Southwestern cuisine - once thought of as Tex-Mex
versions of tacos and burritos is now in vogue with unprecedented sophistication.
Pairing French classical cuisine with the ingredients of the American
Southwest and Mexico, Donna Nordin takes Southwestern cuisine to a higher
level at her Cafe Terra Cotta in Arizona. Through her book Contemporary
Southwest: The Cafe Terra Cotta Cookbook. Nordin sheds light upon her
food philosophy, introduces ingredients and shares techniques particular
to this cuisine. Giving flavorful recipes that intrigue the palate.
To begin ingredients uncommon to many of us such as achiote and chayote
are described as well as techniques such as stovetop smoking. Then for
the wine lover Nordin is very descriptive in explaining which wines go
well with her cuisine. After the basics are covered we begin to cook.
This slim cookbook actually contains around seventy five different recipes
- salsas, appetizers, soups, salads, entrees and of course desserts. Some
dishes are interesting interpretations of French based dishes, such as
the Avocado Vichyssoise while others are downright cowboyish like the
Grilled Rib Eye Steak with Southwestern barbecue sauce. The salsas like
the pear-poblano salsa and the papaya-mint salsa are unusual combinations
which inspire us to think "out of our box".
This is a great book to have especially since it is rare to find a book
"on high end" Southwestern cuisine. I would not rate the photographs
in the book too highly. This surprises me as being a Ten Speed Press published
book I would expect that "coffee table cookbook" look. Nordin states,
"although attractive presentation is certainly important, ..I wanted the
customers to be impressed by the taste of the food, not awed by its looks."
Her commitment to first and foremost flavorful, robust food really shows
in this cookbook.