Former food editor and Food Network host Marcela Valladolid flexes her culinary prowess in her latest masterpiece Fiestas: Tidbits, Margaritas & More ($14). The Mexican-American chef elevates her native cuisine to Pinterest-worthy heights — all while keeping everything accessible. We recently caught up with Valladolid, who is partnering with Capital One, to celebrate the intersection of food and travel. “People always ask me, ‘Where’s your favorite place to travel?'” she told us. “I always end up saying Mexico.”

Naturally, the cookbook celebrates her love for Mexico in a way that looks and feels personal. Because it is. The entire book was photographed at her house, using solely natural light, and she styled every shot with pieces from her own collection. Anything that wasn’t hers, was “done by either a local artist or a Mexican artist that let us use their stuff,” according to Valladolid.

Throughout Fiestas, you’ll find easy-to-follow recipes you will will adore for parties. Once you’ve learned to appreciate the “humble” tortilla, you really can’t go wrong. Valladolid joked, “I always say that — unless it literally turns green — there’s no reason to ever throw out a tortilla.” She recommends picking them up “warm by the kilo” at your local Latin market. Just don’t forget to separate them before they cool. Otherwise, you’ll be left with a blob of masa, she informed us.

Though tortillas star in chilaquiles, enchiladas, and more classic fare found in her book, nothing beats tacos for a crowd as they don’t really require plates or forks. Valladolid’s mouthwatering mini lamb tacos (below) are slow-cooked too, so you can set-and-forget for breezy entertaining. You’ll want to promptly wash them down with one of her favorite cocktails from the book, the blood orange paloma pitcher.

Slow-Cooker Lamb Mini Tacos

(Serves 16)


Slow-Cooker Lamb Mini Tacos:

  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 (4 1/2-pound) whole semi-boneless leg of lamb
  • 3 large shallots, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 4 cups lager beer
  • 16 corn tortillas, warmed
  • lime wedges, for serving

Roasted Tomatillo and Green Apple Salsa:

  • 1 pound tomatillos (about 12), husked, and rinsed
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, quartered, and cored
  • 1/2 medium white onion
  • 2 jalapeños, stemmed
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine the rosemary, oregano, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl and stir. Rub the mixture all over the lamb and transfer to a slow cooker.
  3. Add the shallots and garlic and pour the beer around the lamb.
  4. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours, or until the lamb is fork-tender.
  5. While the meat is cooking, make the salsa. Place the tomatillos, apples, onion, jalapeños, and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast until the tomatillos are softened and slightly charred, about 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and peel the garlic. Let the roasted vegetable mixture cool slightly.
  7. Transfer the vegetables and roasted garlic to a blender, add the cilantro, and process until smooth. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to help blend, if necessary.
  8. Season the salsa to taste with salt and pepper, transfer to a serving bowl, and serve.
  9. With the slow cooker still on high, remove the lamb and transfer it to a platter. Shred the meat, discarding any bones. Return the shredded lamb to the slow cooker and cook for 1 hour more.
  10. Preheat the broiler.
  11. Turn off the slow cooker and, using tongs, transfer the lamb to a large cast-iron skillet. Reserve the juices in the slow cooker for serving.
  12. Broil the lamb until crispy (about 7 minutes).
  13. Pour the reserved juices over the lamb and serve immediately with the tortillas, roasted tomatillo and green apple salsa, and lime wedges.

RELATED: The Beginner’s Guide to Slow-Cookin’ Everything From Drinks to Dessert

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(Reprinted from FIESTAS: Tidbits, Margaritas & More Copyright © 2019 Marcela Valladolid. Photographs Copyright © 2019 Isabella Martinez-Funcke. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.)