Rancho La Puerta

For three years now, I’ve had the privilege of teaching cooking classes at the fabulous Rancho La Puerta,  or “the ranch” as it’s fondly referred to by guests. The ranch is located in the mountains near Tecate, Mexico, just across the border from San Diego. Luxurious, natural, soulful and peaceful—words cannot really describe how I love this place. So enjoy this photo memoir complete with links to the recipes. This year, the African Peanut Stew and the Wheat Berry Salad were the hands-down favorites of the classes. As usual, lots of improvisations happened based on what was in the garden, which included lots of broccoli, cauliflower, beets and greens of all sorts. Here are the menus.

Menu 1

African Peanut Stew

Roasted Halibut with Tomato Ragout
Apple Orange Feta Salad
Wheatberry Salad
Chiffonade of Greens
Blackberry Frozen Yogurt

Menu 2
Lemon Lime Shrimp with  Yogurt Dipping Sauce
Quinoa with Walnuts and Tomatoes
Pan-Sauteed Greens
Roasted Cauliflower
Grapes Jubilee

Rosemary grows in big bushy shrubs all over the ranch. Here, I’m picking some for the shrimp skewers just before my class.

Tile roof of our villa. The villas and casitas are situated down winding brick paths lined with lush greenery.

Hiking reigns at the ranch, with hikes starting at 6 a.m.

After a long morning hike, a little R&R is a must to take in the beautiful views.

The amazing 6-acre organic garden furnishes 90 percent of the produce (and eggs) used in the fantastic meals at the ranch.

Broccoli was lush and tender at the ranch.

The amazing 6-acre organic garden at the “cucina que canta” (“kitchen that sings”) that is the basis of the fantastic meals at the ranch.

A typical meal at the ranch. With all the hiking and exercise, most guests don’t miss a meal. Healthy, fresh and fabulous.

Any trip to Mexico must include a street taco. We hitched a ride to downtown Tecate for some authentic food, washed down with, what else, a Tecate beer from the quick mart next door.

Beautiful art, like this intricate yarn piece, adorns many walls at the Ranch.

The entrance to the courtyard just outside the beautiful “Cucina Que Canta,” a couple miles down a picturesque path from the main ranch.

Head gardener, Salvador, with some just-picked beets. His passion for the garden and his vegetables is infectious.

Executive chef Denise Roa and Salvador—proud parents of their newly sprouted mushrooms.

Getting ready for class armed with some fresh cabbage and beets.

In the kitchen with the crew.

As it was February and a bit chilly, students were greeted with Mayan hot chocolate made with roasted butternut squash—a specialty of the Ranch.

Mayan Hot Chocolate recipe here.

Showing how to chop an onion, chiffonade greens, peel and mince garlic, and squeeze limes, before students tried their hands at it.

The class sits down to enjoy the recipes they just made.

African Peanut Stew was the hit of the first class. As was Wheat Berry salad.

Well said. Until next year…