M-J’s Southwestern Cuisine

Elegant Mini-Tacos

Mini-Tacos with Lettuce Salad and Herdez Salsa Verde
Taco seasoning by Tone’s, chopped tomatoes, onion, celery, yellow capsicum (a sweet pepper), New Mexico red chile gravy, and ground beef, cooked together about an hour and mixed until very fine, makes a perfect taco filling in combination with grated mild cheese.
Miniature tacos are made with sautéed Guerrero corn tortillas, which are filled with a ground-beef-vegetable mixture and colby jack cheese. The bowl contains shredded Romaine lettuce and small strips of avocado, dressed with lime juice, cilantro (coriander leaf) and salt.
©M-J de Mesterton

Tortillas Fresqui-ricas con Pollo, Queso y Aguacate

Guerrero of Irvine, Texas: Thin and Elegant Raw Flour Tortillas, “Ready for the Comal (grill-pan)”
Roll and serve with a pitcher of salsa picante (mine is made with Chiles Serranos en Escabeche by  La Costeña (México), blended with a can of chopped tomatoes, lime and cilantro).

Santa Fe Foods

Dried New Mexico Red Chiles

Carne Adovada of New Mexico: Pork Marinated in Red Chile

Quick Carne Adovada


On a cutting board covered with two sheets of waxed paper spread with a bit of flour, oregano, and garlic powder, cut white meat pork chops into bite-sized cubes. Fold waxed paper and shake the pork cubes, distributing the seasoning. In a skillet heated and prepared with a tablespoon of lard, fry the pork until outsides are brown. Drain off the excess melted fat. Add red chile sauce that has been prepared from lard, browned white flour, water and red chile powder of New Mexico (pure ground chiles with no additives–that means no cumin), and salt. Mix the sauce into the pork, and simmer for one hour, stirring often and adding more water or chile sauce to keep it moist. Serve with warm, soft white flour or corn tortillas. In an alternate, slow version of this dish, the pork pieces would be marinated in the red chile sauce for two days, dried with a towel, seasoned as above, and fried in lard. Then the additional chile sauce would be added and the carne adovada simmered until tender. To make red chile sauce from whole, dried New Mexico chiles, boil them in a pot with 2 parts water, and when soft, put them in a blender and purée them until smooth, with as much of the cooking water as necessary. Into a roux made with lard and flour, gradually add the chile paste and water until you have the desired consistency. I add salt, a pinch of fine oregano (pictured in red vase on left) and NO cumin (it’s not considered traditional for this New Mexican red chile gravy). Use this red chile sauce to marinate your pork cubes for two days in the refrigerator, before cooking, as described above, carne adovada.
Note: adobada or adovada in New Mexico, means “cured” or “pickled”. In the quick method as described in the beginning of this recipe, the process is accelerated. Traditionally, pork chunks are marinated for two days in the chile sauce before cooking.

Copyright M-J de Mesterton, November 2008


M-J’s New Mexican  Red & Green Burritos

All Photos Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2007

Santa Fe Red and Green Burritos

Sauté ground beef or shredded chicken with onion and pure red chile powder. Fill flour tortillas with the mixture, adding Monterey jack cheese to it.

Sauté the stuffed tortillas in olive, peanut oil or butter for a few seconds each side, and then top them with green chile gravy and shredded cheese–either cheddar or Monterey jack. To make green or red chile gravy (for this recipe I use green): heat a fourth-cup of oil, butter or lard in a frying pan or pot. Add a third-cup of flour and stir it till it begins to brown. Salt to taste. Add water or milk (milk if you are making green chile gravy), using a potato-masher on it till the sauce is smooth. Add your red or green New Mexico chile powder. I usually incorporate a small can of Hatch chopped green chiles into the green version. Keep at this with a potato-masher or wooden spoon till it is the consistency that you prefer. Cover your assembled burritos with the green chile gravy and cheese, then bake for ten minutes at 350F.

There are some people selling ristras (see architecture page) and dried green and red chile powders at the corner of St. Francis and Alameda in downtown Santa Fe. Look for the big truck with “Rachel’s Corner” and some red chiles painted on its side. Their dried chile powders will enable you to eat well all winter.

