You can’t be in the business of food and not be a Rick Bayless fan. He’s approachable, social media-savvy, always has a story, and creates great food. I picked up my copy of Mexican Everyday while in Xoco, one of three restaurants he has on the same street corner in Chicago. (For our review of Xoco, click here.)
This is a cookbook that offers insight into another culture and, beyond that, gives you the rules for operating within that culture. So you’ll find the pantry basics for Mexican cooking, illustrated, with directions on how to choose everything from chiles to limes to tostadas. Did you know there was a Mexican oregano, not related to Mediterranean oregano, for example?
Mexican Everyday is, quite simply, a friendly book. It is written in a breezy style that makes you feel instantly at home with the author. Rick Bayless says, “Let’s face it: when we say we’re in the mood for Mexican, it’s usually something involving a tortilla that we’re craving.” He gets it, then encourages us to take it a little further. Because while we think “taco” he thinks Smoky Pork Tinga Tacos with Avocado and Fresh Cheese. We say “enchilada,” he says, “Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas with Spinach and Mushrooms.”
The book is divided into chapters, full of photographs and lots of sidebar commentary. The chapters include two on salads and one on soup, an extensive section on “Quick Meals from the Grill,” a chapter that covers main dishes in addition to those made with tortillas, and a few satisfying desserts chosen to go perfectly with the flavors of the main meal (think fruit).
Bayless, who calls himself a “flavor junkie” also talks about how he changed his own eating habits around quantity and sensible portions, with more emphasis than ever on fresh ingredients and plenty of variety. So he’s written this book with what he calls a “skeleton” for each recipe, with plenty of suggestions to enhance it depending on your own tastes and time (what he calls “riffs”). This approach truly makes it an everyday cookbook since it’s designed for the busy person who wants to maximize results.
My personal favorites in the book include the Lime-Cilantro Dressing—and don’t miss the page that outlines his favorite salad greens and the combinations that go best with them. It includes photographs, so if you aren’t sure what makes escarole different from endive, check it out.
I also like The All-Purpose Quick Tostada, and I definitely go to town on my own riffs to suit my bent toward cilantro and avocado. The beauty of it is that Bayless gave me the basics, and a comfort level that I could then make this recipe my own. He even gives license to use a purchased rotisserie chicken, making this my kind of cookbook.
You can purchase Mexican Everyday via this link.
For more of our Editor’s Picks in Cookbooks, be sure to check the related links below.