Here's a review of mine that ran in The Sacramento Bee's Food&Wine section today (Dec. 3, 2008):
Mod Mex? New York City? Don't get a rope, get a fork
By Lori Korleski Richardson
Pace, the San Antonio maker of salsas in a jar, got a big laugh with a commercial that had the cook admitting the salsa he served at the chuck wagon was from New York. "Nyoo York CITY!?" cried cowboys in disbelief, as one darkly intoned, "Get the rope."
For years, one could get almost any kind of food in New York except good Mexican food. So hopes were not high when I picked up "Mod Mex: Cooking Vibrant Fiesta Flavors at Home" (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $24.95, 224 pages) by Scott Linquist, chef of Dos Caminos Mexican Kitchen, and cookbook author Joanna Pruess. What could a New Yorker possibly impart to us folks, so much closer to Mexico, with Spanish culture all around us?
Plenty, as it turns out. Linquist lived as a child in the heavily Latino city of Covina, near L.A., and grew up making tacos from scratch and "mashing refried beans that weren't from a can."
After graduating from culinary school, he developed what he called Mod Mex, using the traditional techniques of Mexican cooks adapted "to appeal to a generation of food-savvy diners."
The book includes a nice glossary of Mexican food terms, a source list for more unusual items, a list of metric conversions for both dry and wet ingredients, and color photographs by Shimon and Tammar Rothstein that at once look totally authentic and would inspire any cook, regardless of experience.
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 03, 2008 | Page 4D
Recipe: Ensalada noche buena (Christmas Eve salad)
Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 45 minutes / Serves 4 to 6
Adapted from "Mod Mex" (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $24.95, 224 pages) by Scott Linquist. Note: The prep and cook times overlap but does not include cooling time.
2 medium-size red beets, trimmed
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup pine nuts
6 cups baby lettuces, watercress or arugula, or a mixture of all three
1 small (about 1 pound) jicama, peeled and cut into thin strips
2 Valencia or navel oranges, peeled and cut into segments
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
½ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Seeds from 1 pomegranate (about ½ cup)
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
4 ounces goat cheese or queso fresco, crumbled (about 1 cup), optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap each beet in a piece of aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast the beets until very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 40-45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, let the beets cool completely, unwrap, then use a clean, old towel to rub off the skins. Cut beets into thin strips.
While the beets are cooking, cover the raisins with hot water in a small bowl and let them stand for about 10 minutes until plumped, and brown the pine nuts in a skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, shaking the pan often so they don't burn.
In a large bowl, combine the lettuce with the beets, drained raisins, jicama and orange segments and toss gently.
Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, juices, mustard, honey and jalapeño. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper, and whisk until emulsified. Immediately pour about half the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently.
Arrange the salad on individual plates and top with the pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, cilantro and cheese. Serve immediately; pass the remaining dressing for those who desire more.