Book Giveaway: Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta

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Cooking with the Seasons.Rancho La PuertaI didn’t intend to make book giveways such a focus of my blog but coincidentally, I have another one.

Somehow the buzz got out with my last giveway for Ready for Dessert and almost 200 people responded. I think it was David Lebovitz’s Facebook announcement. (He has what’s called a “platform,” you know.)

Right now this post is coming to you from sunny Rancho La Puerta in Mexico, one of the best spas in the world. I’m here to teach four 1-hour classes for people who are thinking about writing a book. They’ll have to fit me in between Pilates, massages and hikes.

I first came here last year in exchange for coaching on the ranch’s cookbook proposal, and now I’m lucky enough to come back. The book has done well too: It was nominated for a Beard award last year.

(Speaking of the Beards, follow along with my post on who’s nominated and what they wrote, read up on multiple-award winner Alan Richman and peruse what makes a book good enough to win a Beard.)

My agent thought I should celebrate my week at the ranch by giving away a copy of Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta by ranch founder Deborah Szekely and writer Deborah Schneider. I should point out that my agent represents the authors, gave me this copy of the book, and recommended me to coach on the cookbook proposal. As you can see, book publishing is kind of incestuous. I’m happy to both disclose and make you the recipient of my good fortune.

Cooking with the Seasons is gorgeously photographed, with menu-based garden and ocean-based dishes. I made the Root Vegetables Roasted with Honey, Balsamic, and Spices as soon as I got back last year. These roasted veggies are  lively and habit-forming, not adjectives you’d normally use to describe turnips. I’ve also made the  show-stopping Broiled Oranges with Honey Yogurt and Pistachios (so easy), and the flavorful Baja Fish Tacos when I was in withdrawal after returning from Club Med Ixtapa. (I know. I’m very, very fortunate to teach at two resorts this year.)

Deborah Szekely invented the notion of a destination spa when she opened Rancho La Puerta in 1958. She was the spa’s first chef. Deborah Schneider is a food writer, working chef and  partner in the restaurant SOL Cocina in Newport Beach, CA, lives just 15 miles from the Mexican border. Her latest book is Amor Y Tacos: Modern Mexican Tacos, Margueritas, and Antojitos.

To enter to win Cooking With the Seasons, write a comment about Mexican food by May 9, 2010 at midnight PST. Contest rules: You must live in the US. One entry per person. The winner must respond within a week. If not I will choose another winner.


  1. says

    The best experience I have ever had with Mexican food was kayaking along the Baja Coast on the Sea of Cortez, we stopped in a small village and had the best tortillas I have ever eaten in my life.

  2. says

    All I know about Mexican food I learned from Katie Trujillo who came from there. Variety is the spice of life and she had that going on in her kitchen and garden! From the different chili’s growing, to her ceviche, her pipian sauce over chicken, my first fish taco ever, to her perfect refried beans served with handmade warm corn torts…and eggs on the side. Don’t even get me started on the wonderful day spent making tamales! So many different regions of much food to try. I met her in Wyoming…where tacos were those hard things you bought in the store and threw hamburger and lettuce into. She changed my life..and my palate. She’s gone now..but I’m betting she’s cooking some great Mexican food wherever she is. I can taste those creamy, warm beans right now…oh and her chili sauces. See? I can’t stop.

  3. says

    I’ve lived in Mexico as a student and traveled back there several times to different places. It’s such a beautiful country and what I loved most about it was the diversity of flavors and the humility of the people. I think one of the best meals I ever had there was in the rainforest area of Palenque. On our way up to see some waterfalls, there was a small stand with a woman selling some sort of fish tamales wrapped in banana leaves and cooked underground. The food was so simple and pure and served with such grace. I’d go back there again just for that one encounter.

  4. Amy VIny says

    I will forever be indebted to Rick Bayles, whose restaurants, cookbooks, and PBS shows lead me to discover the stunning freshness, variety and flavors of true Mexican cuisine. My first visit to Frontera Grill was revelatory–corn smut, various moles, and pazzole all unique and delicious. I continue to taste and discover. There is so much more to Mexican food that the sloppy plates piled high with bland refried beans and greasy tacos.

