Cuban Bruschetta. Believe it.

I know what you're thinking. You saw the title of this post and you said out loud, "There's no such thing as Cuban Bruschetta." 

That's also what my mom said. (But then she's a Cuban Mother and it's part of her job description to argue recreationally, but that's not important right now.)

Lucy (who is the Bruschetta Expert of the family) asked, "So what makes it Cuban?"

Well, let me tell you. It's the extra garlic butter. And maybe the splash of vinegar. Or the cumin. And the tomato/sweet onion ration. Also, as with all Cuban food, the flavor is seriously sublime.

Jonathan: "Can I have another?" (Win!)

Allow me to introduce you to the awesomeness that is Cuban Style Bruschetta. Because that's what I'm here for.

Cuban bruschetta copy

Cuban Bruschetta

  • 3 chopped Roma tomatoes (ripe, but firm)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet (!) onion
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • A splash of vinegar (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced (separate about a third for the garlic butter)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1) In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, onion, olive oil, vinegar, cumin, 3/4ths of the minced garlic.

Cuban bruschetta tomato mix copy

2) Add salt and pepper to taste.

3) Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or longer) to let the flavors blend together.

Cuban Bruschetta Toast

  • 12 slices Cuban bread (French bread will work, but it should have a soft crust.)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 stick of butter, softened, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1) Slice the bread into 3/4 inch thick slices.

Cuban bruschetta slice the bread copy

2) Mash the remaining garlic into the softened butter.

3) Compress each slice of the bread with a spatula.

Cuban bruschetta smash the bread copy

3) Butter both sides of the smashed bread with the garlic butter.

Cuban bruschetta spread the garlic butter copy

4) Fry up the slices of buttered bread in a frying pan, over medium heat, until lightly toasted on each side. Be careful with this. The garlic and butter combo can quickly burn if you don't watch it.

5) Spoon the tomato/onion mixture on each slice of toasted bread.

6) Sprinkle with chopped cilantro. (The cilantro is not just a garnish. It adds a lovely flavor to the bruschetta. Trust me.)

Cuban bruschetta serve copy

7) Serve immediately.

8) Email me and tell me how much you loved it.

Cuban Style Black Bean Dip Recipe

I love summer. I love that the days are so long and that everyone I know seems to be wanting to eat outdoors. 

We were invited to a barbecue last week. "Can you bring some kind of Cuban-style appetizer?"

I usually get asked to bring some kind of Cuban-style dessert and then I usually make pastelitos for a crowd (See Pastelitos for 100 for Free recipe card download). Being on the other end of the dinner menu made me happy, plus I realized I hadn't really ever shared my Black Bean Dip Recipe.

You're sooo going to love me.

Black bean dip

Cuban Style Black Bean Dip

  • 1 can black beans - 29 oz, drained
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
 (I recently found St. Lucas Avocado Oil with Garlic which I love.)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 fresh limes - juiced
  • Sazón Goya Completo - 2 envelopes
  • 1 can diced mild green chiles - 4 oz.
  • Salt & pepper to taste

1) Drain the beans.

2) Put all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth.

3) Serve with plantain strips.

4) Don't forget to blush appropriately and take the complements graciously.

5) Practice saying, "Oh, it was nothing."

Happy Summer!



Pastelitos de Guayaba. For 100.

When I agreed to go to New York City to bake pastelitos de guayaba* for the Cuban Cultural Center of New York's (Centro Cultural Cubano de Nueva York) 12th Annual Congress, I was not quite sure what I'd gotten myself into.

*Pastelitos de Guayaba. n. A Cuban pastry made with a delicate flaky crust and a filling of guava and sometimes guava and cream cheese. See Refugiados.

First a disclaimer, I have made my Homemade Pastelitos de Guayaba countless times. So many in fact, I can practically do it in my sleep. Of course, that's in my own kitchen. With my own pans. And my own family to help if necessary. It's pretty simple and relatively quick, though not without some struggles - specifically, guava paste is kind of a sticky pain to cut.

When I arrived at the International Culinary Center of Manhattan by myself, I wondered if I had bitten off more pastelito than I could chew.(<--see what I did there?)

