Tropical Fare Party Recipes

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PICADILLO

Ground beef makes this dish fast-cooking, and Spanish olives add depth and kick. Serve it over a bed of white rice.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 large green pepper (diced)
  • 1 medium white onion (diced)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking wine
  • 12 green olives (with pimento and seeds, if you prefer)
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Preparation

  • Place meat and all ingredients except for tomato sauce and olive oil into a large bowl and mix with wooden spoon. Cover and place into refrigerator 1 hour.
  • Remove from the refrigerator and place into frying pan on low heat. Cook until all the liquid in the pan is absorbed. Add the tomato sauce and two tablespoons of olive oil, and salt to taste, and let simmer until incorporated into the meat. Serve over white rice.
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FRIJOLES NEGROS

Classic black beans and rice.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 14 oz. package of black beans
  • 2 laurel leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano
  • 1 medium white onion (chopped)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 green pepper (cut in wedges)
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1⁄3 cup cooking wine (vino seco)
  • salt to taste

Preparation

  • Rinse beans, cover them completely in water and soak overnight in 12 quart stockpot. Bring the beans to a boil with the bay leaves, then simmer on low until beans are soft, about 1 hour. Pour out extra water leaving the beans in the pot, and mash with fork to desired consistency. Add oregano and pepper to the beans.
  • In a frying pan, make a light sofrito by heating oil, then adding the onion, garlic, cooking wine, vinegar and salt over low to medium heat. When the sofrito is soft and light brown, add it to the beans. Add the olive oil once the beans are done. Serve over white rice.

TOSTONES

These fried green plantain bananas have a savory, starchy, almost potato-chip like flavor.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 green plantain bananas
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation

  • Place oil in frying pan and heat on low. With a knife, peel the plantains and cut into two-inch wheels. Place in oil and fry until they are half cooked, when they start to deepen in color. Remove and place them in a folded paper bag.
  • With a meat mallet or sturdy bottle, gently press each piece to down to half its height. Place the pieces back into oil and fry at high heat until golden. Remove place on paper towels and salt lightly.
  • Serve with any Cuban dish.

PLATANITOS FRITOS

These fried sweet yellow plantains must be cooked when their skins are practically black for maximum softness and sweetness.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3 ripened yellow plantain bananas
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation

  • Place oil in frying pan and heat on high. Remove plantain skins with knife, and cut bananas on an angle in long horizontal slices. When oil is hot, place plantain strips into the frying pan. When they are golden on top, flip over and cook them on other side until done.
  • Serve with fried pork or steak, black beans, white rice, and salad.
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ENSALADA DE AGUACATE

This tart avocado salad is simply dressed to showcase the pure nutty and sweet flavors of ripe summer avocados.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large, ripe avocados (peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced)
  • 1 small onion (thinly sliced)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • watercress leaves or other greens
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preparation

  • Line a platter with a bed of greens. Arrange the avocado slices on top, followed by the onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk together the oil and vinegar and drizzle over the salad. Finish with parsley.

YUCCA (CON MOJO DE ACEITE, AJO, Y LIMON)

Boiled Yucca in a tangy sauce of olive oil, garlic and lime. If you buy fresh yucca, you'll need to remove the skins. Otherwise, use frozen pre-skinned yucca.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs of yucca, skins removed
  • juice of 2 limes
  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • salt to taste

Preparation

  • Fill 12 quart stockpot with water and boil. Place yucca in boiling water. Add the juice of 1 lime. When the yucca opens up from boiling, add two cups of cold water and salt to taste. Cook until yucca is fork-tender, strain and reserve.
  • To prepare the mojo, heat the vegetable oil, garlic, and juice of 1 lime in a frying pan. Pour it over the yucca. Plate and serve.

FLAN

Caramel flan is sweet, refreshingly cool, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Serves 6 to 10

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs (2 whole, 4 egg yolks)
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup white sugar

Preparation

  • Place sugar in the top saucepan of a double boiler. At medium heat, melt the sugar to coat the bottom and sides of the saucepan, then set aside to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, then add milks and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into the saucepan with the now cooled caramel coating. Cover and double boil at medium heat for 1 hour. Check if the center is firm, and if not, continue to boil for another ½ hour. When the flan is firm, let it cool for ½ hour before placing the saucepan into refrigerator overnight to cool. The next day, take a knife and slide it around the edges of the saucepan to ensure that the flan isn't stuck to the pan.
  • The removal step requires extra care. Place your serving plate over the saucepan. With one hand, hold the plate firmly against the saucepan with your other hand flip the saucepan over so that you will feel the flan slide upside down. Slowly lift the saucepan. You should see the flan laying unbroken and face down on your serving plate. Serve as is with leftover caramelized sugar over flan, or place fresh blueberries, raspberries or coconut on top.
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DULCE DE FRUTA BOMBA

Papaya shells in their syrup with orange and cinnamon

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2½-3 pounds green papayas
  • 3 pounds of white sugar
  • 1 peel of an orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cups of water

Preparation

  • Cut papaya in half, remove seeds, and slice into chunks at least ½ to 1 inch thick. Place 2 cups of water and the papaya into 12 quart stock pot and boil over medium heat for 15 minutes.
  • Remove water and add 2 new cups of water. Add 1 ½ pounds of sugar, orange peel, and cinnamon stick and cook for 1 hour over medium heat. Then add remaining sugar and stir. Cook for another 3 hours, stirring every half hour.
  • Place into refrigerator to cool overnight. Serve on dessert plates with slices of Gouda cheese or cream cheese.

LA FLORADITA HAVANA DAIQUIRI

The pretty pink colors of this cocktail look like summer in a glass.

Makes 1 drink

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces rum
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grapefruit juice
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur
  • ½ cup crushed ice

Preparation

  • In a blender, blend all ingredients 10 to 20 seconds, and serve in a chilled cocktail glass.

MOJITO CRIOLLO

A relatively new addition to the cocktail scene, the refreshing Cuban mojito instantly became a classic.

Makes 1 drink

Ingredients

  • several sprigs fresh mint
  • peel of one small lemon
  • juice of 1 small lime
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup crushed ice
  • 2 ounces Bacardi light rum
  • sparkling mineral water to taste

Preparation

  • In a mortar, crush the mint leaves. Use a zester, vegetable peeler, or sharp knife to remove the peel of the lemon, without the white pith. Combine the leaves, peel, and the remaining ingredients, except the mineral water, in a cocktail shaker. Stir well to release the mint aroma, pour without straining into a tall glass, and top with sparkling mineral water.