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  • Tacos
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Miller is an astute student of food and culture, witness his other cookbooks which so involve the anthropology of a region and its marriage with its cuisine, e.g. his Red Sage cookbook and my review here on amazon.

His intro to this work is fascinating and taco inspiring, e.g. "This food was alive, colorful, aromatic, tasty, crunchy, juicy, flavorful--as if I had crossed a new frontier of food experience." So his time in Mexico as child in summers and as continuing visitor and taco sampler as adult has inspired this very cookbook. His stated purpose is to excite the user of the cookbook about Mexico's street food, that they are as he states: "fast, fresh, economical and easy, a good match to the rapid pace of our modern lifestyle."

He thus provides authentic favorites from Mexico as well as adaptations such as Lobster and Avocado, as well as Chicken with Apples and Goat Cheese.

With each recipe there is suggestion for type of tortilla, accompaniment, usually a salsa, and a drink recommendation. I find this useful as well as on some recipes where difficult ingredients could be an issue, he provides alternatives, e.g. one of the wonderful few that I have made out of here so far, Baja-Style Tempura Fish, the recipe calls for shark, but he also mentions that mahi mahi or tilapia work as well. Likewise with Rabbit with Chiles and Tomatillos, he suggests that chicken thighs can substitute as well. Also, prepared the Tacos Al Pastor and served with his drink recommend of Coco Locos, which never tried before, and guests said it was knock out of dish! I agreed!

Each recipe also includes valuable amount of tacos the recipe yields as well as a Heat Level index and prep time estimate.

These are truly recipes to get excited and involved with new and exciting tacos, salsa, accompaniments to have fun making and serving. His idea of a taco party sounds mucho fun!

Well done with color photos and excellent directions and glossary of techniques, equipment, ingredients and sources for likes of bison, elk, chiles, etc.

This one is keeper!
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2009
All the recipes I've tried so far are wonderful and very authentic. This cookbook is not for a beginner cook, though. Be prepared to spend some time with these recipes, but they are sooo worth it.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I've picked up other cookbooks devoted to a single food like The New Lasagna Cookbook: A Crowd-Pleasing Collection of Recipes from Around the World for the Perfect One-Dish Meal and Biscottiand they can sometimes feel like they just bring together the standard recipes you've seen elsewhere or include a lot of filler to round out the book. Tacos by Mark Miller is the exact opposite.

What I love about this book is that it's the perfect marriage of detail and great recipes. Miller gives you everything you need to succeed, especially when it comes to making homemade tortillas. I really loved the depth of the directions and it reminded me a lot of cookbooks by Rick Bayless.

The recipes are what really get me excited. There is such a breadth covered in this book. It was a perfect balance of more traditional recipes I would hope would be included and unique or fushion recipes that brought me new taco ideas I hadn't thought of. I'm especially captivated by the Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos, Baja Style Tempura Fish, Thai Shrimp, and especially the Chicken with Apple and Goat Cheese Taco. There are also many great photos within the book to give you an idea of what the finished recipe will look like.

I especially like that the cookbook clearly indicates not only how long each recipe will take to complete, but also the heat level. It's great because it makes it easy to adjust if you typically do not like spicy food or find your food is not spicy enough. It's worth noting that most of the recipes take an hour or more to prepare so this is definitely not a quick cookbook. However, I did find the skill level required to be reasonable. Yes, some of the recipes call for cooking meats that are not standard in the American diet, but other than that there are no techniques I saw that would be above the average home cook. The level was consistent with most average cookbooks I have used and magazines like Martha Stewart and Cooking Light.

Overall I think this book is fanastic and am excited ay all my taco making possibilities.
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2011
When I look at any cookbook I normally go straight for a bellwether recipe, which in this case would be the Tacos al Pastor - the recipe that is actually featured on the front cover of the book. One look at this recipe is all you need to know not to buy this book. It calls for the use of 80, YES 80 dried chiles to make the marinade, which is so absurd as to be beyond belief. That's 20 dried chiles per pound of pork. I've been making great al Pastor for many years with about 1/10th the amount of chiles called for, and my al Pastor tastes exactly like the al Pastor I've eaten in taco shacks and stands in Mexico. I wonder if anyone ever cooked this recipe as is because it would take a huge amount of time just to seed and stem those chiles and the marinade would be as thick paste if you made it as directed. The other recipes look way too complicated - things like Chicken Tinga which is a simple Tomato/Chipotle sauce have been turned into some new age fusion mess featuring too many inauthentic ingredients to even begin to list. Other recipes look equally complicated with hard to find ingredients and look equally inauthentic. To be fair, there are a few good looking recipes in here like a recipe for homemade chipotle sauce and some of the other salsas and sauces.