(Please excuse the graininess of the photos. All were taken with my iPhone and I was experiencing a very high level of jet-laggy-exhaustion, and I know there's an over-abundnace of "selfies" in here. Just ignore that and enjoy.)

Culinary institute

I arrived at the International Culinary Center of Manhattan at 7:30 am on Sunday morning. I need to tell you right here how accidentally cool I felt when they opened the doors and let me into this Mecca of Endlessly Amazing Kitchens.

International culinary theater

The agenda for the day was to explore Cuban Cuisine: del casabe al mojito and let me tell you, that's exactly how it went down. I hope to get more photos and the recipes from the other Cuban chefs to share, but today I'm just telling you about my own personal experience cooking for 100 hungry Cubans in the Fabulous Kitchens of Perfection.

Pastelito ingredients

They were gracious enough to pick up the items I needed from the grocery list I sent beforehand. And I set to work, unwrapping pastry and cutting up guava paste (did I mention this is the most sticky and difficult part of this endeavor?) and preparing tray after tray of Refugiados (guava and cream cheese pastries).

Pastelitos before baking

The biggest challenge was trying to keep the attendees from snagging the pastelitos as they cooled before my 3:00 pm presentation. Picture this: A roomful of hungry hungry Cubans. The intoxicating aroma of melting guava permeating the air with the promise of Guava Awesomeness. They just couldn't help themselves. I can't say I blame them.

I also have to interject that because the theme was Cuban food, and because the sponsors were Victor's Cafe and Goya Foods, there was no lack of Cuban Flavored Deliciousness available all day long.

In fact, it was quite an embarrassment of Cuban Food Richness as tray after tray of food came out from one kitchen after another. (I seriously have to get the photos and recipes from the other chefs. There's no way I can do any of their creations justice.)

Victor's Cafe provided lunch. And believe me, everything they served was Cuban Crazy-Awesome.

Arroz con pollo, Ropa Vieja, Fritas, Lechón, Moros, Croquetas, Ceviche. Everything was seriously, to die for.

PicMonkey Collage Cuban food

Now, while all this fabulous food service is going on, I'm still running back and forth between the Pastry Kitchen and the one stove I could figure out how to turn on, setting my timer for 25 minutes and checking on the cooling pastelitos, which were making a giant guava mess everywhere and I was seriously starting to panic and hey! did you just take another one of my pastelitos, mister? Don't think I don't see you trying to hide it in that napkin! I was only able to peek in to the other presentations because, well,  I was baking pastelitos for 100. (I actually made something like 160, but that's not important right now.)

Martas pastelitos de guayaba

Once they cooled and I was able to move them over to the large tray, they looked (and smelled!) pretty presentable.

When it came time for me to give my presentation, I pretty much completely forgot everything I was going to say. (Seriously, how sad is that?) Also, my hair was crazy-kinky-out-of-control-my-God-New-York-is-so-hot-and-humid curly, which I just had to not care about and carry on.

Marta in the pastry kitchen
Me in the Pastry Kitchen of Awesome with my Uber-curls.

So I just spoke from my heart. I spoke about the love I have for our Cuban culture and how I am trying (pretty successfully, I think) to pass our traditions on and make them more accessible to the next generation, which is one of the major reasons why I blog.

I completely spaced on the "here's how to make pastelitos" part of my presentation, (I know. Shut up.) so I just sort of went through the motions. I think someone actually got this fiasco all on film, but I know for a fact that none of the participants were disappointed. The proof as they say, is in the pudding pastelito.

Pastelitos & recipe

I also took recipe cards to share, which you can download for free by clicking on this link right here. You're welcome...

Guayaba Heaven: Los Pastelitos de Marta.

Trust me. No one went hungry.

Martas pastelitos & recipe

Many thanks again to the CCC of NY for the invitation and for letting me share my love of Cuban food, my heart and my pastelitos.

Cuban S'mores Recipe. Believe it.

We're gearing up for the 4th of July around here. And frankly, that means All-American food. Burgers and hot dogs and stuff like that.

