During part one of my Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, we explored the cuisine of Colombian and made some fancy-schmancy arepas de queso. This week we are moving on to Cuba! I have always been fascinated by Cuban culture, not only the cuisine. I find it so similar to Brazilian culture, more than other Latin countries.
As I ventured to find a cookbook that would not only have authentic Cuban recipes, but also delve into Cuban culture, I found Memories of a Cuban Kitchen. In this cookbook, the late author Mary Urrutia Randelman tells a romantic story about her early childhood in Havana in the 1950’s and her unforgettable and overwhelming move to Miami. Reading her story, I couldn’t help but feel an emotional connection with her, as I too moved to the US at an early age and experienced similar situations she describes. Besides sharing her personal family story, Mary explains the diverse cuisine of Cuba, complete with a glossary of Cuban ingredients.
Cuban food is mostly known for its pork dishes. Unfortunately, Mike isn’t a fan of pork and, unless its bacon or barbecued ribs, I usually pass on the pig. So, I decided to make the popular Cuban dish, Ropa Vieja. The name of this dish translates to “old clothes”. And, trust me, although the name is not very appetizing, this meal is a knock-out and was perfect for the chilly, beginning-of-fall weather we’ve been having in Seattle.
The portion in the book yields about 6 to 8 servings. Being that there are only two and a half of us at home, we had plenty of leftovers. I don't know about you, but I almost always find that the next day's leftovers are even better than the day you made it! This was definitely true for the ropa vieja - the tender ribbons of beef soaked up the hearty, tomatoey sauce and had even more flavor!
I will be giving away a copy of Mary Urrutua Randelman’s book Memories of a Cuban Kitchen to one of my lucky reader! So, if you want to explore the amazing cuisine of Cuba this is what you need to do:
How to enter:
-Must be a Food Samba follower (the follow button is on the right sidebar.)
-Leave me a comment answering any of the following: What's your favorite comfort food? Have you ever tried Cuban food? Ropa vieja? What did you think?
*Make sure your comment links back to an email address or provide me with your email so I can contact you if you win!
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“Win the cookbook, Memories of a Cuban Kitchen, via @foodsamba, as part of a month-long series celebrating #HispanicHeritageMonth :http://bit.ly/qKnBZH ”
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*Giveaway closes Friday, October 7th at noon PST. I will be choosing a winner at random, through random.org. The winner will be contacted through email.
from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen
2 1/2-lb. flank steak, cut in half
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup pure Spanish olive oil
1 large onion, cut in 1/2 and each half thinly sliced
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups drained and chopped canned whole tomatoes, or prepared tomato sauce
1/2 cup sherry
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped drained pimientos, for garnish
1/2 cup drained canned early sweet peas, for ganish
Place beef and one bay leaf in a large saucepan, cover with salted water, and cook over low heat, covered, until the meat is tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove meat from the stock (save the stock for another use), allow to cool at room temperature, then cut the meat into 2-inch chunks.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over low heat until fragrant, then cook the onions, bell pepper, and garlic, stirring, or until the onions are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sherry, and the remaining bay leaf, and cook, uncovered, an additional 15 minutes.
When the meat is cool, shred it with your fingers, season with salt and pepper, add it to the tomato mixture, cover, and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, garnish with the pimientos and peas, and serve with rice.