A Cuban New Year

Waving to drivers honking at us

I despise the New Year. The expectations, the goals that will never be accomplished, and everyone telling you how this year they are going to be ‘healthy’. I was happy to be able to spend the holiday outside of the States, celebrating with new traditions in Havana, Cuba. New Years traditions did not involve much of confetti poppers and loud music in Cuba. Tradition’s focused on growth and starting fresh. There were two practices we took part, the first included throwing out water from the windows of the house. The belief is that this will clean out the bad spirits in the house. An additional tradition, that has become my new favorite, is to walk around the block with a suitcase. This ensures that the individual will travel/get out of the country in the upcoming year.

My favorite part of traveling to a new country, is trying the cuisine, obviously. Restaurants are different than they are in America, because of the government structure. Restaurants are either privately run, Paladares, or State run. Throughout my time in Cuba we ate in mostly Paladares, they have better quality ingredients and more creative recipes. Not only that, but we visited many famous bars, including Sloppy Joes.

Rum and Cokes were always on the table and I have to say they were often poured with a heavy hand. I was there for a short period of time and did not get to try everything that I wanted to. Ropa Vieja, Paella, and Croquetas all were tasted and even something familiar. However, I tried Congrí (black beans with white rice) and the black beans themselves became an obsession. I understand that this dish does not sound exciting, but the flavors are like no other, slightly spicy and smokey. It has become my goal now to recreate this recipe at home.

This year I am focusing on doing more things that I enjoy, like cooking and writing about food, just because. Don’t worry about making ridiculous goals this year. Do more of what makes you happy.

Made with Love,

Hannah

Antoni Porowski’s Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto

I have been dying for Antoni’s cookbook, Antoni in the Kitchen, since it came out, dropping hints to family and friends as the holiday’s approached. Thankfully my mother listened and gifted me with a signed copy of the book. I was thrilled, sharing with my family that I was going to Julie and Julia my way through this cookbook. Now that the new year is upon us a goal of mine has been to dedicate my Sunday’s to a home-cooked meal. For the first Sunday of the year, I started with Antoni’s Roasted carrots with a Carrot Top Pesto. The recipe is as follows from Antoni’s cookbook, which I highly recommend you go out and buy right now!

Ingredients

  • 2 Bunches of Carrots with the tops!
  • 1 1/2 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the Pesto
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Carrots
  • Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
  • 1 Small Garlic Clove
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 Cup whole-milk Greek Yogurt ( I used no-fat Greek Yogurt and it still taste amazing)
  • Ground Black Pepper

Let’s Get Cooking

Preheat the the oven to 425F and make sure the racks are in the the middle and lower part of the oven.

Cut off the green tops of the carrots leaving about and inch of the stem. SAVE THE CARROT GREENS! Rinse off the carrots and place them on a baking sheet. Though not recommended I always line my baking pans with aluminum foil for easy clean up.

Washed Carrots with Green tops cut off

Drizzle the carrots with the vinegar + oil + toss with salt.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. I baked mine for about 35. I like my carrots a little bit softer and I feel the bake time is based on your oven.

Carrot Top Pesto

Toast the Pine Nuts in the oven for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Collect enough carrot leaves to fill 2 cups.

Pulse Garlic + Pine nuts to create a paste in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor like me, I used a blender and it worked just fine!

Add Carrot greens + parmesan + 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse to combine

Add the 1/3 cup of Olive for the Pesto. If you’re completing this step in a blender like me, add half then pulse, then add the remaining oil and repeat.

Time to Plate

Spread 1/4 cup of greek yogurt onto the plate. I used the back of a spoon to spread the yogurt.

Add on the carrots + remaining greek yogurt + pesto + top off with pepper

Note from a Home Chef: When I made this recipe it was just for me, so I made it in a much smaller batch. While making it, I even forgot to purchase the pine nuts for the pesto (we all make mistakes) and it still tasted amazing. It is a thicker pesto, Antoni stated that he intended it to be that way and it fits perfectly with the dish.

Made with love,

Hannah