Enfrijoladas are basically hot tortillas dipped in a bean sauce, and topped with garnishes of cotija cheese, cilantro and onion. That’s it, a simple, satisfying desayuno or almuerzo — breakfast or late morning meal. In southern Mexico, black beans are seasoned with chile cola de rata, rat tail chiles, so called because of their shape, and toasted avocado leaves. Since I have neighbors with avocado trees, their leaves are easy to come by, but if your Mexican grocery store doesn’t have dried avocado leaves in stock, they can be ordered online.

Enfrijoladas are more common in Oaxaca and southern Mexico, and are made with black beans, frijole negro. I also use frijole perujuano, because they are the common bean here in Jalisco, but use what you have.


  • 3 cups cooked beans, with their broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, thickly sliced
  • 2 cola de rata chiles, broken in half and seeds shaken out if you prefer less heat
  • 4 cloves garlic sliced in half
  • 4 large avocado leaves, toasted and crushed, stems and veins removed
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • 10 -12 corn tortillas
  • shredded, cooked chicken, optional
  • Cotija cheese, cilantro and chopped onion for garnish
  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add onion, garlic and chiles. Cook until onion is translucent and starting to color.
  2. . Puree onion mixture with oregano and crushed avocado leaves (don’t use stems and veins) in a blender with 1/2 cup water.
  3. Add beans and blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary for a thick, cream-like consistency. Pour into a skillet and keep warm over a low heat. Adjust for salt.
  4. Brush tortillas lightly with olive oil, and cook in a hot skillet for about 10 seconds per side, just long enough to soften. One at a time, dip each tortillas in the bean sauce, fold into quarters, and serve garnished with cotija cheese, chopped onion and cilantro.
  5. As an option, enfrijoladas can be filled with shredded chicken and folded in half (below).

Notes ~

~ Only Persea drymifolia, the native Mexican avocado, has the characteristic anise flavor. The leaf should release an anise aroma when toasted and crushed. Toast the leaves in a dry skillet or over a gas flame.

~ Cola de rata chiles are also known as chile de árbol or bird’s beak chile. Rating between 15,000 to 30,000 Scoville Units, they are considered very hot.

~ Traditionally, enfrijoladas are made with lard, but my tastes run more toward olive oil. If you don’t object to using animal products, by all means use it. Without getting into all the details, lard was greatly discredited to promote Crisco, but has regained favor. The culinary world values its high smoke point, high melting point and flavor.

~ Cotija cheese, hard, dry and salty, is used as a garnish on bean dishes, enchiladas, chilaquiles and much more. Well stocked supermarkets in the U.S. carry it (I don’t know if it’s common in Canada). Substitutions would be queso ańejo or feta cheese.


Peach Galette

It’s peach time in the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental of western Mexico. Small cling peaches — duraznos — are coming down to roadside stands in Mascota, a treat we look forward to every summer. Juicy and flavorful, we mostly eat them out of hand, but they also are wonderful in quesadillas, popsycles and galettes.

I’m having a hard time with desserts in Mexico lately. Often they are super sweet, which is not agreeing with my move toward consuming less sugar. The trinity of classic Mexican desserts — flan, rice pudding and pastel de tres leches — are all overly sweet, but that’s just my opinion. It’s easier to get away with using less sugar in a fruit dessert. The fruit lends its own sweetness, without the need of excess sugar.

Galettes are more forgiving than pie crusts. Pressed out either by hand or a rolling pin, their rustic, free-form shape leaves no doubt they are homemade, a good thing these days when many of us have abundant time to spend in the kitchen and want to admire our efforts. And show off on Instagram how we are spending our time at home!

