The Versailles Restaurant Cookbook - A Giveaway

I can't, in good conscience, end Hispanic Heritage Month without talking about my love of Cuban food and sharing a wonderful new Cuban cookbook. 

Obviously I'm a lover of all-things-Cuban. Particularly the food that so defines our culture. Platanos, black beans, tostones, lechón asado, picadillo, and of course, pastelitos de guayaba. Food just doesn't get any better than this.


I'm happy to report that the wait is over for this wonderful cookbook. My friend and Real Housewife of Miami Alum, Ana Quincoces has partnered with the Versailles family, specifically Nicole Valls to bring you a collection of all of your favorite Cuban recipes from the iconic Versailles Restaurant in Miami, with the forward by ...wait for it...(drum roll, please)... Andy Garcia. (Pinch me!)

Part history and lore of the Versailles Restaurant, part detailed cookbook, with a good dose of Cuban idioms makes the Versailles Restaurant Cookbook a must-have in the kitchen of any self-respecting Cuban cook.

Ana had originally contacted me a few years ago, asking for a quote about Versailles to include in the book, which I gave her. Read that story here: Happy 40th Birthday, Versailles! My quote didn't make the book (sigh), but it's still a beautiful Cuban cookbook, with every single recipe you want in there. Ham croquetas, anyone?

Ana has generously given me an autographed copy of the Versailles Restaurant Cookbook to give away today. 


To enter this comment drawing, answer one or both of the following questions:

  • When you celebrate a special occasion, what's on the menu?
  • What's your favorite thing to order when you go to Versailles in Miami?

Remember that if you want to enter the drawing for the cookbook, you must leave a comment on this post and I'll choose a winner on Friday, October 17th at 8 pm PST.

Gracias and Buen Provecho!

"Move Over Mojo." - A Giveaway

I've been blogging since 2006. In that space of time and all across the internet, I've made some really wonderful friends.

One of those is the lovely don't-hate-me-because-I'm-beautiful Ana Quincoces. Recently seen on Real Housewives of Miami - she was the smart and classy one - Ana is a talented chef and quite the delightful personality. If you're curious as to how we met (and also want a killer, stuffed, Cuban French toast recipe) read that story right here.

Ana Quincoces is one of the most genuine people I've ever met and I feel privileged to call her my friend. In June when the Miami Heat won the championship and my daughter, Amy was also in Miami, I made sure she and Ana found each other at Versailles some time around midnight. (Just call me Mission Control.)

Amy and Ana

Ana has recently developed a new all-purpose marinade called Skinny Latina Million Dollar Marinade.

Last week, this package of awesomeness arrived.

Million dollar marinade 1

You know how much I love shortcuts when I cook. This marinade is the perfect beginning to any sauce. Ana calls it, "Cooking for dummies in a bottle. Move over, mojo!"

To help celebrate the launch of Ana's fabulous Skinny Latina Million Dollar Marinade, I'd like to offer one lucky MBFCF reader a case (six 12 oz. bottles) of this amazing stuff. It's low calorie, glutten-free, and delicious. Win!

On her site, Ana has recipes for 8 different sauces using her MDM as a base. Find those recipes right here.

Million dollar marinade

To enter this drawing for A Case of Skinny Latina Million Dollar Marinade, please leave a comment on this post and answer the following:

~ Tell me your favorite go-to recipe that's in heavy rotation at your house.

Please leave your comment on this post and I'll choose one winner on Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 at 8 pm PST.

Also, I feel like I have to add this disclaimer for the benefit of all my readers:

You don't have to be Cuban to enter any of my giveaways. That is all.

Happy Birthday, Julia!

The list of my culinary heroes is long. There is good old Nitza Villapol, who, in spite of her embrace of communism, is still the definitive Cuban cook. Her Cocina Al Minuto is a must-have in every Cuban kitchen.

Cocina al minuto


Of course, there are the Three Guys from Miami, that I had the opportunity to meet in Miami a few years ago. Click here for that story.

Marta and 3 guys from miami

And my good friend, cookbook author and now the newest Real Housewife of Miami (who will undoubtedly add some class to that show, but that's not important right now), Ana Quincoces. Her fabulous, ¡Sabor! A Passion for Cuban Cuisine should be in everyone's cookbook library.

