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Posts Tagged ‘Chiriqui Province’

Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Soup

Written on February 1st, 2011 by no shouts

It’s nice to have visitors coming to Boquete from all over the world, especially when the weather is beautiful and all systems are up and working.

The crystal clear water is flowing, internet is fast and television reception is perfect, and we have high definition service! Life is good here in our little mountain town in Chiriqui Province, Panama.

What better way to spend the day of the final Superbowl playoffs than making a big pot of piping-hot, nourishing chicken and broccoli soup. Visitors Carmela and Jack went to Volcan, on the far side of Volcan Baru, and brought back three big, bright heads of fresh broccoli for us. I was inspired.

Chicken is the staple in every Panamanian’s daily diet, so I thought it would make the perfect ingredient to accompany these gorgeous heads of broccoli, and to add protein to make the soup a main dish.

My built-in stove top includes an electric iron grill, which made it easy to cook the chicken breasts, and it seals in the chicken flavor and gives it rich color.

The soup came together easily. I first cleaned and prepared the broccoli and set it to simmer. And, I included most of the stems to add more of the rich vitamins. The remaining ingredients were chicken broth made from Maggi Consome’ de Pollo, a few chopped onions, my “Bella” herb blend and evaporated milk.

When everything was ready, I got out my new black ceramic soup pot with two lids. It was made in China and cost $50.00 in a local Chinese market. It is a little over 12 inches high, weighs 12 pounds and is safe to use on the stove top. The double lid catches the steam and drips it back into the pot. It’s a very clever design, indeed.

Finishing the soup, I de-boned the chicken, cut it into bite-size pieces and added it to the pot.

By the time our guests appeared, the soup was piping hot and ready to serve. Warm, home-baked sourdough bread from Mort’s clay oven was just the right accompaniment.

I added a few croutons and we all enjoyed this healthy, refreshing soup, as well as lots of good conversation with new-found friends.

What a beautiful afternoon in Boquete!

Holiday Breads to Make All Year Long

Written on January 11th, 2011 by no shouts

Mort Rabkin is a very talented artisan baker who moved to Boquete a few years ago, and he’s sparked a whole new “bread culture” in our little mountain town. Before Mort’s arrival, there were very few artisan bakers in our entire Chiriqui Province, if any.

It wasn’t long before Mort built a real clay oven on his back patio and the availability of fresh, home-baked bread began.

As most of us know, it’s not easy to produce good, wholesome artisan breads without adding lots of love and care. Those skills are evident when biting into a slice of Mort’s special bread, available at the Tuesday Morning Market in Boquete.

Because many of Mort’s customers began asking him how he is able to produce such fine-quality breads, he decided to offer classes on the subject. These classes are very informative and lots of fun, as you can see from these photos.

Former students have made French breads, rustic breads, challah and other holiday yeast breads. They have filled rosta and wreath breads with lavish amounts of fruits and nuts and drizzled them with white, sparkling frosting.

The photo at the top includes some very talented bread-makers at work mixing and braiding breads for holiday giving. Mort’s wife Barbara demonstrated braiding techniques taught at the latest hands-on class, including one with 4 braids. The gorgeous loaf of challah shown above is ready for the oven.

Why can’t any of these wonderful, rich breads be baked anytime during the year? Why not?

On Thursday, January 27, Mort will present an advanced class on making and using sourdough and other natural starters. Folks with basic bread-making skills or those who have taken a prior bread class are eligible to join this very special class.

Participants will be able to pick up a sourdough starter a week prior to the class, “feed” it until time to use it to make and bake their own loaf of sourdough bread in Mort’s oven. As part of the class, a second type of starter will be mixed to be used in future bread-making. A gourmet lunch with wine will be served during the class, as well.

For more information about this class, stop by Mort’s table at the Tuesday Market, or email me at and I’ll send you more details.

We hope you come and enjoy the fun of baking in Mort’s clay oven, it’s a very special treat!

Explore the New Kitchen Store in David

Written on September 16th, 2010 by 2 shouts

La Cocina has recently opened their doors in David, offering low-cost housewares of all types, lots of plastic containers and cookware.

To get to La Cocina, take the first left off the highway and drive past Romero’s until you get to one of the 3 traffic lights in David. Elmec is on the left and the new La Cocina Kitchen Store is on the far right corner, right across from Elmec.

