pastelitos de guayaba - guava pastry

I seems to be a generally held truth that love fades. Long relationships - I am often told - develop from passionate love to friendship, collaboration, team-work and habit as one copes with every-day preoccupations together. Even though one can find comfort and security in a long-time partner life together gets a bit boring and one is said to miss the adventures and excitements of the initial crush. This, I believe, is just wrong.

The thing is all types of love has to be earned and deserved. One can never take a partner for granted.

I'm sure everyone has their own ways to make their partner fall in love with them again...and again. This is one of my "love potions" (and it works every time!).

In Havana pastelitos de guayaba are sold in the streets for 2 Cuban pesos a piece and they have been one of my husbands favorite treats for as long as he (and I) can remember. So, when a Cuban friend of mine gave me half a kilo of guava paste as a good-by gift when I was leaving Havana a couple of weeks ago I just knew what to do with it.

I had been in said city doing fieldwork for my thesis for three months while my husband was in Sweden studying and as if reading my thoughts my friend handled me the package with the words: "When you two get up from bed after your reunion you can recover some of that energy lost by eating this..."

Well, the half-kilo of guava paste will make lots of pastelitos so I guess I'm guaranteed a long and happy marriage!

This Cuban brand of guava paste is actually rather known, at least in other Spanish-speaking countries. My mother, for example, remembers it from her childhood in the Canary Islands. I guess the lovely lay-out of the package hasn't changed either...

I didn't make my own short pastry to make these but they turned out great anyways!


one 450 g rich short pastry-sheet
some guava paste

The short pastry-sheet I bought has rather thick so i had to roll it a little bit thinner. This should, however, not be made with leaf-thin dough. Cut the dough in squares, put some guava paste in the middle of each square and fold the corners to the middle. Wet the corners with some water as you fold to make them stick. Put on a baking sheet. Beat an egg and paint the pastry with it. Bake in 225 degrees C for 15 minutes.

carrot buns

I've been trying to work from home this week -just like the last one - due to the unexpected evacuation of one of the buildings of the faculty. The resluts have been, well, varying... Today we had to make some bread and since I was at home this was the perfect excuse not to work for a couple of hours in the morning.
A quick scan of the Check bake-book (Rutiga bakboken) told me I had all the ingredients for these buns, except milk. And when in the store buying milk I just happened to see a package of frozen phyllo that got to be yet another excuse for delaying work until after lunch... You can se the result in the next post about Pastelitos de guayaba.
These buns have a lovely warm color and a wonderful taste (and aroma). They feel just right in season too - perfect in Gothenburg where the autumn rain just doesn't seem to stop. Ever.
16 buns
2 carrots (approx. 200g)
25 g fresh yeast
3/4 dl sunflower oil
5 dl milk
2 tsp salt
2dl wheatgerm
1,4 l wheat flour
Peel and grate the carrots. Warm milkand oil until tepid. Crumble the yeast in a bowl and add the milk mixed with oil. Stirr. Add salt, carrots, wheatgerm and most of the flour. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes. Form 16 buns and let rise for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees C. Bake for 10-12minutes.


warm fruit with rum

It's a terrible picture but a lovely dessert, I promise! The recipe is from the cookbook Tinas k (Tina's Kitchen, p. 105). I made it with fine dark Habana Club 7-year rum and well...what can I say? Wonderful! Perfect for a late rainy Novemberevening while watching The Big Lebowski for the 100th time.
Warm fruit with rum
serves 2-3 persons
2 oranges
2 apples
2 bananas
1 mango
1 tbsp butter
1,5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp powdered ginger
2 tbsp rum
Peel and cut the fruit in large pieces. Melt the butter in a large pan and fry the fruit a couple of minutes. Add the sugar and let it melt. Add ginger and stir gently. Add the rum just before serving with vanilla ice-cream.

falafel and friends

We had some friends from Stockholm over this weekend and decided to spend Sunday cooking and eating together. We made falafel and wrapped it up in thin soft bread (bought, not made) with a tomato salsa, vegetables and beautiful pink pickled turnip. as a side dish we made deep-fried cauliflower and onion. We were all happy with the result and so full we had to play some Dead or Alive on the xbox just to stay awake! This must be the best way to spend a Sunday...