Ana quincoces

My list of favorites however, begins and ends with Julia. *stands and applauds*

Julia Child - Mastering the Art of French Cooking. We had a dog-eared copy in the kitchen for as long as I can remember. My older sisters being the ones who discovered how amazingly simple Julia's kitchen techniques really were.

I realize it was the film, Julie & Julia that brought Julia Child back into popularity. (I may or may not have cried when Julie finds out her blog has become famous. I know. Shut up.) But it's Julia's delicious and simple recipes that will forever keep her at the top of everyone's Best Chef Ever list.

Today she would have been 100 years old. Google had this beautiful graphic commemorating the event, which made me totally happy.


In honor of Julia's birthday, permit me to share one of my favorite super simple and awesomely delicious go-to sauces, lifted directly from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, 50th Anniversary Edition.

Blender Hollandaise Sauce

  • 1/2 lb. unsalted butter
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 4–6 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until it begins to foam, 15–20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, put egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into the jar of an electric blender. Cover, and blend on high speed for 2 seconds; then, with the motor still running, gradually add melted butter in a slow, steady stream through hole in blender lid, leaving milky solids behind. Adjust seasonings.


It will totally make your asparagus sing. This Hollandaise Sauce (in a blender, people!) will also add the Wow-factor in your Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise. Trust me on this.

Can I just tell you that I love how she takes an incredibly difficult careful-or-you-will-surely-mess-this-up-so-easily sauce and makes it completely idiot-proof? That was her gift. And this cook, in particular, is grateful for her genius.

Thank you, Julia. You still rock.

Orange(!) is the new black. (A Giveaway)

I am waiting (a little impatiently) for my fabulous new kitchen appliances to be delivered. I think we're still about a week out from that. You would think I'd be totally content now since I'm getting all new appliances, but you know how it is, suddenly everything starts looking like it needs upgrading or replacing. *sigh*

There is, however, one item in my kitchen that still makes me completely happy and that is my IMUSA USA Orange(!) caldero. I use it constantly and am always looking for new recipes to make in it.

IMUSA USA orange caldero

Arroz con pollo. Carne con papas. Sopa de pollo. All made in my beautiful Orange(!) caldero. I am starting to think it has magical properties because everything I've made in it tastes amazing. I have to add that I also go ahead and put the Orange(!) caldero straight on the table, not because I'm lazy (shut up. I'm not!), but because it's so seriously beautiful.

My good friend, Chef Ana (don't-hate-me-because-I'm-beautiful) Quincoces shares her recipe for some amazing Pulled Pork Sliders in her Orange(!) caldero.

Brilliant, no?


Doesn't that just make you want this beautiful Orange(!) caldero to cook something fabulous in?

IMUSA USA orange caldero 2

Here's your chance.

My friends over at IMUSA USA have graciously partnered with MBFCF to host this giveaway for a beautiful Orange(!) caldero.

Oooh! Yes, please!

Usually, I would only ask you to leave a comment to enter the drawing for the giveaway item, but I want to give you each a couple of chances, so....

1) To enter this drawing, please leave a comment on this post and answer the following question:

  • What favorite recipe of yours will taste fabulous when made in this beautiful Orange(!) caldero?

2) For an extra entry, please go "like" IMUSA USA on Facebook and come back and leave me another comment telling me:  

  • "I like IMUSA USA!"

So that's not one, but two entries apiece. Yes, I'm generous like that, but that's not important right now.

Remember that if you want to enter the drawing for this beautiful Orange(!) caldero, you must leave a comment (plus the 2nd comment if you do the Facebook liking thing) on this post and I'll choose a winner on Monday, January 16th 2011 at 8 PST.

Buen Provecho! And thanks, IMUSA USA!

This fabulous Orange(!) caldero is also available at all Macy's stores.  

