Sylvia Casares Tells How She Became the Enchilada Queen in Her New Cookbook

Tacos Rancheros
Tacos Rancheros
Photo by Alex Martinez

She was going to be a high school home-ec teacher. Left her home in the Rio Grande Valley to get a home economics degree from the University of Texas in Austin.

But along the way, she found out she could make a lot more money working in the research lab at Uncle Ben’s Rice in Houston. By her early forties, she was working for another food company in a high-paid position that had her traveling frequently.

She chucked it all at the urging of her then-husband to buy a small restaurant in Rosenberg. She became a restaurateur, tinkering with the dishes on the menu to try to capture the perfection that she wanted to achieve. And early on, she decided to make enchiladas her signature dish.

Sylvia Casares, the owner-chef behind Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen and its three locations in Houston, has written a cookbook (with the help of longtime food writer Dotty Griffith) detailing 125 of her best recipes.

She calls them "true recipes," ones from her heritage that deserve to be preserved.

Ceviche a la Veracruz
Ceviche a la Veracruz
Photo by Alex Martinez

These are accompanied by stories of her successes and disappointments along the way, the tough start when she moved into Houston, the breakup of her marriage, and, most recently, the shooting she suffered in 2012 that almost killed her but which prompted her to write the cookbook she'd always wanted to write. .

Silvia Casares with her family at her daughter's wedding.
Silvia Casares with her family at her daughter's wedding.
Photo by Nancy Aidee Gonzalez

The Enchilada Queen Cookbook
By Sylvia Casares with Dotty Griffith
224 pages. St. Martin’s Griffin
$27.99


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