More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

With the word “more” in the title, readers may assume this is a cook stretching the topic into crazier versions of recipes that somewhat resemble Mexican. But I found this to be excellent even without the taco and burrito variations you’d expect. So, although there is a Mexican Everyday predecessor, this is a worthy sequel and you won’t miss anything by not having the first book as well.

The focus is on ease, with three distinct principles: 1) you don’t need to make everything by reading a recipe and can learn to go by taste and impulse (recipes can be varied depending on what is in your kitchen); 2) you’ll have knowledge of what to keep on hand to always have the ability to quickly and easily make great meals; and 3) you’ll have knowledge of what kitchen instruments are needed so you can whip up those fast meals. Although some recipes do call for specific ingredients or tools that are rarer, the author always gives alternatives and what those alternatives mean for the recipe (e.g., if you use canned instead of fresh tomatoes or if you use a blender instead of mortar and pestle.

The dishes are surprising and interesting. Three basic sauce recipes are given in the beginning and then the book breaks down as follows: Part One: Simple Ways to Create Dynamic Flavor (How to win a top chef quick fire challenge, go-to-meals to know by heart); Part Two: Vegetables at the Heart of the Mexican Kitchen (cooking greens, traditional Mexican vegetables, new ideas, winter squash, summer squash, blossoms, and a relative, unexpected vegetables in the Mexican kitchen); Part Three: Daily Inspirations for Busy Cooks (Breakfast anytime, rice cooker simplicity, slow cooker satisfaction, the grill, stove, and oven, a dozen deserts: Mexican chocolate and farmer’s market fruit).

As can be seen from the above sections, the selections are quite varied. There are a lot of recipes here, from open face red chile-chard omelet, to black bean rice with plantains and smoky pork, roasted sunchoke salad with creamy garlic mojo and herbs, tokuri soup with ancho and apple. All recipes are easy to read and follow.

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The book has many photographs of the dishes and the introduction is quite thorough and useful. Several recipes have directions showing the actual items being made – e.g., 7-8 photographs of the process. If I have one nitpick, it’s that the recipes are not one per page and tend to bleed over onto other pages (mostly due to the recipes all having variation options, though. It makes them a bit busy and confusing at times.

The voice is friendly and nearly 100 introductory pages in the beginning make the topic of cooking Mexican easy. As well, the emphasis on making the book easy and useful to the reader, rather than showing off the author’s culinary skills, is very welcome. Note that many recipes do call for distinct Mexican ingredients – from rare chiles to variations of cacti. But again, the author nearly always gives variations with more commonly obtained (or prepared) ingredients. He also gives brands that he uses.

In all, lovely to look at and very easy to use. Diverse recipes with many variations and common sauce bases make this book very useful.  Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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