Matt Martinez is in the family business. His grandfather introduced the Tex-Mex restaurant concept to Austin in 1925, and in 1952, his father opened Matt’s El Rancho, now a landmark of Tex-Mex restaurant history. Martinez hopes to spread the gospel of Tex-Mex with his cookbook, Mex Tex: Traditional Tex-Mex Taste, which is filled with huge sun-drenched pictures, simple recipes, and helpful tips to entice even novice cooks. He explains how to choose a good chile (he sticks to anchos) and how to store homemade salsa. Peppered with family photos and folksy narratives about growing up in Texas and his father’s kitchen, Martinez constantly reinforces the connection between food and family. His recipes stay close to home as well: He consciously limits his use of spices to the basics that his grandmother used because she just had to “make do.” Martinez may not be trying to break new culinary ground, but he is trying to get us in touch with our Tex-Mex roots.

After the first several pages of saliva-starting pictures, Martinez tackles Appetizers & Drinks, and then begins the tutorial on Spices & Sauces. Having mastered the essential flavors of the food, one applies that knowledge in dishes from Matt’s Mains, On the Side, and the breakfast suggestions in Eye Openers. Family Sweets shares dessert recipes from Martinez’s wife and mother.

Suggestions to get your Tex-Mex fix:
Bob Armstrong Dip
Texas Shrimp Nachos
Bad Boy Hot Sauce
Black Bean and Pork Stew
Chicken Mole Gone Simple
Chiles Rellenos
Cheese and Onion Enchiladas
Sunday Migas