11 January 2009

My Kitchen My World - Cuba

We have received another few centimeters of snow, the roads to Vancouver through the mountains have only just reopened and we are experiencing "the inversion factor" with no sunshine for days. Is it any wonder that I am dreaming of warm ocean breezes, sun dappled beaches and a long cool drink by the pool? Today I am being whisked away to Cuba with another week of travel with My Kitchen My World . This illustrious group of bloggers is now moderated by the lovely Lauren of I'll Eat You. The group chooses a country every Sunday and we put our best foot forward in an effort to prepare a dish that represents that country.

Today we escape to CUBA!!!!!

Bring on the mojitos!!!!! Cuba is the land of rum, cigars and communism. The best thing about travelling to Cuba for me is that it remains an uncluttered and "real" paradise. You will find no McDonalds commercialism here and you can still buy souvenirs for under $10. Cuba has survived more than 40 years of US sanctions intended to topple the government of Fidel Castro. It also defied predictions that it would not survive the collapse of its one-time supporter, the Soviet Union. It's people are survivors and the country offers its own brand of flavour and beauty.

Cuba is a spectacular country, with beautiful and very warm loving people. Most tourists will go to the all inclusive resort areas such as Varadero, Jardines del Rey (Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo) or Holguin. My best advice to you as always is to travel around the country, stay in a Casa Particular, where you will be a guest in a Cuban family's home. Have dinner in the Paladares, small private restaurants, and talk to the Cuban people, mingle with the locals and see how they live. Brush up on your Spanish!!!!

Cuban cuisine has been influenced by Spanish, French, African, Arabic, Chinese, and Portuguese cultures. Very little is deep-fried and there are no heavy or creamy sauces. Most Cuban cooking relies on a few basic spices, such as garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay laurel leaves.

So what do I personally think of when Cuba comes to mind (besides bringing home my allotment of cigars and hitching a ride in a 1950's car with smoke pouring out the back end)?

The Cubano!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I enjoyed this description. " A Cuban Sandwich, sometimes called a cubano, is a Latin variation on a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. This undeniably delicious sandwich is grilled and made with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and Cuban bread. The essential ingredient is the roasted pork. When assembled, the sandwich is lightly toasted in a sandwich press called a plancha, which is only somewhat similar to a panini press but without grooved surfaces. A traditional Cuban sandwich is never made with a panini grill. The plancha both heats and compresses the sandwich, which remains in the press until the bread is crispy and the cheese is melted. It is usually cut into diagonal halves before serving."

Nothing will whisk me away to Cuba and snorkeling in untouched quays like a Cuban sandwich and a long tall mojito!!!! Serve both with some yam fritters to get the full effect of your virtual holiday.

**Cuban Sandwiches**

4 hoagie rolls (oreferably Cuban rolls if you can find them)
2 T yellow mustard
1/4 pound baked ham, thinly sliced
1/4 pound roast pork, thinly sliced
1/4 pound provolone cheese, thinly sliced
10 thin dill pickle slices, approximately 2 whole pickles
1 T unsalted butter, room temperature
Slice the bread horizontally in half, leaving 1 edge intact. Lay the bread open and spread each side with the mustard. Divide the ingredients evenly among the slices of roll. Start with the ham followed by the pork, cheese, and dill pickles. Bring the tops and bottoms together.

Heat your panini maker or sandwich press. Butter each side of the press. Place the sandwiches inside, press down and grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is flat and browned, approximately 10 minutes. If you don't have a sandwich press, you can heat 6 fireplace bricks wrapped in foil, in a 500 degrees F oven for 1 hour and then press the sandwich between them for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

**Yam Fritters**

1/2 kilogram malanga or yam
1 egg
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vinegar
Oil enough for deep frying

Grate the malanga or yam and blend with the rest of the ingredients.

Take the batter by tablespoonfuls and deep fry in hot oil.
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  1. Living in south Florida, I'm very familiar with Cuban food. I even visited Cuba several years ago on a sanctioned trip. You did a great job of capturing the 'flavor' of the island, people and food. P.S. I'm going to have to check out My Kitchen My World -- sounds like my kind of thing. :)

  2. This looks good....in fact anything with melted cheese gets my vote!

  3. A delicious sandwich! I love that taste combo!



  4. looks great!! I also feel the need for a tropical escape from the cold, althouh I haven't thought about what it'll be yet!!

  5. looks great!! I also feel the need for a tropical escape from the cold, althouh I haven't thought about what it'll be yet!!

  6. Great entry Val! I love all of these travel posts you are doing. Makes it seem like I am right there with you!

  7. Val your description to this part of the world is fantastic with very interesting travel information. I could use a cubano right now.

  8. Cuba has always seemed like such an interesting place to visit - here's hoping the US will lift the travel restrictions to Cuba soon. In the meantime, thanks for giving us a taste of Cuba!

  9. meat, mustard, and cheese--yes, please!
    and frankly, the yam fritters would rock my world.

  10. Delicious! Those yam fritters are to die for Val!

  11. You are quick this week!
    I have always wanted to try a Cubano and the fritters sound great!
    I still haven't picked out what I am making..

  12. You're awesome Val! I'm just in awe of your commitment to all of these events and causes. You can tell you put a lot of time and energy into every post.

  13. Just so that you know...this sandwich looks amazing!

  14. My husband and I visited Cuba more than ten years ago, and I still remember some of the wonderful food we had there. It was also a time of food shortages, so cooks were being very creative with what they did get at the ration stores or on the black market. Fascinating country, culture and cuisine.

  15. No sun for us either and the snow is melting. I never been to Cuba but this sandwich sounds great. Have a good Sunday!

  16. I saw a Cubano on Good Eats and I've wanted to try one ever since.

  17. thanks for the your... great sandwich you have there... :)

  18. Ummm. I loves me some Cubano....

  19. Wow, thanks for the virtual trip to Cuba! I was lucky enough to go there as a student (hard to pull off for an American) and it was the experience of a lifetime. Enjoyed your blog.

  20. Here's more info about plancha-style cooking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flattop_grill

  21. I LOVE Cuban sandwiches! Yours looks fabulous.

  22. Such a simple sandwich and simply so good! I'm for this one.

  23. What a cool group you joined. I love those Cuban sandwhiches.

  24. I love the Cuban version of a fancied up ham and cheese sandwich, Valli...melting cheese can never be a bad thing, right?! :-)

  25. Mmm, a griled cheese sandwich and a moijito in the sun... now you're talking Val!

  26. I love Cubanos! Thanks for posting, this seems really simple to make. I included in a roundup of lunch recipes in Poor Taste magazine. http://www.poortastemag.com/


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