Monday Meal Review: Cuba

I prepared our Cuban Global Table secure in the thought that noone was coming over. I didn’t vacuum. I didn’t deodorize (the house or myself).  Approximately 19 million landmines were in place.

(I think some people call them “toys.”)

By the time the cooking was done, crusty dishes were teeter-tottering over my head – including the remnants of three botched caramel sauces.

The house was an extra deluxe mess.

I rarely behave this way, but I was feeling like a rebel. Must have been a full moon.

Then my phone rang. Sweat dripping down my forehead, I watched as it vibrated itself towards the edge of the counter.

My neighbor and friend, Anitra was calling. Right before the phone careened over, I decided to pick up.

“Hello!” I said.

“What are you doing?”

“Oh, you know… cooking”

(Fact: 9 times out of 10, I’m cooking when my phone rings… Bizarre).

“Well, I have some great hand me downs. For Ava. And I’m on a mission to get them out of the house. Can I bring them by?”

I surveyed my destruction. I considered Ava.

Ava’s sprouting up. Her pant legs are too short and her shirts have all become “crop tops,” showing her cute belly button. But I’m not entirely sure crop tops are in style and, well, even if they are, they’re not great winter-wear.

I took a breath.

“You want some Cuban food while you’re at it?”

“Really? Sure!”

“Great!

“I’ll be there in ten.”

“Oh. Ok…”

Any guess to how we spent the next ten minutes?

But I’ll tell you what – the company and fun that followed totally made it worth it! :)

Homemade Cuban Bread (Pan Cubano) [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

This bread is gorgeous, boasting a soft, airy crumb and delicate crust. You’ll need approximately 1,500 loaves per person, considering how good Pan Cubano is straight out of the oven.  Ever wonder if you have enough friends? Make Pan Cubano. When the house fills with the warm yeasty goodness people you’ve never even seen will flock to your door. Oh yeah, and if, for some strange reason, you have leftovers – slice it and freeze it. This bread makes wonderful meatball subs.

What I liked least about this dish:

I love this bread, but I have some advice for novice bakers. As you mix the dough, it should feel springy and moist, but not sticky. The expression “like a baby’s bottom” is fairly accurate… Too much flour makes for  a dense crumb and you’ll be sad, so only add enough flour to pull the dough clean from the sides of your mixing bowl.

The Cuban Sandwich (Hot Pressed Pork Sandwich) [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

Hot, warm, crusty, cheesy goodness in every bite. The salty, crunchy pickle with the deep flavor of roast pork and ham, covered by melted swiss cheese is incredible. And I thought I didn’t like swiss cheese! Honestly, this is the sandwich to make for a cold winter’s day. Try it with a hot bowl of soup.

Oh, and the best part? You don’t need no stinkin’ Panini maker – heat up a heavy bottomed pan for several minutes and then press on top of the sandwiches. Perfect!

What I liked least about this dish:

Nothing really… Although I’ll be honest. If someone wants to get you a panini maker, by all means, say yes.

Pumpkin Flan [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

This sweet treat has all sorts of Autumn goodness going on. The recipe makes enough for a party and, although it is delicate and luxurious, you won’t have to baby it because it is sturdy enough to slice.

What I liked least about this dish:

I had trouble overcooking my caramel. You really have to watch it because, once the sugar starts changing colors, it changes super fast.

Mojito (Mint, Rum, and Lime Juice Cocktail) [Recipe]

What I liked most about this drink:

Hmm.

<crickets>

Oh yeah. I learned something new? That’s always nice.

What I liked least about this drink:

Mojitos are rather like drinkable mouthwash for me, but I had a friend – who enjoys mojitos – try our recipe and she said it tasted the way it should. Please note this is not an overly sweet drink, but stout, minty, and totally unapologetic.

Ava’s Corner:

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Comments

  1. I use my George Foreman grill to make this type of sandwich. I have to use it for something.

    • Collette Lemons says:

      I have a George Forman Grill and it never occurred to me to use it for this – great idea as I think we will be trying those sandwiches… Maybe over the weekend as I have no idea what to make since it’s just Cliff and I.

  2. Keith Gennon says:

    Haha! That video was dramatic, but Ava tried Cuba!

  3. Funny how you always keep the videos so fresh, though essentially they’re all a toddler and a fork! Same goes for the reviews – full of personality and storytelling, plus I can almost smell the food cooking as I read!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Mr Picky is an amazing editor. I don’t know how he does it week, after week. I do know this – he’s getting more creative and faster. I’m super impressed!

  4. I tried making cuban bread ages ago – it was great fun…UNTIL the string stuck to the bread and wouldn’t come off! Interesting flavour, I’m not a big fan of lard, so I wasn’t convinced, but it was fun to experiment. My US friends insisted that Cuban bread is actually a Cuban-American product, mostly from Tampa (?), is that right?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      ha ha Celia – I had a little difficulty with the string as well. That’s why I did some brainstorming and thought to try the skewer.

      I’ll be making this recipe for a third time tomorrow per requests – it is a big, big hit. If you feel like giving lard a second chance, the Tbsp spread over 2-3 loaves is minimal and not heavy. I normally don’t enjoy it either, but in this case it works. I think (hope) you’ll enjoy this recipe. :)

  5. Did you see her pulling at her ear?…loss of appetite?….VIRUS THREATENING / LINGERING….

  6. that video was a giant step for mankind..LOL gotta be dramatic… it was sooooooooooooo fantastic!
    Kewl!

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