Living in Arizona (Tucson) I’m pretty far away from Cuba but I still hunger for Cuban cuisine. When I lived in Los Angeles, Versailles or Havana Mania frequently filled my Cuban cravings with roast pork and garlic or roast chicken and garlic. I have my brother in Florida to thank for my initial exposure to Cuban fare.
This past weekend my dear friend Annette Gallardo, owner of South Bay School of Cooking in Manhattan Beach, came to visit my colorful house. Since it was Easter, most everything was closed so we decided to make dinner for friends.
I chose to make Cuban sloppy joes with mojo sauce, a Rachel Ray recipe and one that my brother made when I visited him a few months ago. Annette made flan from scratch which was pretty impressive and a great deal of work but absolutely delicious.
She doctored up some canned black beans by sweating chopped onions, garlic, and cumin and slow cooking them over a low heat for an hour. Voila! They tasted homemade. We also had plantains (bananas) that came packaged and frozen from Tropical Market; they only required baking for 10 minutes.
I decided we needed something green and crunchy and as an afterthought picked up a package of broccoli slaw. I used the recipe on the package but it was too bland so we added blood orange olive oil (yeah, I had that in my pantry) and a squeeze of lime and lime zest to give it some life. A baguette came from French Twist Cafe in Oro Valley.
The appetizer was strips of guava paste (again from Tropical Market), Manchego cheese from Spain (Trader Joe’s), and matzo (a nod to Passover).
And this was washed down with pitchers of sangria. It was a marvelous evening with delicious food and drink, laughter, and good friends…lots of laughter.