Corrales resident Jane Butel has spent years perfecting her recipes and cooking techniques. She calls her newest book, “Simply Southwestern,” an example of fusion
cooking, which is using traditional ingredients in a nontraditional way or using old traditions with new ingredients. In addition to entrees, the book has recipes for drinks, breads, soups, sauces, salads and desserts.
Many of the book’s more than 200 recipes are traditional dishes with a Southwestern twist, such as green chile cheddar biscuits, green chile sourdough bread, lamb shanks that are cooked with chipotle chile powder and spicy fresh roasted ham. Butel said 95 percent of the recipes are also brand new and the book includes vegan and vegetarian dishes.
This is her 23rd cookbook.
The tradition of sharing recipes goes back to Butel’s grandmother. Her grandmother decided while attending college in the early 1900s that she wanted to become a doctor, just like her father, which was Butel’s great-grandfather.
“Her father said ‘Oh no. That’s not a fit career for a woman. I won’t pay for that education,'” Butel said. “So she decided to study what they called domestic science.”
Butel’s grandmother eventually ended up in Albuquerque with her husband, who worked for the railroad. She began helping local women create written recipes for the traditional dishes they were making for their families. She also had an uncle who married a Mexican woman who had attended cooking school in Paris.
“She was a big influence on me,” she said. “She liked to do things so elegantly.”
Butel’s publisher, Turner Publishing Co., has also revised and re-released seven of her previous cookbooks, including “Hotter than Hell” and “Southwestern Kitchen,” which Butel uses as the basis for her cooking school.
Butel said she once had two brothers travel all the way from Japan to attend one of her cooking classes in New York City. When she asked them why they selected her, they said it was because her recipes were easy to understand.
“I believe in fresh ingredients,” she said. “I also believe in using as few ingredients as possible. Keep it simple.”
GREEN CHILE CHEDDAR BISCUITS
Makes 24 biscuits
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter or margarine, melted
¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2-4 tablespoons parched and chopped green chile, to taste
2/3 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in the cheese, green chile and buttermilk to make a soft dough.
Turn out dough onto a floured board and knead lightly 7 or 8 times, just until smooth. Roll to about ¾-inch thickness and cut into rounds with a 1½-inch-round cutter. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes, or until light golden. Serve immediately.
– From Jane Butel’s “Simply Southwestern”