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Posts from the ‘Cuba’ Category

Huevos a la Malagueña

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It was unmistakable.  There was a chill in the air this morning.  Not a breeze, not a nip, but a chill.  This summer went by fast for me and being in the final stretch of recipe testing and writing has only accelerated it.  This week I was looking for a substitute for the Cuban aji guaguao and was told that tabasco peppers should work.  I stopped by a few of my favorite markets but they didn’t carry them.  Earlier this year, I was supposed to visit the McIlhenny Company‘s tabasco pepper fields in Louisiana but the trip was postponed until October.  At the time it felt like a long ways off but now it couldn’t come soon enough.  With New York produce failing me, I couldn’t wait to be where tabasco peppers were literally growing on trees (or bushes – not sure because I haven’t been there yet). Read more

Boniatillo

IMG_3199Deep in cookbook research the past few weeks, this boniatillo has been on deck for awhile.  Now that I’m (almost) ready to return to regular programming, I couldn’t go forward until I posted a favorite and final recipe from last year.  Boniatillo – boiled sweet potatoes cooked down with syrup, spiced with cinnamon and spiked with rum – is a simple kind of dessert that would be easy enough to make before the holidays.  Or so I thought. Read more

Chayotes Rellenos Dulces

I’d almost given up on the stuffed chayotes when I put them in the oven.  Bright green and plump, they’re available year round and go by christophene (France), mirliton (Caribbean), chu-chu (Brazil), güisquil (Central America), depending on where you find them.  Bought the week before, they kept well so it was easy put them off for another day.  I’d had them sauteed and lightly dressed and filled with chorizo before, but there was a sweeter variation I came across in older Cuban cookbooks that I decided to try. Read more

Helado Tostado El Carmelo

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It’s been coming for awhile, but instagrams are now everywhere.  Nostalgia for the present makes sense in the summer and that seems to be the app for it.  While I love the effects, there’s something unearned about tapping an icon and adding a 1977 filter  to a 2012 happening.  As someone who already has a seventies-circa filter coloring their earliest memories, it can be disorienting, erasing the line between then and now. Read more

Bollitos de Carita

When I decided to make bollitos de carita – black-eyed pea fritters made from beans soaked for hours then husked and ground to a paste – I couldn’t believe no simmering would be required.  Left overnight, they were supposed to blister and pucker leaving behind perfectly tender, creamy white beans.  I loved that caritas roughly translates to “little faces” and imagined removing the peel would be as simple as slipping off a mask.  Not so.  Some popped right out but more needed coaxing, and no matter how many I did, there were always more. Read more

Harina con Cangrejo

Despite a lifetime of research, I’m always discovering something new in Cuban food.  While it reminds me not to take anything for granted, less pleasant is knowing that my nearest and dearest have been holding out on me.  That’s how I felt when I discovered that harina – cornmeal simmered to a creamy state and topped with peppery sofritos and poached or fried eggs, ham or chorizo, shimp or crab – was a Cuban comfort food staple that everyone was having but no one was talking about.  I’d enjoyed Italian polenta prepared this way, but I  hadn’t realized there was a take on it that was much closer to home – just not my home. Read more

Cascos de Guayaba en Almíbar

It’s not really news that you should see what tops the ingredients list of certain foods and rule out anything lab born. Still, we all have our blind spots and for me its guava in all its forms. Easy enough for most to avoid, except for Cubans to whom its practically a food group, I get as far as seeing red color #20 and think better of it. When I’m in Miami, this isn’t a problem.  I can always find freshly made poached guavas, pastes and jellies in local markets.  Visting Jamaica this past November, my suitcase was weighted down with jarred preserves where the most intense add-in was clove and maybe a dash of nutmeg. In New York, I have fewer options.  Read more

Flan de Coco

It’s always strange to me when I see flan listed as special on a dessert menu.  Far from specialized in Cuban restaurants, it’s not rare to find an all-flan menu – de leche, de queso, de calabaza, de mamey and of course – de coco.  Yet somehow I never get tired of it.  If it hadn’t been brought to the New World via Spain, Cubans would have had to invent it.  Most Latin American countries have their own version of this dessert and, while I can’t pretend to be neutral, in the case of flan I think it has to go to Cuba. For me it’s about the caramel.  Made directly in the mold, the sugar cooked long enough to go dark amber without becoming bitter (though personally I like it a little bitter).  I love the ritual of holding it just over the flame and watching it go clear then dark.  It can get away from you easily but it’s always fun to see how far you can take it.  Read more

Arroz Blanco

Just back from Miami where I spent the last week running for a great cause that was covered here and here, I’m still playing catch up.  Fueled by countless cortaditos, I took advantage of my time there to start research on an upcoming project I’m really excited about, see friends, laugh with my family, and well eat…a lot. Heading to the gate, I had the disorienting feeling that I was leaving home to go home that always comes over me after a long visit.  So while I get my bearings, I wanted to keep it simple with this repost of arroz blanco, including the plaintive email in the comments from my sister who inspired it.

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

Mantecados de Ánis

Polvorones, the Spanish shortbread cookies have been my favorite for the holidays. Just flour, sugar and sometimes almonds, they’re perfect as gifts – simple but flavorful they go with everything. I was working on this spiced almond version for the Cooking Channel’s All Star Holiday Cookie Recipes  post when I started thinking of mantecados. Though they’re some times used interchangeably with polvorones, mantecados should be made with lard – something I’d been avoiding despite the assurances of Michael Pollan, the Lee Bros., and legions of Cuban grandmothers. For frying it made sense, but for baked goods I associated it with heavier and denser cookies and pastries. Read more