Tuesday, September 26, 2017

QUESO! has arrived!

Queso: Regional Recipes for the World's Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip by Lisa Fain | Homesick Texan

This time last year, I had just wrapped up a month-long tour of Texas, eating chile con queso all over my home state. It was the greatest road trip of my life. Today, I celebrate the results of that delicious research and am thrilled to announce that my latest book, QUESO! Regional Recipes for the World’s Favorite Chile Cheese Dip has at last arrived!

While I spent most of last year eating, researching, and cooking all things related to chile con queso, my obsession with the dish actually began a few years ago when I first moved to New York.

As many of you know, the classic recipe for home-style queso is to melt together a can of Rotel tomatoes with green chiles and a brick of Velveeta cheese. At that time in New York, however, the proper tomatoes were as elusive as a crisp fall day in Texas. And while you could sometimes find the proper cheese, stores only sold the tiny bricks for a crazy expensive price. I had to make do and figured out how to make queso with alternative ingredients, which lead to an all-natural chile con queso recipe. That, however, was only the beginning of my obsession.

Queso: Regional Recipes for the World's Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip by Lisa Fain | Homesick Texan

For instance, a friend from El Paso informed me that the queso in her hometown wasn’t like the processed cheese Tex-Mex liquid gold most people associate with the name, so I flew there to investigate. Then I read in one of Matt Martinez’s cookbooks (he’s the creator of Bob Armstrong dip), that instead of using Velveeta (or a similar brick processed cheese) in his queso, his family preferred regular American cheese. (Yes, there is a difference between the two, with American cheese having less stabilizers and more dairy, which makes it an actual cheese rather than simply a “cheese food,” as brick processed cheese is labelled by the FDA.)

Queso: Regional Recipes for the World's Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip by Lisa Fain | Homesick Texan

More questions arose. Where did chile con queso come from and how did it evolve? What are the regional variations of chile con queso? Why the heck does Arkansas lay claim to this dish? Can chile con queso be considered a mother sauce? I could go on.

My curiosity fueled my quest and I spent my time reading articles; paging through old cookbooks; talking to queso cooks; and making a variety of different recipes. I ended up with a spreadsheet of 215 recipes, which when I pitched the book to my agent and publisher they requested that I narrow it down to 50—a difficult task when you’ve become a queso nerd!

In the end, however, I am over the moon with the finished book. Recipes include historical quesos such as the original Mexican incarnation of the dish and the first chile con queso recipe published in Texas; classic Tex-Mex queso recipes, such as ones inspired by Felix queso and Kerbey Lane; chile con queso as it’s found along the border, such as the white cheese and chile-rich El Paso style and an assortment of skillet queso fundidos.

The are recipes for quirky quesos, such as vegan queso, a smoked cheddar and sausage Hill Country queso, and one livened up with Indian chutney; and finally, recipes where queso makes an appearance such as enchiladas, huevos rancheros, and chicken-fried steak.

Queso: Regional Recipes for the World's Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip by Lisa Fain | Homesick Texan

Besides all the cheesy goodness, there are also recipes for delicious queso add-ins such as salsas, fajitas, chili, pulled pork, bean dip, and more. If you’re curious, I even show you how to fry corn tortillas to make your own chips, and I cracked the code on the puffy tostada, too.

The mouth-watering photography was done by Aubrie Pick, and the packaging of the book is a charming size perfect for hostess gifts or stocking stuffers. (Speaking from experience, it also fits nicely into a purse or book bag if you wish to carry it around and show people how wonderful queso can be.)

Queso: Regional Recipes for the World's Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip by Lisa Fain | Homesick Texan

Because I’ve become a queso nerd, I could continue but for now I will let you go so you can grab your own copy of QUESO! and start cooking. Though if you would like to discuss queso with me in person, please come see me on tour—I would love to visit with you!

As always, thank you for reading and for your encouraging words. You make this all worthwhile and I am so grateful. This project has brought me immense joy and I’m delighted to finally share that joy with you. So, grab your chips, your cheese, your chiles, and your loved ones, and enjoy the glory of queso!

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You can buy QUESO! wherever books are sold, such as these fine establishments:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound
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If you're in New York, this Thursday, September 28, please join me at Bloomindales on 59th from 6-8. It's an evening of queso and cocktails with NY Times spirits writer Robert Simonson. We'll both be sharing food and drinks and doing demonstrations! This event is free.

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34 comments:

Coop said...

Congratulations on the new book!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Coop--Thank you!

Anonymous said...

My copy of the book just arrived and everything looks so tempting. I think El Paso huevos rancheros will be a good choice for breakfast tomorrow. Thanks for yet another fab book. Carol

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Carol--That's a fine way to begin the morning! Happy cooking!

Anonymous said...

My copy arrived today. I was thrilled to see a recipe to recreate Torchy's Queso! I can't wait to try it.

Also, have you tried using Land O Lakes Extra Melt cheese? I've read a lot of restaurants use that instead of Velveeta.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--Yes, I have used it before and it has a nice flavor. It's hard to get, however, unless you're in the trade, and I find that regular American cheese (vs. Velveeta), achieves that same creamy flavor, though you do need to use a bit of starch to keep the queso from breaking. An extra step, but not a difficult one!