NEWS: NORTH of the BORDER CHILE Co. sells green chile powder on the internet, and a whole range of New Mexico seasonings.

M-J’s Elegant Guacamole Recipe

There are so many recipes for guacamole that contain anti-social ingredients like raw garlic and/or onions. My elegant, all-green version contains avocados, lemon or lime juice, olive oil, strained or dried green chiles, a hint of onion powder and some Himalayan salt. No tomatoes, please! Elegance, purity of flavour and colour go hand-in-hand.
©M-J de Mesterton 2009

Harvest Taco Luncheon

M-J’s Harvest-Time Taco Luncheon

Roasted Green Chiles of Santa Fe, New Mexico

Autumn Harvest Vegetables
Autumn Harvest Vegetables

Huevos Rancheros-fried eggs and grated cheese on tortillas with red or green chile gravy on top–are a health-promoting breakfast or brunch dish for winter and fall. Placing refritos, or refried beans, under the eggs is optional. Use either flour or corn tortillas, with Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese. I like to sauté the tortillas in butter, grate cheese onto them, then fry the eggs, assemble the lot and pour on the chile gravy, finishing the top with more grated cheese.

Next: Santa Fe  Sopaipillas

New Mexico Sopaipillas (Little Sopaipas)

3 cups of white flour (unbleached is preferable, for its colour)
3 tablespoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of salt
3 tablespoons of lard (no substitutions–you are striving for authenticity here, not health-enhancement)
Mix all ingredients together until they are incorporated. Gradually, drop-by-drop, add enough cold water to make it into a stiff dough. Wrap the resultant ball of dough in plastic or put it in a bowl covered by a towel, and let it sit for one hour. Roll about 1/4 inch or  thinner. Cut into squares. Fry in very hot oil. Eat with green chile stew, red chile pork, salsa picante,  or drizzled with honey for a traditional Santafecino dessert. In other words, your sopaipilla is a platform for any edible New Mexican embellishment.

SOPAIPAS, an Old New Mexico Recipe by Cleofas M. Jaramillo, 1942
Use regular biscuit dough, omitting the shortening. Make sure that the dough is of stiff consistency so  that it will not stick to the counter. Add one egg and a teaspoon of sugar to the dough. Roll it out thin as for a pie. Cut strips about 1 1/2 inches wide and 2 1/2 inches long. Fry in deep, hot lard to brown on all sides. Drain on a wire basket or paper-towels. Sprinkle with mixed sugar and cinnamon, and serve with coffee or cocoa. The same dough may be used for tortillas, adding one tablespoon of lard.
New Mexico Chile Harvest: Red or Green?

New Mexican, Southwest, and Mexican Food Terminology

Dried sweet corn used whole or crushed in a seasoned stew.
Chile Caribe —
Red chile pods blended with water  into a purée and seasoned. Used in such dishes as carne adovada (marinated pork cubes).
Chiles, Green —
Found in a variety of sizes, shapes, and piquancies, they are an important part of  New Mexican dishes. The skin of the chile pepper is often removed after blanching or baking. Used in sauces, relishes, stews, and as chiles rellenos.
Chiles, Red —
Green chile that has ripened and dried. Usually used ground or crushed for added seasoning, cooking pork and tamales, or in making green chile gravy and a variety of sauces.Ground or whole, the pods of red chile peppers are used in making New Mexican carne adovada.
Chorizo —
Highly seasoned pork sausage.
Enchilada Sauce —
Red sauce made of mild-to-hot chile pulp or chile powder, spices, and beef or pork or both. Used for enchiladas. Also called red chile sauce.
Fresh Masa
A moist dough of ground, dried corn that has been soaked in limewater, then cooked. Used in tamales.
Beans. Most commonly used bean is the pinto bean. Black beans are not traditional in New Mexican cuisine.
Frijoles Refritos
Refried beans. Pinto beans that have been boiled, mashed, fried in pork fat, and topped with longhorn or jack cheese.
Harina —
All-purpose flour.
Harina Azul —
Blue corn meal flour for tortillas.
Harina Para Atole —
Blue corn meal flour for gruel.
Harina Para Panocha
Sprout wheat flour for Indian pudding (Panocha).
Masa Harina
Masa in dehydrated form to which water is added to produce dough similar to fresh masa.
Piloncillo —
Brown, unrefined cane sugar found in cone-shaped pieces used to sweeten coffee and desserts.
Piñon —
Pine nuts or pignolia–seeds of large pine cones. Used in desserts, cookies and breads, or roasted, salted and enjoyed as nut meats.
Salsa Jalapeño
A hot sauce or relish made of Jalapeño chiles, onions, either red or green tomatoes, and seasonings.
Tortillas de Harina —
Flour tortillas made from wheat flour. Tortilla means “little cake” (in Spain, a tortilla is an omelette with potatoes in it). Typically, flour tortillas are 7 – 10 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. They remain mostly white after cooking on a griddle, but are flecked with brown and puffed in spots. Used for burritos and as an accompaniment to any Southwestern meal.
Tortillas de Mais —
Corn tortillas made from masa pressed into a thin pancake, then quickly singed or “blistered” on a hot griddle. Used for enchiladas, tacos, taquitos, chalupas, huevos rancheros, and tostadas compuestas.