Eric picked up a fire-bowl-thing a few weeks ago from Home Depot. He thought it might be fun to enjoy a fire in our back yard every now and then. And he was right. We're kind of loving it. 

The combination of 4th of July, hot dogs, summer, and fire-bowl-thingy just scream "S'mores!" to me.

When I was a girl scout and went on my first camping trip, "s'mores" were on the menu. I was about 10 years old and still fairly new to this country.

All of us were given un-bent (<--is that a word?) wire coat hangers and marshmallows and I followed the lead of the other girls as they put their marshmallows into the fire. What strange food ritual was I being initiated into? 

"S'mores!" They said it with such passion. What was this food that inspired so much ecstasy?

Then I tasted my first s'more. And I got it.

The passage of time has not diminished my love of the graham cracker with melted marshmallows and chocolate prepared over an open flame, but I felt like it needed something slightly different. Maybe a touch of....Cubanity? (<--is that a word?)

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to..... *drum roll, please*

Cuban S'mores Recipe!

I know you're already asking, "How is this fabulousness achieved?"

Cuban s'mores 2

The secret is in the Marias. Maria cookies instead of graham crackers. Genius. (Deliciously genius.)

Cuban s'mores


  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate bars (broken into pieces)
  • Maria Cookies (You heard right. MARIAS! It's what gives this s'more its Cubanity.)

1) Heat the marshmallow over an open flame until it begins to melt and brown on the outside.

2) Place a few squares of the chocolate on a Maria cookie.

Cuban s'mores 3

3) Place the hot, cooked marshmallow on the chocolate.

Cuban s'mores 4

4) Sandwich with another Maria cookie. If you like the taste of more chocolate, place more squares over the marshmallow before you top with the other cookie.

5) Allow the marshmallow to cool just a bit before eating.

Cuban s'mores in hand

Come back here and tell me how much you love this.

Cuban s'mores plate

You're welcome!

You can get Maria cookies online at the Cuban Food Market.

{Full disclosure: This idea came from one of my Facebook followers. If you are not yet part of that "relajo," please follow My Big, Fat, Cuban Family on Facebook. Who knows what they will think of next? Damn Cubans.}

Start spreading the news...

I'm going to New York!

Yes, that's right. I'm so proud and humbled to share that I've been invited to be a part of the 12th Annual Congress of the Central Cultural Cubano de Nueva York (Cuban Cultural Center of New York).

The theme this year is "Cuban Cuisine: del casabe al mojito."

René Portocarrero, “La cena” (1942)

From their website:

The first conference ever held on the history and development of Cuban cuisine—from its origins to the present. At the state-of-the-arts facilities of The International Culinary Center in Manhattan, the event will not only cover the evolution and the different influences that have shaped the Cuban gastronomical landscape—through both formal presentations, as well as on-site cooking and prepared samples by top-notch chefs—but also highlight its rich cross-cultural presence in television, cinema, literature, painting and, most significantly, music.     

The one-day conference will be dedicated, In Memoriam, to Victor del Corral, pioneer Cuban restauranteur whose founding of Victor’s Cafe in 1963 ushered in an era of popularity and appreciation for fine Cuban cuisine in New York City and beyond that still prevails today.

The part I highlighted up there is about me. (I know. Shut up.)

This Day of Cuban Food Awesomeness will be taking place:

On Sunday, July 14, 2013 - 9 am to 7 pm.

The International Culinary Center
462 Broadway (corner of Grand St.), NYC

I'll be doing a live cooking demo and preparing my famous Homemade Pastelitos de Guayaba.


If you're in the New York area and want to get in touch with your Cubanity (<--is that a word?), please consider going to this fabulous foodie event. I would love to meet some of you in person.

Please note that the registration to the day’s event will cover ALL meals, including  desayuno cubano, almuerzo, merienda, refrescos, café and cocktails.  

