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Panama: Mother’s Day Message & 1 Delicious Recipe! edit

R_1 Today is Mother's day in Panama. It seems to me that not even in a day like this I can stop talking about food. Maybe that's good, because it will give me the opportunity to tell you a little story. Here I go:

Many, many years ago, when in Panama City you could purchase a delicious  "shaved ice" for five cents or less, there was a beautiful woman with a bright smile and big eyes full of life. She was quite young and madly in love. One day, she woke up to find her heart all covered with "chocolate dipped red rose petals". She was "expecting."

She was so happy, but somehow the chocolate melted and disappeared along with her lover. Then, all by herself, she" baked the bun." Eventually the lover came back and they baked together more bread; everyone knows that. But, the first one was especially difficult: she was all by herself, the oven was new and came with no instructions.

That was the story of my mother, the "accidental baker." I am really grateful she baked that first bun to the end! I am also grateful she let me snack on her roses and didn't tell my great grandmother that I was eating hers too smile

mother's day dia de las madres panama cookingdiva chef melissa de leon charlie collins elena hernandez academia artes culinarias happy mother day feliz recipes cake carimanoras yuca cassava fritters mandioca tapioca

Cp_1_web We want to send all our love to the "Panamanian Mothers" in Panama, and all over the world. We thank you from the bottom of our heart for all of the work, time and love involved in bringing your children to this world and raising them to be people of goodness. Que Dios las bendiga a todas! Special hugs to Kelly , and to Yovanna's mom.

There is something else for you: a very special recipe, one that is traditional and loved until the last bite! This time it has been dressed up to the occasion by Chef Charlie Collins, one of Panama's top chefs and owner of "Ma Cuisine". (Gracias Charlie! por la receta). The photo was taken at the "Academia de Artes Culinarias"  owned by Chef Elena Hernandez. (Gracias Elena, y felicidades a ti tambien en el dia de las madres!)

You will learn how to prepare Carimañolas. It is a typical Panamanian - Colombian fried food served at breakfast in our homes, or as appetizers in parties. The shape is oval, it resembles a kibbe.

(Cassava and Beef Fritters with Hot Sauce)

Fresh yuca is available in most Latin American markets. This root with a tough brown skin ranges from 8 to 16 inches in length and from 2 to 4 inches in diameter. When peeled, yuca reveals a crisp white hard flesh, which turns ivory in color when cooked in salted water. It is widely used in Panamanian Cuisine particularly in soups and in carimañolas.

Makes 12 carimañolas

For the yuca “masa”:
2 pounds fresh yuca
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil
For the meat filling:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon annatto paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium Spanish onion, finely chopped, approximately 1 cup
½ pound ground lean beef
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves, crumbled
2 fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon scotch bonnet hot sauce, optional*
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Cut the yucca root in cylinders 4 inches in length, and then peel the thick brown skin off. Cut each cylinder in 4 sticks and place in a bowl with tap water while you peel the rest.
  2. In a large pot bring salted water to a rolling boil. Add the yuca sticks and cook for approximately 15 to 25 minutes, or until it is tender but not mushy. Remove form the fire and strain allowing it to cool for about 1 hour. Cut the yuca sticks into small cubes.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the yuca in two or three parts, until it is completely mashed to a smooth, thick consistency. Place the purée in a large bowl and keep covered until ready to form the carimañolas.
  4. Prepare the meat filling. In a medium skillet, heat the oil with the annatto paste. Add the garlic, onion and ground beef and cook until the meat is slightly brown. Add the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook the filling at medium heat until most of the meat juices have evaporated and the filling is moist but not juicy. Remove from the heat and let the filling cool completely.
  5. To form the carimañolas, wet your hands with a little oil and take a small amount of the mashed yucca in the palm of your hand. Roll the yuca between both hands and work it to the shape of an egg. Press your finger in the middle to make room for one teaspoon of the filling. Press the the filling in, close the carimañola, and finish giving it an oval shape. Dust with flour and place in a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Repeat the process until you have made 12 carimañolas.
  6. In a large skillet, add enough oil and heat to about 350°F. Fry the carimañolas turning them often until they are light brown. Drain over paper towels and serve hot with Salsa Picante!

