cover image Isabel’s Cantina: Bold Latin Flavors from the New California Kitchen

Isabel’s Cantina: Bold Latin Flavors from the New California Kitchen

Isabel Cruz, . . Clarkson Potter, $27 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-307-35274-3

Cruz, owner of five restaurants on the West Coast, is known for her version of Latin comfort food—simple, healthy dishes influenced by the various cultures and cuisines she was surrounded by growing up in L.A. like Cuban, Mexican, Japanese and Thai. Cruz highlights such ingredients as “mangoes, limes, coconut, chile peppers, mint, ginger, and cilantro.... These are my flavor building blocks.” The “Starters” section includes Seared Tuna Wontons with Avocado Salsa Cruda, which are “a little nod to Japan but 100 percent California.” Empanadas are made with turkey for a lighter meal as are Cruz’s “Albondigas,” Latin meatballs. The “Main Courses” chapter includes fresh, healthful dishes like Steamed Red Snapper with Hearts of Palm and Ginger, and Green Chili Posole, a Mexican stew. The “Rice, Beans and Other Sides” section includes recipes for Quick Black Beans, Brown Rice with Barley, and Sweet Plantains. The “Salsas, Sauces and Marinades” are used in specific recipes throughout the book, but can be added onto almost any dish. Included are Chipotle Corn Salsa, Guava Sauce, and Red Bell Pepper Sofrito. The options are endless in this bright debut, and Cruz convinces that “Latin food can be healthy and light and still be delicious, and that today’s Latin food is a blend of the cultures that surround it.” (Aug.)