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Truly Mexican: Essential Recipes and Techniques for Authentic Mexican Cooking [Hardcover]

Roberto Santibanez , J. J. Goode , Romulo Yanes
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 19 2011 0470499559 978-0470499559
Amazing, authentic Mexican cooking for the home kitchen

Mexican cuisine is an American favorite from coast to coast, but many people are too intimidated to try cooking real Mexican meals in their own kitchens. In Truly Mexican, Roberto Santibañez shows you that it's the flavors that are complex, not the cooking. With effortless preparations and fresh, flavorful ingredients, Mexican home cooking can be simple and simply delicious.

An introduction to Mexican cooking covers the main ingredients as well as how they're best prepared—from toasting tortillas to roasting tomatoes—and offers a few simple kitchen commandments that make great results a given. Recipes cover main dishes, sides, salsas, guacamoles, moles, adobos, and more.

  • Features 128 recipes for authentic Mexican favorites—from classic tacos and tamales to stunning dishes like Braised Short Ribs Adobo and Red Snapper Papillotes in Green Mole
  • Includes a useful Sources section to help readers track down authentic Mexican ingredients
  • Provides straightforward instructions on essential techniques like roasting chiles, making fresh tortillas, and filling enchiladas

Illustrated throughout with dramatic photos that evoke bold Mexican flavors, Truly Mexican puts the real tastes of Mexico within easy reach.


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Review

TRULY MEXICAN by Roberto Santibañez with J. J. Goode and Shelley Wiseman focuses on sauces, with chapters on salsas, guacamoles, adobos and moles. So rather than create composed dishes, you can use his unusual red peanut sauce or deep, rich adobo D. F., made with chiles and Mexican chocolate, to dress rotisserie chicken. Try a few more recipes from Mr. Santibañez — Rosa Mexicano's culinary director before he opened Fonda in Brooklyn — and anchos, pasillas and guajillos could become regulars in your cupboard. (New York Times Dining Section, November 2011)

Santibañez, a Le Cordon Bleu–trained chef and owner of the Brooklyn eatery, Fonda, born and raised in Mexico City, didn't set out to pen a "comprehensive" guide to Mexican cooking or the rich history of the country's food, but instead focuses solely on sauces--from salsas to adobos to moles--emphasizing techniques that home cooks can master and use in various dishes. With the goal "to convert as many readers as I could from people who would love to cook Mexican food to people who cook Mexican food they love," the author lays a solid foundation with a chapter on ingredients, technique, and equipment. The 140 recipes include a selection of guacamoles including departures from the classic such as a blue cheese guacamole, an apple-tequila guacamole, and a seafood guacamole. Recipes for adobos lead readers to main courses featuring various proteins such as adobo-braised lamb or a grilled skirt steak marinated in adobo. While one won't find desserts or suggested menus, the author's expertise is conveyed in a straightforward and inspiring tone that will instill confidence in cooks eager to prepare Mexican meals at home, regardless of previous experience or skill level. (Apr.) (Publishers Weekly, March 2011)

From the Back Cover

Praise for Truly Mexican

"Roberto Santibañez is that rare bird—a great chef and a great teacher—and it's the combination of these talents that makes this book so wonderful. It's an excellent tutorial on Mexican sauces: the ingredients, the techniques, the multiple dishes you can make from each of them, as well as the lip-smacking side dishes that go with them. If you want to cook Mexican food at home more often—and who doesn't?—this is the book for you."
Sara Moulton, author of Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners

"Truly Mexican breathes the soul and spirit of Mexican cuisine. It is an exceptional book that discloses the essence of Mexican cuisine, from simple street foods like tacos to complex masterpieces like moles. An essential work for anyone who is passionate about this amazing cuisine."
Mark Miller, author of The Great Chile Book, Tamales, Tacos, and other books

"With this text, Chef Santibañez has moved the understanding of Mexican cuisine forward in a significant way. Although the recipes in this book are, by themselves, a wonderful collection, Roberto delivers them in a format that leaves the reader with true knowledge of the Mexican kitchen."
Mark Erickson, Certified Master Chef and Vice President–Dean of Culinary Education at The Culinary Institute of America

"Roberto Santibañez's excellent Truly Mexican is a book that should be on the shelves of home cooks who really want to know what Mexican food is all about."
Zarela Martinez, www.zarela.com