Albondigas —
Arroz a La Española —
Spanish rice.
Arroz Con Pollo —
Chicken with rice;.
Burrito —
Flour tortilla filled with refried beans and chile sauce, ground beef and chile sauce, or a combination of both, and rolled.
Caldillo —
Poor man’s stew made of ground beef, raw potatoes, and seasonings.
Carne Adobada —
Pork steak marinated in chile sauce, then roasted or pan fried. Usually served with Spanish rice and refried beans.
Carne Asada —
Beef or pork cut in thin diagonal strips and cooked quickly over very hot coals, as in a brasero or Japanese hibachi.
Chalupas —
Meaning “little boats,” is a fried corn tortilla topped with shredded chicken or beans, cheese, tomatoes, guacamole, and salsa.
Chauquehue —
Blue corn meal much thicker than atole. Served with red chile with pork or spareribs in place of potatoes or rice.
Chicharrones —
(Cracklings) Pieces of fat cooked slowly until lard is rendered out. Lightly salted, may be served as a warm or cold hors d’oeuvre.
Chilaquilas —
Called tortilla hash or poor man’s dish. Includes leftover tortillas fried until crisp and combined with chile, eggs, jack or sharp cheddar cheese, and red chile sauce.
Chile con Queso —
Melted cheese dip seasoned with chile and served with tostados.
Chiles Rellenos —
Green chiles stuffed with cheese or meat, dipped in a cornmeal/flour batter, and deep-fat fried.
Enchiladas —
Rolled or flat corn tortillas topped or stuffed with meat, cheese, onions, and red or green chile sauce.
Flautas —
Meaning “flute,” a taco variation; two corn tortillas are overlapped, filled with meat, cheese, onion, and chile, rolled, then fried.
Gazpacho —
A cold vegetable soup with a meat broth or tomato juice base containing a variety of raw vegetables.
Guacamole —
Avacado salad served as a dip or on lettuce as a salad, or ingredient in many other dishes.
Huevos Rancheros —
Served in several ways, but generally is a fried egg on a corn tortilla and topped with a special green chile sauce with onions and tomatoes. Sometimes served with red or green enchilada sauce and garnished with lettuce and cheese.
Menudo —
Tripe and hominy traditionally served on Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
Mole —
Sauce made with red chiles, spices, and chocolate and served over meat or poultry. Crushed sesame seed, pumpkin seed, or nuts are often added for flavor and thickening. (sometimes called Pipian.)
Molletes —
Sweet anise seed rolls. Usaully accompanied by Mexican chocolate.
Nachos —
An hors d’oeuvre of tostados topped with jack cheese, sour cream, and jalapeño chile.
Paella —
A classic dish combining rice and a variety of both meat and seafood.
Posole —
Hominy stew made with dried lime-treated corn and combined with pork and seasonings.
Quesadillas —
Made in a number of different ways, buy always with cheese filling (named after “queso”, the Spanish word for cheese). Usually a folded corn tortilla with a chile and jack cheese filling, fried quickly over high heat.
Queso Fresco —
(Native fresh cheese) Made with sweet milk and rennet tablets. It is allowed to set until whey can be separated from the curd. Served with sugar, syrup, or preserves as a dessert.
Sopaipillas —
Puffy, crisp, deep-fried bread. Accompanies many Southwestern meals, or may be stuffed with refritos or meat and topped with chile sauce, cheese, and lettuce.
Taco —
A corn tortilla folded in half and fried until crisp, stuffed with meat, or chicken, or refried beans. Before serving, it is topped with lettuce, onion, cheese, and taco sauce.
Tamale —
Red chile pork encased in fresh masa and wrapped in a corn shuck. Usually steamed and served with red chile sauce.
Taquitos —
(Rolled tacos) Same as tacos except filling is placed inside tortillas and rolled cigar-fashion, then deep-fat fried.
Torta —
Stiffly beaten eggs leavened with baking powder and seasoned with salt and herbs, then deep fried. Served during Lent with chileor with a chile sauce as a meat substitute.
Tostadas —
Open-faced, flat tacos.
Tostadas Compuestas —
Corn tortilla cups filled with chile con carne topped with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and grated cheese.
Tostados —
Corn tortillas cut in pieces and fried until crisp. Salted or sprinkled with chile powder. Served for dipping with salsa, guacamole, or chile con queso.


