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Posts tagged ‘Nitza Villapol’

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

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Arroz Blanco

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

Estrellas de Chocolate

I’ve become deeply suspicious of Cuban cookies.  It’s not really the cookie’s fault.  They’re just not what we do.  Growing up, home baked cookies weren’t foreign but they did have the exoticism of something you’d mostly like get at a friend’s house.  Tres leches, meringues, tocino del cielo, flan were home, toll house was not.  The last couple of months, I’ve tried a few forgettable variations. I follow the recipes to the letter but cusubes elude me and my caballitos de queque were cinnamon drenched failures.  This being the cookie season, I looked though all my Cuban sources for a new recipe that was traditional but workable.  Many called for Crisco with 1950’s abandon while others were really turrones (blended with more Crisco). Read more

Figure Eights

There’s always a point when I finish a post and choose a country category that feels a little dishonest.  Well not so much dishonest but not the whole elephant either.  When I decided to write about Latin food, I knew that it would be a fuzzy focus and difficult to define.  Buñuelos, fritters popular throughout Spain and Latin America, are a good example.  Originally from the Iberian penninsula, they’re either Arabic or Sephardic, or maybe both.  Typically made from a wheat-based dough that’s flavored with anise, they’re rolled into balls or discs and deep fried then topped with a syrup or honey. Read more

Snow Days

Though it’s typically full, it’s rare to see a line outside of Versailles restaurant in Miami.  It’s only on the rare cold night that it actually reaches capacity, especially when there’s a run on churros.  Any day that dips below 65 becomes an impromptu holiday in a summer town, a Miami snow day of sprinkled sugar and fried dough.  The lines form and the usual late night orders for medianoches and mariquitas become churros and hot chocolate.

I think it’s the special occasion quality I associate with churros that keeps me from buying them in New York (though I’d never pass them up in Madrid – I’m not crazy).  Yesterday, deciding I needed a little Christmas now, I brought out the churrera, that my mother who hates to cook but loves kitchen gadgets sent, and my Read more

Fritas

 

With a long weekend ahead and no barbecues in site, I’ve been thinking about fritas.  A Cuban-style hamburger with more spice than size, it’s pan-fried and topped with crispy shoestring fries.  Miami even  has it’s own Rey de las Fritas challenging Ronald, Wendy and the Hamburgler for drive-thru supremacy.  It was my favorite after the beach snack growing up, and I made my first batch last night.  The only missing ingredients to make it a perfect burger madeleine were 1970s strength sun tan oil and sand. Read more

Switching Things Around

I’ve been playing with Nitza Villapol’s Cuban version of Pollo Frito A La Milanesa.  The first time I made it with the canned tomato sauce and jarred peppers called for in the recipe.  It was good but a little too sweet and a touch too heavy for the summer we’ve been having.  Egged on by the appearance of the Schnitzel & Things truck in my neighborhood, the other fried meat, I tried it again with fresh peppers, tomatoes and breadcrumbs.  The peppers and tomatoes worked well, and I’ll make it often when a larger variety of tomatoes reach the farmer’s markets, hopefully in the next few weeks.  The fresh breadcrumbs however were a disaster.  The cutlets would brown unevenly and required way too much oil.  I decided to do what the recipe called for in the first place and use ground Cuban crackers to bread the chicken.  Though I also substituted olive oil for vegetable and replaced the whole eggs with egg whites, it was the cracker meal breading that offered the continuity from home, transforming it into the comfort food I associate with hot days.  I don’t know why I argue.

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