Midday Fix: Mojo and plantain chips, prepared by CUBA!: Recipes and Stories from the Cuban Kitchen authors Dan Goldberg and Andrea Kuhn

Dan Goldberg and Andrea Kuhn

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CUBA!: Recipes and Stories from the Cuban Kitchen



Makes about 3/4 cup

12 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup bottled sour orange juice, or 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice mixed with 3tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Crush the garlic with the salt and spices using a mortar and pestle. Alternately, add the garlic cloves one at a time to a food processor with the motor running. Stop the processor and add the salt and spices, then pulse to combine. Add the juice and mix well. Pour the mixture into a small heatproof bowl or measuring cup. Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat until nearly smoking. Pour it into the garlic mixture (it may hiss and spatter) and stir to combine. Let the sauce cool and transfer it to an airtight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Fried Plantain Chips

vegetable oil for deep-frying
4 green plantains, peeled

Heat at least 4 inches of oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until it reaches 375F. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the plantains lengthwise into slices 1⁄8 to 1⁄16 inch thick. Immediately drop the slices into the hot oil and fry for about 3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the plantains from the oil using a slotted spoon, and transfer them to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle the plantains with salt while they are still hot. Serve warm with mojo for dipping.

Crispy Twice-Cooked Lamb with Tomato Salad
Makes 4 servings

1 whole (3-pound) lamb shoulder
1 yellow onion, peeled and halved
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, halved, and seeded
1 head garlic, unpeeled and halved horizontally
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bottled sour orange juice, or 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice mixed with 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
about 5 Tablespoons vegetable oil, as needed
2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion
tomato Salad
white Rice

Place the lamb in a large, heavy pot with the onion, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon of the salt. Add enough water to cover the lamb by about 3 inches. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the lamb is fork-tender, 2 to 3 hours. Lift the lamb out of the braising liquid and set it aside to cool. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the vegetables, and save it for another use (having frozen lamb stock on hand is fantastic when you want to make a lamb stew). When the lamb is cool enough to handle, shred the meat into strips with your hands, keeping longer pieces together if possible. As you shred, scrape off any excess fat. In a medium bowl, mix the cleaned and shredded lamb, sour orange juice, minced garlic, and the remaining teaspoon of salt. Let the meat marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator, or up to 4 hours. Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. Remove the meat from the marinade and squeeze out the excess liquid with your hands. When the oil is shimmering, add the lamb and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring and scraping the pan occasionally, until the lamb is browned and crisp. You may need to work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. With each new batch, add a little fresh oil. When all of the lamb has been crisped, add one more Tablespoon of vegetable oil to the skillet and cook the onion until soft, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan as you go. Return the lamb to the pan and stir everything together. Serve with tomato salad and lots of white rice.

Tomato Salad


2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil

Mince the garlic by dropping it into a food processor with the motor running. Turn off the machine and add the lime juice, honey, cumin seed, and salt. Process to blend the ingredients. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and adjust
seasoning, if necessary.


4 large summer tomatoes, the sweetest, juiciest, and summeriest you can find
2 large avocadoes
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
flaky sea salt

Slice the tomatoes and avocadoes and lay them out on a large platter. Top with a little flaky sea salt to bring out the tomatoes’ juices. Sprinkle the red onion on top and drizzle with the dressing. Finish with the cilantro leaves, a little more flaky salt, and freshly ground pepper.

Coconut Tres Leches Cake
Makes 10 to 12 servings

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
1 large mango, peeled and diced

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch cake pan or baking dish. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Add 1 egg at a time until all of the eggs are incorporated. Fold in the dry mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool slightly in the pan, about 10 minutes. While the cake is cooling, whisk together the coconut milk, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk. Use a toothpick or wooden skewer to poke the cake, making many, many tiny holes all over. Slowly pour the milk mixture evenly over the top of the cake. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours and up to 1 day. Garnish the cake with toasted coconut and mango and serve.

Makes 1 serving

1 1/2 ounces light rum
1/2 ounce simple syrup
half of a lime, quartered
8 to 10 mint leaves
soda water
mint sprig, for garnish
lime wedge, for garnish

Lightly muddle the quartered lime and mint leaves with the simple syrup in a highball glass. Add ice and rum and top with soda water. Garnish with the mint crown and the lime wedge