Return to Previous Page

Book Brief: Essentials of Latin Cooking

The Latin American table is a celebration of regional flavors, reflecting a vibrant culinary heritage that blends New World ingredients and ingenuity with Old World traditions and techniques. Part of the Williams-Sonoma "Essentials" series, our comprehensive cookbook takes you on a food lover's tour that extends from Mexico, Cuba and the Caribbean islands through Central and South America. This volume begins with an exploration of Latin culture and cuisine, followed by more than 130 authentic recipes.

At the heart of every Latin cuisine is a love of hospitality. In the spirit of that tradition, welcome guests by offering a refreshing Caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil. Accompany the cocktails with arepas (cornmeal griddle cakes) folded around a chimichurri-spiced filling of chicken, chorizo and avocado.

For a main course typical of Argentina's seaside resorts, serve skewers of grilled squid with peppery black beans and a cooling tomato-avocado salsa. When the occasion calls for heartier fare, try the favorite Cuban dish of ropa vieja: tender braised beef in a savory sauce of tomatoes and peppers. Fried green plantains round out the meal with authentic island flair.

No Latin meal is complete without a traditional accompaniment of grains or beans. In Peru and Ecuador, diners enjoy salads of earthy black beans, corn and quinoa tossed with a tangy lime and cilantro dressing. Colombian cooks enliven black-eyed peas with spicy chorizo sausage and guiso, a classic criollo tomato sauce.

Latin America's abundant seasonal produce inspires recipes that can serve as side dishes or light meals in themselves. For a satisfying brunch or weeknight supper, try a Mexican torta featuring fresh zucchini, sweet corn and roasted poblano chilies. Finish your meal with piping-hot sopaipillas–airy golden puffs of deep-fried yeast dough dusted with confectioners' sugar.

The book includes step-by-step color photographs explaining culinary techniques, as well as mouthwatering photos of the finished dishes. You'll also find a guide to Latin produce and pantry staples, along with menu suggestions. Guaranteed to inspire memorable meals, this cookbook makes it easy to discover the lively flavors of Latin America in your own kitchen.