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Classy Southern Mexican Dessert

Written on March 1st, 2011 by no shouts

It wasn’t long before everyone knew what the term “Southern Mexican Cuisine” really meant.

Sharon and David Langham’s “Cooking Southern Mexican Style” class was designed to show students how Southern Mexican cuisine is very different from the typical “Mexican” cooking.

Southern Mexican regional foods are one of six distinctively different Mexican cuisines. This type of cooking mixes seafood and chicken with mild, blended flavors, really quite unique and surprisingly delectable.

The class began with the flavorful and colorful “Sangrita” cocktail, complete with 2 tiny glasses, one filled with Silver Jose Cuervo Tequila and the other with a spicy tomato and orange based chaser.

But this cocktail is sipped very slowly, first one and then the other, very sophisticated indeed!

Then, Maria and Betty made and served a gorgeous chilled Avocado Soup topped with Betty’s innovative sour cream garnish piped through a plastic bag. See the photo below.

It was a real treat to have Betty Dabney attend this class. She’s not only a trained chef, as you can tell by her decorations on the avocado soup, but she contributed most of the photos in this article. Thanks to Betty!

Sharon’s Chicken Mole’ was outstanding. We couldn’t wait to see how it would come together after the ingredients were chopped and sauteed. The sauce was cooked slightly, chicken breast fillets were added, and a most delicious chicken dish was created. Powdered chocolate and spices were finally added as the chicken simmered slowly. All the ingredients are common in Boquete markets, so the dish is easy to prepare here.

David and Sharon’s home-made tamales and tomatillo sauce were served as a surprise to all of us.

Then, Rick, Theresa, Coni, Mike, Linda and Rose made Jalapeno Poppers, Coconut and Lemongrass Rice and Southern Mexico’s famous dish, Colache.

The main courses included not only Sharon’s Chicken Mole’, but fresh, locally-grown trout was grilled by David in his flat grill basket. If you would like to grill fish easily, get a grill basket, spray it with Pam and you’ll produce perfectly grilled fish with very little mess.

The recipe for Oaxacan Grilled Trout included marinating the fish in lime juice, cilantro, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.

The final dish of the evening was Peach Enchiladas, which was masterfully prepared by Lauren and Chuck.

First, the flour tortillas were laid out on a cookie sheet and covered with sliced peaches and nutmeg. You can see Coni watching Chuck attentively as he added raisins to this easy, delicious, Southern Mexican dessert.

PEACH ENCHILADAS, SOUTHERN-MEXICAN STYLE

1 large can of peaches, sliced with the syrup reserved
6 8″ flour tortillas
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup reserved syrup from the peaches

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spoon fruit evenly onto the tortillas and sprinkle with nutmeg. Roll up, put in a lightly greased baking dish, seam side down. Bring the butter, sugars and juice to a boil, stir constantly for about 2 minutes. Pour over enchiladas and bake for about 20 minutes. Cut in half and serve with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, if desired.

This dessert can be made with apple or blueberry canned pie filling and cinnamon, even crushed pineapple with chopped walnuts. Use your imagination and the toppings are important.

This “Southern Mexican” cuisine is very different than expected. It’s sophisticated, light flavored and memorable in it’s lovely presentation.
Thanks Sharon and David for introducing us to this most classy, little-known cuisine.

I’ve never visited Oaxaca, Mexico, but I’d like to go just to taste it’s flavors, thanks to learning all about how different Mexican cooking can be.

Keep exploring!
Cora

Fine Boquete Jazz Festival Fare

Written on February 21st, 2011 by no shouts


This is the week so many folks in Boquete have been waiting for - BOQUETE’S 5th ANNUAL JAZZ FESTIVAL!

Jazz musicians from Canada, United States and Panama will gather at the BCP Theater in central Boquete to present three days of world-class musical entertainment. Band members will be hosted in Boquete by local residents and hotels throughout the area, and all their meals will be provided for them during their visit.

I, as the “Boquete Gourmet”, just had to get involved with providing a “Welcome Dinner” and a couple of the lunches during their visit. What to serve such distinguished guests would be an interesting project for me.

The first dinner would need to be prepared by our local tamale chef, Betty Rivera. Betty’s tamales are the best typical Panamanian dish that any visitor to Boquete could hope to enjoy. Betty contributed her “famous” recipe to the “Boquete Gourmet Community Cookbook” and it’s one of the recipes that takes a complete page to describe.

Notice that Betty’s tamale is wrapped in banana leaves, not corn husks. These tamales take 24 hours to make from dried corn pieces, not an easy project for Betty. When the diner opens the leaves, a lovely soft block of cooked corn meal and chicken appears, just right to be covered with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, chopped apples, cole slaw and any number of the many flavors of hot sauces available in Boquete.

Tamales are the most popular dish to serve in Boquete at any meal time, it’s typical Panamanian style cooking, just exactly right for these very talented jazz musicians from Canada. For dessert, I’ll make up a big batch of Snickerdoodles, easy to grab and run to their next performance.

