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Donna Nordin
cookbook reviewsdonna nordin
Contemporary Southwest
The Cafe Terra Cotta Cookbook
Ten Speed Press,
2000 $29.95

Reviewed by Beverly Kim
Click Here to Buy It On Line!

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.

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