The Kitchen That Sings

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La Cocina Que Canta; the kitchen that sings. It’s the name of the cooking school at Rancho La Puerta Spa in Mexico where I’ve been teaching classes this week. My aim here, as it is with Nourish Network, is to show people how to enjoy food that’s healthy for both our bodies and the earth. Nothing fancy, nothing extravagant; just incredible flavor coaxed from inherently healthy ingredients eager to give it.

[ photos clockwise from top left: a storm brewing; one of the many fountains gracing the grounds; sunrise on ancient “metate” divets in stone; sunny flowers swaying along the pathways ]

We start in the garden harvesting basil or spinach or greens or eggplant—and a bundle of fresh herbs for centerpieces—with Salvadore. Salvadore is the man in charge of the six acres of organic gardens. The man whose eyes twinkle with pride as he lifts handfuls of soil up to people’s noses. The man who brings me “dancing carrots” each morning, of roots entwined together in odd shapes. The man who stops to point out a bee burrowing in a head of romaine to explain that it, too, is looking for food.

[ photos clockwise from top left: a sculpture blessing the garden; rich, organic earth; Salvadore’s “dancing carrots”; students ready for the garden ]

Then it’s inside to the airy tiled kitchen where I encourage the students through chopping and slicing and pounding and grilling their way towards our meal. Some learn new techniques for chopping garlic. Others reconnect with roots through long-forgotten words and scents. Still others discover the ease and enjoyment of pounding the day’s pesto with the basalt molcajete mortar and pestle.

RLP-3[ photos clockwise from left: slicing figs for the mini oatmeal tarts with figs and honey; a very content instructor; pounding several varieties of basil for the pesto ]

What we do in the kitchen is really just gilding the lily on what’s already been accomplished outside in Salvadore’s soil, whether the end form is a creamy corn polenta, a fig and oatmeal tart or a smoky melizansalata with Mexican spices.  This is healthy cooking. This is cooking that’s gentle on the earth. This is cooking that brings a smile to the soul . . . and to everyone seated at the table.

Si, this kitchen sings indeed.

Salvadore’s Garden

Leaves rustle,
A rooster crows,
Laughter wafts over fields of green

And gold and crimson
And plum and rose.
More than a meal, a feast.

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Mini Oatmeal Tarts with Figs and Yogurt

These mini tarts taste like an oatmeal cookie topped with figs, honey and yogurt . . . only with a more grown-up look. They’re the ultimate healthy dessert for summer.

Mini Oatmeal Tarts with Figs and Yogurt

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Yield: Serves 16

Mini Oatmeal Tarts with Figs and Yogurt


  1. 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  2. 3/4 cup rolled oats
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 4 ounces butter, softened
  7. 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  8. 1 egg
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  10. 2 cups plain Greek-style low-fat yogurt
  11. 2 pints figs, stems removed and cut lengthwise into thin wedges
  12. 2 tablespoons honey


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In an electric mixer, beat together butter and brown sugar for one minute, until the mixture is smooth. Add the egg and vanilla, scrape down sides, and continue to blend until incorporated. Add flour mixture a little at a time.

Spray 8 mini tart tins with cooking spray and press dough into each. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until crusts are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack.

Spread 1/4 cup yogurt on each tart and spiral figs in an overlapping layer on top. Drizzle with honey, cut in half and serve.


Cook Time: 12-15 minutes


  • Anne

    This makes me want to go there. Such beautiful pictures. Thank you

  • Alison Ashton

    Isn’t it a wonderful place? And we should all love our jobs as much as Salvadore loves his. Look like it was loads of fun!

  • Donna

    I’m completely jealous. Period.

  • Kim

    This is beautiful!

  • citydana

    It was great cooking with you last week at the Ranch. I’m so inspired.

  • Lia Huber

    Anne . . . You should! It’s a wonderful, restorative, inspiring place.

    Alison . . . Yes, yes, and si, si si!

    Donna . . . Maybe we should take a Relish road trip?

    Kim . . . Thank you–hope you enjoy the mini oatmeal-fig tarts.

    Dana . . . It was a pleasure meeting you and Libby, and such fun to cook with you both. I hope to continue inspiring you through Nourish Network!