Yuca Frita Croquetas

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Yuca frita is the crisper, starchier, and creamier brother of the papita frita, and is undoubtedly a Cuban staple either fried crisp or soft and sautéed with garlic and onion. Yuca is one of my favorite Cuban side dishes whether prepared as yuca hervida or yuca frita and now as yuca frita croquetas.

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I first had yuca frita croquetas while I was interning for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival Rockin’ Beach Party made by Versailles– you can order them at their restaurant on Calle Ocho in Miami’s Little Havana, and they are amazing. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly a traditional Cuban dish, but it is freaking delicious and is made up of 100% Cuban elements. I couldn’t decide what to call these delicious wonders of the world…yuca frita rellena? Picadillo stuffed yuca frita croquetas? As you can tell I dig yuca, it is easy to make, tastes delicious, and its naturally gluten free.

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Picadillo stuffed yuca croquetas are wonderous for two reasons: they are ideal for leftover picadillo and they are the perfect receptacle for cilantro garlic sauce (<3 Pollo Tropical you’ll always be my #1). The salted crisp yuca with the creamy citrusy cilantro garlic sauce is a match made in heaven that will have you reaching for more. I am pretty passionate about croquetas and these are a great party alternative to add to your repertoire (especially since they are pretty easy to make and use leftovers to boot)!

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Yuca Frita Croquetas

Yuca frita croquetas are ideal with leftover picadillo, but you can make a fresh batch just for this and enjoy your picadillo before or after. I highly recommend using leftover since it is chilled and is easier to use as a stuffing.  Completely cover the yuca in salted water and bring the water to a boil (I did defrost mine over night, but the bag doesn’t say this is required). Cook the yuca on medium heat for 25-30 minutes until fork tender.

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Once the yuca has coolded down enough to handle, remove the fibrous center of the yuca root. Next mash the yuca with a potato masher or potato ricer. It is best to do this while it is still warm. Don’t let it cool completely. Form the mashed yuca into similar shaped balls. Now work the soft yuca into a patty the shape of your palm. Wet your hands with water constantly to avoid the starchy yuca from sticking too much to your hands while forming the yuca frita croquetas. Add a tablespoon or so of Cuban picadillo to the center of the mashed yuca patty. Close the yuca onto itself and do the best you can to eliminate a seal using water.

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Heat vegetable oil on the stove top. Fry the yuca frita croquetas till golden brown.* Drain on paper towels and garnish with sea salt right away. Before enjoying add a squeeze of lime. Yuca frita croquetas go best with pollo tropical inspirecilantro garlic sauce and a cold beer.

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*Make sure to rotate the croquetas slowly instead of flipping roll them till they are brown all around. Sometimes the filling of croquetas can ooze out of the sides if the top and bottom are crispier than the sides.

 

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Mom’s Baked Brie with Guava

Baked Brie with Guava from StellarAsh.com

If you open my mom’s fridge you will usually find puff pastry, a wheel of brie, and guava marmalade ready to go at a moment’s notice- I’m also betting that if you open the pantry you will find a box of Carr’s water crackers too. This is my mom’s recipe for baked brie with guava- a foolproof solution for unannounced guests, impromptu gatherings, and any occasion- special or otherwise. Baked brie with guava will always impress your guests, is crazy easy to make, requires basically no dishes (which I loathe), and makes you feel like you have it together (somewhat at least) when you find yourself entertaining guests either planned or spontaneously.

Baked Brie with Guavamake-the-simple-syrup-to-brush-on-the-baked-guava-brieBaked Brie with Guava from StellarAsh.comBaked brie with guava from StellarAsh.com

Obviously in order for me to help you look cool you have to have the basic elements on hand pretty regularly- puff pastry and brie. Help me help you! You can exchange the guava for any marmalade of your liking- strawberry, apricot, peachjalapeno pepper, red onion jam– the list goes on. As you know I have a serious love for all things guava so this is always my numero uno selection for baked brie, but go ahead and choose anything you prefer. I brushed my baked brie with guava with a rosemary simple syrup right when it came out of the oven. The rosemary simple syrup gave the baked brie with guava a nice earthy and herbal small that went well aromatically with the sweet guava and rich brie.

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Feast on with family and friends, breathe a little when your guests arrive (or show up), and know that this easy and classic recipe for baked brie with guava will always make you look good and will always taste good too! Bon appetit!

