The scents and tastes of Cuban cuisine
I missed it this year, but if you ever happen to be in Miami, make an effort to attend the largest Hispanic festival in the United States, which offers a variety of events for attendees including contests, tournaments, art and jazz performances. And the biggest street party of them all–Calle Ocho–wrapped up this past Sunday, March 13, in Miami, Florida. There is a large Cuban influence in Miami, particularly in Little Havana, which creates an incredible Latin vibe.
The culture of Cuba is a complex mixture of different, often contrasting, factors and influences. Cuba is a meeting point of European, African and continental North American cultures; little of the original Amerindian culture survives. Since 1959, the Cuban Revolution has also greatly affected Cuban culture, down to the most basic aspects of daily life. Much of Cuban culture, especially Cuban music, is instantly recognized throughout the world.
Traditional Cuban food is, as most cultural aspects of the country, a syncretism of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisines, with a small, but noteworthy Chinese influence. Most popular foods are black beans, stews, and meats.
This week I have included some of delicious Cuban recipes for you to prepare in your home.
Cooking is about sharing and having fun in the process so allow me to share great recipes from Roscoe’s Kitchen. Make sure to e-mail us at [email protected] with your comments and recipes so that we can share your experiences and creations with our audience.
Cuban Bread Pudding(Pudin de Pan)
This is the Cuban version of bread pudding with lots of raisins and is very sweet.
1 loaf fresh bread
4 whole eggs
2 and 1/2 cup milk
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter(melted)
2 tsps dark rum
2 tsps vino seco(dry white wine)
1 cup raisins
Grated peel of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in the milk, sugar, vanilla extract, butter, cinnamon, rum, wine, lemon peel and salt.
Cut the bread into one-inch small pieces. Place bread pieces into bowl and mix well with an electric mixer. Place raisins into mix and stir with a spoon.
You may use a fresh loaf of bread from the bakery. Make sure the bread is fresh.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Butter bottom of baking dish and place mix in the dish and bake for 1 hour or until medium golden brown. Place toothpick inside several places of dish to make sure it is done.
Cut into small slices. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top and serve warm.
Cuban Sandwich(Sandwiche Cubano)
The Cuban sandwich is one of the staple foods of Cubans. Typically available in most Cuban food establishments, Cuban sandwiches consist of pork and ham and Cuban bread. The sandwich is typically pressed using a sandwich press and served warm.
1 loaf Cuban bread*
1/2 lb baked ham(thinly sliced)
1/2 lb roast pork(thinly sliced)
1/2 lb Swiss cheese(thinly sliced)
Dill pickles(thinly sliced)
*French bread may be substituted
Cut the bread open horizontally and spread butter inside on top and bottom.
Next, place the pickles along the bottom half, along with the pork. Spread mustard on top of the pork, then place the ham slices. You can spread some mayonnaise on top of the ham. Place the slices of Swiss cheese on top of ham.
Cover the sandwich and cut into 4 pieces. Using a sandwich press, grill the sandwich 2 to 3 mins on each side.
Make sure to compress the sandwich by pressing it initially to make it thinner than its original size.
When done, the bread should be lightly toasted and cheese melted. Slice the sandwich in half diagonally, and enjoy!
Caribbean Coconut Chicken
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1-1/2 onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped roasted garlic
1/2(14 ounce)can coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F(220 degrees C).
In a large skillet, fry chicken breast in vegetable oil until the chicken just begins to brown. Stir onions, green bell peppers and red bell peppers into the skillet with the chicken.
Saute until the onions are translucent. When the vegetables are translucent, stir in the garlic and coconut milk.
Let the mixture cook 5 to 8 minutes before removing the skillet from the heat.
Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Transfer the mixture to a 9×13-inch baking dish and bake in a 425 degrees F(220 degrees C)oven for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables cook down and the chicken is tender.
Cuban Lamb Shanks
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 pounds of lamb shanks in 1?inch pieces
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 tablespoon annatto oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup of chicken stock
In a large casserole or stock pot with cover, sauté the garlic and onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes.
Add the lamb and remaining ingredients.
Cover and simmer until tender about 1 hour 45 minutes.
Chicharos(Cuban Split Pea Soup)
4 cups of water
1 pound dried split peas
1 lb ham
1 large potato
5 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Soak split peas overnight, drain the following day and set aside.
Dice the ham into half-inch cubes, dice the potato into cubes.
Add oil to a large pot, smash the garlic and add it to the pot. Saute the garlic for a minute then add the ham, potato, peas, oregano and cumin.
Add four cups of water bring to a boil and then set the cooking heat to low.
Simmer until peas are soft or desired consistency; salt and pepper to taste.
Spice of the Week: Red Pepper Flakes
Crushed red pepper, also known as red pepper flakes, is a condiment consisting of dried and crushed(as opposed to ground)red chili peppers. Crushed red pepper flakes are made from hot dried red peppers. Crushed red pepper shakers have become as standard as salt and pepper on tables at Italian restaurants and especially pizza parlors in the United States. Red pepper flakes are not made of one type of chili, but from various combinations of ancho, bell, cayenne and more.