  5. says

    It’s almost Cinco de Mayo — a celebration of Mexican heritage. In Austin, where I live, that means it’s a good excuse for a Mexican feast. I’ve been fixated on a recipe we’ve been trying for a pineapple salsa. You roast tomatoes and onions, then add some chiles, pineapple, cilantro, vinegar, cumin, Mexican oregano and blend it all together til smooth. It’s incredible on al pastor grilled pork, grilled fish, tortilla chips, anything! Enjoy your spa week! Sounds lovely there.

    P.S. Wish you could come to Austin to Central Market, Lake Austin Spa or The Crossings to teach. Enjoyed your class the other night. thanks!

  6. Jamie says

    Mexican food engages all the senses. Somehow though, it always tastes better in Mexico than in any restaurant.

  7. LoAnn says

    Jamie has it right. We’ve loved cooking Mexican food since visiting there a few times and we’re getting pretty good at it — expecially our version of Yucatan ceviche. Somehow though, it does taste better there, especially when we’re seated at a beachside cafe on plastic chairs at a plastic table with our feet in the sand. Enjoy your week Diane!

  8. says

    I do think that’s a lovely book…
    But man I HATE blog contests and I’m not afraid to say it.
    I’ve had only a few and reqretted them..
    How is it different than bloggers getting free stuff?
    It seems like..oh heck everyone knows exactly what it is.
    I’ll duck and get out my armour (sp) can’t spell either along with being a spoil sport :)
    I still use smiley faces…yeah one of the last die hards

    • diannejacob says

      It’s definitely free stuff I am passing on to you. Why did you regret it? This would be an interesting discussion.

  9. Oye Sancho says

    Back in the early ’70s I had a job at the Mexico City International Airport. I worked the graveyard shift. Across the parking lot on the sidewalk, against the concrete wall separating the parking lot from the vast slum known as Ciudad Netzahualcoyotl, an old man would set up a charcoal brazier with a steamer and sell the most unbelievable tamales Oaxaqueños I have ever had. Absolutely mind-blowing. I remember standing in a circle with my co-workers, eating in silence, yumming and smacking and shaking our heads in disbelief. Don’t know what it is about street food; maybe it’s the home kitchens so much of the basic foodstuffs come from. Ay, ay, ay…..

  10. says

    I hope sometime you’ll address “what is a big enough platform?” from your linked post Dianne…I’d love to know more…
    David’s platform is outstanding, but I still can’t Twitter…
    Not enough hours in the day..
    I don’t know how he does it..?

  11. Jane says

    I like the simplest, humblest food the best. For example, posole… I feel like I’m in heaven with a bowl of homemade posole. I’m from the UK so this shouldn’t be any sort of childhood memory for me, this dish- yet there’s a familiarity about the flavors.
    Perfect happiness.. 😀

  12. says

    I spent a week in Mexico trying to learn to kitesurf and landed up hanging out w/ some of the locals so I got to try a lot of tourist free food at their favourite restaurants. it was great! and when I got back I worked hard to recreate some of the flavors: my best achievement was a ceviche which I still think is the best I’ve had North of the border!

  13. Candace says

    The cookbook cover really appeals to the senses…I’ll bet the recipes themselves are even more appealing…move aside, Rick Bayless!

  14. says

    Just thinking about Mexican food makes my mouth water. Last time I was in Manzanillo we were invited to lunch at the home of a family with a small coffee plantation. The food was cooked on an outdoor oven they’d made from local clay. Needless to say the coffee was outstanding. The pozole, topped with garden grown vegetables couldn’t be beat. Another place in town makes sopes so delectable that people come from all over the region to enjoy them.

  15. Elyse says

    My favorite Mexican food is simple and fresh; grilled meats and vegies, homemade beans and salsas. All served with a mega-vat of guacamole, of course…

  16. Stephanie - Wasabimon says

    Can I just tell you how much I love Mexican food? It’s my default not only to eat out, but to cook at home.

  17. says

    Oh My – the cover of that book alone makes me want it! I love Mexican food although I’m afraid all I know how to cook is what’s probably more ‘American’ than authentic Mexican. I do love The Professor’s Rice & Beans – but that’s because it was the first time he ever cooked for me and it’s still one of my favorite dishes today!