{Disclaimer: IMUSA USA very generously sent me that beautiful Orange(!) caldero for my own use and to review the product and also offered one as a giveaway for one lucky MBFCF reader. The opinion that it is fabulous is my own.}

What do you do with an empty (ORANGE!) caldero? (A recipe and giveaway)

Let me tell you about the big plans I had for this past week when I got back from Texas:

  1. I was going to cook a big, fat pot of arroz con pollo.
  2. I was going to cook it in my new big, fat ORANGE (!) caldero from IMUSA USA (which totally matches my Fiesta dishes, but that's not important right now).
  3. I was going to do a video and teach you how I make it.
  4. I was going to give away an ORANGE (!) caldero (it looks fabulous on my stove) to one lucky MBFCF reader.

IMUSA Caldero 1

What I didn't count on...

  1. I didn't count on being exhausted both physically and emotionally when I got back.
  2. I didn't count on getting that scratchy-throat-fevery-oh-no-it-might-be-strep thing which has me super run down.

So I'm staring at this empty ORANGE (!) caldero (and totally loving it, by the way) and feeling guilty. In that intense, Cuban, swim-around-in-it-until-your-fingers-get-pruney-from-the-guiltiness way.

IMUSA Caldero 2

What to do?

  1. Share my friend, Ana's recipe for Jambalaya, which she geniusly makes in this same beautiful ORANGE (!) (orange is the new black, you know) caldero.
  2. Host the giveaway anyway.

So here's Ana's recipe for Jambalaya. (The photos are also from her beautiful site, - go there. Surf around. Find the quote from me about her. You're curious now, aren't you?)




  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
  • 8 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 (12oz) can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups uncooked converted white rice (Like Uncle Ben’s)
  • 4 and ½ cups chicken stock (double it for brown rice)
  • 3 bay leafs
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce
  • salt & ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in your large IMUSA CALDERO to medium high heat.
  2. In your IMUSA SAUTÉ PAN, Sauté chicken and andouille sausage until lightly browned for about 5 minutes.
  3. In your IMUSA CALDERO, stir in onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic.
  4. Season with cayenne, onion powder, salt and pepper.
  5. Cook for 5 minutes, or until onion and bell pepper are soft and onion is translucent.
  6. Add the tomato sauce and cook for 5 more minutes.
  7. Add the rice, the chicken stock and bay leaves to your caldero, bringing to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until rice is tender.
  8. Add the chicken and the Worcestershire sauce and stir it with hot pepper sauce.
  9. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.


Isn't that just crazy-beautiful?

But this still leaves me with an empty ORANGE (!) caldero (I'm thinking carne con papas would be awesome in this) to give away....

So, to enter this drawing, answer one or both of the following questions:

  • What would YOU make in this beautiful ORANGE (!) caldero?
  • Do you forgive me? ;-)

Remember that if you want to enter the drawing for this beautiful ORANGE (!) caldero, you must leave a comment on this post and I'll choose a winner on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at 5 pm Pacific.

Buen Provecho! And thanks, IMUSA USA!

This fabulous ORANGE (!) caldero is also available at all Macy's stores. And if you're on Facebook, please give IMUSA USA some "like" love.  ;-)

{Disclaimer: Imusa USA very generously sent me that beautiful ORANGE (!) caldero and offered one as a gift for one lucky MBFCF reader.}

Happy 40th Birthday, Versailles! (An homage and a giveaway.)

“I need a blurb from you about Versailles.”

This request came from my friend (the amazing Cuban chef and cookbook author) Ana Quincoces. She was working on a TOP SECRET project and thought I might have something to say about my favorite Cuban restaurant in Miami.

Me: “Tell me what you're doing, so I can put it in context.”

That's when she began to reveal that she was working on a.....(wait for it....) Versailles Cookbook! *insert heavenly choir here*

Me: “Seriously? What a cool project. I suppose I could give you a blurb. But if we're talking Versailles on Calle Ocho, I could do an entire homage without breaking a sweat, but that's not important right now.”


Versailles. It's usually the first place we visit when we arrive in Miami (Hello, Cuban food!) and the last place, too. (Pan con Bistec for the plane ride home.)

Versailles. The first item on our long list of Miami Rules.

Versailles. Of the iconic etched mirrors and the perfect cortadito.


Versailles. Always packed at any time of the night or day. Filled with the sounds of my people. Their loud and inimitable voices raised in conversation, argument, and laughter.

Versailles. The geographical epicenter of our exile.