Here's the menu:

ALMUERZO (Lunch) Courtesy of Victor´s Cafe       

  • Aperitivos
  • Croquetas
  • Fritas
  • Bartolitos (puré de plátanos con picadillo en bolitas)
  • Tamal en cazuela con camarones enchilados
  • Sándwich cubano
  • Ceviche de camarones         
  • Platos principales
  • Arroz con pollo
  • Ropa vieja, arroz blanco y frijoles negros
  • Lechón, moros y yuca       
  • Bebidas y postre       

For tickets, click here:     

For details and more information, please visit the CCCNY site:

Prepare yourself, New York! Or am my mom always says, "A viaje que viene agua!"

This conference is presented in partnership with:




A Pastelito by any other name...

There are thousands of fantastic restaurants in Southern California. And I'm sure the fair city of Glendale has a bizzillion wonderful eateries. But, if we're going to be in Glendale for any reason, we must always stop at Porto's Bakery and load up on Cuban Provisions.

There's no better Cuban bakery in So Cal.

Lucy, Jonathan and I were in Glendale a few weeks back. So we (of course!) stopped at Porto's. (I'm almost certain it's a state mandate, but that's not important right now.)

And guess what we stocked up on?


Guava Cheese "Strudel?" They can call it whatever they like as long as I can have one with my cafecito.

Lucy & jon

Wait. One? Who are we kidding?



Keeping Calm

Sometimes I feel like I've said everything I need to say. And sometimes I feel like I have told my same stories a thousand times. Maybe it's because I start to tell a story and my kids stop me in mid-sentence with a resounding, "We know!"

I thought about retiring my blogging jersey (metaphorically speaking) and shut down My Big, Fat, Cuban Family. Seriously. I sometimes feel like I don't have a fresh thought in my poor, tired brain.

So, I was having guests for dinner a few weeks ago, and I woke up with my first thought being that I had a mile long to-do list, because, of course, I had procrastinated until the last minute and had to, not only cook, but clean and do all the company-is-coming preparations. (Don't judge.)

And I had promised my Homemade Pastelitos de Guayaba.(<--click on the link for the super simple recipe.)

At this point, I started doing some positive self-talk:

"You can do this."

"You've entertained hundreds of times. Don't panic!"


"Keep calm."

For the record - 1) I don't always talk to myself. 2) Once I start to calm down, I tend to get distracted.

So, I'm looking at my to-do list and prioritizing what I need to do to meet my 6pm-here-come-my-dinner-guests-deadline and breathing deeply, when suddenly I had a Creative Brainstorm.

And I created this:


I even decided to make it into a poster to hang in my kitchen. So, I quickly hopped onto my computer and made a high resolution poster and ordered it online from Staples. (They're quick and will do these to my specifications, but that's not important right now.) I shared it all over my social media and it quickly went viral. (At least, I think over 40,000 views is close to viral...)

Screen shot

Plus, it made me really happy. Which then gave me the energy to tackle the rest of my to-do's and cook my dinner, pastelitos and all.

I know. I know. I'm so easily amused, distracted, ________(fill in the blank).

All that to say this: apparently I do occasionally still have a fresh and creative thought in my head. So, I don't think I'll quit blogging just yet.

Also, the dinner was fabulous, my guests loved the pastelitos, and my new wall art is on its way. Win.

Cuban Word of the Day

I have been taking a hiatus to get myself well again from being sick for the first part of this year. (Thank you, Vicks VaPoRub for your constant support.)

I'm 100% better and I'm ready to jump back into blog-world. I had a feeling-sorry-for-myself-emotionally-fragile moment of "I wonder if anyone even remembers me?"

This morning I wake up to this in my Facebook news feed, which was like a shot of adrenaline.

Wait! Is that my face? Shut. UP. I feel sooo accidentally cool!

Cuban word of the day

I may or may not have shed a quick tear. Gracias, Wassup En LA? I'm back. Pastelitos and all.

Also, here's the link for my Homemade Pastelitos de Guayaba. And here's the link to Wassup En LA?'s Facebook Page.  You must "like" them because you will LOVE them. Amen.

It's beginning to look a lot like...

I often say that the best part of Christmas for me is being Cuban.

Our traditional Nochebuena celebration begins with the fabulousness that is Lechón Asado. A roasted pig. Or, if you don't have 50 of your closest relatives coming for dinner on Christmas Eve, then a 20 lb. pork shoulder will do. If you're a cheater, like me, you can also get your lechón happening in a slow-cooker. (Don't judge me.)

