Thursday, 14 November 2013

Cuban Cuisine: Oxtail Soup- Rabo Encidido

Cuban Oxtail Stew recipe - Receta de Rabo Encendido Cubano

 "Rabo Encendido" (literally means Lit Tail) is more of a stew than a soup, at least the Cuban version, and there are as many versions as there are Cuban Chefs. I made this the other day and it actually tastes better the next day.  You can make it with or without the chocolate powder. It's delicous hearty stew to be eaten on cold days to warm you up.

4 pounds oxtail, cut in chunks

Flour for dredging meat

1/4 cup olive oil

Two onions, chopped

Two green peppers, chopped

4 cloves garlic, mashed with 1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon unsweetened chocolate powder (for a slight mole taste)

One can (12 ounce) tomato sauce

One cup red wine

2 1/2 cups beef broth

1 cup dice potatoes

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

Dredge the meat with flour. In a large pan or Dutch oven, brown the meat on both sides in the oil, approximately five to six minutes. Remove meat. Sauté the onions and green pepper in the same pan. When the onions start to get translucent, add the mashed garlic and cook for one additional minute.

Add the tomato sauce, wine, beef broth and all spices. Add the potatoes, carrots and celery. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer for two hours or until meat is tender on low heat, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. Add additional beef broth if needed.

Remove bay leaves, serve. This is delicious by itself or rice as an accompaniment.

Bueno Provecho !

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Mayan Hot Chocolate

Mayan Hot Chocolate

In Mexican ancient civilizations, before the Spanish conquistadors imported chocolate to Spain and added sugar, the ancient Mayans and Aztecs drank the bitter cacao

("Ka-Kow") mixing it with wine, and adding spices: vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, and chile.  Remember when Juliet Binoche adds chiles to her chocolate in the movie Chocolat ? Well, you don't have to be a movie star or an Aztec Emperor to make your own Mayan Hot Chocolate with this ancient recipe of chile-infused milk, cinnamon, nuts and vanilla. This is an excellent drink when the weather is cold or to treat yourself after a long days work, surely, it will warm you up and soothe your soul.


1 chile pepper, cut in half, seeds removed (with gloves)

5 cups whole or lowfat, or nonfat milk

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1 to 2 cinnamon sticks

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate or 3 tablets Mexican chocolate, cut into 1/4"pieces

2 tablespoons sugar or honey, or to taste

l tablespoon almonds or hazelnuts, ground extra fine

Whipped cream


In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat water to boiling; add chile pepper. Cook until liquid is reduced to 1 cup. Remove chile pepper; strain water and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cream or milk, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick until bubbles appear around the edge. Reduce heat to low; add chocolate and sugar or honey; whisk occasionally until chocolate is melted and sugar dissolves. Turn off heat; remove vanilla bean and cinnamon stick. Add chile-infused* water, a little at a time, tasting to make sure the flavor isn't too strong. If chocolate is too thick, thin with a little more milk. Serve in small cups and offer ground almonds, hazelnuts and sesame seeds and whipped cream.

Serves 4-6

*Chile can be infused in Milk instead of water

Enjoy !

To Learn More Have a Peak at this Blog on Ancient Civilizations and  History of Chocolate

This article was written by Sabrina Rongstad-Bravo

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Monday, 4 November 2013

Pumpkin Spice Blend- Add Some Spice to Your Life !

Pumpkin Spice Blend is easy to make and it's nice to have a jar on hand during the Fall and holiday season. You can add it to your Pumpkin Flans, Pumpkin Pies, Pumpkin Enchiladas, Pumpkin Pancakes, and Pumpkin Stews. You can also use it to marinate on Meats and even hot chocolate for a nice warm spicey note. It's nice if you can have these spices already on hand. I try to buy them in bulk at the Indian and Persian stores in Los Angeles. Then, I put them in nice jars ( mayonaisse jars or jelly jars) that I have collected and store them for when I need it. I put in my Pumpkin Flan which I will be writing about soon and in my Hot Chocolate.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe:
2 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Ginger
2 Teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1/2 Teaspoon Clove

Multiply the amount of Spices depending how much quantity you would like, put in a nice jar and store it in a cool place. Use your imagination, enjoy on cakes, toasts, meat, for a Latin Twist just add a bit of Chile Pepper, Cayenne or Jalapenos.

