Category Archives: Cuban Food

Champola de Mamoncillo

Where my Caribbeans at?

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

This fruit goes by many names: mamoncillo, mamon, guinep, quenepa, Spanish lime, etc.

The name may change depending on where you are, but one thing that doesn’t change is how delicious it is. Mamoncillos are in the lychee family, but the taste does not compare. I do not like lychee. I love mamoncillos.

If you have never heard of this fruit, that’s OK. I’ve grown up with it all my life. It’s one of the perks of being Cuban. This is the season for them, but I never see them around where I live. Fortunately my best friend, Frank, lives in Miami & brought me some recently.

How do you eat this fruit?

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

You crack the skin open with your nails or teeth & reveal the fruit inside.

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Sometimes you get twins!

Then you pop it in your mouth & eat the pulpy fruit around the pit.

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

This is what’s left when you’re all done. There’s not a lot of fruit to one mamoncillo. But you’d never eat just one!

WARNING: these little guys will stain your clothes. Handle with care!

Instead of just eating all of the mamoncillos, I made this:

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I might have lost some of you guys right off the bat with the word ‘champola’ in the title.

What is champola? The closest word I can think to describe it is ‘refreshment’. This champola, like most other recipes I’ve seen online, is really easy: water, sugar, & mamoncillos.

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I peeled like 1 & 1/2 bags of mamoncillos & put them in a large mason jar (the ones left over from my wedding centerpieces).

I then filled the jar with water & about 1/2 cup of sugar.

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Then you just leave it in the fridge overnight before serving!

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Mmm! You get a delicious beverage AND get to eat the mamoncillos when you’re done!

I love summer!

Platano Maduro Frito – Fried Sweet Plantain

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Our friend, David, gave us a GIANT plantain recently

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

GIANT!

Since it had already started ripening when we got it, I knew what I wanted to make out of it: platano maduro frito (fried sweet plantain).

We finally got the house in decent enough shape to have my parents over for a father’s day dinner celebration, & this dish was a perfect addition to our spread!

Since Mami was coming over, I asked her to help me make these.

It’s really quite simple.

This recipe uses ripe plantains (maduros). Like, super ripe. Like, the plantain in this picture looks really black, but my mom says I probably could have waited a few more days. The plantain should feel soft when you squeeze it gently.

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

You peel the plantain & slice it up into long, diagonal slices. Then you put a little sugar on them.

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Pour enough vegetable oil to thinly coat the bottom of a frying pan (this isn’t deep frying!) Tip from Mami: adding a tablespoon or two of butter to the oil gives it a great flavor!

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Fry the slices on med/high heat until they are brown on one side, then flip to brown the other.

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

My mom was being silly while we were frying…

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Once both sides are brown you are done!

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

These plantains are a little delicate – do not put them on a paper towel or they will stick!

I sprinkled a pinch of salt on them to bring out the sweetness even more.

These were a wonderful, sweet addition to our feast!

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Mmm!

Platano Maduro Frito

  • ripe plantains
  • sugar
  • oil for frying
  • butter
  • pinch of salt
  1. Peel the plantains & cut into long, diagonal slices.
  2. Sprinkle some sugar over the sliced plantains.
  3. Pour a thin layer of oil in a frying pan. Add 1-2 tablespoons of butter & let it melt.
  4. Fry the slices on med/high heat until they are brown on one side. Flip to brown the other.
  5. Once both sides are browned, sprinkle a pinch of salt over the plantains.
  6. Serve & enjoy!

Cuban Black Beans & Rice (Congri)

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

I’m not a big rice person. Maybe it’s from having to eat it all the time when I was little. Cubans eat rice only second to Asians (One of my old college roommates was Chinese-American & did not consider it a proper meal unless she had some white rice. She also had like this 6th sense ability to know when the rice cooker was done. I love her.) I like to make Cuban food when I’m cooking for people, and most of the time that includes rice. Especially in this case. My husband & I were going to visit some friends who had recently had a baby & bring them some lunch. We asked the new mom what she would prefer & she said rice would be great. So as you can see, I had to. Rice, rice, rice.

I was actually excited to make this recipe. We call it Congri. If you call it Moros, we can’t be friends. Just kidding! If you have no idea what either of those words means, we can still be friends & you learned something new.  My mom gave me this recipe, & I hadn’t made it in a long time. It was also the perfect excuse to break in our cast iron dutch over. The only thing is that I forget that when I took down the recipe from Mami, I was making it for a party. This recipe makes enough rice for like 15 people; 10 if they are big rice fans. Rice.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

I gathered & prepped all my ingredients (in my pretty bowls, just for you guys) & got to work.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - CongriThe first step is to sofreir  -sauté- your rice with oil & Sazón. Mami says this step opens up the rice kernels & makes them taste better. If nothing else, this will help keep the rice from sticking & season it evenly. I did this for just a few minutes until the oil was making a hissssss sound.

Next you add all the other ingredients. If you don’t know what Recaito is, it’s a mix of onions, roasted garlic, sweet peppers, green bell pepper, cubanelle pepper, cilantro, & culantro blended until smooth.

Rec

If you make your own beans for this recipe (the old fashioned way it’s supposed to be done), use the water you boil the beans in to make the rice – it gives it that traditional congri color. I didn’t do that. I used canned black beans that I drained & rinsed because the water inside the can is always yucky to me. This is why my rice came out kind of orangey instead of grey/black. My mom gets around this by adding a little bit of browning sauce. But I believe Congri should be judged not by the color of the rice, but by the content of the flavor.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

Bring it to a boil, then to a simmer. The highs & lows of cooking. Cover & let simmer for 20 minutes.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

After 20 minutes, stir it up. Simmer for 10 more minutes, & voila!

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

Even for someone who’s not a rice lover (me), this is delicious. I served it with some pork roast I threw in the crock pot with mojo, fresh garlic, & cumin (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that cumin & Cuban rhyme).

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

Congri

Makes 12 half-cup servings

  • 4 cups parboiled rice
  • 2 cans black beans, drained
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 3 strips cooked bacon
  • 2 packets of Sazón (3 tsp)
  • 2-3 tbsp Recaito
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  1. Sauté the uncooked rice in oil with the Sazón for a few minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients & bring to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, turn heat to low & cover. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, stir the rice until mixed evenly. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
  5. Serve & enjoy!

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