Merecumbé is my trademark, I chose it back at culinary arts school when I was working on my final project, creating a restarurant. It means a musical rythm, a fusion between Colombian Cumbia and the Merengue of the Caribbean. In Panama, my country, it has different connotations, usually referring to things that are a mess, but work well together... like jazz. A Merecumbé is likely to start before a bigger problem. In my culinary world everything is possible as long as it remains ordained by tecnique and discipline. It is by those two pilars that I support having the craziness around.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Panamanian Traditional Food: Patacón, Ceviche, Guandú con Coco y Ropa Vieja

     My cousin David and his girlfriend Joy are from Dallas, Texas and wanted to have some real Panamanian food. So I made dinner with Joy, we bought everything fresh from the market and invited my brother and his girlfriend too. We had a lovely evening and a hearty meal. As an appetizer we made sea bass ceviche with patacones, which is fried green plantain. It is typical to make them flat, and eat them just like that;  or you can top them with cheese, such as fresh local cheese like we did. You can also shape them into little buckets and fill them with ceviche and make a great appetizer.

As a main course we made ''arroz con coco y guandu'', which is coconut and green pigeons beans rice, and ''ropa vieja'', which is a brisket stew that translates into old clothes!

One Small Serving!

Arroz con Guandú

Ropa Vieja
2 pounds brisket
1 onion sliced
2 bell peppers sliced
1 cilantro leaf minced
2 cloves garlic minced
4 tomatoes, peeled and diced
¼ cup of tomato paste
3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
S + P to taste
Olive oil
1.       In a large pot with water boil brisket about 1 hour.  Drain, let cool and shred with a fork.
2.       Heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until tender and a little golden, add the bell peppers and then the garlic. Immediately add the tomato paste and deglaze, add the tomato cubes, the cilantro and the meat. Cover and lower the heat.
3.       Adjust the seasonings and cook until it’s tender. You may add some of the cooking stock from the brisket.

I hope you enjoy my traditional food!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Raspberry Cheesecake with an Almond Graham Crust

     I told you I made 6 desserts for Christmas for a 25 people dinner didn't I? Ok I am revealing the entire menu....
  • Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Fruitcake Cup Cakes
  • Coconut Flan
  • Ginger Chocolate Kiss Cookies
  • Sugar Cookies
  • Raspberry Cheesecake

         Raspberry Cheesecake with an Almond Graham Crust $40
The truth is I had been on a diet for the entire month of December so I would not touch a single cup cake while making hundreds of them, and it really worked. I decided I would break my diet on the 24th for dinner and on the 25th for lunch and continue until February, I will tell you later what happens in February!!! I have been craving cheesecake for ever, specially the graham crust!!! So I decided to make it to treat my self after such a hard work month and for achieving my goal with my dieting, now I can continue, guilt free, I strongly recommend this!

I made a classic cheesecake, but added some almond paste to the crust to make it nutty, it was lovely. The raspberry sauce I thickened with pectin, you can use agar agar, xantham gum or any other type of emulsifier that will nut take away its shiny look, like starches. It  is tangy and really good specially when you are having so many desserts jijiji...



BEST SELLER: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

    I have been making this recipe for a while know, but never with the marvelous results of this season. I have to be honest, I did make some adjustments in the recipe, so it is better, it has more carrots, it is more moist, the frosting improved by mistake, ups! I changed the temperature of the oven, the time... wait! I am making a different carrot cake this year? Well maybe I am, and maybe it is better.

$30, loaf $22, 6 cupcakes $12

The truth is I wasn't planning on making any, except for the cupcakes, but my Aunt Ariana, loves giving a loaf size to her peers at work and last year I didn't make any, so I had to please her this year. I ended up making loafs and bundts. For my benefit, I Think I have an excellent new product, I made a couple for Christmas dinners and for a birthday, and have an order placed already. This would make a wonderful wedding cake too!

Carrot Cake is a great gift year round and the ingredients are in season year round too, so feel free to contact me to place your orders any time of the year. You can choose any color of cream cheese icing, or natural if you may... also, any type of sprinkles, which I find adorable. The picture shown here, which I took in a hurry at my Mother's, isn't so good, but in detail the sprinkles are super cute.