More in Sabrina's Latin Kitchen, coming soon The History of Spices series.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Gazpacho Andaluz

Gazpacho" is cool, refreshing and flavorful start to a meal on a hot summer day. This soup is eaten often in the southern part of Spain called Andalusia, the region from which is originates. Eat gazpacho from a soup bowl, or drink it from a glass. Either way, it is tasty, refreshing and very healthy, since it is made from nothing but fresh vegetables and a bit of oil and vinegar. During the hot weather, do what the Spaniards do - Make a batch of gazpacho and keep it in a glass pitcher in the refrigerator for whenever you need a cool drink.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Chill: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 6 Servings


  • 3 lb. ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 2 slices of white bread, crust removed
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 green bell peppers (or any sweet green pepper)
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • Garnish:
  • 1 tsp each of cucumber and green pepper, finely chopped
  • 3-4 croutons (optional)


Soak the bread in a small amount (few tablespoons) of water. Gently remove and “squeeze” dry.

Tip: The easiest way to peel tomatoes is to boil water in a medium saucepan. As soon as water boils, turn off heat and place the tomatoes into the hot water for 1 minute. Carefully remove hot tomatoes. The skin will rub off easily.
Place the tomatoes, bread, cucumbers, onions, garlic and peppers in a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth. All the ingredients may not fit at one time, so you may have to fill the blender several times.
Once gazpacho is completely blended, pour it into a large non-metallic bowl. Stir in the oil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Garnish with the chopped vegetables and croutons, if desired. Serve gazpacho chilled.
Shortcut to Chilling the Soup: Place ice and water in a large bowl or pot and place in sink. Put the bowl or glass blender containing gazpacho into the ice water. Stir the gazpacho to ensure it cools evenly.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Authentic Paella Valenciana Recipe

PAELLA VALENCIANA- By Chef Sabrina Rongstad de Bravo

Here's an authentic Paella Valenciana recipe that I developed through time by practicing
and using other people's recipe, and then practicing some more, experimenting here, experimenting there. Through time, I developed my own style and just learned to make my own version based on my own intuition and taste. There are also simpler versions of Paella on this blog if your new to making Paella, go there first.

This is the Paella Recipe I used when I taught the Paella Valenciana class on March 28th at 
Whole Foods, Third and Fairfax location it is the first class in three part series for Taste of Spain classes this Spring 2013.

Serving: 4-6 People ; Time: 2 hrs and 3o minutes
·       4 Cups of Bomba Rice. Calasparra or Short Grain Rice

·       1 pounds of Medium Frozen Shrimps
·       1  Dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
·       1 Dozen  mussels, scrubbed

·       1- 3  pound Frying Chicken – cut into pieces
·       2 Spanish Chorizos, casings removed.

·       ½  cups frozen peas
·       ½  pound French Green Beans; trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
·       1 onion, chopped
·       4 Garlic Cloves- crushed
·        2 large tomatoes- 1- (150z) Can of Whole tomatoes, drained and crushed.
·       1/2 Jar of Piquillio Peppers or 1 Red Peppers julienned

·       1 tablespoons saffron or generous pinch
·       3  tablespoons of pimentón paprika (Smoked Paprika)
·       1/2  Teaspoon Oregano
·       ½ Teaspoon Rosemary
·       1 Teaspoon Thyme
·       Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
·       1 sprig  of Fresh Parsley

·       ¼ cup olive oil
·       * Bomba Rice  NEEDS MORE STOCK- 12  cups ( 3 Quarts) of homemade or store-bought chicken stock
·       * If using Short Grain Rice = 8 Cups ( 2 Quarts ) of homemade or store bought chicken stock.
·       ¼  cup white wine
·       1 lemon – cut in wedges

1.     Place cut up chicken chunks in a large bowl and add 4 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle chicken with Paprika, Rosemary, Oregano and Thyme and 1 teaspoon salt; turn chicken to coat. Cover chicken and let marinate, refrigerated, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
2.     Pour Chicken Broth in a bowl, crush saffron between your fingers and add to broth. Doing this allows the broth to be infused with the saffron giving the paella a very fragrant flavor.
3.     Place a 20-inch paella pan with 3-inch sides over desired heat source. Once the oil is hot sear the chorizo . Remove and Reserve.
4.     Sear Chicken until well caramelized, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve.
5.     Take out the Chicken and Chorizo and place aside, leaving the frond of the Chicken and chorizo in the pan.
6.     In the same pan, leaving the frond of the chicken and chorizo, sauté the sofrito. Making a sofrito- Spanish mire poix ( onions, tomato and garlic) , add onions sauté until they are translucent, then, add half of the garlic and then the tomatoes sweat until they are caramelized. Sweat the sofrito for 5- 10 minutes, until the flavors meld together in a jelly like consistency.
7.      Add the rice making a cross in the Paella pan,  fold in the rice with the sofrito making sure that the sofrito coats the rice and the flavors of the sofrito meld together.
8.     Add the  stock along with the white wine to rice mixture. Turn up the heat until it boils, rotating the pan for even cooking, without stirring, as the stock begins to simmer and the rice begins to absorb the stock. Continue cooking, rotating the pan often, as the rice swells and absorbs the stock. Cook until the rice is almost tender. Do not mix the rice too much. *If using Bomba rice or Short Grain Rice add the stock to the mixture gradually as you would if you were making a risotto.
9.     Add haricort verts or French Green Beans cut in half
10.  Give the Paella a good shake, do not stir rice. When you see that the rice is cooked al dente, put the chicken and chorizo back in the pan, tucking the chicken pieces and chorizo neatly inside the rice, give it a bit of swirl with a spoon, but not too much.
11.   When the rice starts to fill up the pan, Add the clams and Mussels. Fold into Paella. Arrange mussels around outside edge of pan, pointing up. Mussels are done with they open. If they don’t open discard.
12.  Add the shrimps, fold into the Paella, they will cook in 8 minutes, they are done when they are pink.
13.  Add the frozen peas for about 5 minutes more fold in as Garnish. Scatter peas on top of paella. (If the liquid evaporates before the rice is tender, add more hot stock.) Cook without stirring, allowing rice to absorb all of the liquid
14.   Remove pan from fire and let it sit. Put aluminum foil or tea towels on the Paella, let it sit for 5 minutes.
15.   Unfold aluminum; add piquillo peppers as a garnish. If you can’t find piquillio peppers, use julienne strips of red pepper is a nice substitute. Smoke red peppers on a grill with a high flame, when they have black on them they are smoky, take them off put them on a plate or directly put onto Paella like a wheel.
16.  Garnish with parsley and  lemon wedges.