Me: “I wrote a post about why I couldn't live in Miami and my lack of self-control when it comes to Cuban food in general and Versailles in particular.”

Me, quoting myself: “It's like the Cuban Mecca and I am a faithful pilgrim.”

The next thing I know, I'm being quoted in the Miami Herald in an article titled Versailles: 40 years serving food with a side of politics. (I know. Shut. UP.)

From the article:

“When no one knew who he was, Julio Iglesias used to come and sit here and eat,” Valls Sr. remembers.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush is still a regular, and “although I’m a Republican,” Valls Sr. notes, President Clinton has been here three times. Famous chefs like the Food Network’s Bobby Flay make Versailles a mandatory pitstop on visits to Miami.

“It’s like the Cuban Mecca and I am a faithful pilgrim,” says Californian Marta Darby, who writes the blog “My Big, Fat, Cuban Family.”

(emphasis mine)

I'd like to just point out right now that they mention me in the same section as the other famous people who have eaten there, but that's not important right now. ;-)

Ana: “I think we got your blurb.”

Then she went on to tell me that she's still working on the Versailles book and that they're having a big party at the Calle Ocho restaurant this week to celebrate and that they're hoping that....(wait for it....) Andy Garcia will write the forward.

  • Thing 1) Out-of-my-skin excited to be included in this wonderful project.
  • Thing 2) Andy Garcia and I might be published in the same book. (One degree closer, people.)
  • Thing 3) Versailles is 40 years old.

I think we need to celebrate, don't you? I wish the Versailles book existed already and I had that to give away, but it has not been published yet, but I do have the next best thing:

An autographed copy of Ana's iconic Cuban Cookbook: Sabor! A Passion for Cuban Cuisine. (Thank, Ana!)


Sabor autograph

Of course, I'm especially proud of having My Big, Fat, Cuban Family Torrejas featured in this beautiful cookbook, but that's not important right now, either.


(Page 204 - 205, por si las moscas....)  =D

So, to enter this comment drawing, answer the following question:

  • When you celebrate a special occasion, what's on the menu?

Remember that if you want to enter the drawing for the cookbook, you must leave a comment on this post and I'll choose a winner on Sunday, July 17th, 2011 at 5 pm Pacific.

Happy Birthday, Versailles!

Con muchisimo cariño,


¡Sabor! Hot Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to the 2 lucky winners of the ¡Sabor! Cookbook.



Ileana said...

If I was a chef, I would be famous for my Everything But the Kitchen Sink-PAELLA baby! And maybe your favorite might be anything with dulce de leche. ;-)

Reply February 28, 2011 at 12:48 PM


sonia said...

My specialty? Lasagna con platanos maduros of course! Or maybe my jamon in mango sauce? Great contest and glad to see you're feeling better!!!

Reply March 01, 2011 at 06:10 AM


I chose the winners by entering the number of entries (not the accidental duplicates, of course) into the True Random Number Generator at

Congratulations! Please contact me by sending an email with your snail-mail address and put HEY, MARTA! I WON STUFF ON YOUR BLOG! In the subject line.

As for the rest of you: Thanks for entering and please SHARE some of those fabulous recipes!

Buen Provecho!

Sabor! Cuban Cookbook - A Hot Giveaway

My beautiful friend, Ana Quincoces, has authored an equally beautiful Cuban cookbook. (I say equally, only because the pages are filled with fabulous photos of both her and her food, and I can't think of which is more gorgeous, but that's not important right now.)

Just recently, Ana was voted Miami's Hottest Chef over on Eater Miami.


I know what you're thinking. And yes, she is even more lovely in person. She also happens to be an amazing woman and a good friend. So when this Hottest Chef contest began and Ana asked me, I was eager to help.

So I quickly jumped on Facebook and asked a thousand of my closest friends (=D) to please vote for her.

Ana easily won the competition in Miami and came in second in the Nationals. Felicidades, mi vida!

Screen shot 2011-02-28 at 11.13.04 AM


I'd like to think it was the "embullo" of all the voting MBFCF readers that secured her win. Either way, true to her word, she sent me some of her autographed cookbooks as a Thank You to give away here. I know! Generous, right?

