A Little Bit of Havana

by Cate on April 19, 2005

The Husband is Cuban and every once in awhile, I do a Cuban-themed dinner for him. Tonight I made Pasta de Queso Crema Bocaditos (Cream Cheese and Olive Filling Tea Sandwiches) and Picadillo. He makes Picadillo himself upon occasion, but tonight, I was trying out a new recipe.

I’ve made the Bocaditos before — a yummy, simple starter to a meal that you can fill all sorts of different ways. The olive one is popular, as is Ham Filling, Chicken Filling and even Chicken and Asparagus Filling. The recipe for them comes from The Husband’s favorite cuban cookbook, Memories of a Cuban Kitchen. The cookbook is completely devoid of pictures (I hate that!), but we’ve been pretty successful with her recipes.

Tonight’s version of Picadillo comes from A Taste of Cuba (another underutilized cookbook – I’m getting better at this!). Served over rice, it was delicious! Only thing I would do is add some chopped green olives to it. Our usual recipe for Picadillo calls for them, and we like the slight saltiness it brings to the dish.

I’ll leave you with the Top 10 Ways to Serve Balsamic Vinegar, as dictated by Simple Perfect Italian magazine (2005).

1. Splash over fresh berries. (Cate: Mmm, Michael Chiarello has a delicious recipe for Straberries Pazzo … strawberries marinated with balsamic vinegar and black pepper, served with mascarpone and biscotti. Simply divine. You can get the recipe here.)

2. Stir into a sweet sauce served with pork.

3. Pour over Brie (Cate: never done that before, but sounds intriguing!).

4. Mix with fresh spinach.

5. Toss with tomatoes, onions and mozzarella chunks.

6. Sizzle in scallops.

7. Make into a marinade for chicken or duck.

8. Drizzle over vanilla ice cream.

9. Blend with pasta al dente.

10. Sprinkle atop crisp grilled vegetables (Cate: tastes great over roasted asparagus!).

Pasta de Queso Crema Bocaditos
Cream Cheese and Olive Filling Tea Sandwiches
One 8-oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup finely chopped, drained dimientos
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, drained and finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly by hand. Cover and refrigerate until ready to spread. When ready to serve, making sandwiches by spreading on firm white bread (I use Pepperidge Farm’s firm sandwich bread), top with another slice and cut into triangles.

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minces
2 pounds lean ground beef
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons capers
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic. Saute about 5 minutes until the onions are softened, then add the beef. Break up the meat into small pieces while you stir the ingredients. Cook 8-10 minutes, until the meat is lightly browned and cooked through. Add the tomatoes and cumin, cover and reduce heat toe medium-low. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add the capers and simmer 5 minutes longer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain some of the juice and serve hot over rice.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Stephanie April 19, 2005 at 6:36 pm

Yum…Cuban food!
Granted, I didn’t even know about Cuban dishes before I met Matt (smalltown, USA, thank you very much…fish fries on Fridays, sauerkraut on New Year’s day…nothing too exciting), but once I learned about it, I was intrigued.

There’s an awful lot of pork or other meat flavoring, but I try to work around it. And Matt’s more than willing to try my experiments…thanks for the book recommendations; I’m never sure how good a book really is when I look at it. If you’re hubby’s satisfied, I’ll take that as a positive review!

And I had The Best baslamic vinegar at Dromoland Castle, served with a simple but fabulous salad of greens, avocado and fresh buffalo mozzarella…it was thick and sweet and syrupy. Oh, man…


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