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Doña Tomás

Dona Tomas
Doña Tomás

Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking by Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky
Ten Speed Press, 2006

California chefs Dona Savitsky and Thomas Schnetz showcase dishes from the menu of "authentic Mexican cooking" that has made their restaurant -- Doña Tomás -- a pioneering success in upscale Berkeley.

More than 90 recipes are  included in this volume, divided into chapters on breakfast, lunch, salads and side, and dinner.  The opening chapter -- Básicos -- offers a primer on the ingredients, equipment and techniques of a Mexican kitchen.

Doña Tomás

"Dona Tomas is Cal-Mex of a sort we have never tasted. It rejects the blandness of California Mexican cooking, but also the greasy bathos of it. Doña Tomás belongs to the nouvelle Califronia initiative for the pure and the good. It is fresh cooking; it is Protestant cooking. But it is cooking plainly in love with the South, with lavishness and arousal, arabesque and surprise." (Richard Rodriguez, foreword)

Business partners Dona Savitsky and Thomas Schnetz, both of European descent, are the Doña Tomás of the successful Mexican restaurant of that title located between Berkeley and Oakland, California. Paired by their desire to create food "authentic to Mexico," they serve up breakfast plates of chilaquiles for and the common household fideo along with holiday dishes like chiles rellenos en nogada and pollo con mole agridulce. They seek out local producers for their meats and fish and produce, and they make their own tortillas by hand from fresh masa from their favorite tortillerias.

Making Real Hot Chocolate

Mexican hot chocolate is nothing like your common hot cocoa. The latter is made from cocoa powder, a form of chocolate pressed free of the flavorful cocoa butter.  The true Mexican hot chocolate is a decadent delight concocted from Mexican chocolate bars melted into cream and frothed with a small wooden whisk, called a molinillo.

"These beautifully adorned implements look more like decorative clubs than pieces of kitchen equipment," Thomas Schnetz explains. "The handle is affixed to a wider area that is notched and surrounded by one or several loose wooden rings. When the handle of the molinillo is rolled rapidly between the palms of the hands, the notches and the rings agitate the hot chocolate, causing it to froth up."

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Selected Recipes

Sweet Tamale with Fresh Corn and Pineapple

Sopa Tortilla

Crab, Chile, and Lime Taquitos with Avocado Salsa

Long-Cooked Green Beans with Chorizo

Halibut Cheeks Veracruzano

Slow-Roasted Lamb in Banana Leaves with Ancho-Guajillo Chile Sauce

Crème Fraîche Cake with Blackberries, Cinnamon, and Pecans

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