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