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Homesick Texan to speak at BookPeople on Tuesday

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

Lisa Fain is the seventh-generation Texan behind HomesickTexan.com, and even though she lives in New York City, we’ll claim her as our own.

In fact, if she hadn’t moved to New York, she might not have appreciated Texas culture and cuisine enough to start a website in 2005 that would lead to a 2011 debut book and a recent James Beard win for Best Individual Food Blog.

Fain is back with her second book, “The Homesick Texan’s Family Table: Lone Star Cooking From My Kitchen to Yours” (Ten Speed Press, $29.99), which puts an even more nostalgic lens on Fain’s love of Texas foods.

She gathered recipes from her own family collection and reached out to extended friends and family from the Gulf Coast to El Paso to create a set of 125 recipes that will surprise you (sweet potato and chipotle tortillas) or make you sentimental for the dish that makes you think of home. (For her, that’s enchiladas from Amalia’s in Fain’s hometown of Houston.)

As a vocal supporter of Foodways Texas and the Southern Foodways Alliance, Fain knows that the secret sauce to a great recipe is an even better story, so just about every recipe has one, adding to the joy of reading the book and not just cooking from it. It’s an ideal companion to her first book, which has become an indispensable tool for more than a few Texans (and expats and wannabes) that I know.

Fain will be in Austin next week to talk about her book at 7 p.m. Tuesday at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

Frito Salad

Instead of using bottled dressing, which is what most Frito salad recipes call for, make your own with a few ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. You could eat this as a side salad, but with the beans, it’s hearty enough for supper, Fain says. If you’re taking it to someone’s house for a potluck or for whatever reason eating it more than an hour after you make it, add the chips and dressing just before serving. Nobody likes soggy Fritos.

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsps. finely chopped fresh cilantro

2 tsps. chili powder

Salt, to taste

4 cups mixed greens

2 cups grape tomatoes, quartered

2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and diced

1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 cups pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup (2 oz.) Cotija or feta cheese, crumbled

2 cups Fritos or other thick corn tortilla chips

To make the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, and chili powder until well combined. Add salt to taste.

To assemble the salad, toss together the greens, tomatoes, jalapenos, bell pepper, cilantro, beans, and cheese. If serving immediately, add the chips and dressing. If serving later, toss with the chips and dressing when ready to serve. Serves 4 to 6.

— From “The Homesick Texan’s Family Table: Lone Star Cooking From My Kitchen to Yours” by Lisa Fain (Ten Speed Press, $29.99)