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Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours [Hardcover]

Aaron Sanchez , JJ Goode , Michael Harlan Turkell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 4 2011
You’ve seen him on the Food Network’s Chopped, Chefs vs. City, and Heat Seekers. You’ve savored his lovingly prepared dishes at Centrico in New York City. Now, with Simple Food, Big Flavor, award-winning restaurateur Aarón Sánchez brings the amazing tastes and aromas found in his kitchen to yours.

Aarón Sánchez’s passion for food has placed him among the country’s leading contemporary Latin chefs. He has earned a premiere spot in the world of culinaria, introducing an enthusiastic national audience to his technique and creativity with modern interpretations of classic Latin cuisine. In Simple Food, Big Flavor, rather than over-whelming readers with complex, intimidating dishes, he starts small, showing how one simple but fabulous “base” recipe can become many fantastic dishes. Take Garlic-Chipotle Love, a blend of roasted garlic, canned chipotles in adobo, cilantro, and lime zest that keeps in the fridge for weeks or in the freezer for months. Once you make it, you’re just a few steps away from delicious dishes like Chipotle-Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Bean and Butternut Squash Picadillo, and Mussels with Beer and Garlic-Chipotle Love.

And that’s just the beginning. Sánchez features fifteen of these flavor base recipes, including Roasted Tomato Salsa, Cilantro-Cotija Pesto, and homemade Dulce de Leche. He even shares his plan of attack for making the perfect mole and how to team it up with roasted Cornish game hens, turkey enchiladas, and the ultimate crowd pleaser, braised beef short ribs. He then provides detailed yet easy tips for applying each sauce to everyday meals, whether you spread it on hamburgers, turn it into a marinade for easy grilled chicken, or stir in a little oil and lime for salad dressing with a kick.

With his warm and engaging style, Sánchez equips home cooks with the skills and knowledge they need to come up with their own simple, flavorful meals every night of the week. Your kitchen will be en fuego! As Sánchez says, your food will go from inspiring smiles and polite nods to igniting ridiculous grins and bear hugs. Enjoy!

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Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours + Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook
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“Aarón Sánchez is one of America's best Latin chefs. His knowledge and passion for authentic Mexican dishes and traditions shines through in this beautiful book. Perfect for the home cook!” —Marcus Samuelsson, author of New American Table, chef-owner of Red Rooster Harlem, and founder of

“Aarón welcomes you into his kitchen and shares his rich Mexican traditions and dishes with home cooks around the world. Informative, inspiring, and user-friendly. The flavor foundations in each chapter that allow you to create hundreds of recipes are pure culinary gold.” —John Besh, author of My Family Table, host of John Besh's New Orleans, and chef-owner of Besh Restaurant Group

“Aarón Sánchez’s flair for living lives in his food. The recipes in Simple Food, Big Flavor are filled with passion, humility, unbridled love, and respect for his culture and family.” —Roger Mooking, coauthor of Everyday Exotic: The Recipes and cohost of Heat Seekers

“Aarón brings his effortless, sexy style into your kitchen with these quick, easy and mindblowingly delicious recipes. His how-to tips come in real handy, too, making this book an absolute must-have for your culinary library. My only complaint was my uncontrollable craving for a frozen margarita while I tried the recipes...I may have to head over to Centrico for one of those!” —Daisy Martinez, author of Daisy: Morning, Noon, and Night

"Sánchez presents 15 'magical' culturally inspired Mexican sauces, pastes, toppings and salsas. To each, the author adds an explanation of how they are best incorporated into dishes, alongside suggestions for alternate uses that leave home chefs a lot of room to mix, match and substantially shake up the dinner table...For Sánchez fans and those unafraid to fire up their taste buds like a pro." —Kirkus Reviews

“An inspiring and concise take on Mexican cuisine.” —Publisher's Weekly

"Though there are only 15 sauce/puree/paste recipes, the ideas for using them and the tips he offers in his witty voice are what make the book especially'll be on your way to what Sanchez calls a 'whoa' moment." —Chicago Tribune

About the Author

Aarón Sánchez is the Food Network star of “Chefs vs. City,” “Heat Seekers,” “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” “Chopped,” and “Chopped All-Stars.” He is the owner and executive chef of Centrico, located in Manhattan, as well as the culinary face behind Tacombi. The son of celebrated Mexican cooking authority Zarela Martinez, Aarón’s passion, commitment and skills have placed him among the country’s leading contemporary Latin Chefs. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, singer/songwriter Ife Sanchez Mora, and two their children.

JJ Goode has written about food for The New York Times, Men’s Vogue, Gourmet, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, ReadyMade, Time Out New York, The Village Voice, and Lexus magazine. He’s a contributing editor for Details, a former editor at, and the co-author of Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking (DK) with Masaharu Morimoto, which was nominated for a James Beard Award and won two IACP Awards. He also co-authored Serious Barbecue (Hyperion) with Adam Perry Lang, which made The New York Times Best Seller List and was featured on "Oprah." He and his wife live in Brooklyn.

