With the publication of “Pati’s Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking ” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013; $30), the circle is complete. Former bookworm policy analyst turned cooking instructor, food blogger, chef and public television culinary host Pati Jinich directs her research, experience, love of country and personal journey onto the printed page.
It’s a tall order, capturing the spirit and energy of this 40-year-old Chevy Chase mother of three, whose career path has been carved step by step with kitchen utensils. Washington Post Food section readers have come to know her through salsa, salad, taco and casserole recipes: everyday food that has become her mission.
Jinich’s secrets are revealed through notes called “Mexican Cook’s Tricks” on many of the 115 recipes in the book. She rubs the ends of cucumbers to fend off bitterness. White onions are preferred because they contain less sulfur than yellow. The edges of the first handmade corn tortilla on the griddle will tell you whether there’s enough water in the dough. When you’re making enchiladas, pass those tortillas through hot oil or subject them to the heat of a dry skillet beforehand: That will keep them from cracking. Pre-mix the cocoa powder with a little of the liquid when making her sister’s marbled pound cake, and you’ll avoid a dusty brown countertop.