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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Book Jan. 25 2013
By gfl
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have been to Mexico several times and love the food. But growing up in Canada I'm pretty ignorant about the proper ingredients and cooking techniques. This was the only mexican cook book that they had in my local library so I checked it out. It was exactly what I was looking for. I ended up buying it so that I could take my time and get into it properly. You learn how to make all of the sauces like various adobo and mole, etc. He walks you through the various dried chiles and how long to roast them, so many great salsa and other sauce recipes. His descriptions are detailed enough that I never have any questions about a recipe. And everthing that I've made so far tastes like ideal Mexican food.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for the serious cook May 6 2012
By jasmine
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a devotee of Mexican food and frustrated by "faux" Mexican recipes, this book is a refreshing change. Wish it had a few more complete recipes in it, like Frijoles Charros, but for sauces, salsas, guacamoles, which often form the basis of Mexican cuisine, this book is stellar. Also the step-by-step instructions and photographs are terrific. I've only tried a couple of the sauces and my one negative comment would be to watch the amount of salt in the sauces. If serving more than one sauce, you might want to cut down the amount of salt included in the sauce/salsa/guacamole. However, I have to admit that this is personal taste as we don't use much salt in our meals. This will definitely be one book that will form part of my cookery book collection in Mexico.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book July 17 2011
By dpender
Format:Hardcover
Very good book - excellent pictures of recipes! I bought this book because I love mexican food and this book did not disappoint. This book doesnt have the dinner in 15 minutes appeal, however if you truly enjoy cooking and entertaining I would recommend.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exellent book Sept. 6 2011
Format:Hardcover
When I open the book, i know it's a book from the hand of a great chef.
Beautiful pictures, very well organized recipes.
I bought many books of mexican cooking, and this one is on top of my list.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  86 reviews
81 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I tackled the Black Mole from Oaxaca, and it was so worth it! July 15 2011
By subrosa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I got this book because I love Fonda, Roberto Santibanez's restaurant in Brooklyn, and because I just moved to a college town in the midwest and was hurting REAL BAD for good mexican food. We don't get that here-- just things with sticky orange cheese sauce. So if I wanted good Mexican, i had to learn how to make it. And since Fonda was the restaurant that really opened my eyes to the endless, fresh, and elegant possibilities of Mexican food, this book seemed like a good choice.

My first time out, i did exactly what you are NOT supposed to do and tackled the most complicated recipe in the book, the black mole from Oaxaca. He suggests you start simpler and work up to that, but I was hungry and ambitious. I invited a friend over and we made an evening of it, taking turns with the roasting, seeding, and frying, and then we waited, while it burbled gently on the stove, and read People en Espanol. We poached chicken breasts and also made the fresh tomatillo salsa, and then we sat down to eat with our friends. You have never heard such amazement-- from us and from them. We made this?! We made this! We can;t believe we made this! It was worth every minute, and that is a recipe i would not have wanted to attempt in less capable hands.

Since then, I've made the Pistachio pipian, carnitas, a bunch of the salsas (try the cucumber!) and three adobos. And I am a Mexican cooking goddess, right here in the snowy midwest.
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly is Truly Mexican! May 15 2011
By Joanne - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have Santibanez' first book and his Enchiladas Suizas are my go-to recipe. I've seen him occasionally on TV. He is not as well known as Rick Bayless, but he is the real deal. I love the way this book is organized--three notable chapters are (1) SALSAS: recipes using mostly fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, tomatillos, fresh peppers, onions, and sometimes mixed with dried chiles, etc. (2) GUACAMOLES: about a dozen variations to play with; (3) ADOBOS: recipes using dried chilies and very few pantry ingredients such as salt, vinegar, sugar, etc.. Another chapter on MOLES is there when feeling more adventurous to use more ingredients and when the time allows. I jumped in w/the Adobos. Used some guajillos I had stored. I got my feet wet with the dried guajillo adobo paste, then marinated and grilled a skirt steak with it. I am 'jumping ahead' today to a 3-chile blend adobo. Dried chilies are available most everywhere now and tons of places online so no excuse to not make these. Even the layout of each chapter shows thought and clear planning as well. The one-chili adobo recipes come first, then the two-, and 3-chili blend adobos. I find this so user friendly when entering a new domain of cooking with chilies. He explains that adobos can be used as a thicker paste to marinate and coat a meat/fish for grilling/frying, or using more of it with broth it can be used for slow cooking and braising. He gives specific recipes using all kinds of meats while recommending specific adobos for each. The only change I make is to add more sweetener by a tbs. or two (agave, honey, etc) than he lists and sometimes when he doesn't. Unless you're a 'Truly' Mexican chili head, you may agree with me. To my palate, it helps to balance out the heat. His adobos can be made ahead, refrigerated or frozen, and all that and more of what you need to know is clearly explained taking the novice as well as advanced cook into his domain.

