The Elote Café Cookbook
Marty Martindale

By Jeff Smedstad
A review by Marty Martindale

A great deal of credit goes to Janise Witt’s many photographs which so richly enhance this cookbook. Not only are the pictures of food rich in detail, the general ambience of the restaurant is very attractively captured, as well.

Author, chef and Sedona, Arizona, restaurant owner, Jeff Smedstad, bases his success with Mexican cuisine on 21 years  of visiting Mexico, living with Mexican families and shopping their marketplaces.

To this Smedstad insists on using authentic ingredients, ones he personally feels good about. For him, this is homemade lard, Abuelita brand or Ibarra chocolate and Menonita cheese, to name a few. To this concept, he also adds touches of himself; some call it his unorthodox exuberance. In any event, the result is sophisticated, yet authentic.

From a look at some of the recipes, you can see offerings are tempting and high appealing:

CHORIZO: Calls for ground pork, his cure rub/spice mix, ground chipotle, chile negro, ancho chile, Mexican oregano, cumin, Mexican cinnamon, vinegar and garlic.

NOPALES SALAD:  Nopales, field greens, tomato, red onion, poblano chile, pickled jalapenos, queso fresco; Dressing:  olive oil, lime juice, cider vinegar, seasoning

SOPA AZTECA:  Tomato, stock, pasilla chile, Mexico oregano, carrot, onion, corn and cooked chicken; Garnish:  Corn tortillas, avocado, cotija cheese, Oaxacan cheese, pasilla chiles, sour cream, lime wedges

DUCK WITH MOLE VERDE:  3-4 lb. duck, cure rub/spice mix; Mole Verde:  Olive oil, onion, garlic, Serrano chiles, tomatillos, oregano, ground avocado leaf, pumpkin seeds, stock, bay leaf, epazote and cilantro. To complete the dish:  butternut squash, crimini mushrooms, onions, poblano chile, spicy pepitas and pickled onions.

RAJAS DE CHILE POBLANO:  Olive oil, onion, poblano chiles, tomato and Mexican oregano

TAMAL DE CHOCOLATE:  Lard, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, masa, Ibarra chocolate, milk, chocolate chips, dried cherries and corn husks

Chef Smedstad ends the book with a collection of some very creative menus.

The 110 dishes in this beautifully illustrated book are definitely Saturday dinner selections, festive, yet simple in a pleasing presentation.

Marty Martindale

About Marty Martindale

Foodsite Magazine and Marty aim to help the cooking-challenged avoid dependence on others due to lack of cooking knowhow. We concentrate on quick breakfasts, portable lunches and “good-4-u” night meals. With readily available web translation, the magazine explains separate foods, a little of their history, their nutrition, suggested “go-withs,” serving ideas and links to foodsites with recipes.

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