but still tasted good. I think I just need more practice with that one. I'm looking forward to trying the tortilla soup, chicken and hominy soup, aztec zucchini, and of course the tres leches (three-milks) cake.
I'm thinking of buying a second copy to give to my younger sister. She is pretty good at Mexican cooking but is looking to cut down on some of the fat that traditional dishes have. I really like that the author offers healthier versions of those traditional dishes while also mentioning what the original ingredients are. My only gripe is I'd like to have more pictures but that would probably increase the price. In any case, it's a good starter book.
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