The owners are very helpful, and they have items that are not readily available in other shops. Actually, I believe this is the only exclusive kitchen store between here and Panama City.

The first thing I noticed was the huge selection of mixing bowls beginning at only $1, the stacks of aluminum cookware and good-quality 5-piece wooden spoon sets for $2. I bought a set of spoons, which are just right for mixing up some artisan bread dough. I painted orange stripes on the handles to match my kitchen and to make them easy to find in my drawers.

If you are looking for plastic containers, pitchers, plastic and ceramic plates or bowls, La Cocina is the place to visit.

You won’t find any electrical appliances at La Cocina, which is unfortunate. I’d really like to find a place to buy an electric juicer, a big electric fry pan and a milkshake maker. With Lauretta’s “Gourmet Burgers & More” cooking class coming up, I know I’ll need a milkshake maker.

The owners were very glad to have us visit their shop. They are trying to bring items for the kitchen together into one place, making it easy for cooks like us. I asked if they handled wooden cutting boards, and the response was “Yes, we will be getting them soon.”

A very nice stainless steel thermos bottle was $4, just what I needed to keep a delicious cup of Boquete’s fine coffee hot to drink anytime. It fits perfectly into my car’s console.

I love kitchen gadgets, and La Cocina has a limited supply of basic gadgets. In the photo below, you can see their selection of gadgets on the back wall.

I’ll keep checking back to see the new items La Cocina will be offering and pass along interesting acquisitions to you, as they appear.

Upon leaving La Cocina, I turned left and walked one block to the new Cuidad De David Hotel, the perfect place for lunch!

Don’t you just love David?

If You Love Salmon - Come to Class

Written on September 6th, 2010 by no shouts

If you come from Canada or north-western US, salmon is abundant everywhere. But, if you live in Panama like me, it’s a bit tricky to find fresh salmon in most markets.

Yes, we can find salmon in Rey or Romero’s, two of the largest supermarkets in Chiriqui, if we’re lucky. Lately, both fresh and smoked salmon have been available at Deli Baru Market in Boquete.

Salmon is the common name for several species in the family “Salamonidae”, which also includes trout, a very plentiful fish in Boquete. Salmon is a healthy, “oily” fish because it’s high in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. More than 80% of Pacific salmon are wild-caught, where 99% of Atlantic salmon are farmed. I wonder which variety tastes best.

Boquete Gourmet will host popular chef, Renny Kranich on October 1, in my El Santuario kitchen to share her knowledge about salmon and some of her favorite ways to prepare this delectable fish. Renny’s class will include several salmon dishes that are just right to be served as appetizers, recipes to use when serving salmon for lunch, and she’ll demonstrate how to create a spectacular main salmon dish in a 5-course gourmet dinner.

While waiting for Renny’s class to begin, you might want to try one of my favorite recipes for an Easy Hollandaise Sauce to serve over poached eggs, accompanied with thinly-sliced smoked salmon.
1 stick butter, melted in microwave
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, poached
2 English muffins, toasted
4 slices smoked salmon or gravlax, thinly sliced

Partially fill the bottom of a double boiler with water and bring to a simmer. In the top of the double boiler, whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, and cold water. Add the melted butter to egg yolk mixture 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time while whisking yolks constantly. If the sauce begins to get too thick, add a teaspoon or two of hot water. Continue whisking until all butter is incorporated, then whisk in the salt, and remove from heat. Place a lid on pan to keep sauce warm while toasting the English muffins and poaching the eggs.

To present, place opened English muffin halves on a large dinner-size plate. Top with smoked salmon, allowing the ends of the salmon to touch the plate, then top with poached eggs and drizzle with Hollandaise sauce. Garnish with a few rings of thinly-sliced red onions and capers, and serve immediately. No side dish is required, unless serving for dinner. This recipe serves two very lucky diners.

Renny has several new, exciting and tasty ways to prepare and to serve salmon you won’t want to miss. If you love salmon like I do, you won’t want to join this fun and informative class. Email to reserve you seat now. The $25.00 fee includes hands-on class, recipe book, full-course dinner, Renny’s favorite cocktail and a glass of wine.

See you October 1!

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