You don’t have to travel to Brownsville to get decent tamales or go to Galveston for snapper. If you want to experience the full range of Texas cuisine, just crack open the new Cooking With Texas Highways cookbook, which offers a culinary road trip right from your kitchen. Born of Texas Highways, the self-proclaimed “travel magazine of Texas,” Cooking has compiled the best recipes collected in the magazine from the past three decades. The result is a veritable smorgasbord of Texas dishes ranging from Tortilla Soup to Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson’s Peach Ice Cream to Vietnamese Fried Egg Rolls.
Cooking is divided into recipe sections by course and has additional segments for “Sauces, Spreads & More,” which include more salsa and jelly recipes, and a whole section for “Dutch-Oven Dishes.” Why so many Dutch-oven ideas? Because, according to the cookbook, “The Lone Star Dutch Oven Society is one of the largest such societies in the world.” More to the heart of the matter, “Dutchin,’ as it’s affectionately called, goes hand-in-hand with Texans’ love of the outdoors.”
That’s not all that’s specifically Texan about this cookbook. Helpful hints included in sections like “How to Make Iced Tea” and trivia tidbits about the invention of Ro-tel (a Texas concoction, of course), not to mention the ample selection of salsa recipes and Southern classics like Red Velvet Cake and Bumblebee Cobbler, prove that the editors of this cookbook know exactly what their readers want to cook.
Maybe that’s why Cooking doesn’t assume, as some supposed Texas cookbooks do, that all Texans cook is chili and tacos. While Cooking pays homage to our ranching legacy and our Mexican culinary heritage, it doesn’t forget to include dishes that reflect the state’s European roots. After all, what Texan hasn’t grown up eating his share of Czech kolaches or indulged in the occasional glögg at Christmastime?
However, Cooking is by no means mired in the past. To reflect the relatively recent introduction of Asian cuisine in Texas, it includes recipes like Vietnamese Skewered Beef and Pecan-crusted Teriyaki Chicken.
But the diversity of recipes doesn’t end with the array of ethnic dishes. Cooking makes sure to evenly distribute fancier recipes of state-wide acclaim like the Governor’s Mansion Summer Garden Soup alongside simpler classics like Grandmother’s Favorite Dressings.
In addition to the mix of recipes, Cooking brings out the flavor of Texas with dramatic photographs from all over the state, capturing the wildflowers of the roadside, the sandy beaches of the coast, and the panoramic mountainscapes of the north. The photographs of the dishes are no less impressive. Added bonuses of Cooking are the easy-to-read format of the recipes and the well-organized index in the back.
On the whole, Cooking offers traditional, modern, and simply beloved Texas dishes. Here are a few more examples of what to expect:
Fresh Watermelon Salsa
Texas Peach-Pecan Bread
Josie’s Cactus Salad
King Ranch Casserole
Dan’s Spoon Venison
Crisp-Fried Wild Turkey Breast
Mexican Squash with Pork
Warm Goat Cheese–Potato Cakes
Alsatian Cheese Tart