I do... I love you Fruitcake...

    I will marry you and have your cupcakes!!! wait... You said cupcakes? Off course I did... This is my blog... and whenever possible EVERYTHING IS MADE INTO A CUPCAKE. This year I wanted to follow Christmas traditions by the book. Why? Well because I usually get sad around the Holidays and I decided I was going to be happy making delicious and wonderful things for my loved ones. I made 6 desserts for a 25 people dinner so you figure. My family is specially known for HATING fruitcake, we actually banished it from our Christmas table. However some of us secretly love it. Like my dearest aunt Loraine, who called me like a week before Christmas asking me where she could PURCHASE a good one... I really didn't know.
   A couple of years ago, while I was working for R/S, a local supermarket and pastry, bread, blah, blah industry I made a research on fruitcake and several samples. I liked the results, but was a little bit tight with the budget on ingredients and forced to used that horrible greed and red gummy bears like fruit mix!!! So, with that background, my cravings, and  a very important tool in my hands I made up my mind: I was making my family a fruitcake they would love.
    The tool I had in my hands was the book, The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Both the introduction to fruit cakes and the way she explains how the cake in the fruitcake has disappeared are key to understanding as a pastry chef what you are looking for in your batter. So I took that recipe as a base and as a theoretical concept to achieve what I wanted. What I wanted was to bake cupcakes 4 days ahead that tasted like they had been marinating for 3 years, and trust me they did.
   My secret ingredients where: coconut, dates, figs and fresh blueberries.... and a lot of rum!!!! Next year I am definitely selling these, so be sure to place your order in time, because trust me, if my family said this cake was heavenly good, you are never going to try fruitcake this good. This is fruitcake cupcakes merecumbéTM.

                                  Fruitcake Cup Cakes with Felt Toppers by



New Cup Cake Flavor

     I've been meaning to make a savoury cupcake for a while know, but with all my Christmas orders for my six pack cupcakes I couldn't find the time. I finally did and I went for a seasonal flavor: cornbread. I embellished it a little by adding extra kernel corn, crispy bacon, lemon zest, and poppy seeds. To garnish I made a cream cheese frosting with a red pepper caramel twist and chopped chives. This is a season only cupcake, but I wanted to share the results with you!!!

For off season cornbread recipes or orders, please feel free to contact me,



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mini Artisan Pepperoni Pizzas

     Last weekend was my sister's Mona Lisa 17th birthday and she invited her friends over. It is a little difficult to cook for teenagers, they still eat like kids but want to be treated as adults. I made finger food and I will be posting the entire menu as soon as she gives me the pics! We used her camera for most of the photos. I decided to make mini pizzas from scratch, I started two days in advanced. To make a chewy but crusty bread I had to make a poolish on day one, the batter on day two, and the pizza on day  three. For the sauce I kept it simple using garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste and fresh basil with a pinch of red pepper flakes. .For the cheese I chose a blend of Italian grated cheeses, topped with one pepperoni and a pinch of dried oregano. This was the lovely result:

Fresh Pizza Dough

Tomato Sauce

Cheese and Oregano


I make these for special orders 4 days in advance
30$ for 20 units



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mother's Day Coconut Flan

      One of my most frequented customers requested a coconut flan for Mother's day. I decided to kick it up notch and improved my recipe! This creamy caramel coconut flan is presented with caramel clusters and to give extra coco nutty flavor, toasted flakes. The ingredients must of course include coconut milk, not only coconut flakes and then call it ¨coconut flan¨.  I decided I am going to make one for my Christmas dinner, I just loved the beach like, tropical scent mingling with the rich caramel. One of the things I did learn by eating experience and observation is that if you really soak your flan in caramel, the result are these rich bubbles, that are like a sponge absorbing that rich sauce. They might not be text book correct or aesthetic, but damn that's what I absolutely crave for in a homemade flan. This I learned from Santos, My step mom Mona Lisa's nanny, that learned from her grandmother (also  Mona Lisa) all her recipes. They cooked their flan au bain Marie on the stove top and it is to die for!

That is the spongy texture I mentioned before...

