There is an inevitable dumbing-down that goes with Food Network cooks. After all, this is the broadcaster who dumped Batali and Bourdain in favor of 30 minute and semi-homemade.
But give Daisy Martinez credit. In Morning, Noon and Night, she spices her personal kitchen experience with travels that bring all the variations of Latin food to one menu. From beefy and Italian-inspired Argentine dishes, Peruvian aji sauces and Chinese-inspired Chaufa, to Mexican classics like enchiladas and crullers, she draws together their underlying techniques and ingredients.
But recognizing that we may not have abuela’s committment to the kithcen, she presents the dishes by menu: quick or leisurely breakfasts for every day of the week, barbecues, dinners for holidays and weekdays.
In sidebars, Martinez puts the foods in cultural context. Her description of an Argentine asado to celebrate Noche Bueno–grilled meats and chorizo, Italian-inspired vitello tonnato, and a swim–is enough to make you swear off eggnog forever. She also uses the sidebars to to explain particular dishes, techniques, or ingredients from the ubiquitous caramel deserts to a Milanesa sandwich.
The classics are here, but so are some surprises like Spanish-style pizzas called cocas or chicken braised with coconut milk and curry. Her chapter on basics–sofrito, achiote oil, and adobo rubs–will get you that much closer to authentic flavors.
If you are looking for some new family traditions, try Daisy’s latin style from breakfasts to barbecues.