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There's something about the warming weather that makes me crave a good taco, with perhaps a margarita alongside. Blessed as I am to live in California, it's easy to satisfy that urge by walking down the street to my local taqueria or ride my bike a couple miles to the (best) taco truck parked next to the (best) bar. But there are, of course, plenty of places in the country where this perk is far from a reality; good Mexican fare must be made at home.

Popular PBS cooking host Pati Jinich has just released a book to help Mexican food lovers do just that. Pati's Mexican Table is a thoughtful book detailing fairly simple Mexican dishes that are easy to incorporate into everyday American cooking. Some of the dishes, like huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, and chicken enchiladas, will be instantly recognizable and familiar. Others, like the yellow mole with masa dumplings we will make this week, will offer new tastes and textures for those who don't regularly step outside of the taco zone.

Jinich's recipes are described as quick and easy, but be forewarned: unless you've already got a bastion of Mexican staples at the ready, you will spend a bit more time than usual making a weeknight meal. Still, standing over a simmering pot of fragrant chile-orange sauce is enough to make you forget you've already spent over an hour cooking dinner. Jinich does offer a helping hand to get past any unfamiliar techniques. Most recipes have "cook's notes" or else longer, more detailed expositions for particular ingredients and substitutions. Her experience teaching cooking classes shows in the level of detail in each recipe—you'll feel like an expert in no time.

This week, we'll sample a few of Jinich's creations—Rodrigo-Style Fish, Shredded Pork in Ancho-Orange Sauce, and the aforementioned Yellow Mole—each perfect served in corn tortillas, or else dished up atop a steaming plate of rice.

Win 'Pati's Mexican Table'

Thanks to our friends at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, we have five (5) copies of Pati's Mexican Table to give away this week. All you need to do to win is tell us about your favorite Mexican meal in the comments section below.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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