Cuban Cooking, Screenwriting at Starbucks, Winemaking

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Suzanne Dunaway is the founder of Buona Forchetta Handmade Breads. She is also the author of No Need to Knead.


  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Juice of one lime
  • Sprig of mint
  • 2 ounces white rum (Havana Club is the light rum of Cuba)
  • Soda water
In a tall glass, mix the sugar, lime juice, and mint. Stir until sugar is dissolved, crushing the mint well. Add ice, rum, and soda water. Stir well and serve.

Frijoles Negros

  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 4 cups of water, or to cover
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1/4 pound salt pork, chopped
  • 1 ham hock (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock or beer
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
Cover beans with cold water in a pot with a lid. Add the onion, salt pork, and ham hock, if using, and bring to a simmer. Simmer beans for 1 hour or a little longer until very tender, adding water, chicken stock or beer, as needed, to keep beans covered. Add the salt after 1/2 hour. When beans are very tender, take out a small ladle of beans and liquid. Pur-e in a food processor, or mash, and add back to bean pot. Taste for seasoning, and add the vinegar, adjust seasoning, heat and serve with white, steamed rice.

Moros y Cristianos
Mix equal amounts of cooked black beans and white rice until rice is colored. Serve.

Arroz con Picadillo

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound lean hamburger
  • 1 small sweet onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced sweet pepper
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 1 cup red wine
Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the meat and cook until browned. Remove meat to a plate. Add the onion, garlic, and pepper to the oil and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Return the meat to the skillet, and add the raisins, tomato sauce, capers, and wine. Simmer on low for about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with rice.

Variation: for Ropa Vieja, use a lean pot roast and cut it into long strips. Saut- the meat as in Arroz con Picadillo, and follow the same directions, cooking the meat, covered, for up to an hour until very tender, and adding more wine or stock as needed to keep the beef moist. Shred the beef with a fork, stir together with the sauce, and serve.

Fried Plaintains or Malanga Chips
These are served in many paladares, although only the very particular ones use malangas instead of plaintains or bananas.

Malangas are a tropical tuber from the West Indies, similar to a large sweet potato. In Cuba, they are intense with flavor and really more interesting than potatoes. Some paladares slice them very thin and fry them in corn oil like plaintain chips. Ripe plaintains, sliced thin, can be friend in the same way. Heat 1 cup of oil until smoking, and fry thin slices until very crisp.

Cascos di Guayaba
Guava shells can be found at Hispanic markets, or made at home with fresh guavas.

Scoop out the meat of the guavas and reserve for another use. Simmer the shells for 30 minutes in a sugar syrup made with 1 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water, adding a pinch of cinnamon if you wish. When the shells are tender, remove and refrigerate. Serve with cream cheese on Ritz crackers!!

Serves 6-8

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 egg yolks, or 3 eggs and 3 yolks for a lighter flan
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 325 F. In a heavy saucepan, heat the milk and cream over low heat just until bubbles form around the edge of the mixture. Add 1/2 cup of sugar, the eggs and yolks, beating well, and cook over very low heat just until the mixture thickens, whisking the mixture all the time.

Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar until it melts and takes on color. Pour into individual flan molds, turn the mold to coat the bottom with melted caramel. Strain the flan mixture into each mold, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top.

Place the flan molds in a large baking pan, and add hot water to come halfway up the sides. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until just set. Cool before serving. Some like flan out of the mold, but I like it in the mold so that none of the sugar is lost on a plate!

Veronique Drouhin is the winemaker at Domaine Drouhin, in Oregon.

Susan Westmoreland is the author of The All-New Good Housekeeping Cook Book.

Blake Snyder is a screenwriter and author of the web column Out to lunch with Mr. Hollywood.