Peach Galette


  • 1 1/2 cups (180 g) whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (70 g) cold, solid coconut oil or butter
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup (80 ml – 120 ml) ice water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 4 cups (1 liter) sliced peaches
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon cream, milk or almond milk and 2 teaspoon coarse sugar for pastry wash
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup, or strained, warmed apricot jam to glaze peaches
  1. Mix flour and salt.
  2. Cut cold coconut oil or butter into chunks, and blend into flour with a pastry cutter or in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
  3. Add 1/3 cup ice water, until mixture comes loosely together. Form into ball by hand. Add more water if it seems too dry to form a ball.
  4. Flatten into disc about 5″ (12 cm) across, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate while preparing filling.
  5. For filling, mix cornstarch with sugar, then combine with peach slices and almond extract.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 400 F (200 C)
  7. On a floured surface, roll out pastry into a circle about 12″ (30 cm) across. Ragged edges are OK, in fact, they are preferable.
  8. Spoon peach slices into center of pastry, leaving a 2″ (5 cm) edge clear of fruit.
  9. Working in a circular motion, fold pastry edge over fruit.
  10. Brush folded pastry edge with almond milk, and sprinkle with coarse sugar. I use the unrefined, light brown sugar common in Mexico, azúcar estándar.
  11. Bake on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper 25 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is starting to color slightly and peaches test tender with a paring knife.
  12. While still warm, brush peach slices with agave syrup or apricot jam.
  13. Cool. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, or plain yogurt.

Notes ~

~ Azúcar estándar is the common sugar in Mexico. Made from sugar cane, it is coarse and light brown, and slightly unrefined. Years ago, we were puzzled to find it in the produce section of grocery stores, probably located there because of its plant origin.

~ Whole wheat flour is common in Mexico, and my favorite brand is Espuma de Chapala. Its high protein content makes it a good choice for bread baking. If you find whole wheat flour bitter, it is not fresh, the oil in the germ having turned rancid. Toss it out.


Quesadillas any way you want them

Cleaning out the fridge used to mean a soup day. Recently, it has become a quesadilla day. As long as the two basic elements of quesadillas are present — tortillas and cheese — you have free reign to add any leftovers taking up fridge space. What to do with the little piece of roast chicken that is hardly enough to make a sandwich? Or the piece of fresh panela cheese that needs to be used up because fresh cheese just does’t stay fresh for long?

Our fridge was harboring small dishes of leftover chicken and rice with mushrooms; quinoa with spinach; Russ’es deconstructed golumpki casserole of cabbage, mushrooms, bulgar, and ground beef held together with tomato sauce; and a small dish of pinto beans. Sure, I could stick little dishes and packages in the freezer, but they tend to languish there for too long.

We had the foresight to stock up on whole wheat tortillas last month when we did the biggest ($$$) grocery shopping of our marital history. The headlines were already on the horizon. We knew it was time to fill the pantry and freezer, and lie low. And by good fortune, we had a surprising variety of cheese on hand. Tillamook sharp cheddar, goat cheese, fresh panela, Oaxaca string cheese, gruyere and gorgonzola, the latter two gifts from a friend when she cleaned out her Mascota kitchen to return to Chicago. Never in our marital history have we had such a cheese abundance.

I got all the leftovers lined up, took stock of which cheese would pair best with which leftover, and started heating the griddle.

Quinoa with spinach was paired with Oaxaca string cheese, the chicken, mushrooms and rice with cheddar; gruyere topped the golumpki casserole leftovers; and panela was matched with the roast chicken bits and sauteed mushrooms.

Fifteen minutes later, we were eating quesadillas topped with a little bit of leftover salsa for lunch. With a side of salad or soup, ideally leftover soup, this would be substantial enough for dinner. If you make too many, they keep well in the fridge for several days, but then leftovers become a concern again.

Apple quesadillas, one with goat cheese, the other with gorgonzola, made a wonderful dessert. Almost any fresh fruit can be used. Mango with brie is exceptional. Someday I would like to try a ripe pear with camembert.

Other fillings I’m thinking about are bacon, avocado and tomato, a riff on BLT. Cook the bacon first, of course. And potato with cheddar. Russ would want me to add saurerkraut to that one. The possibilities are endless.

After Easter, we had leftover lamb and roasted vegetables. Why not? They made excellent quesadillas with manchego cheese.

Russ likes to say, “I bet no one else is eating this”. Nope, most likely no one else was eating golumpki casserole and gruyere quesadillas. At least not today.