To get other delicious recipes using "cassava", take a moment to visit Chef Melissa's Recipe Index

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  • by Chef Melissa
  • December 08, 2005
  • 9:00 am


Picture of Yovanna .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
12.08.05 at 01:31 PM |

Happy Mother’s Day! Feliz dia de las madres! To all the mom’s out there!
And thank you so much Melissa for your warm wishes to my mom. She was so excited to see your greeting!

Picture of Melissa Melissa said on...
12.08.05 at 01:41 PM |

Yovanna, thanks for your visit! I am glad your mom saw the post. You are very lucky to have each other smile By the way, tomorrow I will post your cake recipe. I’ll keep you posted.

Picture of nebur nebur said on...
12.08.05 at 02:51 PM |

I am Kelly’s brother.  What a great post! Happy Mother’s Day to my mom here and to all mi tias en Panama.

Picture of saomai saomai said on...
12.08.05 at 04:10 PM |

Que bonita historia, Melissa!! y feliz dia de la madre en Panama!!!Besos

Picture of Elena Hernandez Elena Hernandez said on...
12.08.05 at 05:17 PM |

Thanks for the good wishes Melissa, I enjoyed the story and glad you liked the pic!
Hasta pronto smile

Picture of kelly kelly said on...
12.08.05 at 05:18 PM |

Feliz día de las madres.  Thanks for the reminder - so busy that I almost forgot.  -kelly

Picture of cannella cannella said on...
12.09.05 at 05:06 AM |

Hola Melissa, gracias por otra receta de yuca, me estoy aficionando a este túbero, y felicidades a todas las madres de Panamá.
Ya me dirás entonces si te gustan o no los cambios que he hecho. Un beso

Picture of vlb5757 vlb5757 said on...
12.09.05 at 08:33 AM |

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers there in Panama!  Husbands, hire Melissa to cook a dinner for your wife.  That will be a much appreciated and wonderful gift to give; a day off from cooking for your wife or mother.

Picture of Melissa Melissa said on...
12.09.05 at 08:49 AM |

Nebur & kelly: Thank you for your visit. I am glad you didnt forget about -mothers day- after all smile Hugs!

SaoMai, Elena y Cannella: me alegra tenerlas de visita. Por cierto, no se olviden de participar en la meme de Museos: Arte y Comida—-de Sao Mai. Pasense por Cocinalia para ver los detalles!

Vickie: Thank You!!! That was a GOOD move! smile

Picture of Paz Paz said on...
12.09.05 at 09:08 AM |

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, mothers-to-be, and women who give of themselves to others.  Beautiful post and tasty-looking recipe, Melissa.

I have tagged you for a meme—10 favorite foods. 



Picture of Yovanna .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
12.09.05 at 12:06 PM |

Thanks again Melissa! I hope folks enjoy the cake. It’s really tasty for the holidays:) Don’t forget to post the rosca navideña and soncocho recipes:) I’ve got my pots, pans and measuring cups ready:)

Picture of Elvira Elvira said on...
12.09.05 at 12:22 PM |

I wish a very happy day to all the mummies of Panama! grin

Picture of Champurrado Champurrado said on...
12.09.05 at 03:02 PM |

Sra. Diva:

Feliz dia de las madres.  Ah to be at the stove for something like this.  Thanks for stopping by the place.

Picture of Tanisha Tanisha said on...
12.09.05 at 03:32 PM |

That’s so beautiful cooking diva. How wonderful. Todah to your mother. No? I want that recipe for chocolate covered rose petals. See you soon

Picture of Chairborne Stranger Chairborne Stranger said on...
12.09.05 at 08:44 PM |

Wonderful post. Happy Mother’s day!

Picture of Chairborne Stranger Chairborne Stranger said on...
12.10.05 at 06:47 PM |

Of course, as you said it was! LOL thanks for coming back! I love the cooking.

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