Category Archives: Cuban

Lauren’s Cuban Guava Pastries (Pastelitos de Guayaba)

There are many people who think dessert is the bane of modern life. These people are silly. Isn’t dessert the reason we eat dinner in the first place?  A means to a end? Among desserts, my lovely friend Lauren has enlightened me to the existence of one that is fast becoming a personal favorite, Guava Pastries. These puppies are easy and if you do them correctly you’ll never be want for friends again. Straight outta Miami, Dale!

Parchment paper or aluminum foil
1 Package Puff Pastries
1 cup guava paste
Egg wash: 
2 TBSP Water
1 egg separated (use whites and save yolk)
3/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk beaten
3 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Simple syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water

Well I’ll be honest with you the hard part here is going be FINDING the guava paste. Lauren says the only place she’s been able to find it is Florida. So if you’re not 80 years old and a fan of buffets look to your nearest Latin or Asian grocery store (if in Seattle Uwajimaya.)

First mix filling ingredients together in a big ass bowlbatterjunkie-2Then arrange 3 sheets of puff pastry down and cut the guava paste into thin slices. Arrange the slices on the puff so they leave a good inch all around the edge. You’ll see why later, keep your shirt on…or don’t, whatever. Spring Break!

I also recommend getting a friend to encourage you while standing safely out of harm’s way, drinking wine. Thanks Audrey.batterjunkie-4Using a pastry brush spread the egg wash on the 1 inch edge you have left on the sides of the crust. Then spread the filling goop on top of the guava paste.

After that you wanna lay another layer of puff pastry over the top and crimp the pastry sheets together at the edges using a fork to seal in the lovely goodness. batterjunkie-7 Lauren recommends putting down parchment paper or foil on the baking sheet and in this case I must strongly and whole heartedly agree. I am still cleaning up simple syrup all around my kitchen. Place the little bundle sexy guava joy onto the parchment paper and make sure it is crimped all the way around.  Then brush the whole surface with the egg wash. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes. batterjunkie-8Remove the pastry from the oven and glaze the top with the simple syrup you have. Place it back in the oven for 7-10 minutes. Remove it again and repeat the process. You will do this approximately 4-5 times until the glaze is brown and puff pastry is cooked. batterjunkie-1Serve warm and cut into pieces. This is great hot and amazing the next day.
Buen Provecho!

Mojitos, yeah that’s right.

I have spent the last 5 years in complete awe of this drink. I believe the first time I had it I was with my good friend Mike Martinez. It seems that Mike was the spark of many of my early forays into culinary excellence. We were visiting his parents at their summer house in Eugene and they dubbed the evening “Mojito Maddness.”  (or maybe we did, sources are unclear on this)

Now the problem with this particular drink is that every time anyone has tried to teach me how to make it, I have forgotten almost immediately. This is usually due to excessive “sampling” of the product, but what can you do? Recently in Barcelona, Alfonso, Rana, and I set off on a quest to find the perfect Mojito. We narrowed it down to three recipes and this one was the first we tried. Needless to say we didn’t try the other two.


10 or so fresh mint leaves

1/2 lime cut into 4 pieces

2 Tbsp white sugar

1 cup of ice cubes

1 and 1/2 shots of rum

1/2 cup soda water

Warning: This recipe is hard to do without a muddler

I always make these in low ball glasses. All ball jokes aside, I think it is the best way. So find a squatty round glass out of which you might see people drinking scotch in the movies.  

In the bottom throw one of the four lime wedges and a bunch of mint. Get your muddler. Squash down the lime with the mint (no need to be delicate, Suzie May, really show the lime who’s boss) until the juice is all out of the lime. Add two more lime wedges and the sugar. Muddle that baby again, muddle it like it’s your JOB!

Remove the muddler and don’t strain the mixture. Some recipes will tell you to do that, don’t. What is the point of making a drink in the glass if you’re going to strain it? None, that’s how much. 

Now fill the glass with ice, pour in the rum! Once the rum is in the glass fill it with carbonated water. Give it a little stir and Viola! 

Warning 2: Drinking this drink can lead to excessive dancing, hugging people you don’t know, singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at full volume off key and other embarrassing side effects. Regardless, this gift of Cuba is worth it!

You’re set. That’s it! You can garnish with the remaining lime wedge!

Often, though, I just toss it in.

Now you can impress your friends and really enjoy what is left of the summer!



Labels: Mojito, Cuban, drink, alcoholic

Tostones with mojito sauce – a gift from Cuba

These puppies are amazing. I can’t tell you how tasty they are. If you’ve never had one, it’s kind of like mixing a banana with a potato and then deep frying the whole thing. How can you go wrong with that? These are brought to you from the kitchen of the lovely Marina with “would you like to call a friend” help from her mom in Malaga. I first had them in La Casa del Mojito in Seattle.

6-7 large green plantains (in Spanish they are called platanos machos)
5 cups or so of vegetable oil

Mojo Sauce:
This sauce is sometimes called Mojito sauce but is not to be confused with the amazing drink.
1/3 cup olive oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
2/3 cup sour orange juice or lime juice
(or equal portions orange juice and lime juice)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
chopped cilantro (optional)

Let’s make the sauce first!
In a small sauce pan place the olive oil and over medium heat cook the garlic for about 30 seconds. Pour in the mixture of orange and lime juice. Be careful because the oil will splatter. Add in the cumin, pepper and salt and bring to boil. After you remove from heat you can add in chopped cilantro, but my mythical Cuban grandmother says that’s not traditional Cuban style Mojo. Set that aside to cool while you make the vehicle for this sauce.

Now on to the tostones. The technique here is really what is important. First you have to peel the plantains. If you have ever tried to do this you will know it is not a picnic. Cut the plantains (peel and all) into about 2 inch long sections.

Cut the section with a knife lengthwise and stick your fingers in the slit. Pull the peel off slowly until it starts to give and it should pull completely away. I feel like I’m giving marital advice, here.

In a very large fry pan, place enough oil to cover the plantain bits while they are laying down. Heat the oil to medium high and drop the plantains into the oil.

Let them cook for about 5 minutes, just to where they are getting firm. Then carefully pull them out and set them aside. I would recommend using metal tongs and not your fingers.

Here’s where talent, experience and patience came into play. We had none of the above so we just charged ahead. We had no idea what we were doing so we did what any self respecting cook would do, we phoned mom.

She explained that it is best to place the semi-cooked plantain between two pieces of a paper bag or saran wrap or some hard plastic and squish it down flat with a drinking glass. The saran wrap was not the best but soon all of the plantains were little squished version of their former selves. Onward to the present…

Place them in some warm water for a few minutes. Be sure to dry them off a bit. Then heat up the oil again and place them back in, in their squished format. Let them fry for another 5-10 minutes and pull them out. Check them frequently as they should not be hard just a little crunchy and golden brown.

Pour on your sauce and serve to some very happy people.


Thanks so much to Marina and her mom. Please let me know if I missed something or misrepresented part of the process.

Labels: Cuban, appetizer, tostones