Voila you have yourself a wonderful Paella that will taste better the next day !

Bueno Provecho !

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Taste of Spain Class at Whole Foods-- Paella Valenciana !

PAELLA VALENCIANA- By Chef Sabrina Rongstad de Bravo

I am very happy to announce that I am getting myself out there with Sabrina's Latin Kitchen.  I taught Authentic Paella Valenciana class on March 28th at Whole Foods, Third and Fairfax location .  This was the first class in a Culinary Series, Taste of Spain, there will be more classes to follow. So Watch this space !

Here are some of the highlights of that class, it was a lot of fun with a lot of student interaction and many people asking a lot of questions. I gave everyone a chance to look at saffron and to smell it. I called in for class participation and we had a few enthusiastic volunteers.

Cathy Quien, pitching in and giving everyone an aromatic whiff of the sea food smelling saffron.

The Taste of Spain Class watching the Paella simmering slowly.

I highly recommend using Bomba rice as this is rice dish, Bomba Rice or Short Grain rice absorbs the flavor of the liquid better than most rices since it absorbs three times the amount of liquid. Paella has a long history that originated in the country side in Spain with the peasant people of Spain, just like Flamenco dance, later both of these iconic art forms became modernized and popularized by the masses, but if you look deeper they started with the common ordinary people. Flamenco with the outcast gypsies and Paella with the peasants.

For me, I was introduced to Paella from my Cuban boyfriend's Mother. Later, at celebrations and family get togethers we would often dine at El Cid in Los Angeles,
there Paella isn't the best, but it was my Mother's attempt to introduce us to Spanish culture, the Flamenco there is phenomenal, and I highly recommed going there with your friends. I often taking my Spanish students there. Here is an authentic Paella Valenciana dish, it's really fun to make but you will need some patience because there are a lot of steps, but once you do it 2-3 times, you should be able to do it with your eyes closed and then make your own Paella. After all, Paella is made with whatever is in your house, and it's common Arabic-myth that Paella was made with baqiyah, ( Arabic Script ) which means left overs. 

 Whatever you do, don't skimp on the saffron or the rice. If you can't afford Bomba rice, use Short grain rice ( also highly absorbent), and if you can't find Short Grain Rice, use Long Grain. Remember to add salt to the saffron infusion but do it in 1/4 teaspoon increments.

An Authentic Paella Recipe made in about 1 and half hours. The process of making Paella is enjoyable : Rice, Saffron, Chicken, Pork, Shrimp, Mussels, Haricort Verts and Peas, garnished with Piquillo peppers and lemon.  A delight to the senses and the spirit ! Ole ! 

Paella is a great dish for parties, big or small and it's fun to make with a group of people.  Sangria makes a great accompaniment. Both taste better the next day ! See for yourself !

Ole and Buen Provecho ! :)

To Read More about The History of Flamenco !

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Simply Sangria Recipe


To me, I have always thougth of sangria as nectar of the gods, something about the combination of wine and fruit gets me all tingly and happy inside. Here is a traditional Sangria recipe that leaves room for variation and improvisation.

  • 3 1/4 cups ( 26 fl. oz) dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Juice of 1 large orange
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 large orange, sliced thin crosswise
  • 1 large lemon, sliced thin crosswise
  • 2 medium peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz) club soda


Combine all the ingredients except for the club soda in a large punch bowl or serving pitcher, mixing well. Refrigerate overnight. Immediately before serving, mix in the club soda for added fizz. Ladle into nice wine goblets !