Michael Harlan Turkell is a once-aspiring chef and now freelance photographer. Based in Brooklyn, he is the former photo editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan, and captures the inner workings of kitchens for his award-winning “Back of the House” project, which documents the working lives of chefs. Michael’s work has garnered industry awards and has been published in an array of magazines and books. He also hosts a show on called “The Food Seen,” which touches on the intersections of food and art.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
By jasmine
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Good little recipe book with lots of sauce recipes. Haven't tried any of the recipes yet as a lot of the ingredients are difficult to get in my area.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  41 reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious! 10+**************** Nov. 23 2011
By Lila - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I read that Aaron was coming out with a new cookbook, I was so excited. I have watched him on the foodnetwork for the last few years. I knew his food would be amazing, and it is! I have made several recipes and they all are delicious. I made the Garlic-Chipolte Love sauce first, and it was so much more than I expected from so few ingredients. I have made his 'garlic love' sauce 5x now. I use it in a pot of beans, chicken, beef and fish, it has such rich deep flavors, it's so delicious. Next, I made the Cilantro-Cojita Pesto, I died and went to food heaven, it's that good! It is so delicious on pasta, and on his recipe Chiles Rellenos with Vegetable Picadillo. Then I made the Smoky Black Bean Sauce, OMG this is to die for good! I also made the Mussels with Beer and Garlic-Chipolte Love, the broth is soooo good. It was the first time I have had mussels, and they were ok, but I probably won't have them again, but the broth recipe used to make this dish was excellent.

Once in a while I come across a recipe that will be a family favorite, one that makes your life more enjoyable and makes you feel alive by the wonderful flavors. With Aaron's 'Simple Food Big Flavor' cookbook, I have found that, I thank you Aaron, you rock dude!

Highly recommend!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational cookbook with recipes that you will make over and over! March 2 2012
By Lula Balula - Published on
I received this book as a present a couple months ago and have cooked through several recipes. There is nothing that I don't like about this cookbook, it's simply fantastic.

Firstly, the presentation is gorgeous, including lots of lively color and photographs of the ingredients and dishes. I like that enough attention was put into this aspect!

The concept of the book is really nice. He gives you some amazing sauce recipes (including anecdotes and explanations), and following each of these sauces are recipes using that sauce.

The ones I've made far:

1. Garlic-chipotle love: this I even started making before I got the book. After I had put it together and took a bite I had a big "wow, that's amazing" moment. Aside from using this sauce for countless of my own recipes (with veggies, fish, chicken, pasta, etc...), I have also made the black bean sauce, which is simple to make and really tasty.

2. Cilantro-cotija pesto: Really wonderful recipe, so nutty and good. I've had it on pasta and my mom (who also has this book) likes to use it on pizza dough, also good!

3. Roasted tomato - chili de arbol salsa: I really love this one. It also introduced me to chiles de arbol, which are so fragrant and tasty. I tend to add a couple extra chilies to the salsa for some extra spice. Accompanying that recipe is a totally kick-ass chicken tostada recipe. I made this last week as a dinner for two and it is just sooo good, perfect mix of flavors. The salsa mixed with chicken was practically addictive. I also love his sopa seca recipe (made this probably 10 times), which is basically browning little pastas (like orzo or alphabets) in oil before cooking it in the salsa. Definitely rates as comfort food, especially with the added cotija on top!

4. Habanero love: really nice and sweet spicy salsa. I've used it to make habanero mayo for burgers, which was a big hit. As he suggests it tastes good stirred into stews so I have put it into a couple soups which gave it a nice sweet zing. I think it also really tasty on toast! (so is the garlic-chipolte love sauce, with a little butter too, mmmm).

I regularly make one or two of his sauces so I have them on-hand in the fridge when I want them.

I will of course most definitely be making more recipes out of his book - but I think aside from just giving you recipes, Aaron gives you loads of inspiration and ideas for how to use these flavors in your own cooking.

I definitely would recommend this book to anybody who wants to make delicious, Mexican-inspired food!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding May 3 2012
By P. Caluori - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was never that impressed by Aaron on Food TV, but after seeing this book in the library, I just had to buy it. Now I'm very impressed by Aaron! His mole is outstanding, but one word of caution his recipe makes a boat load. I've made several of his recipes and the flavors are indeed BOLD, but most of the recipes are quite easy to make. If you like to cook and like Mexican cuisine this book is a must!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FUN!!! May 25 2013
By P. Kaufmann - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This cookbook is fun! It is completely engaging and makes the cooking easy! I love how it helps you build up your expertise. This kind of food makes my family incredibly happy!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spicy Hot Cookbook Oct. 24 2012
By R. Larsen - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I must admit, this cookbook had me concerned at first. Most of the ingredients are things that are not in my kitchen. I do love how it is separated into sections likes sauces, etc. I have tried a few recipes so far and they are easy to use and super tasty.
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