Cuban-Style Shepherd’s Pie

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Lately I’ve had the craving for the weirdest thing: Shepherd’s Pie.

You see, I studied abroad in London during college and, although it’s rare, once in a while I will crave something from those days. Typically it’s something more like fish & chips (fried fish with french fries) or occasionally Indian food (chicken tikka masala is said to actually come from the UK, not India). But this time it was the simple Shepherd’s Pie–a dish made with beef typically cooked with peas and carrots, then topped by mashed potatoes and baked. But this time I wanted to make it myself and I wanted to add a lot of the Cuban flavors that I grew up with. So, voila, my Cuban-style Shepher’s Pie was born! Continue reading

Thai Soba Noodles with Cachucha Peppers

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I first learned about cachucha peppers when my mother started growing them in her garden. As her plant flourished, the native Cuban peppers (or aji cachucha as they’re known in Spanish) made their way into my kitchen.

The peppers are a variety of the South American sweet pepper, which make their way into dishes like Venezuelan Hallaca (a savory tamale-style dish) and Puerto Rican sofrito (a sauce with onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes). With a similar look to the habanero, they range in color from pale green to bright red and orange, and are actually surprisingly mild. I love the smoky and sweet flavor that I’ve used in everything from roasted tomato salsa to a classic arroz con pollo. Although I often use it to make Latin dishes, I’ve started to learned just how versatile this little red pepper is. Continue reading

How I Got Inspired at NYCWFF’s Tacos & Tequila Party

In case you weren’t aware, last week was New York City Wine & Food Fest. I was a pretty busy bee for work and, I admit, not really eating as healthy as I could be. It all culminated in one of the best nights of my life–the Olmeca Altos Tequila Tacos & Tequila Party hosted by Bobby Flay. And, surprisingly enough, I came away inspired!

I was at the party representing Latina magazine and The Latin Kitchen, of course, and was madly instagramming from both accounts the entire time. I also brought my friend Justin Schwartz, a fantastic cookbook editor and blogger behind JustCookNYC. Together, we went around with my very determined mission to try EVERY SINGLE TACO.

We succeeded (mostly) and I was honestly surprised by the sheer amount of variety that we found at this party. Maybe I shouldn’t have been, since the chefs were all pretty amazing, but trying all of the crazy, typical, fusion (and more!) varieties left me completely in awe–and even more inspired to create new recipes than I could have imagined.

In the meantime, as I work to get back to the kitchen after an utterly exhausting and wonderful week, here’s a recap of what happened (and what went in my belly!) at the Tacos & Tequila party. Trust me, it was all GOOD.

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Salvation Taco: Headcheese Tostada with Local Vegetables en Escabeche. This was the first one we approached, and I was immediately drawn to how pretty these jars are. Doesn’t it just make you want to start pickling something? Continue reading

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