Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nitza-thon: A Tale of Thanksgiving Sides

If I would have tried to pick the three ugliest sides for my Cuban Thanksgiving table this year, I wouldn't have been as successful.

What ugly-looking dishes. Not bad tasting, just real feo.

This year, my goal was to find some make-ahead options. Not necessarily make-ahead by a few days, but rather just dishes that I could have ready in the morning before leaving to Tia Gladys' annual luncheon. And that I could make while hosting my cousin in the morning during our easy Cuban bakery brunch. Islas Canarias party croquetas, pastelitos and all.

Recipe #240: Pudín de Espinacas was first on the list to prepare and I started on Wednesday night. I completely cooked the dish through and it looked real pretty with it's bright green and butter yellow colors.

This dish is a spinach pudding, or maybe a spinach souffle. I'm still not sure. But after reheating it before dinner on Thursday, the pretty bright green turned into a dark green that resembled all sorts of bathroom jokes.

Next time, I'll prep until the cooking part and leave in the fridge overnight.

Half of it was eaten, but I'm not sure if it was out of pena (consideration), or because it was tasty. It tasted alright to me. I received one positive review from Jackie, that was actually looking for something green, as this was her third meal of the day.

Recipe #242: Papas en Salsa Blanca is a dish that had great potential. Potatoes and onions in a cream sauce. There should have been magic happening in that dish. I'm not sure what went wrong, looks-wise.

In doubling the recipe because of the large crowd, I had too many layers and too much cream. The black pepper stayed at the bottom of the blender, which created a gritty look as the black pepper came out last to cover the dish.

Maybe I should have increased the recipe by 50% instead of doubling it. Maybe I shouldn't have covered the dish? Nitza doesn't indicate whether to cover it or not. I covered it, which may have been why there was so much cream. Maybe this should just be baked in the oven.

Friday morning quarterbacking.

Finally, for dessert, Recipe #485: Flan de Calabaza.

I had been warned. I had been told there wasn't enough cornstarch in the recipe. I even had one of our resident Cuban home-cooked meals experts telling me she uses up to 10 Tablespoons of cornstarch (recipe calls for 6T).

But, I follow each recipe to the letter as part of The Project, to make sure I follow it as Nitza designed. I didn't alter it to avoid breakage.

So, while I thought I was break-free at the pre-flip, a la hora de los mameyes (when push came to shove) and it was time for the flip, it broke.

I can only imagine what you're saying to yourself right now. "En Cuba, esto no pasaba". I know, this would have never happened in Cuba.

The spinach would have been greener and the potatoes would have been golden. And the flan, well, the flan wouldn't need any additional maicena (cornstarch), my dear. Not one bit. The maicena in Cuba would have avoided all possibility of breakage.

Ay Cuba. Tus niños lloran.
Dear, Cuba. Your children miss you and your better ingredients.

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