$ 25
two days in advanced orders



Friday, November 26, 2010

10 Minute Pasta!!!

     It's Friday and I am sick in bed with the flu, I've been craving veggies and something fresh but don't feel well enough to stand up through a long cooking process. Since I didn't go to the groceries store I have to fix a meal with whatever I have in the pantry, and I find: butter, frozen fresh ricotta raviolis, garlic, one big tomato, some mushrooms, and dried basil leaves. This is what I made:

Ingredients for 1 person:

5 large raviolis
1 large tomato, peeled and cut into cubes
5 mushrooms, cut in small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch pepper
pinch dried basil
Parmesan cheese

1. Put a small pot of water to boil.
2. put butter in a small pan with butter and garlic and heat on low for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes removing constantly, add salt and tomatoes and cook on high for 3 more minutes, don't leave it alone because it may now stick to the bottom. You want to cook it on high so you sauteé.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta so everything is ready at the same time
4. Finally add pepper and basil to add aroma.
5. Plate pasta and add the sauce with Parmesan cheese and voila!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lactose Free Carrot Cake Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting

       One of the things I love about teaching is the constant need of studying and searching I need to do to keep up with my student's needs and expectations. Private lessons are special because you really get to ask your teacher what you want to learn, and as a teacher you learn as well. I have a lactose intolerant student who doesn't take no for an answer and we've made the most incredible lactose free recipes. Fortunately you can find several lactose free products and substitutes in the market and with a little imagination the sky is the limit. Today I am sharing a lactose free pseudo cream cheese frosting recipe for carrot cake cup cakes, you can try it with other cakes such as red velvet and it would be lovely too. I will tell you the brand of the products I used because the result was like the real thing and even better!

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan buttery sticks (sold at Organica, here in Panama)
 8 oz  of Toffuti Better Than Cream Cheese imitation cream cheese, plain (Riba Smith Supermarket)
4 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1. Beat all the ingredients together
2. Pipe a pastry bag
3. decorate cupcakes
4. enjoy

To place Xmas orders contact me, I can also make red velvet!!!



Monday, November 22, 2010

Light and Quick... Salmon with Potatoes and Asparagus

     Today I taught Aida one of my surviving glamorously and easy healthy recipes. I was inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, which is always fresh and nutritionally balanced. We made a  pan seared with olive oil salmon for protein which has rich omega fatty acids. Accompanied by potatoes that were sauteed with a pinch of butter,  for carbohydrates. Asparagus, red pearl onions, chives, and tarragon,  for veggies. You can cook all of it in 30 minutes and arrange it beautifully on a plate. Who said a fancy meal had to be complicated?

Contact me for Private Cooking Classes!



Friday, November 19, 2010

Obtaining Cacao from scratch...

Cocoa comes from the cacao beans that grow in the cacao tree. From cocoa we make cocoa powder, chocolate and cocoa butter. I am going to briefly explain how we process the cacao beans to get the pure cocoa powder.

1. Collect the cacao beans and toast them without burning them. This process can be made in a oven, a skillet or in the sun. This is how the beans look when they are unpeeled.

2. Peel the beans, I did it by hand. I am sure industries have other mechanisms but that is not my intention to show here. So here is how the beans look during and after they are peeled.

3. Milling and Grinding process, I used the same mill used  to process corn and it worked fine, I just had to process it several times adding more pressure as I advanced, it was fast.

4. Last stop is to sift it. To store I decided to freeze it vacuum packed because the nature of this process is so rudimentary. You can also use freeze Ziploc  Remember this is super concentrated unsweetened cocoa with all its fat content, it is great for mole sauce.

5. So this is what a real chocoholic chef does, learns how to get her real cocoa and have it to!


Panama Roots... The Embera Drua, What they Eat?

     Last summer my friend Arianne was here in Panama on vacations, she is Panamanian but lives in Italy right now. She is my most adventurous friend and I love traveling with her, we are like two Monica Gellers from the show Friends. We love having the perfect schedule, the route, the munchies, and the most important: the company. We decided to go to the northeast side of the rio Chagres where there is a reservation of indigenous people called the Embera Drua. The trip began at the Alajuela lake where we took a canoe.