Bizcochitos — Anise seed cookies. Buñuelos — Fried sweet puffs that can be glazed with brown sugar-maple syrup or sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar. Sometimes, hot buñuelos are stuffed with vanilla ice cream. Capirotada — (Bread Pudding) Toasted bread topped with caramelized-sugar corn syrup, sliced longhorn cheese, raisins and cinnamon, and baked until cheese melts. Empanada — Fried or baked turnovers with either dried fruit or sweet meat filling. The name derives from “enveloped in bread”. Flan — Caramelized custard. Natillas — Soft custard topped with egg white and sprinkled with cinnamon. Panocha — Indian pudding made with panocha flour, brown sugar, and seasonings such as cinnamon and cloves. Pastelitos — Dried-fruit filled pies — usually apricot or prune or both.


Calabasa —
Baked pumpkin.
Garbanzos —
(Chick Peas) Cooked, mashed, and seasoned with salt, onion, red chile pulp, and cilantro.
Jicama —
A large gray-brown root vegetable, delicious raw. Has a white, crisp meat resembling that of a potato or chestnut.
Nopales —
Leaves or pads of prickly pear cactus. Taste and texture resemble green beans. Used alone as a vegetable or in soups, salads, and omelets.
Papas —
Quelites —
Spinach combined with pinto beans, seasoned with bacon and crushed chile pods.
Tuna —
Cactus fruit ranging in color from green to red or maroon. The moist, granular flesh is good served raw as a dessert with lemon and sugar, but is also candied or used in desserts.
Verdolagas —
A common garden weed served as a leafy vegetable. Also called purslane.


Atole —
A gruel-like blue corn-meal drink. Is either served with sugar, scalded milk, or both.
Hot chocolate using Mexican chocolate as a main ingredient and seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. At Christmas season, it is served with bizcochitos.


Anis — Anise
Azafran — Saffron
Chimaja — Wild celery, root and leaf
Cilantro — Coriander leaves or crushed seeds
Comino — Cumin, powder or seeds
Mejorama — Marjoram
Oregano — Oregano dried leaves
Romero — Rosemary
Tomillo — Thyme
Yerba Buena
— Wild mint, fresh or dried

Recipe: Albondigas, an Old Spanish New Mexican Recipe with Moorish Influence, Popular in Northern New Mexico

Two pounds of ground beef

One onion, finely chopped

One tablespoon of white flour or harina azul

One tablespoon of bread crumbs

One beaten egg

One half teaspoon of ground coriander (cilantro seeds)

One half teaspoon of dry mint leaves, crushed fine

Salt and pepper

Form into one-inch balls–approximately walnut-sized

Dust the albondigas with flour and fry in a tablespoon of hot lard (manteca) in a large, flat pan or skillet.

