Cuban Congrí aka Arroz Moro

arroz-moro

Congrí called by any other name still taste as delicious…moros, congri, arroz moro, moros y cristianos…call them what you will- congrí is still a Cuban soul food staple to be enjoyed at any meal. This recipe is for a lazy person’s congrí. I feel accomplished enough when I cook nowadays, like I deserve a shiny medal for coming home exhausted from work and cooking an honest meal. I recently started working regular hours aka 7 to 6ish, and it is seriously more exhausting than when I was working irregular hospitality hours. I know, I know, everyone is rolling their eyes saying “We know this already Ash, the Monday to Friday hustle is brutal. Welcome to the club sister”. Well, I just got here so take pity on my newbie soul!

sofrito-and-beans sofrito-basegarlic-clove

My congrí is cutting corners, aka I am using canned beans. This won’t make your rice as black as traditional Cuban congrí or as dry, but honestly it tastes exactly the same. Making the beans is a mission and tacks on an extra 30 min to an hour (plus more dishes) and that is frankly time I just don’t have right now.

moros

Arroz moro or congrí is my preferred Cuban side dish. I always order “moro y maduros” with any main dish- Churrassco, Palomia, Bistec Empanizado, or Pollo a la plancha are best with congrí. For some reason I wouldn’t have congrí with masa de Puerco, ropa vieja, or vaca frita but that is just me (and I like to think I am an expert ‘orderer’). Congrí is the red beans and rice to Cuban soul food, and makes me feel like there is a little slice of home right here in my kitchen. Short cut or not- this congrí is still damn delicious and has Cuban goodness packed into each bite.

sunny-side-up

Cuban Congrí aka Moros aka Moros y Cristianos

  • ½ green bell pepper diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin (optional)
  • ¼ tsp ground oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 ¾ cups black bean stock
  • Pork chunks (optional)
  • Lime wedge garnish
  • Olive oil

Make the sofrito with the bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Add olive oil to a large pot and add the onion and bell peppers. Cook until translucent; add half the salt and pepper. Add 2-3 of the garlic cloves finely minced reserving some for later. Add the cumin, oregano, and bay leaf. Cook 2-4 more minutes. Drain the black beans and reserve the black bean liquid for later.

sofrito-ready-for-congrugreen-bell-pepper rice-for-congri

Add the rice stirring well for 2-3 minutes in the pot to incorporate the oil, sofrito, and seasonings (much like a risotto). Add the black bean water, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat. Cover with the lid and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the black beans and stir well. Cook for another 5-7 minutes.

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After you have added the black beans, heat two teaspoons of olive oil or butter. Add the remaining garlic and quickly sautee. Set aside. When the moros are done stir in the sautéed garlic. Plate the congrí or arroz moros with a lime wedge on the side. Serve with your favorite Cuban dish like bistec empanizado, bistec palomia, roasted chicken, pollo a la pancha, or just enjoy with fried eggs like we did. Fried eggs are not a normal accompaniment, but I love them. Congrí goes great with platanos maduros or tostones as well.

congri-with-a-fried-egg

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Pumpkin Tres Leches

beautiful-cake

Pumpkin tres leches cake is a fresh twist on a Cuban classic that is the perfect dessert for this Thanksgiving or holiday season. I have been bitten by the pumpkin bug, and I am relishing unabashedly in fall flavor goodness. I made this pumpkin tres leches cake last year for Thanksgiving on a whim- haphazardly dumping ingredients I had on hand together…and behold! My glorious creation entered into this world doused in tres leches and ready to be dressed with whipped cream and warm caramel.

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My recipe for pumpkin tres leches is semi-homemade, which means it is easier for you to make my friend. Make this dish a day in advance so you can relax and simply unleash the deliciousness on your family and friends stress free. I chose to serve this with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice since it was the easiest option, but you can dress this pumpkin tres leches up with merengue or whipped cream and a caramel sauce.

Pumpkin Tres Leches

  • 1 box French vanilla Duncan Hines cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup milk

Preheat your oven to 350F, and grease a Pyrex dish well (I used a 9×9). Sift the cake mix into a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, melted butter, spices, and pumpkin puree. Mix well using a hand mixer or KitchenAid being sure to scrape along the sides of the bowl. Pour the batter into the greased Pyrex dish and smooth out evenly. Bake the pumpkin tres leches for 35-40 minutes or until the center is set.

pumpkin-cake-ingredientsspices-for-cakereaady-batterpumpkin-cake-batter

Pour the condensed milk, milk, and evaporated milk into a container and shake well. Poke 50-70 holes into the pumpkin tres leches using a toothpick or wooden skewer. Slowly pour nearly two-thirds of the tres leches over the entire cake so it can be gradually absorbed and does not pool. If there seems to be too much milk simply pour it off or wait a few minutes before adding more.

batter-is-ready-for-the-ovenfinished-pumpkin-cakebaked-pumpkin-cake

Tightly cover the cake and place in the refrigerator overnight.  Reserve and refrigerate the final third to use as garnish for plating.Cut the pumpkin tres leches into even slices. Pour 1 ounce of the tres leches onto the serving plate and plate the slice.

leches-blendpoke-holes-in-the-pumpkin-cakepour-on-the-milk

Add a dollop of whipped cream or alternatively top with a dollop of meringue and torch to a golden brown. I made the burnt sugar decor by heating sugar on the stove top till bubbling and golden. The directions can be found here in my Cuban flan recipe.

ready-to-platpour-on-the-lechesdragon-on-top

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Fall Quinoa Salad

fall-quinoa-salad

Soft chunks of butternut squash, salty pumpkin seeds, sweet chopped dates, crunchy kale, and aromatic sage form a sensational and light quinoa salad for fall. Quinoa, couscous, tabbouleh, and barley are all versatile grains that really shine with the right ingredients. Fall is well underway and I have been itching to make a fall-fabulous salad with seasonal ingredients. For the summer and spring I love making a bright couscous salad with fresh crisp veggies, but a fall quinoa salad calls for richer flavors and textures.

ingredients-for-fall-saladmix-salad-in-the-bowl

Fall quinoa salad is crazy easy to make because it can be prepped in advance if you’re planning on treating guests to a feast. I roasted the butternut squash and made the quinoa a day ahead. It is better to work with chilled ingredients so the kale and sage do not wilt from the freshly cooked ingredients. Crunchy pepitas or pumpkin seeds add texture, flavor, and bring saltiness to the dish while butternut squash’s velvety bite gives the salad healthy richness. Dress this salad lightly with salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice or whisk up a yogurt dressing to drizzle on top. Serve fall quinoa salad with roasted chicken, fish, or enjoy with extra greens as a salad!

side-angle-of-salad

Fall Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa prepared as directed
  • 2 cups fresh chopped kale
  • 2 cups roasted and diced butternut squash
  • 1 sprig sage finely chopped
  • ½ cup dates pitted and chopped
  • ½ cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare the quinoa as directed; you can optionally use chicken broth or orange juice instead of just water to cook the quinoa. Spread the cooked quinoa on a baking sheet so it can cool. Roast the butternut squash in advance. Cut it in half, core out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the halves cut side up on a baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes or until fork tender at 350F.

roasted-butternut-squashpeel-the-butternut-squashcook-the-quinoafresh-sage

Once the squash is cool enough to handle gently peel off the outer skin and dice the squash in cubes; set aside. Chop the kale, dates, and sage. Combine the ingredients and toss with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I also thought an apple cider vinaigrette could work well with this dish, but alas I did not have any apple cider vinegar handy.

cooked-quinoadateschopped-kale

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