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The Rancho Gordo Blog

Purslane

* In the garden In the kitchen

I first encountered purslane in the books of Diana Kennedy. In Spanish, it's known as verdolagas and often teamed with pork and tomatillos for what must be a tangy stew that I've never tried. I found it in my garden when I took up tomato-growing and was pleased that the succulent weed came up so easily by the root. Once I identified it as purslane, I took the weeds to the farmers market where I was thrilled to see I could get $3 a pound for my waste! All of my purslane customers were Mexican or Indian and they were...

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Cascabel chile sauce

* chiles In the kitchen

This is one of the easiest salsas imaginable. It's nutty and has a very mild heat. I've been putting it in a squeeze bottle and smothering my eggs with it. Last night I used it with a little beer to de-glaze a pan that had turkey cutlets frying in it earlier. Take about 10 cascabel chiles and remove the stems and seeds, reserving the seeds. Toast on a hot comal or grill untul gently toasted. Don't let them burn or they will be bitter and inedible but if you don't toast them they will have a raw, inpleasant taste. Remove...

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Bean flowers

In the garden

People don't tend to know how beautiful bean flowers are. Let's put an end to that right now! These were the last to germinate but the first to bloom. They are a Tarahumara Tekomari runner bean (which is kind of funny as they are known for being such good runners themselves.) These are Black runner beans. So far I haven't seen much of a yield and now that the rain is starting I think it's really time to explore more cooking with bean flowers. This is a red bean called Taos. It was a healthy plant all sumnmer and we...

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Leftover chile sauce

* chile eggs In the kitchen Mexican

I had lots of chile sauce leftover and I'm getting obsessive with the technique of poaching eggs in chile sauce, I did it again for breakfast. I thinned out the chile sauce with chicken stock but I'm beginning to suspect water would have been fine. I added some previously cooked nopales (cactus paddles) and when the brew was simmering, I gently cracked two eggs into the pan. I'm liking this technique more and more. I also liked the fully cooked cactus. There was some tooth to it but it is soft and I think better a little less al dente....

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Tacos from chiles, nopales and beans

* chile In the kitchen nopal red nightfall taco tortilla

Leftovers met and became tacos. Red Nightfall beans with some Ancho chile sauce and previously cooked nopales. Hand pressed tortillas and a dash of crema. Is cream fattening? Just asking.

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Vacacita beans

In the garden

I bought about a pound of beans called Vacacita in Mexico City this spring. I planted them very late here in Napa (July 1) but they came up by the 8th. The plants are as healthy as can be and there are some white blossoms but so far no beans. I don't think they're going to produce. I have some back up seed for next year when hopefully I can start earlier. The few flowers will be eaten so it's not a total wash.

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Dealing with prickly pears

* In the garden In the kitchen Mexico nopal tuna

My cactus has gone nuts this year and I have dozens and dozens of prickly pears and a constant stream of paddles. I'm thinking of selling the pears at market but how do you clean them? After a little web research, it seems that a culinary torch works best. I had pretty good luck with a burner from my range. One of the sites suggested water afterwards and the stinging in my hands makes me think this is right. But whatever the pain, it's worth it. You can eat the tuna, seeds and all, and it's a great snack. You...

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Chilaquiles with poached eggs

* chiles In the kitchen

Sunday mornings I normally feel pretty out of it after doing the farmers market in San Francisco on Saturdays. A fellow vendor described it as "market hangover" and I know exactly what she means. Once I spent the whole day in bed watching bad TV and the longer I did the less I could move. And the worse I felt. Good food is a motivator to get out of bed. This morning I made chilaquiles. Early this week my friend Grant was over to film some cooking demos for the website so I had some extra chile sauce made from...

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Dinner Party inspired by Frida and Diego.

In the kitchen

I used to be a fairly good host but life took over and I tend to take the easy way out these days. One pot, not too much time, not too much trouble. Maybe you will join me in questioning my sanity. What's the point of working so hard if not to also enjoy breaking bread (or fresh corn tortillas) with dear friends, new friends and loved ones? Am I working six days a week in order to "enjoy" a Trader Joe's frozen pizza and declare it "not bad, considering"? I want to see the people I like across my...

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