August 4, 2010

Cravings... lead to learning?

A little over a year ago, I moved from South Florida to Seattle, WA. I have really liked living here, and the food is great, but there are just some things you can't get here. I lived in Florida for my entire life before last year, and I was never too far from whatever I wanted to eat (even if that meant driving for 3 hours). Now, it's a whole different story.

A couple of months after I moved here, I realized that I would have to learn to make some of the favorite things that I took for granted in South Florida. One of the first on my list was pastelitos. In South Florida, especially Miami, you can get pastelitos on almost every corner. They are Cuban pastries that can have a sweet or savory filling, and they are delicious! I got a craving for them a few months after moving here, did some research, and started making them. 

Pastelitos are pretty easy to make, once you get the hang of it. I had two difficulties: finding guava paste and working with puff pastry. The solution to problem #1 was to either spend $6 for a bar at a specialty store or bring back a whole bunch on my next trip to Florida. The solution to problem #2 was to play around until I figured it out... and to watch Alton Brown teach me the tricks on Good Eats. Puff the Magic Pastry was the title of Season 4, Episode 11, and we basically learn that the number one rule of puff pastry is "keep it cold". This requires a lot of movement back to the freezer/refrigerator and keeping the sheet pan in the refrigerator until ready to bake. It seems like a lot of work, but it's really worth it.

I made guava, guava and cream cheese, sweetened cream cheese, and ground beef (the traditional four). I also made the mistake of bringing them to work, so now I get weekly requests for pastelitos. I think my next craving-learning experience will be Cuban Bread... mmmmm.

I am having trouble with my computer, so I will post pictures and a recipe later.

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