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¡VIVA! (March 14, 2008)

Three Guys from Miami Celebrate Cuban just north of The Latin American Kitchen and west of Deliciously Authentic Rice Dishes from Spain's Mediterranean Coast in La Paella! ¡Viva!

We grew up with Cuban and Spanish food in Tampa, and it's one of the few yearnings we still have... a good Cuban sandwich is impossible to find outside south Florida, the fresh shellfish and seafood, chicken in more variations than you thought possible, and pork in any form... but help arrived in Three Guys from Miami Celebrate Cuban!

Turns out that the authors, three brothers-in-law, are not really all in Miami all the time, and only two are Cuban born, but who cares! Glenn Lindgren grew up in Minneapolis and first came to Miami in 1984. He fell in love the city and its culture, especially the food! When not in the kitchen, Glenn documents the antics of the Three Guys From Miami in books, magazine and on the internet. Raúl Musibay is a native Cuban and a full-time resident of Miami. Raúl is known for his love of fishing, his great parties and his mastery of the Cuban pig roast. He does cooking classes and demonstrations and "works the crowd," telling jokes and anecdotes and making sure everyone is having a good time. Jorge Castillo came to the US from Cuba via the Mariel Boatlift in 1980. Get this... he left Miami after three months to live in Iowa, where he learned to love corn on the cob, root beer and Cookie's Barbecue Sauce. Unlike his two brothers-in-law, he has always had an eye for food presentation. What's not to love with this trio!

The Latin American Kitchen author Elisabeth Luard cut her culinary teeth in Montevideo – a great city for food – and has worked in Mexico City as well. On the river Uxumazintla she learned how to pluck and roast a parrot; in the plains of Guerrero she found out how to ferment the juice of the maguey cactus. We have not included this information...

Luard is the winter of many awards for her food writing and BBC shows. She tells us that the earliest colonialists – Spanish and Portuguese – imported the meat and milk animals of the Old World; pigs and chickens were introduced throughout Latin America, cattle became common in the Argentinean pampas and sheep populated Patagonia. The Aztec and Mayan civilizations in Central America and the Inca Empire of Peru used indigenous ingredients such as cassava, maize, chocolate and vanilla plus roots, tubers, fruits and vegetables. The results today are a delicious blending of these cultures and their foods, and we're going to try every one of Luard's more than 200 recipes in this excellent book!

Paella is one of Spain's most famous and cherished specialties. It's full of ritual and myth, tricks and techniques and strict rules: Never stir the rice! Never cover while cooking! Yet Paella is open to interpretation and argument about what it can and can't include. The answers are all in La Paella, the cookbook that just may be the last delicious word on the subject! Author Jeff Koehler explains it all: festive and fun, it is made with an ever-changing combination of ingredients – including chicken, rabbit, wild mushrooms, mussels, fish and shrimp – and is perfect for serving to groups, adapting easily to any size gathering. A longtime Barcelona reside and food writer, Koehler gives us all the details we ever needed to make a perfect paella at home. He should know, for Koehler has written about food and travel for everyone from Gourmet, Food and Wine and Eating Well to a host of international newspapers. And perhaps most important of all, his mother-in-law taught him everything about paella!

On today's menu:

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Camarones para una Boda Cubana
Cuban Wedding Shrimp

In Three Guys from Miami Celebrate Cuban Glenn says, "This is a recipe for the best dish we ever had at an otherwise mediocre pseudo-Cuban restaurant." Jorge adds, "They called this recipe 'Cuban Wedding Shrimp.'" Raul goes on, "The problem is, none of us has ever heard of Cuban Wedding Shrimp." Jorge: "They never served any shrimp like this at any wedding I ever attended." Raul: "They never served any shrimp, period!" Glenn: "So it was back to the Three Guys kitchens to try and duplicate what we have to admit is a very tasty appetizer." Jorge: "Believe us, ours is a lot better – even if it isn't any more authentic."

So what? You'd better make a double batch, as this will disappear between the first two people who get their hands on it!

Serves 4

  • ½ cup dark rum
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ cup slivered onion
  • ½ cup slivered green bell pepper
  • Olive oil (about 4 Tbsp)
  • 10 large shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the rum, orange juice, vinegar, brown sugar and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large sauté pan with a tight fitting lid, sauté the onion and green pepper in the olive oil for just a minute or two over medium-high heat.
  3. Toss in the shrimp and the garlic and fry for 2 minutes longer, no more no less, turning frequently.
  4. Add the mixed liquids, cover the pan tightly, and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes, away from heat, covered tightly. No peeking, and we mean no peeking!
  5. Remove the shrimp and vegetables form the pan and refrigerate, covered, until well chilled.
  6. Reserve liquid in the pan and bring to a rapid boil under high heat. Stirring occasionally, boil the sauce until it reduces by half. The sauce should be thicker than water, but not syrupy.
  7. Run the sauce through a strainer and refrigerate until completely chilled.
  8. Serve cold by plating individual servings-4 shrimp on a bed of onions and green peppers.
  9. Ladle some of the chilled sauce on top of the shrimp and vegetables on each plate, just enough to make a small pool. Sprinkle each plate with a pinch of salt (trust us on this one) and some red pepper flakes – just enough to give it a little colour.

Tony's wine recommendation:
A fragrant, off-dry white – Viognier, Alsace dry Muscat, Gewürztraminer


Mexican Pork Pot Roast

Of all the Old World's meat animals, none received so enthusiastic a welcome as the pig – perhaps because of its similarity to the indigenous peccary, the hunter's most valuable prize. Imported by Hispanic homesteaders, the pig quickly became – and remains – the most important of the region's domestic meat animals. And there's nothing like roast pork... especially a succulent pork pot roast jacketed with spices and chilies. This version is served at weddings and christenings in northern Mexico and takes its name from the Nauatl word for pit-barbecue. It's really wonderful hot or cold the next day, and makes a perfect ingredient for that Cuban sandwich we yearn for! From The Latin American Kitchen.

Serves 8–10

  • 1 pork shoulder on the bone – about 5 pounds
  • 2 pig's feet, scrubbed and split
  • 2½ cups white wine vinegar
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed with a little salt
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 4 ounces dried chili ancho (mild and fruity)
  • 4 ounces dried chili guajillo (sharp and hot)
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 2–3 springs thyme
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
    For serving:
  • 2–3 red onions, finely sliced, dressed with lime juice and salt
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced radishes
  • Tortillas

Put the meat and pig's feet in a roomy bowl. Pierce the skin in several places with a knife. In a blender, blend the vinegar with the garlic, a little more salt and the peppercorns. Pour this aromatic bath over the meat and set aside in a cool place for a couple of hours. Slit the chilies open and scrape out the seeds and pale veins. Keep 1 tsp of the seeds. Tear up the chilies and soak in a bowl of boiling water for 20 minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Drain the meat, reserving the vinegar juices and transfer to a casserole dish. Put the vinegar in the blender, add the chilies a little at a time, and blend between each addition until smooth. Strain and discard the bits. Return the liquid to the blender along with the ginger, thyme, chili seeds and coriander; blend to a smooth paste. Spread the paste over the meat and add enough water to come halfway up the roast. Cover tightly, transfer to the oven, and cook for 2–3 hours, until the meat is tender but not yet falling apart. Remove the lid, raise the heat and cook for another 20 minutes or so, to brown the skin and reduce the sauce. Serve with sliced onion, shredded lettuce and radishes – all ready to wrap in a tortilla fresh from the cooker!

Tony's wine recommendation:
An off-dry Riesling, white Zinfandel, Tavel Rosé


Paella de Conejo y Alcachofas
Paella with Rabbit and Artichokes

La Paella author Jeff Koehler says, "Rabbit, with its delicious and tender meat, is commonly found in paellas. The artichokes and red peppers help weave an earthiness into the dish. To heighten that note, sauté the rabbit's liver with the meat and then pound it in a mortar with some almonds, and stir it into the paella when adding the rice."

Can you possibly wait one more day to make this dish? We couldn't either...

Serves 6

  • 1 whole rabbit (about 2 pounds), cut into about 12 pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 medium artichokes (about 2 pounds), trimmed, tough parts of leaves removed, cut into eighths, and choke scraped out
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch-square pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, fine chopped
  • 4 ripe medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped or coarsely grated
  • 1 tsp sweet pimetón (see below)
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 pinches saffron threads (about 20 total), lightly toasted and ground
  • 3 cups short- or medium-grain rice

Season the rabbit generously with salt and pepper. In a 16- to 18-inch paella pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the rabbit and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large platter.

Prepare the sofrito (see below) in the same pan. Add the artichokes and bell pepper and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes and 2 pinches of salt an cook, stirring from time to time, over medium-low heat until the tomato begins to darken, about 5 minutes. Return the rabbit to the paella pan along with any juices from the platter, and cook, stirring from time to time, until the sofrito is pasty, about 5 minutes.

When the sofrito is ready, sprinkle in the pimetón. Letting the flavors meld for a few seconds while stirring constantly. Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle in the saffron. Taste for salt and adjust the seasoning as needed. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Sprinkle in the rice. With a wooden spoon, probe the pan to make sure the rice is evenly distributed. Do not stir again. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 9 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al punto, with just a bite to it.

Remove the paella from the heat, cover with paper towels, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Pimetón: There are three kinds of Spanish pimetón (paprika); dulce (sweet), agridulce (bittersweet) and picante (hot). Paella requires the sweet variety, which is the most typical pimetón in Spain. It's silky, fine and blood-red with a deep, smoky flavor. Available at specialty markets.

El Sofrito: The foundation of nearly every rice dish is a sofrito, a slow, aromatic sauté of vegetables that includes one or more of the following: onions, green or red peppers, garlic and tomatoes.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Manzanilla or Fino sherry, Spanish Rosado (rosé), chilled Beaujolais


La Belle Josephine
Caribbean Coffee and Cream

Coffee beans are the berries of a small tree native to the highlands of Ethiopia but grown widely throughout the tropical Americas. Its natural habitat is volcanic soil, and the higher it's grown, the better the flavour. The main coffee-grower of the Americas is Brazil, the world's largest producer – though with the exception of the deliciously aromatic Santos, a lot of it is not much good. Colombia is second largest in quantity but unsurpassed in quality. Costa Rica, Peru and Ecuador produce relatively small amounts of highly aromatic beans; Guatemala and Venezuelan beans are particularly fragrant with a mellow flavour. Any good rich coffee will do for this gorgeous dessert, an obscenely delicious confection that commemorates the beauty of Josephine Baker, star of the Follies Bergères in Paris in the twenties. It is also known in the French Caribbean as Negresse en Chemise: Black Beauty in a White Petticoat. Exquisite, by whatever name. From The Latin American Kitchen.

Serves 4

  • 1½ cups white curd cheese: ricotta or fromage frais
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 1 scant cup very strong black coffee
  • 1 scant cup dark Barbados rum
  • 2/3 cup grated black chocolate
    To finish (optional):
  • Sliced banana
  • Crushed walnuts
  • Cinnamon

Push the cheese through a strainer and then beat it with the cream. Gently heat the coffee with the rum, then stir in the chocolate, whisking until dissolved. Set aside for an hour at room temperature for the flavours to develop.

Drop a spoonful of each of the mixtures in individual bowls into which you have, if you wish, dropped a few slices of banana. Swirl together without blending completely. Finish with crushed walnuts and cinnamon – delicious!


For permission to publish material and photographs, we wish to thank:

Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver and Gibbs Smith, Publisher, Layton, Utah, for Three Guys from Miami Celebrate Cuban by Glenn Lindgren, Raúl Musibay and Jorge Castillo. Text © 2006 Glenn M. Lindgren. Photographs © Marty Snortum.

Raincoast Publishing, Vancouver and Kyle Cathie Limited, UK, for The Latin American Kitchen by Elisabeth Luard. © 2002 by Elisabeth Luard. Photographs © 2002 by Francine Lawrence.

Raincoat Publishing, Vancouver, and Chronicle Books, San Francisco, for La Paella by Jeff Koehler. Text and photographs copyright © 2006 by Jeff Koehler.


Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download this article in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (125 KB)




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