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Posts Tagged ‘Cooking class’

What is “Southern Mexican Style” Cooking?

Written on January 19th, 2011 by no shouts

In February, Boquete Gourmet is hosting two very talented local chefs, Sharon and Dave Langham, who will share their knowledge of Southern Mexican cuisine with 24 very fortunate Boquete residents.

When this “Cooking Southern Mexican Style” class was first offered, curiosity ensued. I was asked several times how the south of Mexico was different in their cuisine compared to the rest of Mexico.

Wikipedia explains that there are six regions of Mexico that differ greatly in their cooking styles. In the Yucatán, for instance, a unique, natural sweetness (instead of spiciness) exists in the widely used local produce along with an unusual love for achiote seasoning. In contrast, the Oaxacan region is known for its savory tamales, celebratory moles, and simple tlayudas while the mountainous regions of the West (Jalisco, etc.) are known for goat birria (goat in a spicy tomato-based sauce).

Central Mexico’s cuisine is largely influenced by the rest of the country, but has unique dishes such as barbacoa, pozole, menudo and carnitas.

Pueblos or villages have their own style, cooking more exotic dishes in the Aztec or Mayan fashion with ingredients ranging from iguana to rattlesnake, deer, spider monkey, and insects.

Southern Mexico, on the other hand, is known for its spicy vegetable and chicken-based dishes. This cuisine has a considerable Caribbean influence due to its location. Seafood is commonly prepared in areas that border the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, the latter having a famous reputation for its fish dishes, à la veracruzana. Southern Mexico is about as far away from Texas as you can get and still be in Mexico, and Sharon promises that her menu won’t be Tex-Mex style, for sure!

Now that we have all this knowledge, everyone is wondering what the menu will be for the Langham’s first class in Boquete. Sharon and Dave are excellent chefs, as visitors to the Tuesday Morning Market know very well. Their tamales, sauces and pates are very popular, making it sometimes difficult to find the exact dish you are wanting to serve, unless you come to the market early.

To learn more about this “trendy” cuisine, you will want to join one of Sharon and Dave’s upcoming classes offered in Boquete, beginning February 4 - 24. Please email for more information on this spicy class.

Tale of Tom’s Birthday Bread

Written on September 12th, 2010 by no shouts

Another year had passed since Tom had a birthday. It didn’t seem long ago when Tom was celebrating his last birthday with over 100 friends and family members who came to Boquete from all over the world to attend his 3-day party in 2009.

But, it was September 10 again and the tale begins.

This year, my husband David wanted to make something personal for the occasion, something more than giving Tom the usual bottle of wine. When we thought we were invited to a “small” dinner party at the Bot Castle to celebrate the event, David knew exactly what he wanted to make for Tom.

After taking the Boquete Gourmet “Artisan Bread-making” class a couple weeks ago with Mort Rabkin, David decided to make Tom a loaf of bread for his birthday and to take it to the dinner party.

So, he gathered the ingredients together on our new granite pastry board and went to work blending and kneading just the right combinations to make two very fine, rustic loaves of artisan bread.

As the tale continues, Tom was actually having another big birthday party, not a “small gathering”, as we had expected.

When we appeared on the castle steps, much to our surprise we found at least 50 party-goers already making merriment inside! There we were with only one gorgeous, golden brown, small, round loaf of hand-made rustic bread. We could have brought both loaves, wouldn’t you think?

Well, the happy ending of this tale is simple. We sliced the loaf into thin slices, split each slice into two pieces and everyone at the party got treated to a warm, delicate slice of Tom’s artisan, “hand-made with love”, bread.

Since pictures say a thousand words, here is the result of one full days work, including the happy moment when David presented his artisan “masterpiece” to Tom.

At the end of the buffet service that Caroline had so beautifully prepared and arranged, you can see Irma buttering a slice of David’s gift. I wish you could have tasted this crusty, tender work of art, and maybe you did.
Mort would have been proud of his student!

And, they all lived happily ever after!

So - Who Is Spike Mendelsohn?

Written on September 9th, 2010 by one shout

No, this isn’t Spike Mendelsohn, this is the Big Boy that I grew up with, the place where the best burgers could be found in those days. I loved Big Boy hamburgers! Since then, about the only places you could find hamburgers were at chain restaurants, and they were hardly good enough to visit more than once or twice.