Slow-roasted in a low temperature oven (or Crockpot!) from around midnight the night before, the house smells of intoxicatingly awesome garlicky pork all day.

We have our extended family celebration on December the 24th. We call it Nochebuena (the Good Night) and have a late and leisurely Cuban feast.

The days leading up to the Cooking of the Pig means there are a lot of culinary preparations, mostly in the form of a garlic marinade which is injected into this same pig (or shoulder, or fat pork chop, or pork roast), which we call Mojo Criollo. (Pronounced MOH-HO, as in Ho-Ho-Ho.)  Click this LINK for the recipe.

So, with all these crazy-busy preparation for the Cuban Awesomeness heading our way, I leave you this sentiment:


Stay Cuban, my friends. ;-)

Lechón Asado Recipe - In the Crockpot!

From the archives - for your holiday pleasure....

Martas-kitchen-logo 1
Martas-kitchen-logo 1

I love to tell stories. This is part of my Cuban legacy. As Val (from Babalú Blog) and I discussed before I started doing this feature, I will probably have a story to tell each time I post a recipe. Today's story has an interesting twist.

My mom (the 93 year old) likes to tell stories of her life in Cuba. And I pay attention. She recalls a peaceful and sweet pre-revolutionary life back in her small town - back in “the day.” The few families that lived in the small port all knew and cared for one another.

Her family owned a huge German Shepherd they named Lindbergh, after the famous aviator. (Of course, in 1930's Cuba they pronounced it Leem-Berr.) Everyone in her small town knew this dog. The kids in town would come over and taunt Lindbergh (I know. I know. It's so NOT a Cuban pet's name) through the picket fence. The way she describes him, Lindbergh had a reputation for being pretty ferocious, and had bitten a few kids in his day. It was kind of an adventure for the kids to get the dog to react from the safety of the other side of the fence.

There was one daring kid, Pepin, who apparently felt exceptionally brave one day. He climbed up and straddled the fence. The big dog leaped up and opportunistically took a chunk out of the kid's ummm...rear end.

My grandfather (sur-name, Perez-Puelles) felt soo bad about the dog attacking the kid, that he paid for Pepin to receive medical attention. Poor Pepin was out of commission for a few weeks recovering from the bite in the nalga.

As my mom continues telling the story, I can sense she still feels bad about the incident. She tells the story apologetically. She figures that Pepin must be an old man now, since this happened over 70 years ago. Even so, she muses, he probably still has the scar from the dog bite.

I kind of feel the family guilt over this one, too. Poor Pepin and his dog-scarred nalga.

After all these years, it was not until just yesterday that I discovered the kid's last name.

I found out that Pepin's brother lives in Miami. And I even spoke to his nephew yesterday.

How random is that??

This recipe is quick, like Lindbergh, and tasty, like Pepin's umm ....

So by way of saying that the Perez-Puelles family still feels bad about the whole dog-bite incident, today's recipe is dedicated to:

Pepin PRIETO and his family.

And... just curious... Val, does your Uncle Pepin still have the scar?


Quick and Tasty Lechon Asado Recipe - Estilo Pepin

  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs. Pork loin chops – the big, thick ones
  • 2 cups Mojo Criollo*
  • 1 white onion – sliced into rings
  • 1 tsp. Parsley

1) Stab each of the chops two or three times and brown them quickly in the olive oil.

2) Put them in a crockpot. Cover with the mojo and the onion slices and sprinkle with parsley.

3) Cook on high for 4-5 hours. Or on low for 6-8 hours.

4) Serve with black beans and white rice.

*Mojo Criollo

You can use the mojo that comes in a bottle, or make your own.

Here’s my recipe.

  • 20 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Coarse-ground Pepper
  • 2 tsp. Oregano
  • 1 ¾ cups orange
  • ¼ cup white vinegar

1) Using a mortar and pestle, mash together the garlic, salt, pepper and oregano to make a paste.

2) Stir in the orange juice and vinegar.

(Original Lechón Asado Recipe posted at Babalú Blog. March 2007)