Anonymous said...

When's the national tour? Come to San Francisco!
Can't wait to get the book.
-Chris

Rosa said...

Got my copy today! Just in time for my birthday!! ­čśä

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Chris--I'd love to visit out west! Will keep you posted if I make it there.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Rosa--Happy birthday and have fun with the book!

jenifer said...

I was THRILLED to get this in the mail today! YAY :)

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Jenifer--Thank you for ordering and enjoy the book!

Jeri said...

Oh I can't wait to get s copy! We've been in Virginia now for 4 years and if we haven't learned to make a dish ourselves, we just don't eat it. There is a Chuys that opened in Richmond but it's not as great as real TexMec to us. Looking forward to your book.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Jeri--Thank you! And I've also found that cooking Tex-Mex at home is the best way to get the flavor that you want.

Finding the Happy said...

Please come to Nashville on tour! Do you know how many Homesick Texans there are here and no decent Queso (except at Chuy's)?

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Finding the Happy--I'd love to visit Nashville!

Anonymous said...

I received my copy last week! It will be a great Christmas gift for my family! Thanks for letting us help you with the taste testing, it was a blast! Let me know when you're ready for the next venture! Especially if you can include Fort Worth! My door is always open and there is always food!
Lisa in Fort Worth

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Lisa-Thank you so much for all your assistance! I will holler next time I'm in Fort Worth!

Anonymous said...

Congrats upon the release of your fabulous recipe book..If we had not just had our paid for pristine car totaled I would run out and get it but I will wait til Hanukkah when our only comes home from NYC and she will fetch it for me as she adores Queso in any form..I know you will a bagillion copies as your a spectacular authoress and cook!

Anonymous said...

I pre-ordered the book after seeing Joe Yonan's article in the WaPo--I couldn't wait! My family is looking forward to trying all the cheesy recipes, because we're all Queso fans.

Alyssa Arora said...

I bought this for my husband, he loves queso and his office does 'Queso Friday' where they each take turn making different Queso! Hoping he'll love this and the photography is beautiful. So many wonderful recipes, I like how it takes you on a journey of Queso through different regions. Lovellyyyyy! <3

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--Thank you for the kind words! And I'm sorry about your car, but this book will definitely make for a fine Hanukkah gift!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--Happy queso cooking to you and yours!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Alyssa--What a fun office! I love it! And now he has 50 new quesos to share--that's almost a year!

Clare said...

Hi Lisa! Your website says you will be in Dallas Nov 6, but the bookstore's website lists you on Nov 7. Which one is it? I hope to come either way.

A37licia said...

What a neat book! I would love to get it. I made your Bob Armstrong dip a couple years ago during a pregnancy craving, and I got flack from the safeway deli person for asking for a huge hunk of american cheese, because they said it wasn't safe for them to slice it by hand LOLOL. I'm imagining the grief I will be putting them through to make these recipes!

side note as a result: any other recommendation for getting chunk american??

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Clare--It is November 7. Thank you for noticing and I've now corrected the listing! And I look forward to seeing you!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

A37licia--I can't think of any other way to get a block of American cheese except from the deli counter. But If they insist on slicing it, while you won't be able to grate it as you would with a chunk, you can chop it (or just tear into strips), which will also work. Also Kraft Deli Deluxe is a good American cheese that comes sliced, but the slices are not individually wrapped in plastic so it's easier to use.

jerrie lee said...

i am so excited about getting my book! mailed to portland office and then moved to texas so i have to wait!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Jerrie Lee--Hope it arrives soon!

plainsgal said...

Lisa, I love your new book-just read it cover to cover! Enjoyed the 1939 Lubbock reference, and want to tell you about another out of the ordinary queso you should sample should you come this way. Sylvana's queso at La Diosa Winery is amazing! Here's the menu description: A blend of swiss, jack, and parmesan cheeses with artichoke hearts, onion, jalape├▒os, and tomato baked to a golden brown and topped with pico de gallo.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Plainsgal--Thank you for the kind words! And next time I'm up that way, I'll definitely stop by La Diosa and try their queso.

Mary Beth said...

When I showed your book to my 'hates to cook' sister, she shrugged and said "big deal, how many ways can you mix Velveeta and Rotel?" She thumbed through it,and I heard 'hmmmm's and she asked to borrow it for the next family potluck. Success! Love the book myself, btw. Great job!

Anonymous said...

My introduction to chili con queso was around 1960, made by an El Paso native. It took forever to make, and she did not do it often because of the lack of availability of the correct cheeses. She did try several substitutions, which were also very good, but not the original.

My Amarillo native Dad declared that her queso was indeed the real deal. (This from a man who never ate a tamale as good as those from his childhood sold by street vendors.) It was white, with lots of green chiles and just a hint of heat.

The next time we found chili con queso on a par with that introductory batch was what Mercado Juarez served around 1980 in Dallas. Oh, so yummy.

Looking forward to your latest book. Oh, to not now have issues with dairy!

Pete

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