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Baked Brie with Guava 

  • Medium to large brie wheel (defrost overnight in the fridge before use)
  • 2 tablespoons guava marmalade (conchita brand is my favorite)
  • Sheet of frozen puff pastry (or homemade if you’re awesome)
  • One egg
  • 1 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • One sprig fresh rosemary

Serve with:

  • Water crackers
  • Toasts
  • Bread
  • Toasted almonds or walnuts
  • Apples
  • Pears

Preheat the oven to 350F. Use either frozen puff pastry or the pull-apart crescents that come in the pop can (which my mom uses and presses the perforations together). Place the brie in the center of the puff pastry and brush with your marmalade of choice. Do NOT trim the white casing off on the brie. This is totally edible and keeps the brie from melting all over the place. Fold over the edges of the puff pastry to completely cover and seal the brie and guava. If you leave bits peeking through it will melt through or the marmalade can kind of burn. Brush with egg wash before placing in the oven. Bake the brie and guava for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

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While my baked brie with guava was in the oven I made a quick rosemary simple syrup to brush on top. Place the 1/4 cup water and sugar in the microwave with the sprig of fresh rosemary and heat at 30 second intervals stirring after each interval until clear. Brush right when the baked brie with guava comes out of the oven. Let the brie settle for 5-10 minutes before cutting in. You can always par bake the brie if you are taking it to a get together or dinner party. The brie will solidify once it cools down. If you are taking this baked brie with guava to a dinner party just pop it in the oven again at your destination for 10-15 minutes on the warm setting and the brie will become melted inside again.

baked brie with guava from StellarAsh.comBaked Brie with Guava from StellarAsh.com

Serve with freshly sliced fruit, toasted almonds, melba toasts, water crackers, or other simple crackers of your choosing. This recipe is great year-round and will always be a delight.

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Lemon + Herb Marinade

Perfect Chicken Thighs

Entertaining can be really stressful, especially if you’re a Virgo like me, so when in doubt I turn to oven roasted marinated chicken thighs for the perfect dinner on a hot Miami day. This recipe is for the garlic herb marinade with lots of lemon juice. Last Easter my mom gave me adorable planters painted grey with mint, cilantro, rosemary, parsley, basil, thyme, and lavender. I freaking love having a little garden outside on the balcony! My garden comes in handy in times like these…I was cooking for around 8 people, so I decided to make chicken thighs because they are cost effective, juicy and delicious, and look impressive when done right.

 Lemon Herb Garlic Marinade

As a general rule I never try to make anything on the stove top if I’m entertaining. It is a mistake for ANYONE to do, so you should probably avoid this too. It’s just messy, takes you away from your guests, and is 100% unnecessary. For the love of god, make the meal as much ahead of time as possible! You will be thanking wise self later. I made the marinade and let the chicken sit overnight before baking it to perfection. Yes, I know…you’re thinking grilling would be better- and it would be totally ideal…BUT standing over the hot grill in Miami? Trying to chat with family with kids running around while being distracted by flaming chicken? No thank you. Oven-roasted it is! I decided to serve this chicken with perfect couscous salad, pickled cucumbers and red onions, and the popular pull-apart garlic bread.

   Garlic     Lemons

   Ready to Blend     Marinated Chicken

This marinade is classic and wonderful. I guarantee you will use it time and time again. Practically this entire meal can be thoroughly prepped in advance to make your life easier. For dessert we had vanilla bean ice cream with slice strawberries tossed in sugar and lemon juice with chopped toasted almonds (we had extra leftover from the couscous salad).

Herb Garlic Marinade

 ¼ cup Parsley

8-10 sprigs Thyme

1-2 sprigs Rosemary (you can also use oregano, marjoram, or tarragon)

4 Garlic Cloves

1 cup olive oil

Juice of 2 Lemons

Salt and Pepper to taste

½ teaspoon Dried Basil (just cause I felt like adding some)

Remove the herbs from the stems by pulling down the stem downwards to pull off the leaves and leave the stick remaining. Roughly chop the garlic cloves. Add garlic, herbs of your choice, olive oil, lemon juice, basil, salt and pepper. Pulse the mixture until blended for less than 1 minute in your Cuisinart Food Processor – I like it to be a little chunky.

Since I had so much chicken to marinade I divided the chicken legs and thighs between 2 gallon Ziploc bags and poured the marinade on top. (I always place the Ziploc with the marinating meat in a plastic bag before putting it in the refrigerator. Raw meats should be stored on a separate shelf and not right next to fresh fruits or veggies! The extra bag helps too.)

Garlic Pull Bread     Pickled Cucumber and Red Onion

Dinner for 8     Add Chopped Tomatoes

Marinade the chicken overnight or up to 2 hours in advance. The longer the better! Bake in the oven at 400F for 45 minutes. The roasted chicken will be beautifully browned and crispy on top with lovely crisped herbs and juices in the pan (which you can spoon on top of the chicken!). Guten Appetit!

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