We often write about Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico. Brenda has been there several times and Maralyn experienced it with her when they were presenters twice. The last time was in July this year.  The Ranch’s food is all exceptional and you experience farm to fork. This is true to the extent that you can see the vegetables for the day being picked. The main focus is on vegetables, but fish or seafood is on the menu three to four times a week. This dish below is one of many we thoroughly enjoyed. It serves 6.


Enchiladas are simply corn tortillas dipped in a chile-rich sauce and rolled around any kind of filling. This shrimp enchilada is typical of the Tecate region, which is only a short drive from the coast. It is simple and quick to make; most of the ingredients are fresh vegetables.  Take the preparation in steps.


The Ancho Chile Salsa and Picante Sauce can be made two days ahead, the cutting and dicing of ingredients can be done another day, the filling can be made and the whole dish assembled the day before the party. Wild Mexican shrimp from the Gulf of California would be used in Mexico, but any large shrimp (preferably wild) will do. They are great on a buffet—cut the enchiladas in half before serving, so everyone can taste, or double or triple the recipe to serve a crowd.

 Rancho La Puerta’s Shrimp Enchiladas with Picante Sauce


1 tsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)

¼ red onion, peeled and cut into ¼ –inch dice (about ½ cup)

½ pound large shrimp, shelled, deveined, and cut into 6 pieces each

½ small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼ –inch dice

½ small green or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼ –inch dice

1 small kohlrabi, peeled and cut into ¼ –inch dice, or 1 stalk celery, cut into ¼ –inch dice

2 cups spinach or other dark leafy greens, shredded

1 tsp sea salt

¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

½ tsp chopped fresh oregano leaves

2 ounces grated Jack cheese (about ½ cup)

Ancho Chile Salsa (recipe following)

12 corn tortillas

¼ cup crumbled dry cotija cheese (A dry grating cheese similar to Parmesan.)

¼ cup crema fresca, crème fraîche, or sour cream

Picante sauce (recipe following)



Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a 10-inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

Sauté the garlic and onion for about 1 minute.

Add the shrimp and cook, stirring constantly, until it turns pink.

Add the peppers, kohlrabi, and spinach.

Season with salt and black pepper and continue to cook another 5 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in the cilantro and oregano and cool completely before stirring in ¼ cup of Jack cheese.

Spread ⅓ cup of the Salsa in the bottom of an 11 × 9-inch baking dish.

Heat a heavy griddle over medium-high heat.

Warm a tortilla briefly on both sides until it softens.

Place 3 tablespoons of the shrimp filling onto a tortilla and roll up.

Set seam-side down in the baking dish.

Repeat with the remaining tortillas, tucking them close together in the dish.

Spoon the rest of the salsa over the enchiladas, sprinkle evenly with the remaining ¼  cup of Jack cheese and the cotija cheese, and bake until very hot, about 20 minutes.

Stir the crema fresca with a fork until smooth, and drizzle over the enchiladas for a traditional finish. (Sour cream may have to be thinned with 1 teaspoon of water.)

Serve the Picante Sauce on the side.


Ancho Chile Salsa

This mellow salsa is made with ancho chiles, which are dried poblano chiles. The chiles are and cooked with tomatoes and tart tomatillos. This is a good all-around salsa that will enhance the flavor of almost any dish. A rich tomato flavor is important in this salsa, so when tomatoes are out of season, we will often substitute good-quality canned organic tomatoes. Makes 4 cups.



2 tsp olive oil

½ medium onion, cut into ½ –inch dice

3 small garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2 dried ancho chiles, seeded and torn into pieces

3 dried guajillo or California chiles, seeded and torn into pieces

2 roma tomatoes, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped

4 large green tomatillos, husks removed, washed, and roughly chopped

2 cups water or basic vegetable stock

1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste

¼ tsp fresh ground pepper

2 tsp fresh Mexican oregano or 1 tablespoon dried (see Note)

fresh cilantro (12 sprigs), about ½ cup, stemmed and chopped



In a 10-inch sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the onion, garlic, and dried chiles and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and you can smell the chiles.

Add the tomatoes and tomatillos, reduce the heat slightly, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring often.

Add the water or stock, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper.

Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes.

Stir in the oregano, cool for a few minutes, puree the sauce in a blender until smooth, then stir in the cilantro.

Note Be sure to use Mexican oregano, which has a milder taste than Mediterranean varieties.