Saturday, October 22, 2016

Cuba - Cookbook Review + Recipe

I think the first time I had Cuban food was in this little restaurant when we were in Tampa, FL one summer.  The restaurant was kind of a hole in the wall so my hopes weren't high but the food was amazing and I've been in love with Cuban food ever since.

So when I saw Cuba: Recipes and Stories from the Cuban Kitchen by Dan Golberg, Andrea Kuhn, and Jody Eddy on Blogging for Books I couldn't resist.  And this cookbook is gorgeous. The photographs are vivid and stunning showing everything from scenery to mouthwatering food to the people of Cuba.  This cookbook could double as a coffee table book since in addition to all the eye catching photos there are small stories that accompany each chapter and each recipe.

The chapters are divided a little unusually.  There is one on basics - stocks, rice, and plantains.   Then there are recipes on snacks, sandwiches and salads, main courses, small plates, and desserts and ending up with a number of cocktail recipes.

Unfortunately for me the cookbook involves a lot of seafood.  This isn't a shock given Cuba's location but I had hoped for more meat or vegetarian dishes.  A few things like Savory Goat Stew, Fried Whole Snapper with Salsa Verde, and Grilled Octopus with Jicama Slaw and Yuca Fries probably won't be made here anytime soon though they do sound delicious.  There are a number of recipes that have my mouth watering and I'm really looking forward to trying Fried Plantain Chips with Mojo, Roasted Pork Chop, Pork Chops with Warm Grapefruit Vinaigrette, Pureed Plantain Soup with Crispy Shallots, Chicken Stew with Corn, and a Cubano.  For dessert I might just have to have a big slice of Mojito Cake with Rum-Infused Whipped Cream and Lime Zest and maybe a Cafe Cubano Batido to go with it!

For now since the temperature has finally decided to drop below 90 here I thought I'd share the recipe for the

Spicy Black Bean Soup with Lime Crema

2 pound dried black beans
1 yellow onion, peeled and halved
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, halved, and seeded
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 cup Lime Crema (recipe below)

Put the beans, the halved onion, the halved pepper, and the bay leaves in a large pot and cover with water by at least 3 inches.  Place the pot in the refrigerator overnight.

Pour the beans and their soaking liquid into a large pot.  Make sure the water covers the beans by 1 inch, adding or removing water if necessary.  Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer until the beans are tender, 45 to 55 minutes.  Stir in the salt.

Let the beans continue to simmer while you make the sofrito.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the diced onion, bell pepper, and jalapenos and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes more.  Stir the sofrito into the beans.

Remove the now mush halved onion and pepper and the bay leaves from the bean pot and discard the bay leaves.  Place the vegetables in a blender and ladle in about 2 cups of the beans.  Puree the beans and vegetables.  Stir this puree back into the beans in the pot.  Add the chicken stock.  Bring the soup to a simmer and add the oregano, cumin, sugar, and vinegar.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot with dollop of Lime Crema.

Lime Crema
1 cup Mexican crema
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest

Whisk together all ingredients except the salt.  Season to taste with salt.  Refrigerate the crema until ready to serve.

While this cookbook isn't one I'm planning on using all the time it is one I'll reference for special occasions or when I'm the mood for something a little different.  It's definitely one I recommend browsing through.

I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads


  1. Oh yeah! We are big fans of Cuban food and I have several cookbooks dedicated to the cuisine. Do you remember the restaurant you went to in Tampa? Arco Iris is one we've been to, also La Terasita and a great Cuban bakery. We don't get to Tampa much these days ( 4 hours south of us) but man....those little restaurants are worth it!

  2. I haven't had much Cuban food at all so I should check out this book. The black bean soup sounds perfect for these cooler Fall days. :)

  3. I adore Cuban food-especially anything with plantains in it.

  4. Don't think I've ever had Cuban food, but I'm going to try that black bean soup. It sounds great, and even our weather is cooling up.

  5. Black beans make a delicious contribution to quite a few types of cuisine. The spicing and lime-cream here are quite distinctive. Good to have a recipe that's almost vegetarian (and could be entirely).

    best... mae at

  6. Love the few Cuban style meals I've had. This recipe sounds awesome. It's discouraging to me when I read about fabulous dishes in cookbooks but know there is no way I can get the ingredients in my small town.

    1. Oops meant to add sorry I'm so late arriving, between travel and computer issues ... well, you know how it goes.

  7. I think the only cuban food I've had is a cuban sandwich - but I LOVE black bean soup and this one sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing...

  8. Once again, thanks for the recipe! We have a lot of different ethic restaurants here, but Cuban fare is not one of them. I went to a Cuban place in NYC, but we were only there for cocktails. Maybe the next time I am in the city I will look for a Cuban eatery because the recipes you listed sound wonderful. I love cookbooks that have stories, or history along with the recipes. Thanks for sharing your review. :)

  9. Cuban, something else for me to explore. - thanks. Have a great week. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

  10. Well, yum! And what a beautiful book!

  11. I love Cuban food and black beans soup is one of my favorites. It sounds like a fun book. ;-)