The library is my new best friend. They've got cookbooks.
My mom laughed at me when I mentioned my new found love, but she lives in a small town which only has one library branch. If she wants a book, and they have it, it will be there. San Diego, however, has many tiny branches. They've got a pretty decent selection, but if you're looking for a specific book, it might be an hour away. Or one of the storage libraries, not actually on the shelves. Since I'm pretty much always looking for particular books, you can see my problem.
With a little patience, however, I can have any book in the collection delivered to my local library. I don't even have to visit a physical branch to place the hold. It just sometimes takes 6 months.
Like I said, patience.
Still, having discovered that the cookbooks I've had saved in my Amazon cart for years now are available for me to try for free, I'm pretty excited. Let the tasting begin!
The first cookbook I checked out was Mexico One Plate At a Time by Rick Bayless. I requested the book last spring after perusing the archives of Roots and Grubs and seeing a recommendation for the mojo de ajo. What followed was a flurry of time-consuming Mexican dishes.
Worth making again:
Mojo de Ajo - R mocked me a bit for needing a recipe to make garlicky shrimp, but he does agree that this sauce is crazy good. It's minced garlic slowly simmered in olive oil, with sliced chipotle peppers and lime juice added at the end. You can then cook things in the infused oil and cover them in soft, delicious, golden garlic. Mmmmm...
Beans - Okay, this sounds like an odd thing to love from a cookbook, but I hadn't had much success cooking pots of dried beans in the past. What's more, I now know that homemade refried beans (we used black beans) are delicious. I could eat them as a meal on their own.
Guajillo-Spiked Pork and Potato Tacos - The procedure for these was rather fascinating. You rehydrated chilies, blended them with tomatoes, and pushed the whole mixture through a strainer for a smooth yet flavorful sauce. Not the best weeknight meal, however, unless you're planning on eating late.
Not really worth the time:
Queso Fundido - Tasty, yes (sausage + cheese + roasted peppers in flour tortillas), but not something I'd bring into the regular rotation.
Pork in Salsa Verde - Again, not bad, but not spectacular and quite time consuming.
Guacamole with Roasted Poblano Peppers - Maybe I'm just a purist, but I didn't think the peppers added much to the guac. To each his own, I suppose. Reminds me of the time I was going to a Superbowl party with my friend S and we were making guacamole. We wound up splitting the batch in two and seasoning each half separately, due to disagreement on whether or not the guacamole should have diced raw onions. In the end, both bowls were consumed, but, yeah, raw onions. Ick.
I also photocopied the recipe for Mexican Chocolate Streusel Cake before returning the book. I'm sure I'll make it some day. I just rarely bake.
My final verdict on the book? Unless you're in a land devoid of good Mexican food (such as Montana, according to my brother in law), this is a book best borrowed from the library. Still, I do highly recommend checking it out, if only for the mojo de ajo.