CUBA! RECIPES AND STORIES FROM THE CUBAN KITCHEN + PUMPKIN FLAN

CUBA!

RECIPES AND STORIES FROM THE CUBAN KITCHEN

2016 has been the year of growing my cookbook collection. i've gained some fun cookbooks as very thoughtful gifts and even purchased a few, yet the one cookbook that stood out visually and gave immediate vacation inspirtation was this cookbook here, CUBA! recipes and stories from the cuban kitchen.

FIRST IMPRESSION

by first impression, this Cuba! cookbook is absolutely attractive. the cover features a timeworn kitchen with bold blue cupboards and a contrasting white countertop. the major focal point of the cover is a generous pile of ripe fruits (fruits commonly found throughout the caribbean and featured in the cuisine), conveying the tropical theme of this cookbook, in case you didn't happen to know what cuban cooking entailed.

the cookbook, just as the title says, "recipes and stories from the cuban kitchen," is just that, a collection of the authors' experiences while traveling and eating about within their five years of documenting this country. the stories share much of the modern life and culinary history not commonly shared on the mainstream news; such as the black market flan.

besides the large number of recipes and food photographs found in this cookbook is my favorite part, the unorchestrated portraits of the cuban people who opened their kitchens and shared their family recipes with the authors. the authenticity of cuban daily life is demonstrated with the many unposed images shared. one photograph features a child standing in a doorway wearing no more than a t-shirt and underwear, a few more page turns and you'll spot photos of people casually lounging around in a relatable way. another standout feature of this cookbook is the photographs of dilapidated walls and linens which serve as the backdrop for much of the recipe text. this cookbook is a far cry from perfectly placed and stylized images commonly found in a martha stewart catalog.

THE COOKING PART

the recipes i made from this cookbook were interesting, pumpkin flan, steamed dumplings, and black bean soup with crema. each recipe unique in flavor and preparation, i had never associated pumpkin with cuban cuisine and being a fan of pumpkin i had to make this the same day i opened the book (photos on this post are from my pumpkin flan cooking experience). the recipe directions are easy to follow, and not excessively involved, no hidden techniques and nothing super involved and or delicate like making croissants or pate choux, just everyday cooking techniques.

BOOK STRUCTURE: 

the table of contents divides the recipes into sections like "basic training," "pots and pans," "azucar," and "with a twist." the basic training section covers standard cuban staples such as black beans, yellow rice, fried plantains and fish stock, while the pots and pans section is where one pot meals reside such as the spicy black bean soup with lime crema. my favorite section, azucar (sugar), is where you will find an assortment of desserts featuring coconut, guava, and lime flavors, as well as recipes for well known spanish sweets like coconut tres leches cake and pumpkin flan. 

overall a great cookbook; one that can make any frozen microwaveable meal preparer feel inspired to cook a real meal.


PUMPKIN FLAN

DIRECTIONS:

INGREDIENTS:

preheat the oven to 350F

combine the 1/4c. sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. heat without stirring until the sugar begins to turn golden around the edges of the pan. gently swirl the pan rather than stirring it until all of the sugar turns to amber-colored caramel. pour the caramel into a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and tip the pan to coat the entire bottom evenly. set the pan aside.

whisk together the eggs and the remaining 1/4 c. sugar until combined. stir in the vanilla,  cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and pumpkin. add the three milk's and continue stirring until the mixture is smooth and homogenous. pour the custard over the caramel in the loaf pan. 

set the filled loaf pan inside a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. pour hot water into the outer pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. bake until the flan is nearly set in the middle. 1 1/2 to 2 hours. cover the flan and refrigerate it for at least 8 hours or overnight.

run a knife around the edge of the chilled flan and invert the loaf pan onto a appropriately sized platter. side the flan and serve.

 

1/3 c. plus 1/4 c. sugar, divided

2 tbsp. water

5 eggs

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 c. pumpkin puree

1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (12oz) can evaporated milk

1 c. whole milk

 

 


notes on the recipe*

this recipe for the custard works very well, however the introduction for the caramel did not work, three attempts and they all failed so i switched over to a caramel recipe i've used in the past.

also the custard needs salt. something is missing on day one of enjoying the flan and that is the salt. the flavors marry by day two but it still needs salt.

interested in knowing more about this book, click here for more details.

i received this book from Blogging For Books for this review.

as always, the photos and opinions are my own.


BUEN PROVECHO!

HOMEMADE CRACKER JACK

HOMEMADE CRACKER JACK USING JOLLY TIME HEALTHY POP

my january Degustabox came packed with some fun snacks including an all time favorite box of popcorn from Jolly Time Popcorn. I used my box of popcorn and jazzed the shit outta it by turning the popcorn and a few other snack items into one combined snack, a copy cat cracker jack mix!

such a fun nostalgic treat! 


HOMEMADE CRACKER JACK

DIRECTIONS:

INGREDIENTS:

preheat oven to 325 F, line two 9" x 13" baking sheets with parchment paper

in a large mixing bowl toss together the pretzels, pecans, peanuts, and popcorn. 

in a small heavy bottom saucepan put brown sugar, light corn syrup, and butter on low heat. stir until melted and combined, when mixture starts to bubble pull from stove, stir in vanilla. pour caramel over popcorn mixture, carefully mix until everything is coated in caramel.

divide and spread the mixture evenly among the two prepared baking sheets. bake for 10 minutes. allow mixture to cool completely. break up the mixture into smaller pieces and serve.

