Cook The Books Julio

I managed to cook quite a few recipes from this months cook the books challenge. Check the challenge out here with grow and resist. The book Gran Cocina Latina by Maricel Presilla is seriously huge!  I did appreciate the background for the recipes, I was looking for traditional dishes that seemed like something the T-man and I would enjoy. I was determined to make as much as I could squeeze into my tiny kitchen and busy life. There were a few recipes that were home runs, but most were just okay.

Lets start out with the good stuff

The fried plantains were delicious and simple; both myself and the T-man gobbled them up so quickly I made them repeatedly throughout the month and will add them to my recipe repertoire for the future. So easy: simply slice the plantains fry for a bit dip in salt water squish flat (I used two paper plates for the squishing) then fry crispy and enjoy.

I also took on the task of making the cuban sandwiches including the bread. Having never made cuban bread and not reading the recipe completely (a common mistake I am destined to continue making) I arrived home from work at 5pm planning on making it for dinner that evening. Letting the dough rise overnight wasn’t an option, so I sped up the timing a bit. I took Maricel’s advice and instead of kneading I ran the dough through my pasta maker. The resulting sandwich was delicious. I am not that crazy about pork but the bread was amazing, it gets perfectly crisp when griddled. I will  be using that recipe again, hopefully with a little more advance planning 🙂

The Bread was amazing!

The Bread was amazing!

Moving onto the okay results

I made the recipe entitled “old clothes”, and thats kinda what the results look like, old grey clothes.

old clothes, kinda a good description

old clothes, kinda a good description

The flavor was decent but the beef a little stringy. We ate it taco style in flour tortillas, again with plantains.


I tried my hand at mole which was not as difficult as I thought it would be, but I wish there was a little more kick to the result. I also made the empenadas,  omitting the olives. They were pretty good, and convenient as you can refrigerate the dough and filling and then kinda make them on the fly, good for those late work nights. Although I think I will add cheese next time.

I made the nopales I always wondered how you were supposed to cook these, after reading the recipe and asking the hispanic ladies that I work with I set out to conquer these prickly leaves. Luckily the little market that I went to sells them already sliced and de-prickified. The resulting dish was reminiscent of green beans, although I should have rinsed a few more times because they were still a little slimy. We ate these along with chayote gratin; which was pretty good but would have been perfect if I had cooked the chayote a bit longer; and some cuban roast chicken which was a decent roast chicken in the end.

not a bad meal

not a bad meal

All in all most of the recipes were okay but not awesome. I am glad that I discovered a few to make again, and with such a large book, many more that I can try. It was nice to get into this cuisine living on the southern coast of Cali, this food is a great way to connect to the local culture. My favorite part was re-discovering the local hispanic market, what a place! I have been there a few times in the past but had forgotten how lovely it was, it was nice to get back there.

Santa Cruz Market

Santa Cruz Market

In the end it was a very productive cook the books month. Can’t wait to dive into Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones!!













One thought on “Cook The Books Julio

  1. We have yet to make successful fried plantains so we will have to try your method. Mark made a great mole at camp and it required an unbelievable amount of random ingredients. UGh! I wish I could jump on a plane and come eat all these wonderful things.

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