I had planned on a new post but plans were hard to hold onto this weekend – temperatures soared, ovens broke, and friends got married. So in lieu of a new post, I decided to let life be life and repost one of my favorites from last summer.
But Is It Cuban?
Looking back at my summer posts, I noticed a lot of limes on the side or off in the corner – standing by to restore the balance to anything too heavy, too rich, or just too fried. With Labor Day coming up, it’s was only right to bring them front and center in a key lime pie. I thought it would be a departure from my Latin American desserts when I came across a few references to the Cuban pastel de limón. Made with juice from limones criollos – also known as key limes – and condensed milk, the custard is topped with meringue, and poured into a cookie crust made from galleticas Maria. Could the key lime pie be Cuban? According to Maria Josefa Lluria de O’Higgins, a version of the pie was brought to the Florida Keys in the late 1860′s with Cuban settlers during our war for independence. Other alleged sources include self-made Florida millionaires, their cooks and local fisherman. While I can’t pretend to be impartial, I will say this – creole limes, condensed milk, meringue – it certainly sound like us. Read more
When it’s warm, I miss the cold and when it’s cold I miss the warmth, though I miss my Snoopy sno-cone machine more than both combined. This weekend I tired out different granizado recipes for a Devour post armed with little more than a metal pan and a fork. I never get the results I want from my ice maker and there are worse places to spend a boiling New York summer day than half in the freezer. Loading up on guava, passion fruit, and mango pulp from a nearby market, I headed home and started mixing. Read more
Last week, for no particular reason, the idea of brunch bothered me. Though I’m sure it’ll pass (most likely around 1130ish next Saturday), the designation of brunch as the catch-all weekend shared meal just didn’t interest me. Normally, I enjoy it – the poached eggs, the flowing coffee, the kicky cocktails, the displaced Brooklyn washtub bands strumming away. But I wanted to cook for friends this weekend and it wasn’t going to be ebleskivers and mimosas (again nothing against either). Read more
There are so many stories around the mojito but the one I hope is true is that its name comes from the African word for “mojo” or casting spells. This makes perfect sense because, as a friend pointed out, mojitos make everyone happy. Assuming all other conditions are equal and in moderation, a strong mixed drink can make someone pensive or low key, exhilerated or stupefied, wild or reckless, but a mojito – happy. It’s even hard to think of a mojito without smiling, it’s a charming little cocktail. Read more
March has been such a whirl that I made it all the way to April before I could stop and catch my breath. It started well with my first contribution to the Cooking Channel’s Devour the Blog and it was great to see so many of you making the jump. A new post on stocking my Latin pantry went up yesterday with more to follow. I laid my cupboard bare (well I straightened it up first) so I hope you’ll visit the site again and let us know what’s in yours. I also wrote a piece about Latin American staples - Running with the Grains - for Marcus Samuelsson‘s Food Republic that combines two favorite obsessions – seeking out new ingredients and running till I just can’t anymore. A new site covering everyone from Junot Diaz to Michelle Bernstein (who also helps spices up school lunches here), I was thrilled to be a part of their launch this week. Read more
I was very excited to see my post up on the Cooking Channel‘s Devour the Blog yesterday. I’ll be contributing regularly over the next few months and hope you will make the jump with me. It was my first visit, so I gave a lot of thought about what to bring before deciding on a pastelón de platano maduro. It had been awhile since I’d made one and I was dying to update one of my favorites, especially since I’d discovered recao and ajicitos tucked in between the parsley and peppers at the grocery store. Once it was baked, photographed and eaten, my mind went to the plantain recipes I hadn’t tried. I’d made tostones on the fly, mariquitas when I was feeling restless, and tortilla de platanos maduros just because. With a bowl full of plantains that were just past ripe, it was time for dessert. Read more
I’m susceptible to most holidays but if there was a Valentine’s Day Scrooge, I’d completely support his life choices. Moreover, if the Grinch stole hearts instead of toys, I could really get behind him. Forced gaiety I can handle but forced hearts and flowers can be pretty tough to take (plus you might get caught). Maybe it’s that my own birthday falls a week before (a personal new year’s eve with the requisite highs and lows) or the wear down of a freezing winter, but I felt little need to acknowledge the day and was resisting all cheerful attempts to make a plan, make a reservation, make something happen. Read more
Brought to the table in perfectly rounded mounds with an order of black beans, served in heavy chafing dishes on buffet tables, or ladled out of giant cookers from the kitchen counter, white rice hides in plain sight. Though a staple throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, white rice specifically anchors every Cuban meal. Its primacy partly due to large waves of Chinese immigration, I can’t imagine a better blank slate for beans, shredded beef stews, picadillos and plantains. I probably end almost every post with the words “serve over fluffy white rice” but had yet to include a recipe. When my sister texted me to find out how to make it. Rushed and reluctant to text back, I wondered why she didn’t just look it up here, then I checked and realized it wasn’t on my site. Oops. Read more
If my posts have been Miami-centric lately it’s because two weeks at home leaves a lot to unpack. I had one more Miami-inspired recipe I wanted to try and I finally got around to it over the long weekend. Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve slowly become less dependent on my trips home for Cuban food. Though I miss the fresh tropical produce and stock up on cans of cascos de guayaba, Brazilian condensed milk and Café Llave when I visit, there is very little (and increasingly less) that I can’t find locally. The restaurants that I loved are long gone or not quite how I remember them though I keep going back — nostalgia adding its own flavor. I promise myself I’ll seek out new spots but fall short and mostly play catch-up from the moment I land. Read more
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks under water. Not that I’ve been unusually busy, I’ve just returned to my aqua girl routines in hopes of washing away the holiday excess – drinking water like it’s my job, swimming laps like I’m being chased by a shark, and looking to add more fish to my weekly diet. Cooking fish has always made me nervous. At best, I worry that I’ll let it go too long and over cook it, at worst, that I’ll poison everyone I love in one fell swoop. I usually stick to the sushi grade varieties in the belief that if I’d just as soon eat it raw, there isn’t anything I can do to make it deadly. Still, no one likes a rut and the guys at the fish store automatically move towards the salmon before I’ve even placed my order. Sometimes I’ll change it to tuna or trout just to keep them guessing but I’m pretty sure it’s daring only to me. After a few weeks of seeing pargo (snapper) on every Cuban restaurant menu in Miami, I thought it was time switch things up again. Read more