Cuban Mini Paninis

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. Cuban culture is definitely prominent in Florida and I just had to include the popular cuban sandwich. I couldn’t find any good, fresh Cuban bread (the Cuban market I went to only had loaves that were day old when I went) so I substituted hoagie bread instead. Not quite the same but it will do. There is controversy in how to make a ‘proper’ Cubano sandwich so this is by no means an authentic recipe. The good thing is that there is a Cuban cafe within walking distance from me where I can get my authentic fix any time! But considering not everyone has that luxury, here’s a recipe I used for my party:

Cuban Mini Paninis
recipe adapted from Homecooking.about.com

1/4 cup (about) butter, at room temperature
1 loaf fresh Cuban bread, sliced 3-inch thick & halved to fill
(otherwise French or hoagie bread can be substituted)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish or Vlassic ‘Stackers’
1/4 pound thin-sliced roast pork
1/2 pound thin-sliced ham
1/2 slice swiss cheese
Yellow mustard

Open up the french bread to begin filling and creating the Cuban panini. Spread one side with butter and the other side with mayonnaise. Spread sweet pickle relish/lay a slice of ‘Stacker’ pickle over the mayonnaise side.

Pile roast pork and ham on top of the relish. Top with swiss cheese. Spread dijon mustard on the buttered side and close up sandwich. Continue to repeat until you’ve used up all the bread.

Preheat panini-grill or griddle. When hot, place sandwiches on panini grill and cook until golden brown on each side. Serve hot.

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Guava BBQ Ribs

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. Guava is a common fruit used in Floribbean cuisine. I was lucky to find guava syrup at my local grocery store and wanted to use it somehow. Looking through some Floribbean restuarant menus, I came across a restaurant that served up Guava BBQ ribs. This was a perfect dish to include in my menu and allowed me to use the guava syrup I found. I also used some dry Mojo seasoning I had on hand.

Guava BBQ Ribs
recipe inspired by Cuba Libre

5 pounds pork ribs, preferably country-style
1 bottle barbecue sauce (see note)
1 bottle guava syrup
1/4 cup hot pepper sauce
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons dry mojo seasoning

Combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours until tender.
Remove from crockpot and place on baking sheet.
Boil remaining sauce in crockpot in a small sauce pan until reduced by half to create a glaze.
Brush glaze over ribs and bake for 5-7 minutes in a 425 degree oven.

Yuca with Mojo

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. Yuca is a root vegetable that is similar to a potato. It has a waxy skin that must be cut or peeled off, then boiled until tender. It’s important to season the water the yuca is boiled in so it can add some flavor, otherwise it’s pretty bland. I added salt and some of my dry mojo seasoning. To accompany yuca, it’s traditionally served with a mojo sauce. Mojo is a sauce usually made with olive oil, citrus juice, lots of garlic and spices.

Yuca with Mojo
recipe adapted from CubanFoodRecipes.com

2 pounds Yuca Root peeled and cut into bite size pieces.
1/8 teaspoon Salt
Mojo sauce (below)

In a large saucepan, cover yuca with water plus 2 inches, add salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover, let simmer until yuca is fork tender but still intact. Drain yuca.

Add the mojo. (recipe below)

Mojo Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
2/3 cup fresh sour orange juice or lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly toasted but not brown, about 30 seconds. Add sour orange juice, cumin, and salt and pepper. Stand back: The sauce may sputter. Bring the sauce to a rolling boil. Correct the seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste. Cool before serving. Mojo tastes best when served within a few hours of making, but it will keep for several days, covered, in the refrigerator.

Note: Sour orange juice can be found in Latino markets.

Mojo Chicken

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. Mojo is a sauce common in the Caribbean (specifically the Canary islands). It consists of olive oil, citrus juice and/or vinegar, lots of garlic and spices. It also is a great marinade and I chose to marinate chicken breasts in mojo. It really is a great and flavorful marinade for not just chicken, but pork, beef and seafood.

Mojo Chicken
recipe from CookingLight.com

1/2 cup sour orange juice
(or you could use regular orange juice, pineapple juice or lemon juice)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
4 bone;ess, skinless chicken-breast halves, skinned
Cooking spray

Combine juice and next 7 ingredients (through chili flakes) in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken; seal and marinate in refrigerator at least 1 hour and up to 3.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place chicken in a 13- x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake, covered, 20 minutes; uncover and bake 25 minutes or until chicken is done.

Maduros (sweet plantains)

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. Maduros is a sweet side dish in Floribbean cuisine. It’s made with sweet, fully or overripened plantains. The plantains are best if they are practically black… which is a tell tale sign that it’s perfectly ripened and super sweet. Don’t throw blackened plantains out – make this dish instead! Similar to the preparation of Tostones, these plantains are sliced and fried.

Maduros
(sweet plantains)

3 very ripe plantains (heavy black spotting to a fully black skin)
lard or vegetable shortening to cover half the thickness of plantains

Peel and bias cut (diagonal) into one-inch thick slices. Heat the oil until medium hot — a drop of water will sizzle.

Fry the pieces briefly, about a minute or two per side. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, turning occasionally until they are brown and caramelized.

VARIATION: Some people like to lightly roll the plantains in white or brown sugar before frying (which is what I did)

Tostones (green plantains)

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. Tostones is a popular side dish to Floribbean meals. This is made with green, unripened plantains that have been sliced and fried twice then served with a garlicy sauce.

Tostones
(flatted fried green plantains)
recipe from Dominican Cooking.com

2 unripe plantains
1/2 cup of oil
4 teaspoons of cold water
1/2 teaspoons of mashed garlic
Salt

Peel the plantains and cut into 1 inch thick slices. In a deep frying pan heat the oil and fry the plantains till golden brown. Flatten the plantains using the bottom of a flat-bottomed glass bottle. Fry the plantains again for 30 seconds on each side.

(This part is optional) Mix the water, a pinch of salt and the mashed garlic. Stir and pour over the plantains.

Serve immediately.

Arroz con Gandules

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. This is a favorite Puerto Rican dish of mine. I like to think of it as a Puerto Rican fried rice dish that isn’t quite fried. For this dish, I added bell peppers and corn for a more filling vegetarian option to my menu.

Arroz con Gandules
(pigeon peas & rice)
recipe adapted from FoodNetwork.com

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
2 cups long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Sazon seasoning with cilantro
1 (15-ounce) can green pigeon peas (gandules), rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can sweet kernel corn, rinsed and drained
1 cup diced colored bell peppers
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups water
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Place a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat and add oil.
Add the onion and cilantro.
Continue to cook for 5 minutes until the onion is soft.
Add the rice, oregano, cumin, salt, achiote, pigeon peas, corn and bell peppers.
Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the rice is opaque.
Stir in the tomato paste and water and bring to boil.
When all the water is absorbed, cover tightly and reduce the heat to low.
Cook for 25 to 30 minutes until tender.
Serve on a decorative platter and garnish with cilantro.