Arianne and I

    The voyage was incredible, it was something like a little glance at our fauna and flora. We saw eagles, hummingbirds, herons... dragon flies flirting with the water, and butterflies fluttering all around. Not to mention the trees! If you looked closely you would see several Panama Trees, and a very tepid rainforest, part of the National Chagres Park. The Chagres River provides almost 50% of the water that is necessary for the Panama Canal to function, and it also supplies two of the biggest cities in the country, Panama and Colon.

When we arrived the Embera Drua received us cheerfully at the shore, they all gathered to welcome us. They took us to a ranch with wooden floor for visitors and gave us a brief explanation on how they arrived to the river. We were told that back in the 70's they migrated from Darien to the city, but never could adapt.  It is then when they established in this zone. They now conform about 20 families in this community.

Me with the Embera girls

They later explained to us their garments and the way they dress. Men wear a loincloths and women a top made with beads (originally was made with seeds), coins, and a skirt made with very colorful prints. Before they used cloth for their skirts, they used the bark of a tree. Now a days they go to the city and shop for fabrics. As part of their culture they paint their bodies with some sort of tattoos that last for weeks. The Embera Drua  make crafts with palm tree leafs that they dye, and with these fibers they make baskets, plates, vessels. They use a root called yuquilla to make yellow and green tones, achiote for orange, and teak leafs for read. For brown they use the bark of the cocobolo tree, mud for black, wild fruits for blue and different blends for shades of purple and pink. To make jewelry and sculptures they  work with the seeds of the Tagua palm tree, and dry it and paint it  They work very well with the cocobolo wood, and make a strong point not to varnish it, but to polish it to make it glossy. There is a small market in the community for visitors.
Indigenous women working her crafts

I was very interested to know what they ate in this community. I have to confess I had imagined a more diverse, seasoned repertoire. Their eating habits are based essentially in carbohydrates such as yucca, plantain, and rice. As a main source of protein they have fish such as Tilapia and Sargento which are from the river Chagres. Vitamins and minerals are supplied by fruits. The culinary techniques that are applied are deep frying, baking, and boiling. When I asked if they had any traditional dish they said no, that their diet was based on what natured supplied. Then a women made clear they had a ''rice bollo''. This dish was nothing more than unsalted boiled rice wrapped in a Bijao leaf that keeps it warm, so you can take it with you while you are working, like a lunchbox. Before and after each meal they wash their hands in a container that has water with basil.

  Water with basil vessel
The menu was fried tilapia with patacones (fried green plantain) and for dessert, fruits. The tilapia is a small river fish that looks more less like a trout, but with a more delicate flavor; it has white flesh and its very tender. The bones are very well structured and easy to find. My culinary discovery was finding out the tagua seeds are edible when they are fresh, and that their flavor resembles that of coconut water with a coconut texture. These are found during the rainy season, I am thinking... Ice cream!!!

I hope you enjoyed this culinary adventure, specially this month of November when we celebrate Panama's month, I think it is very important to remember who our people is and what are nature is.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fancy + Fresh + French

      Sea Scallops, Beurre Blanc and Puff Pastry with Baby Carrots, Wild Mushrooms and Baby Peas...Simple yet sophisticated, like most French food is. Butter, omnipresent, both in the sauce and in the puff pasty. Get your sea scallops from your local market, have them fresh, not frozen. Pan sear them, cooking them with olive oil! Buy frozen puff pastry if you don't want to make your own, I use the brand Pepperidge Farm whenever I don't have time to make it and it works for me. Eigther choose this veggies or pick the ones that are in season and just pre cook and sautee. Beurre blanc is very easy and fast, it is fresh and tangy. Here is a plating idea so you can indulge your family and friends with this delicious French stylish culinary idea.

From my cooking class with the Carles Ferrer  family

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Sexy Must Have... Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes

     Yes, its sexy... Yes, its individual. Off course you can share, but please have your own piece! This easy to make individual molten chocolate cake is a romantic dessert that will make you look and feel great.  You can decorate it with whipped cream, ice cream, berries, chocolate sauce... The secret for success in this recipe is to use really good dark chocolate and butter and to respect the temperatures and cooking times. You want to create two different densities, one is the cakey texture and the other one is the fudgy texture from the truffle we put inside the cake. Bake it just until it puffs in the oven and its warm inside, let it rest a little so you can unmold and it eat it warm. Here is how it goes.