If you're looking for a good Mexican cookbook stick with any of Rick Bayless' titles - you'll be much happier as you'll actually be able to make some of the recipes and they are far more authentic.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I have been a big fan of Mark Miller for years. I have several of his other cookbooks and have eaten at Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe more that once. When I decided to add his Tacos Cookbook to my collection I was really looking forward to some great, Mexican and New Mexican recipes. For the most part I have been very pleased with it.

I love to cook and prep time can be like therapy, however, there has to be a pay-off that is equal to the time spent preparing it and the expense of the ingredients. It may surprise some people but authentic Mexican food is very complex, has a lot of different ingredients, and requires a lot of prep and marinating time. Even while keeping that in mind, I found some the recipes in this book to be overly complex for what they turned out to be. First I will cover some of my favorite dishes in the book:

* Tacos Al Pastor - Even though the recipe called for 80 assorted, rehydrated chiles and 16 other ingredients, the resulting taco was very satisfying and authentic.

* Chicken with Chorizo - This was a great recipe that will become a favorite in my house. The spicy chorizo blended well with the marinated chicken.

* Lobster and Avocado - Although this is a fairly expensive dish to make, my friends and I loved the delicate combinations of lobster, mangoes and avocado (although I felt that the fresh truffle garnish was a case of gilding the lily.)

* Huevos Divorciados - I have eaten this in many a south Texan and New Mexican restaurant and was glad to finally have a recipe for making it at home. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed ALL of the breakfast recipes in this book.

Now, a few that I wasn't crazy about:

* Ceviche with Coconut and Ginger - Although I love cerviche, the textures just didn't work for me as a taco filling. Given the cost of fresh red snapper I would have rather had this dish by itself, without the tortilla.

* Cumin Scented Lamb Loin - I was really looking forward to this one, and it did taste great. However, I found a problem with the recipe. Mark Miller starts this one off by telling about the time that he spent in Morocco and the importance of cumin (which he says has a "spicy, pungent, woodsy aroma which gives meat a "gamier" or "meatier" flavor) in that country's cuisine. He goes on to mention it's importance in Tex-Mex cooking. The only problem was that, out of the 14 ingredients for the brine which is used as a marinade for the lamb, there is NO cumin. Not even a spice blend that contains some cumin. This has to be a mistake, one which I would not expect in a book like this. After making it the first time I recreated it using a Moroccan spice blend (Ras El Hanout) and chili paste (Harissa) instead of 6 other ingredients and I cut the prep time in half (and I have to admit that my friends even thought that mine was better.)

The photography, by Califonia's Ed Anderson, is some of the best that I have seen in quite a while. I have grown so weary of seeing photographers overuse the "very-shallow-depth-of-field" technique. Having been trained in the use of large-format view cameras I appreciate a photographer who understands all of the different methods of manipulating the range of focus. The photographs here are not only technically correct but also beautifully designed. Good food photography is expensive and I love that this book is packed with enticing, delicious looking pictures. I will be looking for some of Mr. Anderson's other work and I will put him on my short-list of favorite food photographers.

All in all I enjoyed this cookbook and will be using it often, although some of the recipes seem more appropriate for a high-end, South-West restaurant than for most homes. I will reserve the fancier ones for entertaining.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2009
I received this title yesterday. Cover-to-cover, it is mouthwatering. Excellent photography and all the recipes appear to be rather straight-forward.

I would have liked to have seen an extended salsa section, but the basics are covered well enough and would stand as a base for your imagination.

I'd recommend it.

UPDATED 4/2011
I gave this 5 stars before, but I just wanted to let everyone know that the Sonoran rub for the pulled pork tacos works on just about everything I've thrown in the smoker. Ribs, brisket even chicken (though go a bit lighter in usage). Fantastic. If you like a flavorful heat, man you can't go wrong with this.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2009
This is an incredible cookbook. I have plowed through at least 10 of the recipes so far, and have not been disappointed with any of them. My friends have been raving about the tacos!

After reading the forward, I am now on a quest to find the real live taco carts that Mark discusses. I also appreciate the lisitng of sources for certain ingredients, as it can be a bit difficult to find certain items such as green chili powder.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2010
Love the book. Love the recipes. Love the pictures. The recipes can be time consuming, but if you love to cook, why would that matter? I thoroughly enjoy it.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2011
I'm afraid I have to agree with the one-star reviewer here: the book is too complicated, and no, I won't be able to make a single one of the recipes in it. Nor will I be able to find the ingredients the recipes call for. Sample ingredient list: 40 dried guajillo chiles, 20 dried ancho chiles, 20 dried pasilla negro chiles, etc.
This is clearly a cook book for serious foodies with plenty of time on their hands. If you are a parent looking to spice up your Taco Tuesdays, you should keep on looking.
On the positive side, the book is beautifully made and the pictures are mouthwatering. Good enough to eat, alas!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2015
Recipes are much more complicated than necessary.
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