I am a huge fan of Cuba, having gone several times (both to the island itself and to an island off the main island) I just get completely taken a back by the culture and the people. I have always had a wonderful holiday out there both in the resort and off the beaten track. Therefore, when I was in my local The Works store I noticed a Cuban recipe book at the very cheap price of £2.99 I couldn't resist!
The Cuban cook book is by Andy Rose and Judy Bastyra. Andy Rose is head chef at a restaurant called Floridita. The book itself has a pale blue colour featuring the title of the book "Eat Cuban" on the front in retro style font coloured in red and orange. There is an image of dried red chillies on the front which do spice things up a little!
The first few pages of 'Eat Cuban' go on to describe the Cuban way of life which is quite a nice in sight as it isn't too much information for it to be overwhelming but it is just enough to give you an idea of the Cuban way of life. Just before the contents page there is a little symbol system which indicates how long each recipe takes. 1 being 1 hour and 3 being 3 hours. I think this is a great idea especially if you are short of time which I seem to find myself in most days!
The chapter page is well laid out, all in all there are 14 chapters including the acknowledgements, introduction, glossary and index pages. For a relatively small cook book there is an awful lot to cram into each chapter! The recipe chapters are made up of:
Soups and salads
Fish and shellfish
On the side
Sauces and dressings
What I noticed about these recipes is that there are quite a few all on one page which is fine but I am quite used to recipe books showing just one recipe on one page and a picture of that particular recipe on the opposite page. Now, I am fully aware that there are thousands of cook books which don't have this simplistic format but as I am quite used to it so I did initially find the recipe pages looking a little busy and overly complicated. However, each recipe is broken down into ingredients and the method which makes it a lot easier to follow - I am not a natural cook so I do need the guidelines! One thing I would change is the amount of pictures, I like to see what the dish should look like and the lack of pictures was a little disappointing.
I have used this cook book quite a lot of times trying to create a different recipe each time and as they manage to fit quite a few recipes all on one page you are never short of a recipe to try. My only gripe though is some of the ingredients list have ingredients which you cannot get hold of all that easily such as morcilla sausage (it's a type of blood sausage) and calabaza (a type of pumpkin) but they do offer alternatives which I guess is the positive. Other than that most of the ingredients used are basic stock cupboard ingredients which when short of time it is easy and quick to prepare a recipe.
The range of recipes through the chapters is vast and not one is similar which is even better, there is such a variety of choice is quite refreshing as some recipe books I own can be a little safe whereas Eat Cuban really does have a great selection and definitely something for those who want to treat their tastebuds and expand their cooking knowledge. I am sure though that the time guides are a little off or it may be because I'm not the quickest cook in the world!
Recipes I have tried to create:
Red snapper, ceviche, coconut and lime - this recipe should take less than an hour to make. I found this incredibly simple and easy to prepare and the result was a great tasting starter or light lunch. There is a picture of the dish and even though mine didn't look exactly the same, I certainly enjoyed it!
Roast rack of lamb with giant butter beans, tomatoes and coriander - this recipe does indicate that it takes 3 hours to prepare. I made this when my parents came over a few weeks ago as an alternative to the usual Sunday roast. The method for this recipe breaks it down and makes the preparation and cooking of it nice and simple. Perfect for me!
This cooking book is great for trying something new and possibly something you'd never have thought of doing. I especially like the sauces and dressings chapter as these recipes are referred to throughout the cook book. Definitely a good investment at £2.99 as I have used the book so many times. I'd without doubt recommend this cook book especially if you like trying new and different cuisines.
~ Useful Info ~
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd - 2008
Dimensions: 24.9cm x 19.6cm x 2cm
Price: RRP: £16.99