Yield: 8
For The Truffles

4 ounces of dark chocolate (85% cocoa)
3 tablespoons half and half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup of confectioners sugar

1. Melt the butter and chocolate with the half and half in the microwave.
2. Stir it constantly to cool.
3. Line a tray with parchment paper.
4. Pour chocolate in a Ziploc and make 8 truffles on top of   the paper. Cool in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes.

For The Cake

5 oz of dark chocolate (85% cocoa)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 cup of sugar
5 tablespoons of flour
confectioners sugar to dust cakes
8 strawberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
2. Cut 8 circles of parchment paper the size of the bottom of the ramekins.
3. Grease the molds with butter.
4. Put the parchment paper on the bottom of each mold.
5. Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave, stir to cool.
6. Beat the sugar and eggs with the sugar until it is 3 sizes bigger in volume.
7. Add the chocolate mixture and slowly beat to combine.
8. Fold in the flour.
9. Pour the batter into the molds, filling them half way.
10. Add 1 truffle to each cake.
11. Bake 15 to 20  minutes. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before unmolding. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar and top with a strawberry.

Another option is to leave the cake in the ramekin, but be careful beacause it will be very hot!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How to Keep it Healthy Arround the Holidays

     It is that time of the year. People at work will start thinking about food and bring extra goodies at the work place. You will start receiving extra invitations for family dinners, friends get together, co workers end of the year celebrations, and the list goes on. There are three turkeys in your freezer, a ham, frozen tamales... You are getting unexpected gifts such as: rum cake, fruitcake, decorated sugar cookies, kourambiedes, gingerbread, brownies, eggnog.... The traffic is terrible, you are tired... your schedule is all wrong, you are not working out... STOP!!!

1. You don't have to eat all those goodies this month of the year. Here is tip, get some plastic tupper wares and freeze whatever you can such as: cake, brownies, some cookies...

2. Do not feel obligated to eat Holiday treats, it happens every year. If it overwhelms you, drop it.

3. Try and make sometime to at least work out three times a week to release stress.

4. Think Green... Here is how.

    Have some salad to refresh your soul and cleanse your body and mind. You can add protein if you want to make it your main course. Here I give you two ideas to make green colorful and satiating.

Asian Marinated Tuna Tataky with Baby Greens, Cashew Vinaigrette and Red Bell Pepper Syrup

Grilled Asparagus, Cantaloupe, Mozzarella di Buffalla, Pine Nuts, Crunchy Serrano Ham and Spearmint Vinaigrette

For more salad ideas do not hesitate to consult me, remember keeping it fresh is always a great idea to maintain control of your eating habits. This way you wont feel as bad if you indulge your self with some guilty pleasures around the holidays. In the end, the best part is enjoying with your loved ones.



Working with Fondant... A great way to Relax

     This past November holidays I went to my Mother's house at  El Valle de Antón, a beautiful place here in Panama where the weather is chill and very very humid, not to good for fondant though. I had a week off so I packed some ingredients and tools and off course, my most important thing, my pets: Nina (chihuahua) and Oliver (my sister's, Mona Lisa, Pomeranian). I've been meaning to practice my cake decorating skills for a while now, but never find the time to do so. My family and friends have all been encouraging me to dedicate more time to baking and making sweet treats because they believe I have a special touch for it, I believe its called a sweet tooth.
   I do love making crafts and in order to decorate and finish some pastries and cakes you must like paying attention to details. Never forget that everything that   is edible should taste good. I really hate it when you grab a purple or fuchsia cupcake at a children's party or a beautiful fondant decorated brownie at a baby shower and they just taste like Pepto! What is the point of making it pretty if it tastes like %&$# ??? There is nothing better than finding that perfect balance between cake and frosting! For example:

Rose Buds Chocolate Cake
  • Flour less dark chocolate cake with chocolate ganache: sure, you have to be an admitted chocoholic like me  for this one, but here is how it works... inside it is rich, dense, fudgy. Outside it is creamy, refreshing, and decorative! To make it fancier: tiny gum paste pastel or white flowers, gold or silver powder, white or dark chocolate curls...
  • Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting: a classic! forget about extra sweet frosting or too buttery, keep it cheesy with a touch of a top quality vanilla extract. You can make a cake or cupcakes, and with this type of frosting you can play along.. Frost with an offset spatula in different shapes, pipe it, make flowers, color your frosting... add sprinkles, sugar crystals...
  • Yellow Cake with Buttercream: this is a classic birthday cake which you can actually layer and fill with more buttercream or try different fillings such as... .dulce de leche, ganache, berries, flavored buttercreams... The piping techniques are the best to decorate the buttercream frosting and you can color it and create multiple designs. You can of course make cupcakes too!!!

    So, when it comes to making cake decorating something more fancy the trend is to use fondant. I like to have my cake and eat it to, so if fondant is not going to taste good... I prefer a traditional buttercream cake. In fact, my all time favorite birthday cake is a very traditional one here in Panama from a very famous bakery called MOMI. It is the most inexpensive cake ever, the cutest 70's style buttercream frosted yellow cake, with three layers of ''manjar blanco'' which is our dulce de leche, it is to die for. My last birthday I order it with purple roses =)
    Since I am a curious chef and food lover I have tried many different types of fondant at weddings, parties, bakeries. I have done my research and the best thing I ever read about it is that fondant usually ends up in the plate like an orange rind, people just don't like eating it, but somehow love seeing it and most of all ordering and buying it. I told you I did my research didn't I? So there is a type of fondant that does taste good... It is homemade, It is not that expensive... and it is very fun to work with.. It is called marshmallow fondant. Its made with marshmallows, so it tastes like marshmallows. I made it in 10 minutes and you can keep it for weeks in your refrigerator.
   So on that rainy week at El Valle I melted my marshmallows, kneaded my fondant with powdered sugar, tinted different shades.. baked some cakes and played inside the kitchen like I did when I was 8. That's what I love about cake decorating, even though now a days one takes it more seriously... as a job.. one's inner child is always present reminiscent of those rainy days, when you where stuck inside the house. Nothing was better than baking goodies and dusting the entire kitchen with flour! Let it rain...



Friday, October 29, 2010

The Perfect Xmas Gift: Assorted Cupcake Sixpacks

Plan your Christmas Gifts... Give Delicious Cupcake Boxes!!!

Planifica tus Regalitos para estas Navidades... Regala unas Deliciosas Cajitas de Cupcakes!!!

Brownie and Smores Cupcake

Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting Cupcake

Red Velvet

Box Size/Tamaño de la Cajita: 6 pack
2 each flavor/ 2 de cada sabor
price/precio $12.00

order 3 days in advance
ordenar con 3 dias de antelación


(507) 64309559



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

These Holidays Be a Professional Chef: Private Cooking Classes


    Have you ever dreamed of making your own Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years menu from A to Z? I have a solution, schedule a private cooking class with me and will custom make your menu and practice ahead one on one. Here are some ideas....

Menu #1
Coctel de Pixbae
Jamon con Glaze de Guayaba
Rum Cake

Menu #2
Ceviche de Corvina
Arroz con Coco y Guandu
Mini Pecan Pies
Alguna vez has soñado con hacer tu propio menu de accion de gracias, navidad o año nuevo de la A a la Z? Tengo la solución, programa una clase de cocina privada conmigo y haremos un menu a tu medida y practicaremos desde antes mano a mano, arriba, algunas de mis sugerencias.