  • Whole wheat, white, or corn tortillas; 2 tortillas per quesadilla
  • Cheese, thinly sliced or grated, about 1/2 cup per quesadilla
  • Tasty leftovers from the fridge
  • Salsa, optional
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced, to make 2 dessert quesadillas

Spread as many tortillas as will fit on your griddle, or in a large skillet, in one layer. Top with cheese, leftovers, then cheese again. (The two layers of melted cheese serve as the “glue” holding everything together.) Top with a second tortilla for each quesadilla. Cook over medium heat until the underside has browned. Cook about 5 more minutes until the cheese is melty and the new underside has brown speckles. Remove from griddle and cut into quarters. Serve with salsa if you wish.

Notes ~

Whole wheat tortillas are much more flavorful than white tortillas, and fortunately Pepe’s, our local grocery store in Mascota, stocks them. They freeze well, and thaw quickly.

Quesadillas, literally “little cheesey things”, originated in central and northern Mexico, and were traditionally made with corn tortillas. Flour tortillas are more commonly used in northern Mexico. If you think my fillings are outlandish, there is even a pizzadilla, made with pizza toppings.


New World Truffles

You probaby have enough time on your hands these days to make truffles, those round, wonderful, little balls of chocolate that are easier to make than you would think. Canadian friends sent me a recipe years ago. It fell by the wayside, but they were kind enough to send it again, probably to encourage me to return to Cooking in Mexico.

The original recipe, Cacao Wow, is from the Vallarta Tribune, an English language newspaper in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and created by Shakti Baum, the former executive chef at Xinalatal Yoga Retreat, and now with a cooking school in the Houston area. It includes chipotle chile, cacao beans, and cinnamon. I upped the Mexican flavors by adding ground coffee beans, vanilla, and ancho chile powder. All six of these ingredients are from the New World, as well as the cane sugar.

Cinnamon sticks were freshly ground in the coffee grinder, as were the cocao beans and home-roasted, organic coffee beans. Bittersweet chocolate is called for, which I don’t have on hand. Somehow that was overlooked when stocking up for the coronavirus quarantine. But I did have organic Mexican cocoa powder, cocao butter and coconut oil, the three ingredients that make emergency chocolate. I realize that few pantries are stocked with cocao butter, but mine is, so if you try this recipe, I hope you have bittersweet chocolate, but the truffles are just as delicious made with emergency chocolate.

New World Truffles

  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (OR emergency chocolate: 3/4 cup/156 grams coconut oil melted with 6 ounces/170 grams cocao butter, plus 3/4 cup/ 75 grams cocoa powder, and sweetened to taste)
  • 1/4 cup/60 ml rice milk or other milk
  • 2-4 tablespoons/30-60 ml chipotle liquid from canned chipotle chiles
  • 1-2 teaspoons/3-6 grams ancho chili powder (or to taste)

Truffle Coating

  • 1/4 cup/25 grams very finely ground coffee
  • 1/4 cup/25 grams ground cocao beans, roasted or raw
  • 2 tablespoons/52 grams unrefined cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon/8 grams ground cinnamon
  1. Melt bittersweet chocolate (or emergency chocolate) over a double boiler. Add rice milk or milk of choice.
  2. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until stiff, but still soft enough to spoon out.
  3. Blend coating ingredients.
  4. Working with one tablespoonful at a time, roll quickly between your hands, then roll in the coating mixture.
  5. Store in the fridge, though best at room temperature for eating.

Truffle Coating

  • 1/4 cup/25 grams ground coffee
  • 1/4 cup/25 grams ground cocao beans, roasted or raw
  • 2 tablespoons/52 grams unrefined cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon/8 grams ground cinnamon
  1. Melt chocolate (or emergency chocolate) over a double boiler. Add rice milk or milk of choice.
  2. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until stiff, but still soft enough to spoon out.
  3. Blend coating ingredients.
  4. Working with one tablespoonful at a time, roll quickly between your hands, then roll in the coating mixture.
  5. Store in the fridge, though best at room temperature for eating.

Notes ~

Many are unaware of the dark side of chocolate, that much of the chocolate from west Africa is harvested using child slavery. Hershey’s, Nestle and Mars can’t say their products are slave-free. Chocolates and cocoa that are labeled free trade and/or organic are good indications that they are not harvested with child slave labor. Here’s a list of ethically harvested chocolate. Chocolate and cocoa from Central and South America, as well as from Mexico, do not use child slavery.

