Parties sometimes come together without much of a reason. Our friend Sandi Levitsky-Connor, who we’ve profiled recently with her Jedi-master empanada making skills, decided to have a mega cooking and eating session at her house and invite a couple of friends over. As it was also my wife’s birthday that week, it also became an occasion for eating cake, which needs no excuses at all.
Sandi, who is a fantastic cook, and loves all sorts of cuisines, decided to make this party Latin themed. Dishes from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Trinidad, Peru, Honduras and Spain were prepared, with the assistance of our friends Eric Eisenbud and Efrain Raices from NJ Les Marmitons.
Green plantains. When you see this on a table, you know what’s coming.
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Our mutual friend and NJ Les Marmitons president Efrain Raices. We badly needed him because you just can’t have a bunch of Jews make Latino food without actual Puerto Rican supervision.
When you’re cooking, you need stuff to munch on. To go with the Latin theme, we had some Manchego and Cabrales cheese, along with caper berries and olives. Sandi also baked several loaves of Olive and Chorizo breads for the occasion.
A Peruvian tuna ceviche, just prior to mixing.
Ceviche Mise en Place.
Mixin’ it up.
Giving the ceviche an extra hit of Naranja Agria, sour orange.
The Muy Flaco Eric Eisenbud mixes a Muy Rico chocolate cake.
The proud papa.
Our host, Sandi Levitsky Connor, proudly displaying Pernil, Cuban-style roast pork.
Roast Pork closeup.
Peruvian Chile peppers with soft cheese in a blender, which will be used for a cheese sauce to be poured over boiled sliced potatoes for a Peruvian-style warm potato salad.
Asparagus wrapped with salami and cured ham, ready to hit the oven.
Fryin’ up the plantains. These were sliced of as chips, drained, salted, and immediately eaten.
This is the first fry for green plantains destined for Tostones, Puerto Rican/Cuban smashed fried plantains.
These look good enough to eat, but aren’t ready yet.
Honduran-style Seafood Chowder, similar to an Italian-American Cioppino.
Efrain and Eric work the stove.
Time to toss in the shellfish. At the last minute, the fish, scallops and shrimp will also be thrown in, as they cook quickly.
Eric plates the ceviche appetizer.
Honduran seafood chowder, finished.
Honduran seafood chowder, plated. It tasted as good as it looked.
A heaping plate of Pernil and beef.
Curry Coconut Rice with Red Beans, a rich Trinidadian spin on a Cuban/Puerto Rican staple.
The parade of desserts — Spanish Flan, prepared by one of our guests, chocolate cake and pineapple upside-down cake.
A wonderful Pineapple Upside Down cake baked by Sandi’s husband, Tony.
Chocolate birthday cake close-up.
Rachel blows out her birthday candles.