(507) 64309559

A Girl In Love With Chocolate

     If there is something you need to know about me as a person, chef, friend, lover, that is... I have a passionate affair with chocolate. It started when I lived in Spain by myself and I discovered what being alone was really all about. Chocolate was always there for me. Our first date was ¨pain au chocolat¨, that is croissants rolled with a dark chocolate bar inside and then sprinkled with chocolate, that my friend would be breakfast. Our second date for breakfast or lets be honest any time of the day I would walk by that lovely patisseria catalana (Catalonian bakery) with an actual artisan production and come in, would be a black and white chocolate napoleon... oh dear!!! And these are only baked goods...
    At my school, Escuela de Hosteleria Hofmann Barcelona, they would make the most wonderful chocolate truffles and chocolate fondant that off course were not part of the students menu, but the pastry chefs and students were well aware of my chocoholic situation, and whenever possible a transaction was made. Now before you think I was a pig back in college let me tell you my life was pretty hectic so I could afford spending all the calories chocolate treats have!!!
    As for chocolate bars I used to be a Milka junkie, that is the brand I used to buy off the supermarket, eigther the milk chocolate or the one with hazelnuts. And as for chocolate boutiques I would stop by them and try different flavors, but when you have a real chocolate craving there is nothing better than a piece of really good quality dark chocolate. Did you now our body is at 32° C and that chocolate starts melting at 25°C? I once read that contrast of temperatures gives a cold sensation that relieves anxiety immediately, and don't forget chocolate is an antidepressant and an afordisiac. That's why I came up with this cake!

Chocolate Secrets
     One layer of dark chocolate brownie, dulce de leche, one layer of white chocolate blondie, nutella ganache, piroulines, white chocolate frosting. 

To order
(507) 64309559



Sea Bass Ceviche, Great for Cocktail Parties

     Ceviche de Corvina is a traditional sea food appetizer in Panama and many Latin American cultures, the recipes and techniques vary a lot, and it can be made from different ingredients. Here is a safe recipe that can be made with one day in advance. It is perfect for get togethers where you want to serve an appetizer or an hors d'oeuvres. Serve it very cold with crackers or melba toasts.

Ceviche de Corvina Panameño: 10 servings


2.5 pounds cleaned sea bass
4 tablespoons salt
1 Habannero pepper or Aji Chombo
2 cups of lime juice
2 red onions
1 bunch of cilantro minced
pepper to taste

1. Cut the sea bass into small dices. Immerse in water with 1 tablespoon of salt and ice for one hour.

2. Mince the Habbanero pepper (be careful not to touch your face, eyes, mouth, or nose after, preferably use latex gloves).

3 Cut the onion into small dice, mix in a crystal bowl with the Habbanero, 3 tablespoons of salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Add the fish, drained and pop in the refrigerator covered  for 4 to 12 hours. Eat within the next 48 hours


If you want to add some freshness to your Ceviche try adding some fresh Mango!!!

     If you don't like the acidity of the Ceviche and you want to make it fancy or try something different here is a twist. Try draining all the liquid and adding mayonnaise or cream cheese to taste, a little mustard is great too. I love adding some toasted almonds, grapes, granny smith apples, and why not? bacon!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An All Time Favorite... Banana Bread

     Today I revealed my  recipe of Banana Bread to my student Aida. This recipe has been with me for over 10 years. It came out by mistake, I was following a recipe and I will tell you this... I used brown sugar instead of white, baking soda instead of baking powder and almonds instead of walnuts. Everyone liked it so I've been improving it ever since, and now everyone begs for it. This recipe is going to be part of a possible business idea, so until I don't make it worth a couple of hundred thousands of dollars,  the secret remains a secret;  unless of course you are a lovely student of mine that happens to inquire to learn how to make banana bread. If you are desperate to try it,  feel free to contact me and I will be happy to satisfy your order for some monetary exchange!!!

Be that as it may, here are a few tips for making a Banana Bread:
  • Always use super ripe bananas. They should be dark on the outside and very soft to the touch on the inside, this way they are sweeter and give greater taste and texture to your cake.
  • When your cake is cold, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it mature overnight inside a plastic container outside the refrigerator. This will enhance the flavors and improve the consistency.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Baba Ganoush, an Afrodisiac Favorite

