Tag Archives: cuban

Cuban Seasoning Mix

We all have those smells that take us back to our childhood homes. Sometimes it’s something like perfume or something in nature like trees or flowers. A lot of the time I believe it’s food. This seasoning smells like home to me.

Cuban Seasoning Mix - Mrs. Dessert Monster

For me, Cuban seasoning should be heavy on two spices: garlic & cumin. Cumin, comino en Español, was brought to Cuba by the Spanish. It is native to the Middle East. In researching, I learned that cumin is mentioned in the Bible! (See Isaiah 28:25-27)

I rarely ever measure out spices when I’m in the kitchen & usually just sprinkle away at my heart’s content. However, I am a big fan of these “all in one” type seasoning mixes. I make my own chili powder with this recipe I found on Pinterest! Since I appreciate that recipe so much, I sat down & developed my own Cuban mix to share during Hispanic Heritage Month.

This is different from the Sazón packets you see in stores. Those are fantastic! They typically have achiote/annato for coloring & contain cilantro. This is not a copy-cat of that, but can be used pretty much the same way.

I’m using about 2 tbsp of this stuff on some chicken thighs for dinner tonight. You can use it on any protein, or even meatless dishes!

Cuban Seasoning Mix

Makes about 8 tbsp

  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  1. Mix all spices thoroughly in a bowl. Store seasoning mix in a dry place.

For scaling up/down: 1 tbsp = 3 tsp, 4 tbsp = 1/4 cup

Classic Cuban Flan

Deciding what recipe to share with you this week for Hispanic Heritage Month inspired me to make something that I have not made in ages: flan.

classic Cuban flan pressure cooker flanera Mrs. Dessert Monster

What is flan? Flan is a delicious cooked custard. There really is nothing like it in my opinion. It can be very hard to describe. When done correctly, the texture is light and dense at the same time while being totally smooth; truly one of a kind. The caramel on top is just as important as the custard. Flan can be many different flavors. This here is the OG flan.

Every Latin country has their own flan recipe. Actually, it probably even varies family to family! This is my family’s recipe.

classic Cuban flan pressure cooker flanera Mrs. Dessert Monster

I made my family’s classic Cuban flan the old fashioned way – in the pressure cooker.

classic Cuban flan pressure cooker flanera Mrs. Dessert Monster

Hisssssssss

We’ve never made it any other way. There are other recipes out there for making it in the oven. This recipe is staying true to my roots & embracing the scary pressure cooker. There really isn’t anything to be scared of. I bought this one like 10 years ago & it has a sensor that WILL NOT allow you to open it if it’s still pressurized. It’s pretty fail safe. The hissing sound it makes really takes me back to my childhood. I introduced Cupcake to that sound today – she wasn’t a huge fan. Yet.

You CAN make this recipe using an InstaPot, or so I have read. I have zero experience using one, so I’m not sure what the conversion would be. It took me many years to embrace the CrockPot, so I think it’ll be another while before I can embrace the InstaPot.

The other item you need to make this recipe the traditional way is a flanera.

flanera flan Mrs. Dessert Monster

I just bought this one off Amazon (not affiliate link, just sharing!). It’s actually a little sad I didn’t already have one, but I really haven’t made flan in ages! Siglos, as my mom said. The locking lid prevents water from getting in to it. Again, there are other recipes that omit this equipment, even using a pressure cooker or InstaPot. For me, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I’m not messing with success & proven results!

This recipe and this cooking method is a part of my heritage. Sure, there are other times I totally embrace different ways of making classic recipes. Or even just outright buy my favorite Cuban foods. No one I know makes their own croquetas anymore, thanks to Goya. But this flan is special. And special equipment aside, it’s pretty simple to make.

classic Cuban flan pressure cooker flanera Mrs. Dessert Monster

Back when I did make this flan more often, I quickly jotted down my mom’s recipe one day. You can totally tell English is my heart language, even though Spanish was my first language. Since it’s been a while I called her to clarify & wrote down the instructions more clearly for all of us.

Classic Cuban Flan

  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • ~1 cup milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a large mixing bowl. Take the now empty can of sweetened condensed milk & fill it with milk (it’s approximately 1 cup, but doing it this way ensures you have equal parts by volume milk & sweetened condensed milk).
  2. Add eggs & vanilla to bowl. Mix thoroughly using electric mixer or by hand with a whisk. Set aside.
  3. To make caramel, pour 1 cup of sugar into medium saucepan. Melt until a light golden liquid caramel forms. Carefully pour caramel into flanera, using oven mitts to turn the flanera to cover the sides with caramel.
  4. Strain the egg custard mix into the flanera with caramel. Close the latches.
  5. Place flanera into pressure cooker. Fill with water until just below lid of flanera (this was less than 2 cups for me, just to give you an idea). Do not fill too high. Close pressure cooker properly. TIP FROM MY MAMI: when using an electric stove top, you may want to use a metal or foil ring to prevent flanera from being in direct contact with the heating element. I have a gas stove so I did not do this step.
  6. Turn the stove on medium heat. When the pressure cooker begins to hiss, cook for 30 more minutes, then turn off heat. Allow pressure cooker to fully depressurize before opening. I usually leave it for about an hour. Take flanera out & put into fridge for 1-4 hours.
  7. When ready to serve, open flanera. Take your serving dish, invert it over flanera & flip flan out. You want a serving dish with some sort of edge so you don’t lose all that precious caramel! Cut into slices & spoon residual caramel over top.
Nutritional info, based on 12 servings: 200 calories, 32 g sugar, 5.8 g protein, 5.1 g fat

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!

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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