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Cuban appetizer

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edwardspk Mar 18, 2012 05:48 PM

Going to a neighborhood dinner group this coming weekend, and the host has selected a Cuban theme. I'm on the hook for an appetizer. I've thought about empanadas. Does anyone have any good suggestions for anything else? This is not a cuisine I have much cooking experience with, so all help is appreciated.

  1. e
    edwardspk Mar 20, 2012 11:47 AM

    I appreciate the suggestions. And yes, I'm hoping for something that "carries" well to someone else's house, so fried items aren't ideal. Regarding tostones or maduros, I've always thought of them as a side vegetable instead of a first course. Is that just my ignorance?

    I'm beginning to lean towards baked empanadas stuffed with beef picadillo. If anyone has excellent recipes to suggest - especially for the picadillo - I'm open!

    4 Replies
    1. re: edwardspk
      alkapal Mar 20, 2012 06:03 PM

      yes, in my experience, tostones are definitely a SIDE, but i just jump at any legit chance i can to get some!! hehehe

      1. re: edwardspk
        JungMann Mar 20, 2012 06:57 PM

        A basic picadillo starts with a large chopped onion cooked until translucent with a couple cloves of minced garlic. Add your ground beef, a teaspoon of ground cumin, a bay leaf, salt and pepper, 1/2 c. beef stock, 1/2 c. raisins and simmer until just barely moist. Some people add tomato paste or chopped green olives for a little tang. I like subbing soy sauce for salt and adding chopped hard boiled egg, which may be a Chilean influence, but there is a reason they are well-known for their empanadas. The crust I use is basically pie crust with a little more flour. I also use an egg wash before baking.

        1. re: JungMann
          m
          Maryld Mar 21, 2012 01:30 PM

          Three Guys from Miami has quite a few appetizer receipes on line at: http://icuban.com/food/index.html

          My Cuban husband uses their cookbook a lot, so they're pretty authentic for old and new
          Cuban food.

          1. re: Maryld
            lilpixy Mar 29, 2012 02:44 PM

            side note: perhaps a good congri?

      2. alkapal Mar 20, 2012 10:37 AM

        the OP needs something non-fried, because it is a pot luck….

        there are great fried things i'd offer up as suggestions, but they just can't cut it as "pot luck" items. my favorite if it were at my home would be….TOSTONES!

        1. melpy Mar 20, 2012 08:59 AM

          Avocado salad made with Florida avocados (not haas).

          1. GraydonCarter Mar 20, 2012 08:31 AM

            It's been a while since I've been to Miami, but my favorite was always Plátanos maduros.

            1. r
              redfish62 Mar 20, 2012 08:28 AM

              Platanos Maduros

              1. r
                rockycat Mar 19, 2012 06:36 AM

                I'm not sure how helpful this might be, but about 4 years ago I did a Cuban-themed brunch for about 75 or so. This is the menu. The recipes were chosen for their ability to be prepared ahead of time and with as little last minute labor as possible. I know you asked for something other than empanadas, but maybe you'll get another idea from this menu.

                Ensalada Cubana

                Empanaditas de Hongos y Queso

                Mojito Salmon

                Tortillas Cubanas

                con Pimientos Dulces y Hongos

                con Aceitunas

                Arroz y Frijoles Negros

                Yuca con Mojo

                Maduros

                Arroz con Leche

                Flan de Coco

                Frutas Tropicales

                Mango

                Piña

                Fruta Bomba

                Café

                Limonada

                Edited to add: Sorry about the formatting. CH won't let me change it, for some reason.

                1. f
                  fourunder Mar 18, 2012 10:50 PM

                  At the Cuban restaurants I've been to in the past, Fried Codfish Balls are always a popular item.....made with dried codfish.

                  1. mamachef Mar 18, 2012 06:42 PM

                    Your easiest bet? Guava paste and cream cheese, on crackers. Light, tasty, completely authentic. If you're not into cooking. But if you are, nothing wrong with empanadas or mini cubanos!!

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: mamachef
                      alkapal Mar 20, 2012 07:14 AM

                      i love the guava paste and cream cheese! trust me, it'll be gobbled up!

                      1. re: alkapal
                        mamachef Mar 20, 2012 07:25 PM

                        Right? And could anything possibly be easier?

                      2. re: mamachef
                        JungMann Mar 20, 2012 08:08 AM

                        Guava and cream cheese is certainly very popular. My tastes skew more savory, so I really like the idea of empanaditas, maybe even filled with a ropa vieja type of shredded beef. Yucca fries with a cilantro and lime pesto, fried plantains, potato or bechamel croquettes would also be appropriate.

                        1. re: JungMann
                          mamachef Mar 20, 2012 07:29 PM

                          Oh ho ho, JungMann. Those Yucca Fries sound just amazing. Filing it in the mental "Things I Want To Try" drawer. I also wanted to mention to the OP that the guava/cream cheese combo could be wrapped in a half-moon of pastry and feed two birds w/ one empanada. : )
                          (I hate that other term...) It would also be fun to put the ingredients (ham, pulled or sliced pork, dill pickle, swiss, mustard...) into an empanada. But the Ropa Vieja I made the other night, now Jung Mann's mentioned it, will be my next empanada filling choice.

                          1. re: mamachef
                            alkapal Mar 21, 2012 04:45 AM

                            the pasteles de guayaba are the pastries filled with guava paste and cream cheese that is a great dessert, and one i don't ever miss at my favorite cuban restaurant in cape coral, florida. http://www.food.com/recipe/Pasteles-D...
                            ~~~~~~~~
                            i just had an idea, not as an appetizer, but for the guayaba treat: use the "cream cheese crust" often used for the mini-muffin-sized quiches, then fill the baked crust with cream cheese and guava paste as little bites….. these would be pretty for a ladies' lunch with each one having a slim lemon peel curl on top.

                            1. re: mamachef
                              alkapal Mar 21, 2012 04:53 AM

                              Pastele de Guayaba in the dough that i recall from the cuban restaurant…. not a regular empanada dough, but a flaky dough. i'll bet everyone has their own version of dough to use, anyway. ;-D.

                               
                              1. re: alkapal
                                JungMann Mar 21, 2012 06:18 AM

                                Whilst visiting Miami, whenever I asked for a pastelito (or even a "pahtelito" I tried in my best accent), I was disappointed to get the puffy, sweet pastries you have pictured. It was only later that I realized that, unlike their Caribbean neighbors, Cubans call savory pastries "empanadas," although they also seem more enthusiastic for sweet fillings, which I don't like.

                                1. re: JungMann
                                  alkapal Mar 21, 2012 01:07 PM

                                  well, i don't know what is quite the issue here….i think that we perhaps agree that cubans' "empanadas" are not the dessert kind of pastries. all i know is that the place i know in cape coral is definitely cuban, and their pasteles de guayaba are the flaky pastry kind. as i said, i think this is one of those…."my momma made it this way" kind of things.

                                  1. re: alkapal
                                    JungMann Mar 21, 2012 01:27 PM

                                    No issue; just an anecdote from my first visit to a major Cuban community. I thought I had nailed Caribbean Spanish when I started calling empanadas "patelito," but then my trip to Miami had to go and muck up my dialectal prowess.

                                    1. re: JungMann
                                      alkapal Mar 21, 2012 02:04 PM

                                      i guess you might have been stepping into a "quagmire." ;-)).

                          2. re: mamachef
                            lilpixy Mar 29, 2012 02:41 PM

                            yummy!!! My mother was born in Havana Cuba and guava paste on crackers with "queso blanco" one of the treats I remember always having at my Grandparents house.....We moved to Denver when I was 13 and there is relatively few "Cuban" stores and restaurants so I am limited to what my mother cooks or what I can recreate on my own via recipes and cook books....although I think mom has shanghaid me as far as that goes, since mine never taste the same as hers....another idea is maduros, which is basically a fried sweetened plantain you basically slice them up and fry in oil AFTER they basically look black and rotten...although this is best served as soon as they come out of the oil as they lose much of their allure after they have cooled. Best of luck!!!

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