But there is so much more here...how to make homemade tamales and tortillas for one...recipes ranging from the simple to the sublime. Even easy side dishes are here. Lots of pics, book makes a great gift, which is exactly my plan--will gift this book to my son and his wife along with a starter supply of dried chilies!
137 of 159 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very few recipes of actual meals Dec 19 2011
By J Styles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm slightly scared to write this review, because another reviewer got flamed pretty bad for saying the same thing. But I have to reiterate. Regardless if it is forewarned in the description that - this is not much of a mexican "meal" cookbook (as in, preparing an entire dish/entree). I bought this as a gift for someone to learn some mexican recipes, to cook actual mexican meals. But I have returned this book because it probably only contains maybe 2 dozen (if that) actual recipes for entrees (and thats pushing it too because there are seperate recipes for each one chicken with X sauce, pork with X sauce, fish with X sauce. There are roughly 160 pages dedicates to sauces, salsa, guacamole (this is not an exaggeration). Needless to say - without knowing any better - sauces must be important to mexican cooking - but this book would have been much better if titled "Mexican sauces, salsa, and guacamole... and a few things to put it on". I'm writing this review because I'm confident it will help someone else who might want to buy this book.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Go Beyond What You Know from Even a Good Restaurant Oct. 21 2011
By H. Roth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Living in Northern California I have many options for good, authentic Mexican food. However, reproducing some of the more complicated items at home can be a challenge. With regional variations and a different version of common recipes between each family, molé and other things can be tough to tackle on your own.

The Truly Mexican cookbook provides a resource to solve this problem. In many ways it seems to reflect a more normal way of preparing these dishes at home. The style and approach is more of an assemblage rather than a more traditional cookbook. In other words, you get recipes for sauces, for meats to go with sauces and a variety of side dishes to combine with your meals as you wish.

Most home cooks will find this more accurately reflects figuring out what to fix for dinner. Often the though process goes something like this: I have pasta...what shape...okay, left over tomatoes for sauce so then what style...do I want to use the leftover chicken or some beef? In the same way you can tap the layered, fabulous flavors of traditional Mexican cooking and still use what you have on hand. In a hurry, this cookbook can be a bit frustrating. You are unlikely to be able to get a meal on the table in 20 minutes using this book. Be sure to save your explorations for those opportunities when you have a little more time and maybe even have a glass of wine while you're cooking.

You'll find sauces that clearly originated with Spanish settlers, traditional combinations from New World ingredients specifically from various regions in Mexico. Fortunately, the author provides substitutions if you don't have access to the traditional, local ingredients. One of the side dishes turned out to be our favorite.

Zucchini and Corn with Cream

Serves 10
1 pound tomatoes (about 3 medium)
 cup mild olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped white onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh Serrano or jalapeno chili, minced including seeds
2 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from 2-3 ears) or 10 ounces frozen kernels, thawed
1  teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican, crumbled
 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds calabacits or zucchini, cut into  inch dice
 cup Mexican crema or heavy cream
4 ounces cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (1 cup)
1 cup chopped cilantro

Set the oven to broil or preheat to 500 degrees with the top rack 8 inches from the heat sources.

Core the tomatoes and cut a small "X" through the skin on the opposite ends. Put the tomatoes, cored sides up, on a foiled-lined baking pan and roast until the tops have blackened and the tomatoes are cooked to the core (20-30 minutes). Slip the skins from the tomatoes, discard, and coarsely chop the tomatoes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 6-7 quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onions, garlic, and chile and cook, stirring until softened, 3-5 minutes.

Add the corn, oregano, nutmeg, and pepper and cook, stirring, until the corn is lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring until it is just tender, 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cream, cheese, and salt and cook, stirring, 5 minutes more. Season to taste with additional salt, and stir in the cilantro just before serving.

The appearance of the dish is definitely something that may be unfamiliar for those who haven't been exposed to true Mexican dishes. Regardless, it was gobbled up the night I made it. And I have to say, it really does take that long to roast the tomatoes. I kept checking in surprise. So don't worry about that timing--wait at least 18 minutes before checking so you don't waste the heat in your oven.

Enjoy!

Heidi
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new look at an underrated cuisine May 25 2011
By Brian Connors - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
One thing's for sure -- this is a rather beautiful cookbook. The graphic design seems drawn from the Culinary Institute of America's more recent cookbooks, appropriate since author Santibañez works with them on occasion. The usual (dare I say stereotypical) yellows and earth tones that seem to mark most Mexican cookbooks give way to food photography that would be the pride of any cuisine, and even the cover is dominated by pink more than anything else. If you want this book for nothing more than graphic design and food porn, it's a five-star book on that reason alone.

But that obscures something fundamentally different about this book -- while giving props to people like Rick Bayless for their work on Mexican regional cooking, Santibañez seeks to find what unifies Mexican food rather than differentiates it, and he does this by placing an emphasis on sauces, an approach that might come off as a bit heretical to the average grandmother but is directly inspired by Escoffier's work with French cuisine. As a result, the book frames much of its cooking in terms of characteristic flavors, and many of the pictures are recipes in their own right, foods cooked in and/or dressed with the sauces written up in the book. There's a few of the more popular basics like tacos and tamales, but they're really sideshows, things to make with the flavors the book explores.

All in all, I don't have a single bad thing to say about this book. It brings out some of the haute cuisine aspects of the cuisine that aren't really well known north of the border, as well as making improvisation in a Mexican style every bit as easy as Italian or French. There's no reason whatsoever to denigrate Rick Bayless or Diana Kennedy; they're as good as it gets. But Santibañez brings something new to the party, the roots of a nueva cocina mexicana that might just be the beginning of something big.
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