Former El Pasoan Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack’s path toward becoming a food blogger and cookbook author started in her grandmother’s kitchen.
Marquez-Sharpnack grew up in the Lower Valley, attending Ysleta High School and often spending time at her grandmother Jesusita Soza’s house eating wonderful homemade foods. Sometimes she would help or watch her make mole from scratch.
“My mom was a single parent mom and we lived next door to my grandma. My grandma was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and she came to the United States when she was 10 years old during the Mexican Revolution,” she said.
Marquez-Sharpnack said she loved hearing her grandma tell amazing stories of her family escaping close encounters with Pancho Villa and his soldiers while she cooked meals for her.
“I used to love being in the kitchen and she would tell me those stories. And I would help her in the kitchen, grate cheese when she would make enchiladas. And all those stories and memories of food were always near and dear to my heart,” she said.
That was the beginning of a career as a foodie influencer. She now is returning home for book signings of her latest cookbook, “Muy Bueno Fiestas.” Her first cookbook, “Muy Bueno Cookbook,” is named after her blog.
Marquez-Sharpnack will have book signings Saturday at Barnes & Noble at the Fountains at Farah, and May 6 at the Foodies of El Paso TX & Surrounding Areas sixth anniversary event from 4 to 7 p.m. at Economy Wholesale Grocers, 411 N. Zaragoza Road.
Initially, Marquez-Sharpnack went to an arts school for graphic arts in Arizona, but after some career changes, she eventually moved to Denver, where she has lived for 20 years. She says she had an “aha” moment when her grandmother died in 2004 at 98 years old.
She said she realized “that one day I’m going to be a grandma, and I want my grandchildren to have those special memories of me in the kitchen and always cooking for family and friends.”
Marquez-Sharpnack said her daughter, who was 8 at the time, suggested she write a cookbook after seeing her cook with her mom and asking her for recipes.
“My mom was visiting me a lot and giving me recipes, but there was never anything written down. They just cooked these dishes that we know and love, but nothing was written down,” she said.
Marquez-Sharpnack started writing down the recipes and a friend suggested she start a blog, which she did in 2010. Before she knew it, people were asking for a cookbook. That blog has more than 700,000 visits per month.
“Everybody loves tamales. And I try to list frequently asked questions and little tips and tricks. The main recipe for tamales has how to make masa, and chile con carne with pork. It’s super popular for the holidays or year-round,” she said.
Her first cookbook came out in 2012. She did a cocktail book later. And now Marquez-Sharpnack is celebrating the publishing of her latest cookbook, which focuses on foods for parties and holidays.
The cookbook, “Muy Bueno Fiestas,” takes readers through a year of holidays with Mexican and American cuisine, including heart-shaped cherry empanadas for Valentine’s Day, and green chile cheese enchiladas for winter holidays.
“This new cookbook is an evolution of my story with Mexican food and my family recipes,” she said. “There are a lot of classics, but there are some new twists. There’s a red chile and chicken tamales, and we also have some sweet tamales recipe and then there is a capirotada. It’s not the traditional one … it’s a tres leches capirotada with a bourbon glaze.”
The blogger said her mom, who still lives in El Paso and helps her taste test recipes, was skeptical of her tinkering with a traditional Mexican capirotada but was won over.
“She said she never thought a traditional family recipe could be beat, but she loved it,” she said.
While some people might hesitate to share a family recipe, Marquez-Sharpnack said it never was an issue for her or her family.
“We never thought of not wanting to share these recipes. I have heard that a lot … especially from people from El Paso. They don’t want to let go of their recipes. But I feel like if you don’t share them with the next generation, these recipes are going to get lost.”
More: Hallelujah BBQ opens April 5 in Central El Paso
María Cortés González may be reached at 915-546-6150, [email protected] and @EPTMaria on Twitter.
Make plans for cookbook signings
What: Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack’s book signing
When, where: 2 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, 8889 Gateway Blvd. W., No. 120; 4 to 7 p.m. May 6 at the Foodies of El Paso & Surrounding Areas sixth anniversary party, 411 N. Zaragoza Road.
More information: Follow her at muybuenocookbook.com and on Instagram andTwitter @muybuenocooking.
How to make Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack’s Mexican coffee cake recipe
Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack shared a recipe for Mexican coffee cake for those wanting to bake something for Mother’s Day.
Mexican coffee cake
Cafecito y chisme ‒ “coffee and gossip” ‒ are a tradition in Mexico. When my mom and I sit down with a cafecito, we always catch up on all the family news. This cake is best served with a cup of coffee and some spicy gossip.
Nonstick baking spray with flour, for the pan
3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (450 g) sour cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder dissolved in 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) boiling water, then cooled
3⁄4 cup (155 g) packed dark brown sugar
3⁄4 cup (90 g) chopped walnuts or pecans
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 cups (225 g) confectioners’ sugar
2–3 tablespoons strong brewed coffee, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 10-inch (25-cm) tube pan with baking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, coffee powder and cloves. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 4 minutes. On low speed, add the vanilla and then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture in three batches alternately with the sour cream in two batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating after each addition just until mixed. Add the cooled coffee and beat until combined.
To make the streusel, in a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon, mixing well.
Spoon one-third of the batter into the prepared tube pan. Sprinkle one-third of the streusel over the batter. Repeat the batter and streusel layers twice.
Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, 60-65 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then, using a knife, loosen the cake sides from the pan (use a plastic knife to avoid scratching the pan), invert the pan onto a wire rack, and lift off the pan. Let the cake cool completely.
To make the glaze, in a bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons of the coffee until smooth, adding additional coffee if needed for a good fluid glaze consistency.
Set the cake still on the rack on a sheet pan to catch any drips and drizzle the glaze over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides. Let set for a few minutes before serving.
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Author Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack to sign ‘Muy Bueno Fiestas’ cookbook