Recently, I’ve heard of folks making “really good hamburgers”, the ones with chopped onions and herbs mixed into them before they’re grilled, but I never thought of them as “gourmet”. Then, along came Spike Mendelshon, the “Burger Guru”, who is setting the culinary world on its heels. As a finalist on Top Chef and writer of the new “Good Stuff” cookbook, Spike has taken the burger to tremendous heights, even to the point of “gourmet”!

I first heard of Spike and his hamburgers from Chef-owner of Bistro Boquete, Lauretta Bonfiglio. Upon further investigation, I learned that Spike grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, my home town, and I just discovered that his parents own Pepin, a very popular restaurant I’ve visited many times! Little Spike must have been cooking in the kitchen at the time I was enjoying the fine cuisine at Pepin years ago.

The other day, Lauretta shared her copy of Spike’s book with me and I immediately wanted to learn some of Spike’s recipes. I wanted to duplicate them in my kitchen. Spike’s luscious burgers inspired Lauretta to present a cooking class for Boquete Gourmet, teaching some of the many tricks and secrets that are making hamburgers the newest, trendiest “gourmet” entree.

Below is the cover of Spike’s perfect, all-American cookbook for anyone who loves great casual comfort food like burgers, fries, and shakes, but wants to shake things up with a gourmet touch, like me. Spike opened his new restaurant in Washington D.C., “Good Stuff Eatery”, and it’s always full of customers who enjoy truly gourmet dining.

As you can see, Spike also makes fantastic milkshakes, sides and salads, some of which will be included in Lauretta’s menu for her “Gourmet Burgers & More” cooking class to be held on Friday, September 24, beginning at 5:00pm. The class will be held in my El Santuario, Boquete, Panama kitchen, where I’ve recently added a couple very unique kitchen appliances you’ll soon see.

The $25 fee includes the hands-on class, recipe book, full-course dinner including 3 entrees, Lauretta’s twist on one of Spike’s famous shakes, and a glass of wine. Make your reservations today at, as seats are limited.

You won’t want to miss learning how to make Spike’s “good stuff’ in your own Boquete kitchen.
Talk about inspired!

Learn Panamanian Market Cuisine

Written on April 11th, 2010 by no shouts

Living in Boquete offers more than gorgeous views, perfect weather and the finest coffee in the world; the food basket available in these fertile highlands is incredible. The soil is so rich here and land has turned into the miles and miles, rows and rows of some of the most varied and nutritious farm products you can imagine.

Many fruits and vegetables in marketplaces in and around Boquete I’ve never seen before, much less know the names of, or know how to prepare them. A couple years ago, our gardener brought us a huge basket of otoy he had just dug from our garden - yes, OUR GARDEN! I had no idea what it was or how to eat it, and I was growing it right at home.

My friend Julia, told me that the black, hairy root vegetable was much like a potato, with thicker skin, which makes otoy a bit more difficult to peel. The inside is purple and takes longer to cook than potatoes, see the contrast here. It takes knife skills to prepare some of these foods, and mine need sharpening!

I love to make mashed otoy, with butter, salt and milk, just like mashed potatoes, they are tastier and very delicious! This is “Panamanian market cuisine”, taking what is found in local markets and preparing gourmet dishes with whatever you find, using creative techniques.

Popular Boquete Chef, Juan Linares, will present a hands-on cooking class in my kitchen on Friday, May 7, beginning at 5:00pm. Juan has Latin American roots, and he has been preparing otoy, yucca, name, papaya, chayotes, and guandu, just to name a few, for many years as a professional chef. He has lots of tricks to share with us about Panamanian cooking and he’ll help refine our knife skills.

Juan knows how to blend his own special adobo and chili powder and we’ll each blend our own mixes to suit our tastes.

This $25 hands-on class includes a full-course dinner, knife skills lesson, recipe book, blend-it-yourself take-home spices, blender cocktail and a glass of wine. Bring your favorite knife and apron to my kitchen in El Santuario, Boquete, Panama on Friday, May 7 at 5pm. Class is limited to only 12, so make your reservation now at, you may call Cora at 6614-9514 or comment on this blog.

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