  18. says

    My husband was a Southern California kid who visited Mexico often and completely won me over with his chile rellenos when I first met him. August is chile relleno month at our house because that’s when these peppers are in season in the Northwest.

  19. Chris says

    Nothing comes close to the comfort of a hand made tortilla, fresh off the comal, dripping in butter. Especially if it’s made by your grandmother…

  20. says

    The kids & I just had 2 nights of awesome homemade mexican food in honor of cinco de mayo. I made homemade tacos (w/ grassfed beef – yum!) with simple homemade guac & freshly cultured sour cream (no more of that bland stuff from the store – I’m hooked!). We loved it so much that we made quesadillas last night with more of the homemade condiments & goat cheddar from a local farmer – seriously cheap gourmet eats! Chain restaurant food has now been forever ruined for me! :) Next on my to-do list is to learn how to make tortillas myself.

  21. says

    I’ve been finding myself making Mexican food more and more – the subtle flavors of chili sauces, the bright combinations of the fresh herbs. Next up is homemade tortillas!

  22. Maureen says

    I liked tacos and nachos growing up – all that gooey cheesy tastiness, but now i really love the versatility of mexican food – from the fresh & bright flavors i like to eat in the spring & summer to a hearty mole in the fall. love diana kennedy & rick bayless. and this book looks great – combining seasonal cooking with mexican flavors!

  23. says

    We love Mexican food. Having previously lived in Tucson, AZ we struggle elsewhere to find better Mexican food so close to the real thing. I love a non-chunky salsa with just the right amount of heat, but not too much!

  24. Patricia says

    Would love to learn to cook real Mexican. The only “Mexican” food I know is fast food, which probably is nowhere close to the real thing. Great giveaway. I love cookbooks!

  25. Jasmine Daniel says

    ohh, I love me some good Authentic Mexican food! Pretty sure I could eat rice and cheese dip until I explode! Don’t get me started on the fresh salsa… I could go on… Cancun and Los Bravos are my favorite local Mexican restaurants

  26. says

    My love for Mexican food goes all the way back to my childhood and it is still my favorite. I could literally have some form of Mexican food every day. I’ll choose Mexican food over any other choices when I travel. From the absolute best Guacamole and chips on the beach in Cancun, Southern California style Carne Asada Tacos, Authentic Cabo San Lucas style Mexican food, Blue Mesa Grill in Vegas, and always on my trips home to Dallas I eat at one of my favorite Mexican food places every day.

  27. Jennifer M. says

    I was pleasantly surprised on my first trip to Mexico to learn that authentic Mexican food is really nothing like the food offered in Mexican restaurants here in the Midwest. I wish the real deal would make an appearance here.

  28. Theresa says

    Love Mexican food, and love Rick Bayless’s take on it. As the weather warms up here, I’m often doing simple quesadillas or tacos (hmmm, tacos!). the book looks wonderful, thanks for the chance to win.

  29. Faye says

    I’ve been moving to cooking with food as fresh and local as possible, and since this describes Mexican cooking, they are a natural pair. I do enjoy Rick Bayless’ recipes, but this would be great to expand my repetoir!

  30. Whitney says

    I love finding new recipes that are quick and easy for week nights and then more challenging for the weekends- especially love recipes that I find that the kids will try! :-)

  31. says

    Wow, that book looks like just the perfect fit for me (mostly-veg with some seafood thrown in). This one is going on my amazon wishlist. :)

    Mexican food has been a big part of my culinary life. I lived in southern New Mexico for many years, at an age when I was learning what it meant to plan meals and cook on a budget. The harsh desert climate makes for spectacularly hot chiles which are at the center of New Mexican cuisine, but it also creates a wonderful setting for growing herbs and (oddly enough) juicy melons. A drive south across the border into Juarez meant a shift from the enchiladas and chile rellenos. . . instead, the food experiences tended toward restaurants that featured thick and spicy Mayan barbecue sauces, taquerias (which always had long salsa bars full of picked peppers and chunky pico de gallo), and my personal favorite — small cafes that offered queso fundido. It has been toooooo long since I’ve tasted any of that stringy cheese, melted in little stone pots on a grill, served bubbling hot with freshly made corn tortillas and a wide range of salsas. Yum!