Buen Provecho ! Bon Apetit ! Here's to Your Health ! Salut !


All Recipes courtesy of  Sabrina Rongstad de Bravo

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Gambas al Ajillio - Sizzling Garlic Shrimp

A truly classica tapa, Gambas al Ajillio, a splash of brandy or sherry gives it a nice aromatic flavor. Top with crush pepper flakes gives a nice bite at the end. This is a quick and easy dish to make that will have your guests begging for more. What more can you ask for !

  1. Heat olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and paprika in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and the garlic has turned golden brown, increase heat to high and add the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp turn pink and opaque, about 3 minutes.
  2. Deglaze the pan with sherry or lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with chopped parsley

This article was written by Sabrina Rongstad-Bravo

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Traditional Aioli - Garlic Mayonnaise

 Traditional Aioli


2 garlic cloves, pressed

1/4 teaspoon (or more) coarse kosher salt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preparation: Mash garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt in small bowl until paste forms. Whisk in mayonnaise, olive oil, and lemon juice. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

This article was written by Sabrina Rongstad-Bravo
Share |

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

This article was written by Sabrina Rongstad-Bravo
Share |

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Tapas: Patatas Brava- Spicy ( Feisty) Potatoes

Patatas Bravas" or Bravas Potatoes is one of the classic Spanish tapas dishes and is served in bars all over Spain. The sauce is a bit spicy from the Tabasco, hence the name bravas, which means "fierce." This is a quick and simple tapa recipe.

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • salt to taste*
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups Spanish olive oil for frying
  • 1 - 16 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 2 tspns. sweet Spanish paprika ( Pimenton)
  • 1 small onion ( chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves ( chopped)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • a pinch of chilli powder
  • a pinch of sugar
  • chopped fresh parsley for garnish

    This bravas potato recipe makes 4 servings as an appetizer.

    Peel the potatoes. Cut potatoes into 1/3" to 1/2" chunks as follows: Cut the potato lengthwise, then cut it lengthwise again. You should have four long pieces. Now, cut each of those pieces into 3-4 pieces, cutting crosswise. This should give you nice bit-sized pieces, small enough to use a toothpick to skewer. Sprinkle with salt*. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or fry in a pan.

    Pour olive oil in a wide, deep frying pan, with a heavy bottom. Heat the oil on medium high until hot. To test the oil, carefully place one piece of potato in the oil. It is hot enough if the potato immediately fries. If there is no bubbling/frying, the oil is not hot enough and the potato will absorb too much oil. Once the potatoes are fried(about 10 minutes), use a slotted spoon or spatula to remove and set them aside to drain.

    For Sauce: 
    Prepare ahead by heating the oil in a pan,Using a small 8-inch frying pan, put 1-2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the pan. Heat over medium heat.
    Pour tomato sauce into the pan and "saute" the tomato sauce for 5 minutes.
    Add the onion and fry for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato purée, paprika, chilli powder, sugar and salt and bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer for 10 minutes until pulpy. Set aside for up to 24 hours.
    Place the potatoes on a plate or in a wide open dish. Pour the sauce over the potatoes and serve warm, with toothpicks. You can eat the Patatas Bravas with a garlicky Alioli sauce.

    Aioli Sauce is coming up next in Learning Spanish is Fun.

    *Tips from Sabrina's Kitchen, Use Sea Salt always, Baelene from the South of France happens to be  my favorite.

    Share |

    Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

    Saturday, 9 March 2013

    Tapas: Champiñones al Ajillo- Mushrooms in Sherry

    Few tapas taste more Spanish than Champiñones al Ajillo, dripping with olive oil, garlic and dry Spanish Sherry.

    To make this tapa even more authentic, be sure to serve the mushrooms with plenty of fresh, crusty bread to mop up the delicious juices.


    •1/4 cup (2 fl. oz) olive oil

    •4 cups (8 oz) mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered

    •6 cloves garlic, minced

    •3 tablespoons dry sherry

    •2 tablespoons lemon juice

    •1/2 teaspoon dried red chile, seeded and crumbled

    •1/4 teaspoon Spanish paprika

    •Salt and pepper, to taste

    •2 tablespoons chopped parsley


    Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the mushrooms over high heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Lower the heat to medium and add the garlic, sherry, lemon juice, dried chile, paprika, and salt and pepper.
    Cook for about 5 minutes or until the garlic and mushrooms have softened.
    Remove from the heat, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve on small earthenware platters.

    Serves 4

     10 minutes preparation + 12 minutes cooking

     Difficulty: Medium


    This article was written by Sabrina Rongstad-Bravo
    Share |

    Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious