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The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History
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The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History

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by Ana Sofia Pelaez
 

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~Nominated for a James Beard Award in the international cookbook category!~

The Cuban Table is a comprehensive, contemporary overview of Cuban food, recipes and culture as recounted by serious home cooks and professional chefs, restaurateurs and food writers. Cuban-American food writer Ana Sofia Pelaez and award-winning

Overview

~Nominated for a James Beard Award in the international cookbook category!~

The Cuban Table is a comprehensive, contemporary overview of Cuban food, recipes and culture as recounted by serious home cooks and professional chefs, restaurateurs and food writers. Cuban-American food writer Ana Sofia Pelaez and award-winning photographer Ellen Silverman traveled through Cuba, Miami and New York to document and learn about traditional Cuban cooking from a wide range of authentic sources.

Cuban home cooks are fiercely protective of their secrets. Content with a private kind of renown, they demonstrate an elusive turn of hand that transforms simple recipes into bright and memorable meals that draw family and friends to their tables time and again. More than just a list of ingredients or series of steps, Cuban cooks' tricks and touches hide in plain sight, staying within families or being passed down in well-worn copies of old cookbooks largely unread outside of the Cuban community.

Here you'll find documented recipes for everything from iconic Cuban sandwiches to rich stews with Spanish accents and African ingredients, accompanied by details about historical context and insight into cultural nuances. More than a cookbook, The Cuban Table is a celebration of Cuban cooking, culture and cuisine. With stunning photographs throughout and over 110 deliciously authentic recipes this cookbook invites you into one of the Caribbean's most interesting and vibrant cuisines.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 08/04/2014
From Pelaez, the woman behind the popular blog Hungry Sofia, comes this heartfelt tribute to Cuban cuisine. Ushering readers into the homes and restaurants of some of the country’s best cooks, Pelaez clearly and concisely demonstrates the depth and breadth of Cuban cuisine with flavor-packed recipes such as a creole fried chicken, a show-stopping riff on a classic centered around chicken steeped in a sour orange marinade; potaje de garbanzos, a rich chickpea stew; and classics like escabeche, ropa vieja, and the Cuban sandwich. Silverman’s crisp photos highlight the dishes themselves as well as the people who make them, giving readers an even deeper appreciation of Cuban cuisine and culture. A patient and detailed tutor, Pelaez thoughtfully guides cooks through the sometimes lengthy process of creating their own sausages and the perfect pork rinds (the key is removing the top layer of fat) in addition to discussing how to make the best toothsome desserts like cappuccino cake, coconut and almond candy cones, and rum-laced Cuban ice creams before closing with recipes for cocktails like daiquiris and mojitos. Cooks will want to add this immersive and inspirational book to their collection. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

“This book has a place in every kitchen.” —The Miami Herald

“… [A] heartfelt tribute to Cuban Cuisine…Cooks will want to add this immersive and inspirational book to their collection.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

“A seat at this table will be a welcome one for those who grew up eating and preparing Cuban food as well as those who are curious and ready to learn about it.” —Booklist

“Food writer Peláez's (hungrysofia.com) and photographer Silverman's passion for Cuban cooking leaps off the page...bursting with exotic and enticing words and tastes.” —Library Journal, STARRED review

“...Ana Sofía Peláez melds food and family, Cuba and Miami, the past and the present...In this gem of a book, all Cubans--from here and there--sit at the same table. And what a table it is!...” —Mirta Ojito, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of Finding Mañana: A Memoir of a Cuban Exodus

“The goddess of fortune was smiling on Cuba when Ellen Silverman and Ana Sofia Pelaez hit its shores. Few capture the essence of a place, a people and their food as have these two. Visually true and beautiful, written with deep understanding and lusty appetite, this is one of those books you read, you cook with and come back to again and again. It's a keeper.” —Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, host and producer of American Public Media's The Splendid Table, and authors of The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends

“Ana Sofia Pelaez's evocative writing and easy-to-follow recipes coupled with Ellen Silverman's gorgeous photography is a recipe for a timeless book. In The Cuban Table, they bring us wonderful Cuban recipes and the stories behind them. I can't wait to get into the kitchen with The Cuban Table!” —Julia Turshen, food writer and coauthor of It's All Good

“With its superb photographs and enticing recipes, this is sure to become THE book on Cuban cooking and an entree IN to an extraordinary culture.” —Sally Schneider, award-winning author of A New Way to Cook and The Improvisational Cook, and founder of improvisedlife.com

“The glow of family memories radiates from the recipes, stories, and food photographs of The Cuban Table as they show us Cuban and Cuban-Americans' strong connections to tradition. And I love Ellen Silverman's photographs of present-day Cuba, so full of life and confidence.” —Naomi Duguid, writer and photographer, and author of Burma: Rivers of Flavor

“My copy of The Cuban Table is sure to be covered in the loving spills of so many meals: mornings spent savoring a classic cafe con leche, leisurely lunches that begin with the crunch of hot-fried mariquitas, and easy dinners with friends who can't get enough of the classic pork and beans (feel free to sub your favorite dinner recipe from the book here!). The original family recipes and accompanying gorgeous images will tempt you to try every dish--and you should!” —Daphne Oz, author of Relish and cohost of The Chew

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of Fi Mirta Ojito

...Ana Sofía Peláez melds food and family, Cuba and Miami, the past and the present...In this gem of a book, all Cubans--from here and there--sit at the same table. And what a table it is!...
Library Journal
★ 08/01/2014
Food writer Pelaez's (hungrysofia.com) and photographer Silverman's passion for Cuban cooking leaps off the page, and their new cookbook—the fruit of travel and research in Cuba, Miami, and New York—is bursting with exotic and enticing words and tastes. Recipes gathered from home cooks, chefs, and restaurateurs aren't always familiar, but they're easy to imagine and savor. Flaky butter and lard pastries stuffed with guava paste; mango and papaya marmalades; croquettes studded with diced ham and pickles; beef braised with allspice, cloves, and spearmint—these and other dishes will inspire any reader who loves good food to take on new ingredients and techniques (some helpfully explained in a glossary and resource list). VERDICT Let's hope Pelaez and Silverman undertake more collaborations. Their thorough and respectful treatment of their subject results in a compelling cookbook that conveys a strong sense of place.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781250036087
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
10/28/2014
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
85,912
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 9.90(h) x 1.20(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

The Cuban Table

A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History


By Ana Sofía Peláez, Ellen Silverman

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2014 Ana Sofía Peláez
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-5753-7



CHAPTER 1

VIEW FROM THE BAKERY WINDOW


Like beehives scattered across the Miami landscape, Cuban bakeries and cafés operate out of ventanitas—street-front windows typically manned by two or three women who produce a steady stream of pitch-perfect cafecitos and cortados while calmly taking multiple orders, making change, and giving advice. Chatty crowds gather for the guava-filled pastries, crisp empanadas, and freshly fried croquetas served in brightly colored baskets lined in wax paper in mini public squares where everything is discussed but the only thing ever settled is the bill. On the counter, under plastic cake stands, buttery panques de Jamaica, dome-topped pound cakes stamped with a distinctive rooster logo, guard the windows alongside industrial-size juicers that, like the conversation, are constantly whirring. Before moving on, customers pick up a colada—multiple shots of pulled espresso poured into large styrofoam containers and taken away with a short stack of plastic demitasse cups. Spreading throughout the city, they'll find their way to friends and strangers, offices and warehouses, precincts and firehouses, hair salons and cigar shops, waiting rooms and departure gates—pouring out the coffee that keeps the city buzzing.

SURTIDO DE PASTELITOS | assorted pastries
PASTELITOS DE QUESO
PASTELITOS DE GUAYABA
PASTELITOS DE QUESO Y GUAYABA
MASA REAL CON GUAYABA | guava layered cake
PANQUECITOS | miniature poundcakes
FRESH FRUIT MARMALADES: GUAYABA, MANGO, FRUTA BOMBA
EMPANADITAS DE CHORIZO | chorizo empanadas
CHIVIRICOS
CROQUETAS DE JAMÓN | ham croquettes
CROQUETAS DE MEDIA NOCHE | midnight croquettes
PAPAS RELLENAS | stuffed potatoes
CAFÉ CUBANO: ESPRESSO, CORTADO, CAFÉ CON LECHE
EL PECADO | layered coffee


Assorted Pastries

SURTIDO DE PASTELITOS

At first glance these turnovers are pretty similar, yet lines form while customers waver between glazed-over puff pastry filled with molten guava or sugar-crusted pastelitos de queso stuffed with sweetened cream cheese. For those who just can't make up their minds, they can order a pastelito de guayaba y queso and have both at once. Made at home, you don't have to decide at all.


PASTELITOS DE QUESO

MAKES 18 PASTRIES

2 sheets frozen puff pastry dough, thawed (from one 17 ¼-ounce package)
1 large whole egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water


FOR THE FILLING

9 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon orange blossom water


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a 13 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick liner.

To prepare the filling, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and orange blossom water in a medium mixing bowl until the filling is light and fluffy.

Roll out the first sheet of pastry dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch square, 1/8 inch thick. Using a small knife or pastry wheel, cut the dough to measure out 9 squares, 4 by 4 inches each. Add 1 tablespoon of cream cheese filling, off center, to each square. Brush the egg wash around the filling. Fold the pastry square over itself to form a triangle. Brush the tip of the triangle with the egg wash then fold the point of the triangle back over the other side to form a tight cylinder. Lightly brush the top of the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle generously with sugar. Transfer the filled pastries to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate them until firm, 20 to 30 minutes. Repeat with the remaining pastry dough.

Place the pastries in the preheated oven and bake until lightly golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through the baking time to ensure that the pastries bake evenly.


PASTELITOS DE GUAYABA

MAKES 18 PASTRIES

2 sheets frozen puff pastry dough, thawed (from one 17¼-ounce package)
1 large whole egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water


FOR THE FILLING

8 ounces Guava Preserves or guava paste (see note)


FOR THE GLAZE

¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a 13 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick liner.

Roll out the first sheet of pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a 12-inch square 1/8 inch thick. Dock the dough by using a fork to make small incisions so that it rises evenly. Lightly score the dough to measure out 16 squares, 3 x 3 inches each. Top each square with 1 tablespoon of guava, allowing a 1-inch border. Lightly brush the egg wash around the borders of each square.

Roll out the remaining pastry sheet to an identical 12-inch square and cover the filled sheet. Press down around the filling to seal. Brush the tops with the remaining egg wash. Using a small knife or pastry wheel, cut the dough to measure out 16 squares, 3 x 3 inches each. It is not necessary to pull the squares apart before baking them. Transfer the filled pastries to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate them until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.

While the pastries chill, prepare the glaze by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Place the pastries in the preheated oven and bake until lightly golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through the baking time to ensure that the pastries bake evenly.

Remove the pastries from the oven and brush with the simple syrup. Allow the pastries to rest for 10 minutes on the baking sheet then slice the pastries and transfer them to a cooling rack.


PASTELITOS DE QUESO Y GUAYABA

MAKES 18 PASTRIES

2 sheets frozen puff pastry dough, thawed (from one 17¼-ounce package)
1 large whole egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water


FOR THE FILLING

9 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon orange blossom water
9 ounces Guava Preserves or guava paste (see note, below)


FOR THE GLAZE

¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a 13 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick liner.

To prepare the filling, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and orange blossom water until light and fluffy.

Roll out the first sheet of pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch square, 1/8 inch thick. Using a small knife or pastry wheel, cut the dough to measure out 9 squares, 4 by 4 inches each. Add 1 tablespoon of guava topped with 1 tablespoon of cream cheese filling, off center, to each square. Brush the egg wash around the filling. Fold the pastry square over itself to form a triangle and seal. Lightly brush the top of each triangle with egg wash. Transfer the filled pastries to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate them until firm, 20 to 30 minutes. Repeat with the remaining pastry dough.

While the pastries chill, prepare the glaze by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Place the pastries in the preheated oven and bake until lightly golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through the baking time to ensure that the pastries bake evenly.


NOTE

If using guava paste, cut the guava into chunks and process in a blender or food processor with 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed orange or lime juice until smooth. Use the guava filling as directed. The pastries can also be filled with a variety of Fresh Fruit Marmalades or Dulce de Coco.


Guava Layered Cake

MASA REAL CON GUAYABA

MAKES 12 TO 16 PIECES

Alicia Navia Jiménez's father owned La Estrella chocolate factory in Havana. Not surprisingly, she had many dessert recipes, including this often requested Masa Real. The name translates to "royal crust," which sums up its supremacy in Cuban bakeries. Neither cake, scone, nor cookie, but all of those things at once, it's as welcome in the morning as in late afternoon for a snack or merienda. Most commonly filled with guava orDulce de Coco, it also lends itself to savory fillings (see note) likeFricasé de Pollo.

1 tablespoon coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed and held cold until needed
4 tablespoons best-quality leaf lard, cubed and held cold until needed
2 large whole eggs, well-beaten
2 tablespoons sweet sherry or wine
12 ounces guava paste, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
1 large whole egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water


Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly oil a 9-inch square baking pan with coconut oil or butter and set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter and lard into the flour mixture until it flakes into pea-sized pieces. Add the eggs and sherry and stir until it forms a smooth dough. Do not overwork the dough.

Pour the dough onto a lightly floured board and divide it in half. Roll out each half to a 9-inch square, ¼ inch thick.

Transfer the first piece of dough to the prepared baking pan. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula to form an even layer. Cover the dough with the sliced guava. Roll out the remaining dough and drape over the guava layer, tucking in the sides to seal the top and bottom layers. Brush the top with egg wash.

Place the pastry in the preheated oven and bake at 425°F for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue to bake 35 to 40 minutes longer, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Slice and serve from the pan or unmold.


NOTE

The prepared dough can be tightly wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 3 months. If using a savory filling, the amount of sugar called for in the recipe should be halved.



Miniature Poundcakes

PANQUECITOS

MAKES 12 PANQUECITOS

Plain as madeleines but denser and richer, panques go well enough with tea but are built to stand up to a steaming cup of café con leche. The batter should be chilled well before baking to achieve a smooth buttery dome.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons for greasing the mold
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 large whole eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)


SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:

12-cup standard muffin pan


Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on medium speed for one minute until frothy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the yolks are pale yellow and form a ribbon, 5 additional minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract if using. Gently fold in the flour mixture in batches, alternating with the butter and ending with the flour, until it is just incorporated. Do not overmix the batter. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the batter so that it does not form a skin and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan and generously butter the muffin pan.

Place about ¼ cup of the batter in each muffin cup. The batter will spread as it bakes so do not overfill. Set in the preheated oven and bake until a tester comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest 10 minutes in the pan then transfer the panques to a cooling rack. Unmold the panques and set upright on the cooling rack.


NOTE

The batter can be poured directly into the prepared mold and chilled altogether before baking. The panquecitos can be kept in an airtight container up to 3 days or frozen up to 1 month.

ROGER CRUZ DOES NOT REMEMBER THE exact day his grandmother pulled the page from the almanac that had the recipe for the panquecitos her family would faithfully make for more than a hundred years. But he does know that on January 6, 1912, José María and Pilar Cruz started selling the buttery cakes to the quarrymen and cattle drivers passing through their small town of Jamaica on their way to Havana. When Roger was taught the recipe by his father as a little boy, they were still made with fresh milk from the family's ranch, Creole eggs, and Cuban sugar. Newly arrived in the United States, he continued to sell them through the 1960s and '70s. Eventually he opened the current Panque de Jamaica factory in 1982, which he still runs with his youngest son, supplying both small Cuban bakeries and large-chain Florida supermarkets. Occasionally he mixes a batch himself, which he admits with a modest shrug, come out just a little bit prettier. Though the recipe is a closely guarded family secret, he did offer that the panques should taste only like butter—the best-quality possible—to make the most of the cakes' short ingredient list, which hasn't changed since that forgotten day so long ago.


FRESH FRUIT MARMALADES

Making marmalade is a simple way of preserving tropical fruit that is too lovely to pass up but too sweet to last. I learned to make these small-batch fruit marmalades with Magaly Acosta, who I stayed with in Havana. It's not uncommon when visiting Cuba to make arrangements to stay in a casa particular—a private home with rooms to rent. As a Cuban-American, this is something like meeting long-lost family whom you only have one thing in common with but quickly get to know. At Magaly's, this was played out over the breakfast table where an additional item would appear each day. By the end of the first week, I'd joined her in the kitchen where we'd catch up on our day while taking turns stirring pots of simmering guava or mango marmalade.


Guava Marmalade

MERMELADA DE GUAYABA

MAKES 3 CUPS

2 pounds ripe guavas, dark spots removed and ends trimmed
1 ½ to 2 cups turbinado sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice


Slice the guavas in half and place in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer uncovered until the guavas are tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the guavas with a slotted spoon and transfer to the jar of a blender or food processor. Pour in ½ cup of the cooking water and process on high speed until smooth.

Pass the guava purée (about 4 cups) through a fine-mesh sieve and return to the pot. Discard the solids. Stir in the sugar to taste and bring the guava to a steady simmer over medium-low heat. The purée will bubble and pop so cover the pot with a mesh screen or lid to avoid splatter. Remove the thick foam that forms on the surface with a spoon or skimmer. Continue to cook until the mixture is thick but still pourable, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the lime juice to taste. Set aside to cool at least 1 hour in the refrigerator or 2 hours at room temperature. Pour into sterilized glass jars and seal.


Variation: GUAVA PRESERVES

Prepare the guavas as directed in the marmalade recipe. After adding the lime juice, allow the guava mixture to cook an additional 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the color deepens and it pulls away from the pot in one smooth piece. To test, place a metal spoon in the freezer for at least 10 minutes, then dip the spoon into the guava. The guava is ready when it clumps on the cold spoon. Set aside to cool at least 1 hour in the refrigerator or 2 hours at room temperature. Pour into sterilized glass jars and seal.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Cuban Table by Ana Sofía Peláez, Ellen Silverman. Copyright © 2014 Ana Sofía Peláez. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

ANA SOFIA PELAEZ grew up in a famous Cuban family as the great-niece of the revered avant-garde painter Amelia Peláez del Casal. Raised in Miami and transplanted to New York, Ana Sofia launched her food blog, Hungry Sofia, in 2008 in an effort to discover the rich smells, heady flavors, and baroque rituals of Latin food. Since then, she has been featured by The New York Times, InStyle magazine, The Huffington Post, Food 52, Apartment Therapy's the Kitchn, iVillage, and NBC Latino. She's appeared on the Cooking Channel's "Stay Hungry" campaign and Aarón Loves NY with Chef Aarón Sanchez. Most recently, Hungry Sofia was nominated by Saveur magazine as one of the Best Regional Cuisine blogs of 2012.
ELLEN SILVERMAN has photographed many bestselling cookbooks including Gwyneth Paltrow's My Father's Daughter, Daphne Oz's Relish, Karen DeMasco's The Craft of Baking, Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner's Neue Cuisine, Tracy Zabar's One Sweet Cookie, The Epicurious Cookbook, and the upcoming Jamaican cookbook by the Rousseau sisters, Bellyfull. An exhibition of her photographs of Cuban kitchens was shown at New York gallery Umbrella Arts, and was featured on NPR's The Picture Show, on Gourmet Live, The Splendid Table, and in Saveur magazine.

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The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't wait to try some of the recipes in this book. I enjoyed looking through the book, it has many nice photos of the food. The Arroz Con Pollo A La Chorrera is what made me buy the book.