by Marcela Valladolid

Clarkson Potter, $27.50, 224 pages

A good cookbook of Mexican dishes for American cooks should not ask the cook to shop at a Latin market for most (or even some) ingredients, yet the recipes should result in popular Mexican flavors. Mexican Made Easy is perfect in these respects. The recipes are definitely Mexican but many use non-Mexican, familiar ingredients (feta, soy sauce, hummus, ketchup). And not many recipe ingredients that you wouldn’t find in a well-stocked market. The recipes are easy to follow by a cook of any skill, even though some are involved and will take more than an hour to prepare.

Familiar dishes appear with Mexican flavors and style (Pasilla Bolognese Spaghetti, Lasagna, Mac ‘N Cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs). Photo illustrations are beautiful though 14 full-page photos of the author and/or her son are a bit overdone. The book design is excellent and convenient with recipes on single or facing pages. Notes and leftover suggestions with many recipes are really useful. Head notes often include family anecdotes. The frequent (unfortunate) references to Mexican mothers in the kitchen suggest that Mexican men are excluded from cooking. The index is brief and not cross-referenced (Rib-Eye Steak is under neither rib-eye nor  steak).

Reviewed by George Erdosh,