I don’t know why this never ceases to surprise me, but most people I meet have never eaten Cuban food. Now, considering the sum total population of 11MM people on the island, you would think “hey, Damaris – that’s to be expected.” Now, whenever I meet someone, it feels like it is my mission from the universe to make sure they experience Cuban food, Thai food, Korean food, Japanese food, and Vietnamese food – at a minimum (and in that order). It isn’t always the simplest thing to quickly cook up some Cuban black bean stew or some ropa vieja – but gosh darn it, I will at least fry up some Cuban empanadas.
If you have experienced at least a simple (and incredibly, crazy delicious) street food from each of these places, I feel like my universe debt is paid. Because we need to cover our bases in order – we’ll start you off with Cuban. Empanadas were one of the first Cuban dishes I ever learned to make. My mom taught me, and this was one of our tag-team recipes, where she would prepare the filling, and then I would shape and close the empanada. If you have little ones of your own, you might find this is a great recipe for keeping those little hands busy without making a lot of mess.
There are so many different doughs and fillings you can use to make empanadas that this recipe is just the way to open a door to a world of creativity. You can go sweet, salty, gooey, crunchy. Our personal favorites use either picadillo, or guava paste and cream cheese. The Cuban kitchen is all about being resourceful – using what’s available, using up leftovers, making the most of everything. These are a great way to enjoy the heck out of some leftover meat, veggie, or rice dishes. Do me a favor – help me ease my debt to the universe, and go make yourself some empanadas. I promise this is one debt that’s actually very fun to repay.
I am here briefly to say this: I have been absolutely broken-hearted that I’ve neglected you and I’m sooo anxious and excited to get back with you all again soon! As life would have it, my blogging time has required a brief intermission as I take care of some details in my personal life. But rest assured, the delicious stuff of your dreams is coming soon! I will be back in ******UPDATE* Next week! (Mid-January)****** with a slew of truly addicting, amazing, slobber-inducing goodies. Luckily, there has still been time for kitchen experimentation, and I can’t wait to share it all with you!
Missing you immensely,
Wow, life has been crazy recently. One weekend involving two 8 hour drives (and two audiobooks), 3 days of feeling dead-to-the-world tired, several cups of tea, and 1 honey oat bran loaf later – I am back to reality. I don’t know about you guys, but I can smell Fall in the air outside. The crisp notes of cooler times coming our way, the hint of slightly wet leaves and grass, the tinge of something reminiscent of smoke in the air. I loooooove the Fall. And right now I am just aching inside for Fall festivals, pumpkin picking, and jumping around in piles of leaves.
That being said, if you’re a Fall lover like me, this loaf is one way to sneakily begin to celebrate the arrival of the season. It’s got the warm touch of Fall dishes, while still being enough like a regular loaf bread to be acceptable in the summer. And, along with it is the recipe for one of the easiest (and most delicious) things you can ever make: butter. Seriously, ten minutes, tops. And it’s sooo good. Plus, it’s actually kind of fun.
Grab a mug of cocoa (or lemonade, depending on your favorite season) and snuggle up on the couch to enjoy a slice of this loaf. It’s got a smooth glaze around it’s edges that will simply make your mouth water. If you come across good variations, changes, subtractions, or additions, let me know! I’d love to hear how they turn out!
I’ve recently decided I would really like to avoid ever being called a “great person” or a “nice person.” I’ve found that every time I hear those phrases, they are swiftly followed by an insult. You’ve heard it, right? “She’s a nice person, but…” It is the northern equivalent to the Southern “Bless her heart. [insert backhanded insult here].” So, in support of that effort, I won’t bother explaining how addicting these things are. I won’t be nice and warn you that you’ll never want to go back to the frozen variety. I won’t do it.
The average American will look at you sideways if you mention anything about “ham paste” or “ground ham.” It’s a concept that’s different – but very normal for Cuban food. And it’s been my experience that the average American will also love these croquettes. Been there, tested it. Trust me. This recipe is tried and true, authentic, and delicious. For a typical Cuban lunch, grab yourself some amazingly soft rolls (or Cuban bread, if you have access to it), and make a sandwich out of these croquettes. Some people like to add ketchup or some other condiment to the sandwich. Personally, I like mine with the core ingredients: croquetas and bread.
I used to think these were so hard to make, or time consuming, or something! There had to be some reason even the best hispanic chefs I know kept buying the frozen croquetas, which almost always carried an unpleasant hint of freezer-burn. But no – the majority of the time spent in this recipe is just waiting for the filling to cool. Waiting. That doesn’t even count. These could not be easier to make. They require little to no ingredients, and there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t go make them right now.
When you get done eating, let me know what you liked about them, what tweaks you made, how you made them your own. I’d love to know!
Here’s a short story for you, my friends. Once upon a time, there was a girl who searched to the ends of the Earth for a dinner roll recipe that would suit her needs. She found many different varieties…some buttery, some hard, some yeasty, some crusty. But no recipe in all the land gave her exactly what she wanted: long-lasting fluffiness and perfect texture, delicious flavor, and easy technique. One day, when this girl was supposed to be taking a break from blog recipes, she accidentally created a magical recipe that was everything she had ever hoped for. She tested it again, and again it came out perfect. “It can’t be!” she cried. And she proceeded to stuff her face with bread.
Guys. That was based on a true story. I may have never mentioned this before – but bread is one of my very favorite things on this planet. I am extremely picky about it, and it is very often my favorite part of the meal at restaurants. There is just nothing like bread fresh out of the oven. Nope. So, after years of looking for a rolls recipe that could be enjoyed for dinner, but then also enjoyed for the rest of the week with breakfast and lunch – I’ve found it. And, even though I was supposed to be taking a break… I just have to share it.
This recipe is very tweak-able. If you want sweet bread, add some more honey. If you want cheesy bread, add your favorite grated cheese. If you want herbs, add some herbs. Have a party with it! And let me know how your tweaks turned out! I’d love to hear about some variations on this recipe.