I have cooked my way through a lot of international cuisine cookbooks, including India, Japan, Italy, Thailand, the UK. I think I may have found one for Mexico. Provecho has been on several “best of” lists, so I figured that it might be worth checking out. It’s surprisingly straightforward in terms of recipes and ingredients for being both vegan and Mexican. A lot books like this have some sort of introduction to key ingredients sections, but what sets this one apart is both how recognizable most everything is but also in the non-technical descriptions of the differences between arbol, California, guajillo, and pasilla dried chilis just for example. The only real complain I have ingredient-wise is that there is no specificity whatsoever for “all purpose seasoning” which is apparently crucial for a lot of the rice dishes; does the author not realize how may general purpose seasoning blends are out there, and how similar some of them are? Yes, there is a list of the ingredients in his favorite, but a brand name or at least sa little more guidance on that would be useful.
The six chapters are divided into culturally meaningful sections, and the preface of each makes that clear. The first chapter, titled “La Mesa Llena” (‘full table’ and focusing on family gatherings) is essentially ‘the basics’ with things like a couple of pozole soups, several bean preparations, a couple of rice options, tortillas if you want to make your own )press not required!), and empanadas. I think the thing here I’ll be trying first is the “No-bake Enchiladas Verde with jackfruit”. Everything in the recipe is something I can find in my area (which does not have a hispanic market), although finding good tomatillos foe the salsa verde might be a little tricky. I also like that the recipe lets you either make your own toppings like crema (vegan chipotle crema) or buy your own vegan sour cream; same thing for the queso fresco.
La Mesita (small table) has to do with smaller scale (as in away from home and sharing with a few college roomies or similar), and this section covers the tacos, quesadillas, chiles rellenos, and tostadas. Chiles rellenos is one of my favorite things to get in a Mexican restaurant, and this recipe looks pretty do-able even though I’m not a huge fan of frying. I’m not going to be able to char my poblanos on the stove (mine’s electric) but I like that the batter dip for the filled poblanos is chickpea flour based because that flour seems to be a little more cooperative in terms of sticking to the thing it’s supposed to while being cooked. I don’t know about the pre-made vegan cheese asked for tin the filling, since mozzarella is already not the most flavorful thing, and most vegan cheeses aren’t great. I may have to improvise a bit on that.
“The morning after ie leftovers’ and snack chapters have some interesting things including some breakfast-y options (including the inevitable breakfast burrito, but this one actually looks decent with the exception of the fancy black salt (yes, I realize the sulfur-y nature of the salt has a purpose, but a) I don’t like that, and b) not paying for it). Chilaquiles are included in this section (morning after), and in the following snacks section (antojitos) you get the salsa recipes, cremas, curtido (kind of like a slaw) and some salads (nopales and potato specifically). The cauliflower ceviche looks pretty good, even though I typically don’t like that veggie raw.
Drinks and desserts round out the collection, and I’m glad to see the dessert empanadas because when I was in elementary school I remember some school function where someone brought pumpkin empanadas that included pineapple, and I remember that being the best thing ever. The recipes here is sweet potato based and has no pineapple but since this is a bakes empanada, not fired, I’m willing to forgive it the lack of the pineapple. There’s also an apple empanada that looks kind of like an hand pie, and apple [pie is one of my favorites, so I might have try that one too.
Basically, it looks like I’ll be able to cook through almost everything in this cookbook with only a few minor modifications; I’m looking forward to that.