    Ok so now I am sharing one of my best soul food recipes, Baba Ganoush! this is... a Smoked Egg Plant Dip!!! I made it yesterday for my friend Mayi's birthday party along with other banging dishes. I am writing about this one because its the one that really woke up my taste buds. The secret is in toasting the eggplant's skins a little bit to give it a smokey flavor that combined with the spices, the tahini, the garlic and the lemon its just to die for. To dip in, I´ve chosen wholewheat pita bread soaked in a herbed olive oil and toasted in the oven.. Here is how it goes, you will thank me for it... and really, you just need a kithchen stove, an oven, and a food processor or blender... so come on! Not only its easy and deliciuous, here is another secret... it's an afrodisiac... but shhh, lets keep it between us, who rock it inside and outside the kitchen =)

Preheat the oven at 300°F

Baba Ganoush
4 large eggplants
4 tablespoons of tahini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1 garlic clove
juice of 1 lemon

1. Pass the eggplants directly over the stove top fire  to burn the skin just until it changes color, do not over burn or it will taste bitter. Use thongs.
2. Put all the eggplants in a baking dish and brush with olive oil  and add salt. Bake until they are tender.
3. Cut lenght wise and with a spoon scoop the pulp discarding the skin.
4. Put all the pulp and the remaining ingredients in the food processor and mix.
5. Serve in a bowl with the pita bread.

Pita Bread Toasts:
2 packs of wholewheat pita bread
1 tray of fresh rosemary
1 tray of fresh thyme
1 tray of fresh oregano
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 pinch of freshly ground pepper

1. Process all the ingredients together
2. Cut all the pita bread into triangles
3. Dip the bread into the oil and place in a baking sheet.
4. Toast in the oven and serve.

Icebox Key Lime Pie

    I´ve been making this recipe for nine years and its a winner. Its my little sister Veronica´s favorite, and she always gets mad at me whenever I eat it all and leave no trace of it for her, I promised her with the last one I was never doing that again and I haven't. One of the things I love about this pie is that you can make it ahead and pop it in the freezer and  not worry about making dessert at the last moment. It is also really easy to make and the list of ingredients isn't very long. Key Lime Pie is originally from Florida,  it was not baked or frozen. Pies were made in the afternoon and left overnight to chill when the temperature was lower, there was no refrigeration at the time. So the acidity of the limes will curdle the condensed milk and egg yolks by changing the protein structures. You would off course have to use super extra fresh eggs since lime would not cook or kill any bacteria. It is typically served with whipped cream or meringue. In this recipe we cook the crust first and then the whole pie with the meringue, i just love the taste of it when its a little toasted.

Preheat the oven to 350°F


3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup unsalted butter melted

1. In a bowl mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter to form a paste like dough.

2. Press unto a 9 inch pie mold

3. Bake for 5 minutes, cool. 

1 can condensed milk
1/3 cup lime juice
1 egg yolk

1. In a bowl whisk together all the ingredients.

2. Pour into prepared molds.

6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar

1. Whisk the egg whites until they are foamy

2. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla, continue whisking. Gradually add the sugar without stopping and continue whisking until you reach soft peaks.

3. With a rubber spatula mound a fair amount of meringue in the center of the pie and cover the entire pie. It is important to seal it all the way to the edges so the meringue will not float.

4. Bake in the center of the oven for about 10 minutes or until its a little golden.

5. Cool completely and freeze.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cancer Awareness Southern Pink Velvet Cupcakes

     One of my best friends in the whole world is also my favorite artist and an inspiration. Her name is Mayi Carles, she is a painter, blogger and makes the most beautiful handmade accessories with organic felt, she has an amazing studio at her house and a lovely kitchen where I have given her private classes and where we also hang out and cook for fun. She has a web were you can find her work and her not to miss blog,; and also access her incredible online store. We got together and decided we wanted to make something pink to support breast cancer and I came up with this pink velvet cupcake recipe.  I chose to use wholewheat flour, but trust me on this one, it really rounds up the flavor and texture and  the cupcake is still super moist and tangy.   


Here are a couple of tips while making cupcakes:

  • Always use paper cups they allow your cupcakes to rise easily, if you don't use them and decide to grease your muffin tins only or use foil paper cups, the batter will not rise as well.
  • The average amount of batter you need to pour in your molds to get a good size cupcake is about 3/4 parts.
  • Never ice or frost your cupcakes while they are still warm.

Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Felt Flag Toppers available at