Salsas and Moles by Deborah Schneider

Salsas and Moles is a beautifully presented cookbook true to the name – a large selection of Mexican/Central America sauces suitable for all kinds of purposes.  I appreciated the copious amounts of photographs – especially important considering this is a book on one small topic. It is helpful to see how each will will look finished. The author adds great tips and suggestions for each recipe as well as some background on how/when it is used.

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The book breaks down as follows: Classic Table Salsas, Hot Salsas, Moles and Enchilada Sauces, Salsas for Tacos, Chunky Salsas and Botanas, Resources, index. Classic recipes such as Pico De Gallo and Salsa Verde are contrasted with Salsa Xoconostle and Guajillo Chile Enchilada Salsa with Tomato. Although most of the sauces have a tomato and onion base, it is in how they are prepared and what is added that highly differentiates them.

There are general tips on preparation of all sauces – and then more specific tips heading each chapter and sometimes in the recipe descriptions. The nature of the tips and suggestions are very helpful – they prevent accidents or having the recipe turn out poorly.

Each recipe is a full page length and utilizes 3 colors (teal, orange, black). Serving size, heat index, paragraph introduction, ingredient list, serving suggestion, and then directions. A downside is that a small typeface is used, often over photographs, thus making reading difficult (especially for those with poorer eyesight) The directions are in large clumpy paragraphs – a disappointment since that is one of the hardest ways to read a recipe when actually making the items. I would have preferred the directions to be numbered and in short paragraphs instead. About every third to fourth recipe has a large photograph on the previous page.

I was surprised how much I learned about salsas from the book. I grew up in Los Angeles and have tried many different salsas from Guadalajara taco stalls to hole-in-the-wall LA restaurants. The recipes I’ve tried in this book are as good as I’ve found. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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