Wednesday, July 10, 2013


In honor of INOT's one-year anniversary and the Fun, Food, and Family series, I thought I'd pull an old guest post out of the vault. You might enjoy trying a few of these recipes out on your family and friends this summer!

A Culinary Journey to Cuba
by Tracie Banister

My Chick Lit novel, In Need ofTherapy, is set in multicultural Miami, which is a food lover's paradise because of the variety of exotic cuisines that are offered at the different restaurants throughout the city (everything from Bolivian to Venezuelan!) However, there is no cuisine more popular or prevalent in South Florida than Cuban due to the large contingent of Cuban-Americans who populate the area (there's even a neighborhood in Miami called "Little Havana.") Pilar Alvarez, the heroine of In Need of Therapy, is half-Cuban and her motto is, "I’m always pro-eating." Since Pilar spends a great deal of time talking about and consuming a diverse assortment of Cuban dishes in In Need of Therapy, I thought it would be fun to share a few recipes with you. Cuban food is a wonderful fusion of Spanish, African, and Caribbean cuisines, and it's the perfect thing to eat when the weather is hot and steamy!

***Just click on the underlined food/drink names below and you will be taken to the full recipe.*** 

If you want a Cuban cocktail to serve your guests or to calm your nerves before attempting to make a new dish, a Watermelon Mojito is the way to go. It's colorful and fruity and has a liberal amount of every Cuban's favorite liquor, rum.

For lunch, if you can't get to David's Café for the best Sandwich Cubano in Miami, then you can whip up your own delicious combo of Ham, Pork, Swiss Cheese, Pickles, and Mustard on Cuban Bread.  

Papas Rellenas are the perfect party food! These meat-stuffed potato balls can be eaten by hand with no muss or fuss, and they make a delicious bite!

Ropa Vieja means "old clothes" in Spanish, and this shredded steak mixture in a tomato-based sauce is probably the most well-known of Cuban dishes. Here's some interesting background info on Ropa Vieja:

There are many theories as to how the dish was named. One of the most popular ones is a story about a man whose family was coming to his home for dinner. Being very poor, the man could not buy them enough food when they came. To remedy his situation, he went to his closet, gathered some old clothes (ropa vieja) and imbued them with his love. When he cooked the clothes, his love for his family turned them into a wonderful beef stew. - Wikipedia 

If you want a Cuban entrée that's a little lighter, you can't go wrong with Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice.) It's a fairly complex dish with a lot of ingredients, but well worth the time and effort.

What about some side dishes, you say? Well, Frijoles Negros (Black Beans) are a staple in any Cuban diet. They are generally served with white rice. If you don't have the time to season and cook your own black beans, Bush's Seasoned Black Beans are really quite good and flavorful (Shhhhhh, don't tell any Cubans I told you to try canned black beans.) Plátanos Maduros Fritos (Fried Ripe Plantains) are a sweet, slightly crunchy accompaniment that marries will with almost any Cuban dish.

No dinner would be complete without dessert, and the custard-y Flan is a very popular choice for Cubans. Types of Flan include:  Flan de Queso (Cheese Flan), Flan de Coco (Coconut Flan), Flan de Caramelo (Caramel Flan), and Flan de Chocolate (Chocolate Flan.)

Buy In Need of Therapy:


In celebration of In Need of Therapy's one-year anniversary and the book's Cuban heroine, enter to win a copy of the cookbook Celebrate Cuban - 100 Great Recipes for Cuban Entertaining by Three Guys From Miami. You can enter up to 6 times using the Rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway will end at midnight on Wednesday, July 31st, and a winner will be announced on Thursday, August 1st. This contest is open to residents of the USA only.

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  1. OMG! Printing off now!!! Thank you Tracie! xxx

  2. Yum! We used to have a Cuban restaurant really close to our house, but unfortunately it closed. They had the yummiest Cuban sandwiches!

  3. Oooooh, now I am totally starving. You do realise I've been to the dentist today so am very food deprived. Fab recipes! I want the dessert first! :) xx

  4. Everything looks so delicious!! I know we have a few Cuban restaurants in Montreal so I definitely have to check them out! ... or hop a plane to Miami! :)

  5. So much good food! It's a lot of fun to see some of the foods Pilar might eat.

  6. love these recipes!!!! yum!!!

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