I’d like to share with you my love of Cuban food and some traditions from living in Florida. I enjoy eating and preparing foods from a variety of global cuisines, but Cuban cuisine is one that I truly
love. The combinations of spices used in Cuban cooking have a great similarity to those found in Spanish dishes, but over the years, the Cuban people created many of their own unique flavors. Goya has an incredible line of food products for Cuban cooks and
other latin cuisines, and I just finished cooking several tasty new recipes using them, so I'm feeling inspired.
There are as many variations from cook to cook in the preparation of various Cuban dishes as there are ways to prepare American fried chicken. A good example of this is Goya’s Sazon. This is an ingredient used often in Cuban
cooking, and my supermarket carries four varieties. Another ingredient is Sofrito, again, many different versions.
I’m fortunate because there is an abundance of Mom and Pop Cuban restaurants in Tampa on a street fondly referred to as “Boliche Boulevard.” Many years ago when Tampa was the cigar center of the world,
thousands of Cuban and Spanish cigar workers knew they had these neighborhood cafes where they could be served heaping dishes of their foods at affordable prices. And that hasn’t changed today. This is the same food that is being made everyday in Cuban home
cooks' kitchens throughout the Tampa Bay area.
In the morning, you’ll see tables of “breakfast regulars” at these Cuban restaurants dunking their Cuban toast (pressed with butter) into their Cafe con Leche or Cuban Espresso. Cuban bread is widely available,
but the real deal is worth a trip to La Segunda Bakery in the latin district of Tampa known as Ybor City. La Segunda is the largest producer of Cuban bread in the area and was founded by Juan More who migrated to Tampa from Cuba and opened La Primera Bakery
in 1915. La Primera Bakery (literally “The First” in Spanish) burned down decades ago, and when rebuilt, it was rechristened “La Segunda,” translating to “The Second.”
Authentic Cuban bread is baked with a moist palm frond down the center of the loaf creating a shallow trench in the upper crust, it’s approximately three feet long (they
do sell a smaller version, but it's still big), and somewhat rectangular or flat crossways (as compared to the rounder shape of Italian or French bread loaves). It has a hard, thin, almost papery toasted crust and a soft flaky middle, and should be eaten
soon after baking, as it goes stale quickly. It never gets stale in this house because it IS eaten quickly.
Many years ago it was delivered every morning just like milk. Houses had a sturdy nail driven into the doorframe next to the front door. The bread deliveryman would impale the fresh loaf of bread on the
nail (can’t say that I’m disappointed that they're not doing that these days). Cuban bread is a mainstay of Cuban cooking and is served with just about every meal.
As much as I enjoy sitting down to a meal at these restaurants, I also like to sit down to a meal prepared in my kitchen. Allrecipes has a good selection of Cuban recipes,
and Goya can provide all of the necessary ingredients to prepare them. Here’s a sampling of some of the recipes that I’ve tried (more are stashed away in my Recipe Box for the future).
One of the classic Cuban main courses is Ropa
Vieja which is a shredded beef stew in tomato sauce with a variety of spices, olives and capers. Not sure how its name evolved because ropa vieja translates to “Old Clothes” which certainly is not descriptive
of how it tastes.
Along with this, you probably would have Black Beans and Rice. Some Cubans prefer traditional white rice and others like yellow rice. It’s
often served with chopped onions on the top.
Another traditional main course is chicken and rice which can be prepared many, many different ways. One that we recently enjoyed is Goya's Cheesy
Chicken and Yellow Rice.
The official sandwich of the Tampa Bay area is the Cuban Sandwich, and Allrecipes Classic Cuban Midnight Sandwich is pretty
close to tradition. And the traditional way to serve it is “pressed.”
Papas Rellenas (Fried Stuffed Potatoes) is something often eaten right along side of a Cuban sandwich. They’re potato balls
stuffed with a spicy ground beef filling. breaded, and then deep fried. I keep them in a zip lock bag in the freezer and then just pull out a few at a time for dinner. And you’ll likely find a bottle of Goya hot sauce right on the restaurant’s table...use
it! Goya’s hot sauce is one that I genuinely like for Cuban food.
I first tried Goya’s Yellow Rice last week, and seriously, it’s delicious. I’d been using another yellow rice packaged brand, but I’ll be using Goya moving forward. Very impressed with it, and it tastes like the yellow rice
served in our restaurants. If you prefer homemade, try Cuban-Style Yellow Rice.
Right up there with Ropa Vieja for Cuban comfort food is Picadillo. This is my recipe, so I may be a little prejudiced, but I think it’s really
Sofrito is an ingredient you often find in latin cuisine, and if you can’t find Goya sofrito in your area, give this recipe a try.
Here are a couple more Cuban-inspired recipes that I’ve enjoyed from the Allrecipes site.
A traditional Cuban dessert to finish off a dinner would be flan. Again, many different ways to make it, but we enjoyed this recipe for Pina Colada Flan.
And, of course, to wash it all down, Sangria can’t be forgotten, so go ahead and mix up a pitcher.
Goya was the sponsor of one of this month’s Allstars activities, and this has given me a good introduction to the extent of their product line. One product that will be a mainstay in my kitchen moving forward is the Goya Adobo
With Pepper All Purpose Seasoning...love it! I’ve used some Goya products in the past but I'll confess: I'm now a Goya Fan!! It is now my go-to brand for latin cuisine recipes...I like it!
So this is the end of this photographic journey on Cuban cooking. This barely touches the surface of all the wonderful food and fascinating culture of Cuban cuisine. If you’re an adventuresome cook and have not yet had Cuban
food, step outside the box, and try a few recipes that appeal to you. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position),
and I'm not compensated for my work with Allrecipes.com. Products
were provided by Goya and were only used for my participation
in this project. The reviews, content and opinions expressed
in this blog are purely the sole opinions of
lutzflcat in her New Horizons in the Kitchen blog.