Friday, March 27, 2009

Traditional Mexican Foods Cookbook

If you are a lover of traditional Mexican food, our Old Cookbook Review has a treat in store for you today! The book is Mexico Through My Kitchen Window by Maria A. De Carbia. Mrs. De Carbia was born in Mexico City of Spanish and French grandparents. She was educated in a French convent and then studied cooking in Mexico and the U.S. Her first cookbook was written in 1936 and is entitled, Marichu Va la Cocina (Little Mary Goes to the Kitchen). I believe it is written in Spanish. The book I'm reviewing today was published by Riverside Press in 1961. It's Library of Congress catalog number is 61-10785.
This is traditional Mexican food presented by a woman who grew up around it, so when she says, "use mortar and pestle" to make mole, you can get out your food processor, but it's interesting to read the original methods given in the book. A couple of the recipes include pigs ears and tongue; not something you're apt to find in the modern grocery store, but it just proves how traditional this book is!
As any good Mexican cook, Mrs. De Carbia knows her various types of peppers. The first coarse of action in this book is to give the reader a primer on chiles; everything from a pepper that's as small as a pea to larger varieties which can 'bring the heat'!
This book includes every traditional Mexican dish that I've ever heard of...and some that I haven't. The illustrations make the book even more interesting as a cultural piece. At the end of the book, there's even an index to explain the illustrations. I enjoyed the way she explains the Mexican holidays, as well. She wants the reader to understand the culture along with the food. It makes for an colorful cookbook read!

For our sample recipes I chose tamales because they are so popular around our area of the country (the Southwest) that people traditionally serve them on Christmas Eve. You can find them at most food buffets here, also. Tamales are a delicious blend of cornmeal, meat and a tomato-based sauce. Traditional tamales are wrapped in corn husks and cooked; when I first moved here, I often wondered why corn husks were sold in the produce section of the grocery I know!

P.137 Fresh Corn Tamale

Fresh corn on the cob 12 ears
Lard (shortening) 4 TBSP
Flour 3 TBSP
Baking powder 1 tsp
Egg yolks 3
Salt to taste
Boiled chicken or boiled chicken breasts - 1 chicken or 3 breasts
Mole sauce (tomato sauce may be substituted) 3 C

Cut corn from cob and grind or grate. Heat lard and fry corn, stirring constantly antil transparent.
Remove from fire, add flour, baking powder and egg yolks and beat for a few minutes with wooden spoon.
Put half of this mixture in ovenproof dish or casserole, then cut- up deboned chicken, mixed with mole sauce (or tomato sauce). Cover with the other half of corn and bake in the oven until cooked. Insert a toothpick to test for doneness.

P. 209 Tamale Pie

Yellow cornmeal 2 C
Boiling water 6 C
Salt 1 tsp

Stir meal in boiling water (salted) until it begins to thicken. Cook slowly 30 min.

Ground meat (beef or any) 1 lb.
Onions chopped fine 2
Garlic 1 clove
Chicken fat or oil
Salt 1 tsp
Chili powder 2 TBSP
Red pepper pinch
Canned tomatoes (mashed) 2 C

Fry the meat, onions and garlic until golden brown in chicken fat or oil. Add dry ingredients and tomatoes and juice. Cook slowly for 1 hour. Line greased pan with half the cornmeal mush, pour meat sauce on mush, then cover wth the rest of mush. Bake in oven 1 hour at 350 degrees. Serves 4 to 6.

-Check out the recipe swap at Grocerycartchallenge today!


  1. We are thinking alike! I haven't had a tamale for such a long time it sounds so good and not too difficult either.

  2. Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog. You're right - we were thinking alike and this recipe sounds great.

    Have a great day!

  3. This sounds like a terrific recipe, Ill have to try it. First time to your blog, I am enjoying it. Nice to meet you!

  4. For lots more about traditional Mexican food, you'll want to look at Mexico Cooks! ( In November 2008, the Times of London named Mexico Cooks! the #1 Food Blog in the World, and you'll love it too.