Kristina’s Bookshelf

Spice Up Your Celebrations with Mexican Tastes
for Halloween and Día de Los Muertos

The end of October and start of November bring Halloween and Day of the Dead celebrations. A passel of new books provide dozens of recipes for Mexican and Mexican-inspired dishes that can be prepared quickly and easily to feed those hungry revelers. Be sure to stop by Casa Latina on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley for a fresh-baked pan de muerto (Day of the Dead bread): This fluffy, yellow, bread-y cake sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar is delicious with a warm cup of Mexican hot chocolate!

Guerrilla Tacos: Recipes from the Streets of L.A.
by Wesley Avila with Richard Parks III
(Ten Speed Press, 2017)

Wes Avila’s Taco Truck is well-known in Los Angeles for its unconventional and incredibly delicious tacos. In his new cookbook, Avila shares 50 of his best recipes along with encouragement for being creative with your own tacos at home. Avila draws on ingredients not often associated with tacos, like golden beets in a tostada, which taste delicious and can come together with minimal preparation and few ingredients. The book is also an absorbing narrative about Avila’s life growing up in East Los Angeles, the way his mother inspired his cooking, and his circuitous path to developing a taco truck business. 

QUESO! Regional Recipes for the World’s Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip 
by Lisa Fain
(Ten Speed Press, 2017)

“Queso,” short for chili con queso, is a thick, spicy cheese sauce that’s usually eaten with tortilla chips (although toast and Saltine crackers have also been common transport vehicles). Anyone who’s visited the Southwestern United States knows quesos as a familiar snack and a favorite at any gathering. Food blogger Lisa Fain’s new book includes 50 recipes from historical, regional quesos to vegan and dessert renditions. Her bits of historical information are particularly interesting. Besides a variety of creative recipes, Fain includes a number of dishes enhanced with queso.

Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen 
by Gonzalo Guzmán with Stacy Adimando
(Ten Speed Press, 2017)

Readers familiar with the San Francisco’s Nopalito (and even those who have never dined there) will be happy for this new cookbook from the head chef of this popular restaurant. Guzmán includes more than 100 recipes for regional Mexican food including many of the best-loved recipes from the restaurant, like Crispy Red Quesadillas with Braised Pork and Pork Rinds; Tamales with Red Spiced Sunflower Seed Mole; and Salsa-Dipped Griddled Chorizo and Potato Sandwiches. 

Taqueria: New-Style Fun and Friendly Mexican Cooking 
by Paul Wilson
(Hardie Grant Books, 2017)

A taqueria is a Mexican restaurant specializing in tacos, but there’s no reason not to enjoy making them at home. This book by creative chef Paul Wilson includes more than 80 recipes for bright, smoky, savory, easy-to-make dishes. Offering more than just tacos, the book features recipes for all of the side dishes and enhancements, like Pomegranate Mojo (a tangy, garlicky sauce to dress fish, barbecue, and soups); a chayote squash salad with grains, seeds, and pulses; Padrón peppers with Sesame Pipian (a rich mole sauce); and Chicken and Pumpkin Albondigas with Sweetcorn Lime and Coriander Sofrito. 

Edible East Bay’s book editor Kristina Sepetys is eager to share her ideas and book recommendations with our readers