The Wild Horse Desert is the once–disputed area in southern Texas, just above the Rio Grande, that was part of Mexico before the war of 1846; Guerra′s family has lived there for more than 16 generations, working the land and raising cattle. Much of the dishes Guerra grew up eating were Mexican (though there are some Tex–Mex recipes here as well), and while the term norteño is usually used to refer to northern Mexico, she notes that South Texas is considered part of norteño culture too. Author of a previous cookbook, the companion volume to her PBS series The Texas Provincial Kitchen, Guerra also sells ingredients and equipment for Mexican cooking through an online store and catalog, and her authoritative text reflects both her culinary experience and her love of the region and its food. The recipes are generally simple, but the instructions are thoroughly detailed, and headnotes and boxes provide information on ingredients, traditions, and other topics; the many photographs, some color, add context as well. Strongly recommended. ( Library Journal , March 15, 2006) Guerra, host of the PBS series The Texas Provincial Kitchen and author of a cookbook by that name, provides an overview of Texan border fare. More than 100 recipes are divided by type, such as "Salsa and Chiles," "Rice and Beans" and "Game and Goat," and the anecdotes preceding each recipe lend a warm, conversational tone. The region′s flavorful cuisine is firmly rooted in Mexican tradition, with ingredients like corn tortillas, queso cotija (a common grating cheese), and either tomatoes or salsa appearing in most dishes. Spicy–food lovers will be thrilled, as chile peppers like serrano, ancho and chipotle infuse much of the food with fiery taste. Though some of the recipes may intimidate beginner cooks with their multiple steps and lengthy preparation, many, including Chalupas Compuestas ("Composed" Toasted Tortillas) and Migas con Huevos (Crumbs with Eggs), are simple enough for novices. Bold flavors continue into the desserts chapter, with Pepitoria (Pumpkin Seed Brittle) and Grapefruit Blossom Cake with Browned Butter Frosting. The color and b&w photos evoke the ranch culture the area is known for, and sidebars on regional traditions (e.g., instructions on grinding chiles for salsa, an explanation of local alcoholic beverages) further flesh out this culturally rich topic. (Apr.) ( Publishers Weekly , January 30, 2006)
"Strongly recommended". ( Library Journal , March 15, 2006) "...color and B&W photos evoke the ranch culture the area is known for...sidebars on regional traditions further flesh out this culturally rich topic." ( Publishers Weekly , January 30, 2006)
From the Inside Flap
The Wild Horse Desert country of South Texas is home to a unique culinary culture. Based on northern Mexican or norteño cooking, but influenced by Anglo and German settlers as well as the region′s searing heat and abundant wild game, it is true Tex–Mex cuisine at its purest and most deliciousthe food that has sustained generations of ranchers and vaqueros. Melissa Guerra grew up on a Wild Horse Desert ranch that has been her family′s home for eight generations, and she has devoted her career to preserving the region′s distinctive culinary traditions and lore. This extraordinary cookbook gathers together more than 120 authentic recipes, along with stories, sidebars, and photographs that brilliantly evoke the spirit of the Wild Horse Desert, its cooking, and its culture. Inside the book, you′ll find the original versions of favorite Tex–Mex dishes such as Chile con Carne, Fajitas, Enchiladas, Puffy Tacos, Chiles Rellenos, Refried Beans, and Flan, along with cowboy classics like Chicken–Fried Steak with Cream Gravy, and Biscuits. Guerra not only explains how to cook these dishes the authentic way, but accompanies each recipe with a fascinating bit of history or an amusing family anecdote. She also shares some of the local specialties that give the region its unique flavor such as Buttered Quail, Roasted Kid Goat, Beef Stew with Cactus, Speckled Trout Ceviche, and Pumpkin Seed Brittle. Throughout the book, Guerra offers tips and shortcuts (for example, how to add mesquite flavor to a gas or charcoal grill), but she also describes the original, age–old techniques of norteño cooking. You′ll discover how to work with dried chiles, remove the thorns from a prickly pear cactus, create South Texas beef jerky, make your own tortillas, and even grind your own cornmeal! Illustrated with more than seventy–five evocative photos, including eight pages in full color, Dishes from the Wild Horse Desert is the definitive guide to the flavors of South Texasa book that brings to life the true glories of norteño cooking.