Ana autograph

Of course, for those of you that don't know, Our relationship goes back to the day she found My Big, Fat, Cuban Torrejas recipe and asked if she could include it in this very same cookbook. ("Claro que sí!")

Torrejas copy

Very cool, right?

For those of you who don't know torrejas, they are a Cuban version of stuffed French Toast. (I have a sudden craving for Guava and Creme Cheese....)

So, I have, not one, but two cookbooks to give away today. (Thanks, Ana!)

In order to enter the drawing for a chance to win this gorgeous Cuban cookbook, please leave a comment on this post answering the question below:

  • If I was a chef, I would be famous for my _____________. (Fill in the blank.) Your answer can be a fantasy or an actuality, but please remember this is a family blog. 

Leave a comment on this post and I'll choose a winner on Thursday, March 3rd at 11:00 am Pacific Time.

Can you guess what my answer would be? =D

Also, if you're not already a fan of My Big, Fat, Cuban Family on Facebook, please click this link or the one up at the top right of this site and LIKE it. That way, you won't miss any of the relajo!

Stuffed French Toast, Cuban Style - A Love Story and A Giveaway

Breakfast is my very favorite meal.

There. I said it.

I love eggs and bacon and toast and orange juice and anything with maple syrup on it. I love my hot coffee. And I love crispy sausage. Dutch babies? Love them. And don't even get me started on my love for hash browns and homestyle potatoes!

In fact, if left to my own devices, I would find a way to have breakfast for every meal of the day, but that's not important right now. (Well, breakfast food...oh, you know what I mean.)

A couple of years ago I was messing with an idea to make stuffed french toast. Then I remembered Cuban torrejas (TOH-RAY-HAAS), which are basically a form of pain perdu, only I stuffed them with guava and cream cheese. (Oh, yes, I did.)

Then I got an email from my friend, Ana Quincoces Rodriguez. She was working on a cookbook and she saw my recipe for torrejas on Babalú. She wanted to know if it was my own recipe (Yes!) and could she include it in her new cookbook? (Umm....YES!)

The only stipulation I had was that she give me credit in her new book and she did just that. We decided that instead of calling it Torrejas a lo Refugiado, which is what I originally called my creation, that she would call it (appropriately) My Big, Fat, Cuban Torrejas. (Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?)

Her Cuban cookbook is called Sabor! and every single recipe I've tried totally tastes as it should. (Thank you, Ana!) It's destined to become a classic in the Cuban Cookbook World.

And when you get your hands on this fabulous cookbook, please turn to page 204 - 205, where you'll find this:

Torrejas recipe


My Big, Fat, Cuban Torrejas

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • Guava paste cut into (about 20) slices
  • 12 oz. tub of cream cheese
  • 8 slices of thick bread. (I found something called Texas Toast – extra thick bread, but pan Cubano works well too)
  • Powdered sugar

1) Whisk together: the egg yolks, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

2) In a separate bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs.

3) Spread each slice of bread generously with the cream cheese.

4) Place about 4 or 5 slices of the guava paste on the bread to make a sandwich.
Spread guava & cream cheese on bread

5) Heat the oil in a large frying pan or griddle. (use enough to just cover the surface)

6) Create an “assembly line” – quickly dip the sandwiches in the egg/milk/cinnamon mixture.

7) Take the soaked sandwich and dip into the beaten egg mixture.

8) Fry these in the hot oil – just until brown, turning once.

Torrejas prep

9) Place the fried sandwiches in a baking dish and place in a hot oven 400° for about 10 minutes, or just until the guava melts.

10) Dust with powdered sugar and slice into quarters. (Or halves if you think you can handle it. =D)

Bake torrejas

The Torrejas can be eaten hot or cold. I prefer the hot, fresh taste of melted guava. Serve with a sweet, hot cafecito.

“De aqui pa’l cielo.”

Thanks for that, Marta. But what's your point?

The good folks at Running Press Cooks! (the publishers of Ana's fabulous cookbook) sent me a copy that I'm going to giveaway. I know. Shut up.


So, to enter this comment drawing, answer the following question:

  • What's your favorite breakfast food?

Leave a comment on this post and I'll choose a winner on Monday, August 2nd at 11:00 am.

Can you guess what my answer would be? =D