I’d better have lots of cold Panama beer on hand for them as well, don’t you think? Talk about fine Boquete Jazz Festival Fare!

Enjoy the festival!
Cora

Make the Best Sourdough Pancakes Ever - Use Your Own Starter!

Written on February 12th, 2011 by no shouts

Make no mistake, my sourdough is the best sourdough anyone could make in a few short weeks. Some sourdough is one-hundred years old, but mine is only about 2 months old and it’s wonderful!

I got my starter from Artisan Baker, Mort Rabkin. our local “Rye Guy”. Mort started his sourdough many months ago and the flavor just keeps getting better and better.

The students in Mort’s “Sourdough and Other Natural Starters” class learned how to feed and care for their tiny bit of starter they received from Mort a week before their class. Their starter became their new-found friend. It grew and grew for 10 days before the class, and each participant made a “sponge” from their starter and brought it to class.

This is where the fun began. Students baked bread from Mort’s seasoned starter, made their own loaves of bread from their sponge, and then
blended a new, all-natural starter of their own design.

This is where I come in, by contributing the best “Sourdough Pancakes” recipe anyone who is “feeding” sourdough can make. It’s really quite easy, as long as you begin the night before you’re planning to have pancakes for breakfast.

SOURDOUGH PANCAKES
The night before:
Measure 1 cup starter into a bowl and mix in 1 cup flour and 1 cup milk. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature.
The next morning:
Add 1 beaten egg, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder, 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 tablespoon sugar and mix well.

Heat a lightly greased griddle until a few drops of water jump around on the griddle. Spoon the batter onto the griddle and cook until bubbles appear all around. Turn and cook until golden brown. I serve the pancakes with homemade maple syrup. It’s easy to make by boiling 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water for one minute and add a teaspoon of maple flavoring.

My grandmother taught me to make this simple syrup many years ago, and it’s almost as delicious as the original, more reasonable, and much easier to keep on hand.

I haven’t been able to find Mapleine Brand favoring in many years, but Frontier All Natural Maple Flavor is excellent. McCormick makes Imitation Maple Flavor that is available everywhere, but their list of additives is long.

The only thing that would make these pancakes better would be to serve them with a hot, steaming cup of Cafe de la Luna coffee from Finca Dos Jefes, Boquete’s premier boutique coffee growers.

Enjoy your sourdough!
Cora

Boquete’s “Blue Vistas” Dinner

Written on February 9th, 2011 by no shouts

When it comes to Underground Dining, Chefs Renny Kranich and Marvin Pupino raised the bar on Boquete’s craving for gourmet events.

Twenty-four lucky guests accepted invitations to enjoy the mountainous blue vistas rising high above the home of Mary and Jack Mossette, as well as the delectable 5-course menu laced with blue cheese, blueberries and a touch of blue in the martinis. Most of the invited guests dressed in blue to enhance the evening’s theme. Everyone sensed that this was a “happening”, not to be repeated again.

The menu reflected the market cuisine of Panama, and the chefs utilized local ingredients throughout the dinner. The lettuce was organically grown in Boquete, white fish was fresh-caught off Panama’s shores, and the fresh whipping cream came from local dairies here in Chiriqui Province.

This is the entire menu, you may want to duplicate some of the pairings at your next dinner.

Fusion Consommé
Croistini topped with Eggplant Relish

Green Salad with Blue Cheese Crumbles

Intermezzo: Beer-soaked Green Grapes

Roast Pork with Cherry Liqueur Sauce
Or
White Fish with Asparagus-Bacon Sauce

Cucumber-wrapped Zucchini
Blue Ribbon Winning Black-eyed Peas

Blueberry Tres Leches Cake
Fresh Whipping Cream


The dinner was preceded by “Happy Hour”, the “signature drink” was the Blue Martini, of course. These martinis were made Blue Curacao and Beefeater brand London Dry Gin, as they were originally invented.

The choice of entrees included fresh white fish or roasted pork and the guests were equal in their selections. Before dinner, guests were presented with a toy pig or fish, depending on which entree choice they made. The pigs were wearing blue ties!!

Throughout the evening, music could be faintly heard wafting across the dining room, blues music, of course.

This was a magical evening for honeymooners from New York, Rick and Pam Wake. They were visiting the mountains of Panama for a short time and happened upon this very special Underground Dining experience in Boquete.

Everyone wished them many happy years together, hoping they would return soon to Boquete. It was a beautiful way to begin their new lives together, as well as to experience what fine Panamanian cuisine can be.

I love this photo of the Blueberry Tres Leches Cakes. The chefs topped each slice with different colored cherries, but no blue! I could have made blue ones, don’t you think? The fresh whipped cream was a huge treat.

Chefs Renny and Marvin made this evening very special in many ways. They brought together folks from all over the world and treated them to fine foods prepared in Panamanian style. They were beautiful to look at, delectable to taste, glorious to enjoy with new friends.

Thanks very much to Jack and Mary for sharing their “Blue Vistas” of Boquete with all of us, their home is delightful in every way.

Cora

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