28 October, 2020, 23:21

“Taste of Tucson” cookbook brings local flavors straight to your kitchen

Sonoran-Style Recipes Inspired by the Rich Culture of Southern Arizona

Whether you’re finding yourself drooling over Sonoran hot dogs on the daily, or pining around for a delicious serving of Arroz Con Pollo, there’s now a helpful guide to help you create the recipes at home — all inspired by the flavors of southern Arizona, of course.

Jackie Alpers, who’s contributed her vision to the Food Network and National Geographic, had been wanting to put together a cookbook based on the unique Sonoran-style cuisine that many are familiar with.

Sonoran Hot Dog

Photo by Jackie Alpers for FoodNetwork.com

However, the process wasn’t as easy as pie, so to speak, to get Taste of Tucson: Sonoran-Style Recipes Inspired by the Rich Culture of Southern Arizona published.

“I’d pitched the idea to several publishers over the years but it wasn’t until Tucson was designated the first U.S. UNESCO City of Gastronomy that a publisher started showing interest in the idea,” said Alpers. “West Margin Press focuses on western regional books, and my editor there has a long history publishing excellent cookbooks, so it was a perfect match.

The end result is a visually pleasing feast for the eyes, topped off with a generous amount of culinary knowledge that’ll keep you coming back for seconds.

Delicious bites from beginning to end

Alpers’ collection of enticing and delectable recipes is packed inside the colorful cookbook, featuring familiar dishes from local chefs and restaurants; including the Chicken Mole Amarillo crafted by chef Suzana Davila of Cafe Poca Cosa. Other recognizable recipes thrown into the mix are dishes from Penca, El Guero Canelo, Charro Steak, and BOCA Tacos y Tequila.

Furthermore, Alpers shares her own inspired recipe creations — taste-testing the dishes and then capturing the photos herself. Since many of the dishes highlighted in the cookbook were crafted in her own home, she encourages others to give them a shot, too.

“Now more than ever, cookbooks are a way to experience regional cuisines from the comfort of home,” said Alpers. “People are doing a lot of armchair traveling these days and cookbooks are a big part of that. People can read up, then get up and into the kitchen, no matter where they are sheltering in place.”

A page-turning feast for the eyes

The cookbook welcomes the idea of making these recipes your own, too, encouraging readers to explore the endless culinary possibilities.

For example, Alpers collaborated with chef Maria Mazon of BOCA Tacos y Tequila and created her own tasty pairing with Mazon’s goat cheese poblano sauce. Though the recipe is great over grilled chicken or perhaps paired with pasta, she added cooked shrimp to mix and served it in red cabbage cups, adding a visually striking contrast to the sauce.

Shrimp with Creamy Goat Cheese-Poblano Sauce (Photo by Jackie Alpers)

Shrimp with Creamy Goat Cheese-Poblano Sauce (Photo by Jackie Alpers)

“Cuisine and culture are constantly evolving, as they should. People’s personal histories have merged with the region and have grown and evolved just as the area has. ‘Taste of Tucson’ is a tribute to the cultures this community was built on.”

One of Alpers’ favorite recipes is the Oven Roasted Salsa from Charro Steak. It was a toss-up between that and Penca’s green salsa or her own chiltepin and pico salsa recipes.

Charro Steak’s Oven Roasted Salsa Recipe

Charro Steak’s Oven Roasted Salsa

Charro Steak’s Oven Roasted Salsa (Photo by Jackie Alpers)

Ingredients:
  • Three Roma tomatoes
  • One white onion (peeled and quartered)
  • Two jalapeño chiles
  • Four garlic cloves (peeled)
  • One (16-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
  • One cup of water
  • One-fourth cup of fresh cilantro
  • One tablespoon sea salt
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º F. On a large baking sheet, roast the Roma tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and garlic for one hour or until blackened. Let cool, then place in a food processor or blender. Add crushed tomatoes, water, cilantro, and salt. Blend until smooth. (You can do this in batches if your food processor is too small.) Refrigerate overnight and it’ll remain fresh for one week.

Grab a copy for yourself

Like many things, you can buy Taste of Tucson: Sonoran-Style Recipes Inspired by the Rich Culture of Southern Arizona on Amazon, and the eBook version of the cookbook was recently released on Thursday, June 25. However, it’s also available to pick up from certain local retailers including Why I Love Where I Live and Antigone Books.

For more information about Jackie Alpers, visit jackiealpers.com.

At a very young age, Matt was gifted with the artistic ability to masterfully roll a burrito to the highest of standards.

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