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Books and QuiltsAfter more than forty years of eating the same old sandwiches, I was ready for a change. When I saw that Kelley Cleary Coffeen had out a new cookbook, 300 Best Taco Recipes: From tantalizing tacos to authentic tortillas, sauces, cocktails and salsas, I thought that I might have found my solution. It didn't take much to convince my family to join me for a March Break Taco extravaganza in our kitchen. For the next two weeks, we ate a new variety of taco almost every day. When my daughter had her birthday party, guess what we served? Tacos of course. They were a hit. This cookbook has a dish for almost every type of eater including vegetarians, gluten and lactose intolerant people. We chose to use flour tortillas for all our dishes, though corn tortillas are suggested many times, as well, recipes are included so that you can make both type of tortillas on your own. If you prefer not to use the wrap, most dishes would work well served on a bed of greens. The introductory section of the book includes a history of tacos, followed by a details discussion of many of the ingredients and equipment used in making tacos, both authentic Mexican as well as American versions. The list of Ten Tips for Perfect Tacos was very helpful, including tip number 6 -- Don't Overstuff. I'm still working at properly identifying my chiles. A few times I bought sweet chiles thinking I was getting some heat. I do wish that Ms. Coffeen has included a colour picture to help with identification. Grocery store staff may be helpful, but they don't all know their chiles, as I found out. The remainder of the book is divided by main ingredient: Chicken and Turkey, Beef, Pork and Lamb, Fish and Seafood, Vegetarian, Salsas, Relishes and Sauces, Dessert Tacos, and Cocktails. Each recipe includes all the information you need to make that dish. Most also include tips regarding the dish such as how to speed up preparation by purchasing a pre-cooked chicken, buying extra meat and after cooking store it in pre-measured amounts in the freezer. I found that these recipes are quite forgiving, in that you can easily substitute ingredients if you are unable to find the one requested. We did use some store bought salsa as it was winter here and fresh tomatoes were quite expensive. The fresh made salsa was much superior in every way; taste, texture, aroma, everything. As I mentioned, we used store bought flour tortillas with each recipe, and they were wonderful. I don't deep fry, so we didn't try any of those recipes, though I will admit, many of them sounded delicious. If your only exposure to tacos has been those spicy ground beef, topped with shredded lettuce, bland salsa and shredded cheddar cheese that are available at fast food venues and from those boxed kits, then you are in for a tasty adventure. For the most part, these recipes are quick and easy to make and you'll have dinner on the table in no time. Don't be surprised when there are no leftovers.
— Healther Pearson