Cookbook Review: The Cuban Kitchen by Raquel Rabade Roque

the-cuban-kitchen

PROS: There’s a ton of recipes in this cookbook. There’s a wide variety of different types of recipes to try. The narrative in the book is interesting to read.

CONS: The instructions aren’t entirely clear. Not all of the recipes work as expected. Some of the recipes seem generic as opposed to what I expected Cuban to be.

After getting a library card for the first time in years, I have decided to start a new blog project. COOKBOOK REVIEWS! I will feature cookbooks that I have either checked out from the library, already own, or purchased. I will cook several of the recipes from the books, trying to get a wide array of those listed. I will then give you my opinion of the book, pictures of the recipes I tried, etc etc etc.

For my first pick, I saw this bright colored cookbook on the library shelf: The Cuban Kitchen by Raquel Rabade Roque.

The book starts with an introduction of Raquel and her Cuban roots. She gives some background of her childhood, growing up in America as a child of Cuban immigrants. Raquel also instructs on what you need to cook Cuban food and what would be nice to have, if you want (like a churro maker.)

This book has a ton of recipes in it. I wish there were pictures though. Sometimes it’s nice to know if you did it right, if it looks right. Or if it looks good from the start. The book is over 400 pages long though, so I don’t really expect pictures for each recipe, but I do think it would have made the cookbook over all stronger – to have some.

The book is broken into 25 different chapters, including Cuban Sandwiches, Chicken The Cuban Way, and Cuban Candies. There is so much variety in this cookbook, it’s amazing.

I randomly chose a selection of recipes from this book to try. I didn’t pick anything because I thought it sounded good or something. I wanted a wide selection of recipes I may not otherwise try.

Also, I’m not comfortable sharing the recipes of the book online. If you want to purchase this book (or borrow it from your library,) I’ll post the pages in the book where I found each recipe.

Now . . . ONTO THE RECIPES!

photo 3Ripe Plantain Rolls (p. 148)

I’m fairly sure I didn’t construct these right. Because I want to actually review the book, I did what I thought the book was telling me to instead of trying to figure out what it was asking me to do by looking online. The recipe said to cut the plantains lengthwise. Even now, I’m not really sure what that means, but I think the book was asking me to slice this in the opposite manner than I did.

In terms of taste, the plantain rolls were great. As suggested in the cookbook, I used the Shrimp Enchilados (p. 234) as the filling. I was worried that the combination of shrimp and plantains would be incredibly weird, but it really wasn’t. It was time consuming to make these, but they were good, even if I made them wrong.

photo 2Cuban Chicken Pot Pie (p. 246)

If I were picking recipes I wanted to try, I wouldn’t have picked this recipe. Not because I don’t like chicken pot pie (because I do) but because, how is this Cuban? Wiki tells me that chicken pot pies originate in the US and there’s no ingredients in this that make it particularly Cuban (chicken, mixed vegetables, some white wine.)  Some of Raquel’s recipes explain their significance. This one doesn’t.

For a cookbook entitled The Cuban Kitchen, it seemed bizarre to have generic American foods included.

The crust didn’t work for me when I followed the recipe. It was so dry and crumbly. I had to add an incredible amount of water just to get the dough to stick together at all, let alone roll out. I don’t know if the measurements are off or what, but something wasn’t working right which led to some strange looking crust. (ps, ignore my poor quality photos, I broke my SLR lens.)

Unfortunately, this recipe was lackluster. It didn’t have much flavor and the crust was dry. With a recipe that wasn’t working and flavorless chicken . . . meh.

photo 1San Pedro Mixed Salad (p. 196)

I admit, I didn’t quite follow the exact recipe for this salad due to my forgetfulness (I forgot to get watercress and cabbage.) I replaced the greens for lettuce. Beyond that, I followed the recipe. The flavor of the salad dressing was nice and the ingredients in the salad made for a hearty, healthy salad.

photoSugared Peanuts (p. 410)

The last recipe I made from this book were the sugared peanuts. Again . . . The directions just weren’t very clear. From my reading of the recipe, it should take a little over 10 minutes to get these peanuts done. In reality it took nearly 40 minutes. Clarity in timing is important to me in a cookbook, so I can determine if I truly have time to make a certain recipe.

The peanuts themselves were fun and a good dessert.

Overall: The cookbook was lacking for me, based on this smattering of recipes. The recipes were not always easy to follow because of the lack of clarity in the instructions. Timings were off, some of the recipes just didn’t work, and the flavors weren’t incredibly strong. The stories in the cookbook though were fun and gave some context to the cookbook as a whole.

weekend cooking* I’m also sharing this cookbook review with Small Victories Sunday
I may steal her weekly recap over here in the future.

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11 responses

  1. Looks like a successful book. I’ll have to look for it. BTW: You are not infringing on copyright if you share a recipe in the context of a review. But I understand your hesitancy.

  2. Even though the book wasn’t entirely successful the recipes you’ve made look good and it’s a great project to try. I occasionally like to get cookbooks out of the library too and try recipes that otherwise I might not.

  3. It just goes to show how hard it is to write cooking instructions that will mean the same thing to everybody. Whenever I try to write a recipe out for anyone, it ends up being twice as long as the original!

  4. I love Cuban food and have a cookbook collecting addiction. Too bad the recipes were hard to follow because the food you made looks pretty delicious! I love, love, love plantains!

    I started getting cookbooks from the library too. I have a few at home that I’d like to review and post on my blog. Stopping by from Weekend Cooking.

    I do hope you’ll stop by and share some of your reviews on my Small Victories Sunday linky which also has my reading and cooking recap from last week and my goals for next week!

    http://momssmallvictories.com/small-victories-sunday-7-one-make-comeback/

  5. I love cookbook reviews. They introduce me to books & cuisines I wouldn’t usually try, and that’s always a good thing. Too bad this one didn’t work out! I hear you on vague recipes – that’s just not helpful. Hope your next experience is better!

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