Entries by Jamie Kelly


If a culture has embraced wheat flour, there is a good chance that they also happened upon the delight of a baked or fried pastry pocket with filling. This culinary invention comes by many names, but empanada is traced back to the Galician verb empanar, meaning to wrap in bread. To claim the Latin American […]

A cooking adventure at home: Beef Empanadas

I was heartsick from lack of travel during this seemingly endless pandemic until I realized that all the culinary adventure I need is right at home in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur. Join me as I share in the Ruiz family tradition of empanada night, where the family recipe includes teamwork, lots of muscle, and patience. The end result is something you simply cannot find any where else.

Tinga de Pollo Tostadas

The first mention of Tinga came in 1881, when dish was prepared by stewing the viscera and the blood of the pork with chipotle chile, onion and tomato, and eaten with fresh cheese and avocado. My version is mercifully less authentic. There are as many recipe variations for Tinga as there are cooks in Mexico. I’ve added a couple warm spice elements to the sauce but if you have nothing more than tomatoes (canned are fine!), chipotles (also canned) and onion, you will achieve tasty Tinga.


Cacao may be Mexico’s greatest gift to the world—forever earning the favor of the human palate with its derivative delicacy, chocolate. This picky plant prefers a narrow band of just 20 latitude degrees to the north or south of equator. The Maya commercialized the crop more than 2,000 years ago, rising above their ancestors who […]

Guajes (Huajes)

Guajes has many meanings. Colloquially, Mexicans have a saying, “No te hagas guaje” which means “do not play dumb.” But in Spain, guaje generally means boy. Also, guaje may refer to type of inedible gourd that has been used to make traditional household objects for about 13 thousand years B.C., including the Mexican jícara, a […]


Generally, you see chapulin translated as grasshopper in Mexico but in truth, the Nahuatl word chapoli, can apply to all matter of jumpy snacks including grasshoppers, crickets, and locusts. I am not an entomologist, but the little buggers we most often encounter in restaurants look a like crickets and offer a manageably bite-sized crunch. In […]


Carrilleras is the Spain Spanish term for beef cheeks. In Mexico, the word is cachetes. In either case, this is one of my favorite gifts from the bovine world. In the Basque country, carrilleras are often slow braised in a brothy red wine reduction until the results yield tenderly under modest fork pressure, while in […]


Idiazabal is a traditional, farmhouse, hard cheese made from raw sheep’s milk in the Basque and Navarra regions of northern Spain. The cheese is named after the small village of Idiazabal. The first Idiazabal makers were nomadic shepherds who pastured their flocks in the high mountain pastures of the region. During the summer, the sheep […]


Chintextle is a thick, nourishing paste of pasilla mixe chiles, raw pumpkin seeds, camarón seco (dehydrated shrimp), garlic, and avocado leaves ground with vinegar and olive oil. This highly nutritious, umami-packed paste has been spread on thick corn tortillas to power labor intensive lives for millennia. There are many variations that incorporate regional ingredients such […]


You will see me reference this term often as it is the essence of all things I consider delicious. Remember the little diagrams of the regions of our tongues mapping out sweet, sour, salty, and bitter detection zones? Umami, a late entrant to the flavor order, appearing about a century ago, covers the entire tongue […]