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Suzi and I are in Austin to see our grandchildren perform in band. High school band is a big, big deal in Texas. And the Vandergrift Vipers are state winners. Between musical events, we will be trying Tex-Mex and Mexican food galore. Austin is a superb food city. Our cookbook reviews for a few days will honor this broad culinary venue. I’m reposting cookbook delights featuring the best in fiery cuisine. So, time to buy chiles and avocados. And, I guess, beer.

If you read this blog often, you know I write almost daily about a new cookbook. I leave it to you whether you will buy a particular book, of course, but sometimes I do suggest action. A book by Dorie Greenspan, for example, is destined to be a classic and it is very likely you’ll eventually put a copy on your kitchen book shelf.

I have never been so blunt, though, as to say: Stop what you are doing. Get in the car or onto Amazon. Buy this book and get cooking.

So, now, right now, stop what you are doing. Get in the car or onto Amazon. Buy this book — Healthy Latin Eating — and get cooking.

The official publication date is January 2015 but you can order from Amazon now. The book will be stocked there on December 19th.

Why my enthusiasm? I do have a review copy in hand. I have not cooked from the book yet, but you see, I don’t need to. Co-author Angelo Sosa, an alum of Top Chef and a participant in Iron Chef America, happens to have two NYC outlets for his Mexican restaurant and tequila bar, Anejo. The newest Anejo is just four blocks from where Suzen and I live. We’ve tasted Angelo’s food and his beverages.

The verdict? I could use a lot of superlative adjectives, but I’ll keep it simple: easily the best Mexican restaurant in New York City. He is an exceptional chef. And equally adept as a cookbook author.

The creative genius of Healthy Latin Eating begins with that dish we all use to judge a Mexican restaurant or cookbook: guacamole. Anejo offers several versions of guacamole and you’ll find some of these power guac recipes here in Healthy Latin Eating:

  • Chunky Guacamole with Chipotle Syrup
  • Traditional Guacamole [no tomatoes so it does not turn runny!]
  • Guacamole with Tomatillo
  • Guacamole Verde with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Manchego Cheese

At Anejo on our first visit, Suzen and I both saw the pumpkin seed guac. Neither of us was quite brave enough to order it. We asked the waiter which one he preferred and the pumpkin seed version was described as “intriguing and full of flavor.” He was being modest.

Co-author Angie Martinez is a Latin media personality who treasures her culinary heritage. She has teamed with Angelo to fashion this wonderful book. The pair begins by acknowledging that classic Latin cooking is not always the healthiest. Traditional ingredients and techniques became just that, “traditional,” because of what was affordable and available.

Centuries of culinary tradition can be hard to break. But food experts do agree that some of those ingredients, some of the techniques, are not conducive to good health. How can you keep the old flavors, or even improve them, but move along a healthy path? You need a radical approach.

Angie and Angelo are culinary revolutionaries. Keep the key flavors, but find ways to assemble them in a more healthy way. The old, classic dishes are here but here better.

Expanding the food upon the table, the authors have added creativity to their revolutionary zeal. Both Angie and Angelo contribute recipe ideas here, introducing us to family favorites, comfort food dishes that have been loved for generations. Those classic flavors are combined here into new dishes that, I can assure you, will become instant favorites for you.

Book chapters are devoted to:

  • Small Plates: Garlic and Golden Raisin Gazpacho; Watermelon Gazpacho, Shrimp and Papaya Ceviche, Corn Dumplings with Oaxaca Cheese and Chipotle
  • Salads: Cucumber and Serrano Chile Salad, Mango Avocado Salad, Dominican Chicken Salad
  • Main Dishes: Turkey Chilaquiles, Orange and Cilantro Chicken, Whole Fish with Pineapple and Coconut
  • Dips, Chips and Salsas: Charred Tomato Mole, Carrot Mole, Watermelon and Chipotle Salsa
  • Desserts: Spicy Mango Pudding, Dark Chocolate Tamales, Grilled Pineapple with Ancho Agave Syrup
  • Drinks: Chipotle Passion Fruit Michelada, Tamarind Sour Punch, Guava Bloody Maria with Avocado

That first drink, the Michelada? The traditional recipe is beer, lime juice, hot sauce, and Worcestershire. Here Angie and Angelo double down by adding in chipotle heat and sweet passion fruit puree. This is a striking beverage, one that would make a cocktail party an event to be buzzed about for days. Want to get tweets? Serve this!

Suzen and I excited to have this book and are thumbing though it page by page. We had plans for Christmas dinner. Now we have an early Christmas present that will literally turn the table.

Stay tuned for blog posts on some of the individual recipes. Oh, one warning: the corn dumplings are, in a word, addictive. We sit at the bar an Anejo, sip tequila and let the dumplings arrive plate by plate. Make this particular dish and you’ll understand why.

Hey, why are you still reading this? You are supposed to be buying Healthy Latin Eating and shopping for some avocados and pumpkin seeds!