When the meatballs are browned, empty them into a dish. Put a teaspoon of lard and a teaspoon of butter in the pan and heat it. Incorporate two tablespoons of flour and stir it till nut-brown, and then add a cup of water or milk very gradually with a whisk. Cook until the gravy no longer tastes like flour. I like to add a teaspoon of green chile powder or a lot of freshly ground pepper. Lay your albondigas in the gravy, cover the pan, and simmer for fifteen minutes.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2008

Bizcochitos (Anise Seed Christmas Cookies)

Yield: 5 dozen. Baking Time: 10-12 minutes. Oven Temperature: 350°F

These cookies/”biscuits” freeze well.


1 pound (16 ounces) of lard (manteca)–no substitution!

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons of ground anise seed

1/2 cup brandy*

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup of granulated white sugar

6 cups of white flour

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1. Cream together the lard, sugar, and anise seed in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and beat well.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

3. Alternately add flour and brandy to creamed mixture until stiff dough has been formed.

4. Knead dough slightly and pat or roll to a 1/4 inch to a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut dough into desired shapes.

5. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Dust the top of each cookie with a small amount of mixture.

6. Bake in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned.

* Varied amounts may be used. Bourbon or sherry may be substituted.

NOTE: The fleur-de-lis shape is traditional for these cookies.

M-J de Mesterton, 2007

Chiles Rellenos (Stuffed Green Chiles)
Yield: 6 servings. Freezes well (May be frozen after frying).
12 large, peeled, whole green chiles with stems
Batter* (see recipe below)
Red or Green Chile Sauce
1 pound sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, cut into strips
1. Heat an amount 4 inches deep of shortening or lard (manteca) in a heavy pan on medium-high heat.
2. Slit chiles open crosswise below stems.
3. Insert strips of cheese into chiles.
4. Dip stuffed chile into batter and fry in hot fat until
golden brown. Drain on absorbent towels.
5. Serve with red or green chile sauce.

*Batido para Chiles Rellenos (Batter for Stuffed Green Chiles)
Yield: Enough to coat 12 chiles
1 cup flour,  3/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 cup milk, approximately,
1/2 teaspoon salt more may be added for smooth
2 eggs, slightly beaten
Method: 1. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cornmeal in a
medium-sized bowl.
2. Blend milk with eggs and add to dry ingredients. Mix well.
3. Proceed with step 4 of Chiles Rellenos recipe.

Capirotada (New Mexican Bread Pudding)

CAPIROTADA, a Santa Fe Dessert

  • 1 loaf of French bread, sliced; or 8 slices of white bread
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter
  • 4 cups of water
  • 11/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon-stick
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 lb. grated Monterey jack cheese, or any mild, cows’ milk cheese that is suitable for grating
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1 cup of golden sultanas or dark raisins
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Brush the bread slices w/ melted butter. Bake at 350* for 10 to 15 minutes until well dried but not browned. In a saucepan dissolve the sugar in the water, add cinnamon-stick and cloves. Bring to a boil, then barely simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon and cloves. Reserve the cinnamon-stick.

Place half of the bread slices in a medium baking dish so they crowd or slightly overlap. Top bread with 1/3 of the raisins, cheese, nuts and sour cream. Repeat layers. Decorate top with the reserved cinnamon stick. Pour the sugar-and-spice syrup over the assembled ingredients.

Bake at 350* Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes until the top is nicely browned.


Cooked Salsa Picante, Posted by M-J de Mesterton on November 8, 2008

Because of the mysterious nation-wide salsa-related cases of salmonella, wherein no one knew whether the culprit was tomatoes, serranos, jalapeños or any other component of the sauce, I decided that I would cook mine. It’s a solution to the abundant tomato, tomatillo and chile harvest this year–I threw the tomatillos, tomatoes, chiles and a finely chopped onion into a big pot, where they simmered down to a sauce after an hour. If you like to add coriander (cilantro) or lime juice, leave them out till you’re ready to serve the salsa, because cooking them is a mistake. This week, I cooked up the last of my harvest and froze it in individual containers. To spike the flavor, I added both red and green pure New Mexico chile powders (no additives like cumin or comino).