*avoid adding unpopped kernels to the mixture. take popped popcorn from the top of a shaken bag to avoid unpopped kernels.

light corn syrup

4 tbsp. butter (1/2 stick)

brown sugar

2 c. pretzels

3/4 c. peanuts

3/4 c. pecans

1 tsp. vanilla extract

half a bag of popped popcorn*


cracker jack is snacking crack! a wonderful combination of salty, sweet, caramel, and crunch... and so easy to make!


thank you DEGUSTABOX for sponsoring this post


BUEN PROVECHO!

DEGUSTABOX UNBOXING JANUARY 2017

DEGUSTABOX UNBOXING JANUARY 2017

happy new year everyone!

i'm back with my first post for 2017, unboxing one of my favorite subscription boxes, my monthly degustabox.

my january degustabox came packed with 10 items, five of these items were completely new to me, and the other five were items i am familiar with the brand.

in my box: Welche's Fruit 'n yogurt snacks/ Jolly Time Healthy Pop Popcorn/ ALO  aloe vera beverage/ Cello Whisps/ Mconnells Korma curry sauce/ Prince of Peace Ginger Honey Crystals/ Go Organically Fruit Snacks/ Entemann's Little Bites Party Cakes/ Hungry Jack Mix/ Live Smart Bar

  • Welch's Fruit 'n Yogurt Snacks: real fruit snacks surrounded by a creamy yogurt. these snack packs are also gluten free, low in fat, and 100% of your recommended vitamin C. available in strawberry, blueberry, and cherry. 
  • Entenmann's Little Bites Party Cakes: my box included one pouch containing 4 mini butter yellow cakes with sprinkles. these sell as a 5ct box (4 cakes to a pouch).
  • Live Smart Kids: my box contained one bar in the banana split flavor, not a fan of the flavor but would totally eat this bar as it's nut-free, soy-free, non-GMO, and vegan.
  • Cello Whisps: these were new to me, and boy are they somewhat addicting. Cello Whisps are a baked parmesan cheese snack that are great for snacking, adding to a salad for crunch and made they are made solely from parmesan cheese.
  • Hungry Jack Pancake and Waffle Mix: i've definitely cooked up waffles and pancakes using Hungry Jack mix in the past and know how easy this mix is to use, generally just add water and you're all set. i haven't tried the mix yet but very interested in this pumpkin spice flavor.
  • Go Organically Fruit Snacks: I don't generally purchase fruit snacks but i also don't turn them down when offered so let's just say i enjoyed a few of these USDA-certified organic fruit snacks. Go Organically makes their snacks with real fruit, and they are also GMO-free, gluten-free, and preservative free.
  • McDonnells Korma Curry Sauce: a creamy curry sauce mix, a great way to marinate meat or dress up boring veggies or protein. 
  • Alo Refresh:  i've been fortunate to try ALO refresh juice in a previous degustabox and this month's box came with a cucumber and cantaloupe flavored ALO. made with all-natural non-GMO ingredients using straight-from-the-leaf aloe vera pulp and juice. this is a nice refreshing alternative for when you burn out on coconut water.
  • Prince of Peace Ginger Honey Crystals: packaged in individual sachets are dissolvable honey and ginger. a great way to spice up your water and the addition of ginger is a natural helper for nausea and digestion.
  • Jolly Time Healthy Pop Butter Pop Corn: having purchased Jolly Time popcorn many times, it is fair to say i am very familiar with this brand. endorsed by Weight Watchers, Healthy Pop is gluten-free, and uses non-GMO popcorn kernels, hard to pass this brand up!

check back soon at 6PST today to see what item from this month's box i use in a recipe!


Degustbox subscribers have zero long term commitment; that means you can sign up and receive  a surprise subscription box every month until you say stop! still unsure about what Degustabox is check out my previous reviews below


thank you Degustabox for sending a january box my way in exchange for my honest review.


THUMBPRINT COOKIES USING SMUCKER'S STRAWBERRY JALAPENO SPREAD

THUMBPRINT COOKIES USING SMUCKER'S STRAWBERRY JALAPENO SPREAD

of course the holiday's wouldn't be so super awesome if it wasn't for the mass amounts of holiday treats! 

every holiday season meant my mom would be rolling out dough every night, and pulling trays upon trays of cookies out of the oven. her usual holiday cookie routine involved her stand by of sugar cookies, russian tea cakes, chocolate crinkles, and homemade peanut butter chocolate bars. the chocolate peanut butter bars are the ones that hold the most memory; for some reason she always used the "no-stir" peanut butter -which we all know really means it needs a lot of stirring- and it produced these chocolate peanut butter bars that did not hold shape, not even when refrigerated but man i loved them!

so tell me friends, what holiday treats are you looking forward to in the comments section below or on Instagram or Facebook!


THUMBPRINT COOKIES

recipe from martha stewart, which can be found by clicking HERE

DIRECTIONS:

INGREDIENTS:

preheat oven to 350 degrees. in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together utter and 1/2c. sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. add egg yolk and vanilla; beat well. whisk together flour and salt, and add to mixture, beat on low until combined.

in a small food processor, combine almonds with remaining 2 tbsp. sugar, an process until almonds are finely ground. in a small bowl, lightly beat egg white. form dough into 1" balls. dip in egg white, then in almond-and-sugar mixture. place balls on parchment-lined baking sheet. make a deep indention in the center of each ball with your finger or bottom of a thick wooden spoon.

bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and press down the centers gain. fill the center of each cookie with about 1 tsp. of jam. rotate sheets, and bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes more. remove from oven, and place on a wire rack to cool.

1/4lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, room tempreture

1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar

1 large egg, seperated

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4c. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. course salt

1/2c. whole blanched almonds

1/2c. smucker's strawberry jalapeño spread



thank you Degustabox for sponsoring this post with my monthly box!


BUEN PROVECHO!