Cinnamon, too, has a secret, though not a dark one. The ground cinnamon generally purchased in the U.S. and Canada is not true cinnamon. True cinnamon is Ceylon cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum. Sticks of this cinnamon are softer, and can be broken up easily to put in a spice grinder. See photo above. Common cinnamon, the usual type in the little spice bottles, is Cassia Cinnamon, Cinnamomum cassia, also called Cinnamomum aromaticum. It is cheaper and considered a lower quality. Sticks of this cinnamon are almost impossible to break up to put in a grinder without resorting to a hammer, and then probably too hard to be ground. The common cinnamon of Mexico is true cinnamon, aromatic and flavorful, a difference that grows on you. Look on your spice bottle to see if it gives the botanical name of the plant as Cinnamomum verum. If not, it is most likely not true cinnamon. Simply Organic ground cinnamon, available at natural food stores, is true cinnamon.


Día de la Independencia at El Molcajete


El Molcajete provided the perfect setting for our celebration of Independence Day in Mexico on September 16. Set on a lake shore. Mountains in the background. Menus in hand. This was the way to say, “Viva México!” An afternoon of eating, drinking, laughing and chatting. What better way to celebrate our adopted homeland.

A molcajete is the carved, black basalt bowl with a grinding tool, the mortar and pestle of Mexico, the first food processor in the Americas. With a molcajete, endless varieties of salsa are created, chocolate and coffee beans are ground, seeds and spices are blended into a smooth paste for mole, the rich sauce that dresses chicken, turkey, and pork.

El Molcajete, our local restaurant, boasts the world’s largest molcajete as its namesake. A for real, carved basalt molcajete that weighs close to 8,000 lbs. (3.5 toneladas) and is big enough to make 350 quarts of salsa, is registered with Guinness World Records.


An order of Chingaderas started us off while we enjoyed the vista and decided what to order next. A chingadera loosely — and politely — means “whatever”. The menu description, “totopos sobre una cama de frijoles banandos con carne en su jugo y queso fundido“, included a lot of “whatevers”: fried tortilla chips on a bed of seasoned refried beans with meat in its broth and melted cheese. Dip in a tortilla chip and scoop up a bit of everything. Yummy.


After commenting on how high the lake is now after a couple of rainy months, and gazing at the distant mountain whose name translates to “good for nothing”, I remembered a conversation with a neighbor a few months before.

Me (en español): Why is it called Good for Nothing?

Beto: Because you can’t do anything with it, not even climb it.

Me (to myself): A mountain has to be good for something?


Wanting to make the afternoon at El Molcajete last as long as possible, we slowly studied the menu and discussed all the options, reminiscing about past meals we had enjoyed here.


We had already tried the signature dish, Molcajete, a steaming, hot molcajete of seafood, chicken or beef, or a combination, with avocado, grilled onion, green chile and a nopal cactus pad, topped with local fresh cheese, and served with corn tortillas.


We settled on Arrechera. Rather, Russ did. I had already decided I was too full after the Chingaderas to eat another bite. When his plate arrived, I took one look and my appetite returned. Sweetheart that he is, he shared it with me. Marinated, grilled flank steak, grilled onion, chile and nopal cactus pad, refried beans, and guacamole con mas totopos.  The plate was also carved from basalt and very, very hot.


Marco, our waiter, and a local high school student, couldn’t have been cuter in his revolution-inspired outfit. He waited attentively on us, checking to see if we needed more of anything, refilling my glass with ice, bringing Russ another cerveza. The place was packed, and he managed to keep up with all his tables.


To get to El Molcajete, go south out of Mascota toward the lake, Presa Corrinches. Continue through the small settlement of La Providencia to the lake shore where you will find El Molcajete, the first restaurant on the left.  Open seven days a week from 11 am until 9 pm. I hope Marco is your waiter.

For readers who don’t live close and are wondering where in the world this is,  Mascota is a county seat, a “municipio” in the state of Jalisco, on the west coast of Mexico, and is about two hours by car east of Puerto Vallarta. Don’t be confused by the sign in front that says Restaurant “La Terraza”. This was the former name before the record holding molcajete was acquired, and a new sign is not yet in evidence. Such is Mexico. Viva México!