The Homesick Texan by Lisa Fain

Latin-American food is definitely high on my list of favorite cuisines.  I am all about tacos of every sort, carnitas, salsas hot and mild, arepas, pupusas, tamales and beans of every ilk.  I even enjoy making my own tortillas.  Lisa Fain’s The Homesick Texan quickly became a favorite in my vast collection of cookbooks.  It ticks all the boxes in my “must haves” for a cookbook and then some.

 

Here’s What’s Great About The Homesick Texan:

 

Special Features

  • Lisa opens with a helpful chapter on equipment and ingredients that may be unfamiliar to some readers.  She discusses things like chiles, Mexican cheeses, herbs and veggies, masas, and how to buy a good tortilla press.  This chapter is an excellent primer if you’re new to Tex-Mex or Latin cooking.
  • The Index is thorough and useful, listing entries both by type of dish and ingredients used.

 

Readability

  • The layout and text formatting are highly readable.
  • Similarly, Lisa’s recipe instructions are clear and unfussy.
  • The hardbound version is good quality with heavy paper, a solid cover and strong binding.  It will stand up to many years of use.
  • Not only is The Homesick Texan full of fabulous recipes, but it’s also a feast for the eyes.  Almost every recipe has a gorgeously styled photograph of the finished dish, which is particularly helpful in a cookbook on a specialty cuisine.  Additionally, interesting photos of Texas appear throughout the book, driving home the point that this is a cuisine of place.  Tex-Mex is a bold and multi-faceted cuisine born in a bold and multi-faceted place!
  • Every recipe comes with a story.  I am an avid cookbook reader not only because I love food and exploring different cuisines, but also because I am deeply fascinated by how food connects us to our environments and to each other.  I appreciate when cookbook authors share the history of a recipe, how they personalized or improved it, or the memories a particular dish evokes.

 

The Food

  • The Homesick Texan covers the whole range of Tex-Mex and traditional Texan cuisine.  It’s fascinating to see how a particular regional cuisine plays out in all its forms.  Chapters include:
    • Pickles and Preserves
    • Salsas, Sauces, and Gravies
    • Morning Food
    • Appetizers
    • Chilis, Soups, and Stews
    • Tex-Mex Classics
    • Beef, Pork, and Fowl
    • Seafood
    • Sides, Hot and Cold
    • Breads
    • Sweets
  • Most importantly, the food is FABULOUS!  We have enjoyed every recipe I’ve tried so far.  I’m always looking for a “better” tortilla recipe, and I found several in The Homesick Texan.  The Jalapeno Pintos were great.  My hubby loved the One-Hour Texas Chili. The Guajillo Chile Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw were crazy good. And that’s just a few things I’ve tried!  Very few recipes in this book are ones that I wouldn’t care to make or eat.  Which, c’mon – that’s pretty amazing!

 

A Few Issues with The Homesick Texan:

The following points are not issues for me as I stock a pretty strong pantry and love to try new ingredients, and we like our food spicy.  However…

  • Keep in mind this is a specialty cuisine and the recipes often call for things like different dried chiles, Mexican cheeses, etc. that you might not have on hand.  However, these are all inexpensive ingredients which I can find at any Walmart in my area, so they shouldn’t be hard to source.
  • Girlfriend lives and dies for jalapenos and cilantro, and they are in practically everything.  I half expected them to show up in her recipe for Texas Sheet Cake.  Well, it does call for an optional tsp. of ancho chile powder, soooo…  Lisa’s food is well-seasoned, but you can always adjust amounts or leave out things you don’t care for.  I only mention it because people sometimes get frustrated when they don’t like an ingredient and it shows up frequently.  The food will still be delicious without the cilantro and with far fewer peppers!

 

That’s it!  If you are looking for an easy to use, beautifully laid-out, expansive collection of truly delicious Tex-Mex and Texan recipes, Lisa Fain’s The Homesick Texan is an excellent choice.  She also has a gorgeous blog full of all things Tex-Mex.