A cookbook review of Pati's Mexican Table by Pati Jinich, plus Pati's recipe for gluten free Blissful Corn Torte. A Mexican masterpiece!
[pinit] Considering that I write them, it should come as no surprise that I'm a cookbook junkie. I spend hours in the bookstore (since there are still bookstores for the moment). I call it research. If I were still a practicing lawyer, that would be the line item on the bill. Some of my favorite cookbooks are ethnic ones, and Pati's Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking (aff. link) is no exception. Pati Jinich is the official chef of the Mexican Cultural Institute and stars in her own cooking show on public television. She's a mom of 3. Like me! We're, like, twins. Except for her TV show and Mexican heritage. Her publisher was kind enough to give me permission to share her recipe for a Blissful Corn Torte that is naturally gluten free (it uses only rice flour) and is a very traditional sort of Mexican dish. It does mean turning on the oven, but maybe the heat has broken a bit where you live (like it has a bit where I live). And I can't think of a better way to make use of the freshest, sweetest corn of the summer.
The first photo is directly from Pati's book. Gorgeous, right? Above is my rendition of this lightly sweet, simple Mexican side dish. Pati's recipe notes say that she makes it for dinner (and serves it with Creamy Poblano Rajas (page 209 of her cookbook) how good does that sound?), and then hopes for leftovers so she can have a piece for breakfast. Now, not to be presumptuous, but I may just have solved her problem nice & easy. I just made it for breakfast. Try serving it with a dollop of rich, plain Greek-style yogurt (ethnic fusion!), and a light dusting of confectioner's sugar. And then I got ready to make my recipe for gluten free churros, since I was feeling quite Mexican.
Here's the cover of Pati's book (gorgeous photos by Penny De Los Santos). So many ethnic cookbooks, like so many ethnic cuisines, rely upon flours that are gluten free if they're sourced carefully. Pati's authentic Mexican recipes for everything from refried beans (why don't I make those more often?) and authentic salsa of every kind to pozole and red rice (already a family favorite in my house) got me super excited about being in the kitchen—even to make dinner (yup – it's a chore for me most nights, too). There's even a whole chapter of Mexican drinks like Agua Fresca and Spiced Sweet Mexican Coffee. And I have already learned tons about Mexican ingredients like dried hominy and how to make it into pozole, plus all about different Mexican chiles. She explains it all in plain but precise language.
Pati's publisher sent me a copy of her cookbook gratis so that I might shares its deliciousness with you. But I reached out to them, not the other way around. I loved what I had heard about her book so far, and I knew she could teach me a ton about how to make authentic Mexican food. Once I had the book in my hands, I quite literally started cooking right away (the Red Rice on page 224 was my first, and I've made it 2 more times since). I guess bloggers say things like that all the time about other authors' cookbooks in hopes that they'll curry favor, but I refuse most everything anyone ever wants to send to me. And I never, ever say things I don't mean. Free trip to Italy as long as I try to sell it to you? No thanks. Free cereal in exchange for selling it to you? I'll pass. I value our relationship, and I won't recommend something to you unless I truly believe in it myself. Pati's cookbook (aff. link) is a true gem. I hope you'll give it a try.
Pati’s Mexican Table Blissful Corn Torte: a Cookbook Review [+ recipe]
½ pound (224 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the baking dish
¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
8 eggs (400 g, weighed out of shell), separated, at room temperature
¾ cup (120 g) superfine white rice flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ cup (4 fluid ounces) heavy cream
4 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels (from about 6 ears)
1 cup (8 fluid ounces) whole milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking dish.
With an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl on high speed until creamy. Add the granulated sugar and beat until thoroughly mixed and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and add the egg yolks one by one, beating until they are well incorporated.
In a small bowl, combine the rice flour and baking powder. Add a bit of the dry ingredients and then a bit of the heavy cream alternately to the butter mixture, continuing until you’ve added them all, beating until well mixed.
In a blender or food processor, pulse the corn kernels with the milk until roughly pureed. Add to the butter mixture and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. If using a stand mixer, pour the butter/corn mixture into a large bowl.
In another large bowl beat the egg whites and salt with clean beaters until stiff peaks form. Gently fold one fifth of the beaten egg whites into the butter-corn mixture until blended. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites, taking care not to deflate them. It’s OK if the batter looks streaky.
Pour the batter into the baking dish. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the torte is springy to the touch and lightly browned. Cool slightly. The torte can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold. Serve cut into squares. Sprinkle confectioners’ sugar on top if you like (I always do).
Excerpted from PATI’S MEXICAN TABLE, © 2013 by Pati Jinich. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
I made this amazing corn torte last night. It was beyond blissful! ;-) My husband said “I can’t imagine having anything better in any fine restaurant in the country!” Thanks for this recipe. It’s gonna be a family Favorite!
Alexandra Maas says
can it be made with Corn flour or maïzena? I have ordered your books from Amazon, and about two months down the line, nothing has been send to me…. blaaah!
Sounds wonderful, but can it be made low cholesterol? Have to be very careful of that for myself and husband
Tami F says
I love Pati’s blog so it was great to see her cookbook featured here on another favorite blog. Can’t wait to try this recipe!
Melanie Reardon says
How does this differ from corn bread?
Nicole Hunn says
Quite a lot, Melanie. I have a favorite recipe here on the blog for gluten free brown butter corn bread, but this is quite distinct from that. This torte is like a cross between a souffle and almost a light cake. And it has actual corn kernels, roughly pureed with the milk, in the recipe.
Getting her cookbook from the library once it comes in (4 holds
in front of me!!). I always review a cookbook via the library (cheap) way
before purchasing. Don’t worry Nicole, I reviewed AND PURCHASED ALL OF YOUR
COOKBOOKS! They are that good!!
Nicole Hunn says
Wow, June, that is one popular library book! It totally makes sense to give it a library test drive. I’ve bought too many cookbooks just to have them collect dust. Thank goodness my cookbooks made the cut! ;)
You are so very kind Nicole, what a lovely write up, thank you!!!!
Nicole Hunn says
You’re so welcome, Pati. Hey, look! It’s Pati, everybody. Thanks so much for stopping by. Love your cookbook.
Sharon Cottrell Schulze says
Looks fabulous, Nicole! I’ll definitely be checking out Pati’s cookbook–I love Mexican food (well, food, period, lol, but Mexican _is_ a fav since I went to Mexico when I was in high school. Small-town NH girl in the ’70’s–I’d never had food like that before! Still smitten after all these years :-) ).
Nicole Hunn says
There’s a whole lot to love with Mexican food, Sharon! Just when I think I may have tried it all, I learn about a whole new crop of recipes—like Pati’s! I bet you’ll love her cookbook. :)