We did not take notes on amounts and divided the shores so I haven't got exact instructions, just some guidelines to a perfect Sunday with falafel and friends.

[the secret to a perfect falafel might be to just relax and let the boys do the job...]


Soak chickpeas in water for at least 12 hours. Drain and grind with an immersion blender. Add garlic, parsley, salt, garam masala and curry. Grind some more. Form little balls and flatten lightly. Deep fry in oil and let drain before serving.

Tomato salsa

Chop fresh tomatoes, garlic, onion and a red chili. Fry in olive oil a couple of minutes and add tomato paste, some crushed canned tomatoes, salt and sugar. Boil for approximately 10 minutes.

Deep-fried cauliflower and onion

Slice the onion and break the cauliflower to small bouquets. Mix chickpea flour with a little water, salt and oregano to a thick paste. Dip the vegetables in the paste and deep fry in oil.


a love of my life - Louise

Louise loves to hunt things, sleep and get scratched under her little chin. On this picture she gets some sun in the living room window... I just love to look at her and the way she moves. She has a lovely personality, very independent and very curious.

The breed is exotic, the color red silver classic tabby and her official name S*KungBores Orchid Girl.

cuban coffee on a rainy friday morning

Thank the divinities for Cuban coffee! I'm actually not very fond of coffee and only drink it once or twice a week. When I drink it I'm extremely picky and the only one I really, really like is Cuban coffee.

Besides sugar, tobacco and rum, coffee must be what Cuba is known for internationally (OK, I guess music and communism are pretty known features too). Most people in Havana buy the rationed subsidised coffee sold by the state and, when running out of this, the one sold "in the street" (ie. the black market). Up until recently it was sold ground and mixed with roasted yellow peas in order to make the precious coffee last more. The only place you could find pure coffee was in stores operating in dollars or the Cuban equivalent to dollar and most people has very limited access to this currency...

Not even a year ago the Cuban state raised the prize of the rationed subsidized coffee and claimed this new expensive coffee was pure, without peas. According to some the coffee still have peas in it but what do I know...

I've always liked the mixed coffee best. It seems like the roasted and ground yellow peas gives it more body... But I can tell you I'm pretty much the only one with this preference. The pure coffee sold in the Cuban equivalent to dollars is considered of superior quality and when I voice my preference for mixed coffee most Cubans just roll their eyes: "crazy foreigner..."

Last time I went to Havana I found the famous Cuban brand Monte Rouge. No one I asked had ever tasted it but the rumor tell this is the best Cuban coffee. It it said to belong to Raúl Castro (Fidel Castros brother) and has also given its name to the best contemporary Cuban underground short film (where it also features). A famous brand indeed!
I had never seen whole coffee beans for sale in Havana so I was lucky to find these beautiful aromatic ones. Ground at home, made real strong in our classic moka espresso maker and mixed with plenty of sugar (Cuban style) it makes a rainy morning feel just fine!

stew with white beans and chorizo

I made this dish in Cuba - a country where a meal without rice and beans hardly is considered a meal at all - on a housewife-y Sunday specked with laundry (hand-washed!) and cleaning. It certainly revitalised why poor self after such a "hell-on-earth" experience. The white beans are not as popular in Havana as black or kidney beans but the Cuban friend I shared house with at the time loved the stew. The rich, a little hot and smoke-y flavour given by the chorizo contrast nicely with the mild neutral flavours of the beans and caladium and the sweetness of the pumpkin.

My plan was to make this stew with some beautiful black eyed beans I found in a farmers market. I bought 1lb (about 500g) and planned to use half of it on making this stew and the other half on a cold salad with raw onions, sweet pepper and vinegar. But things don't always turn out as one plans. Specially not in Cuba where the only thing one is said to be able to count on is the need to improvise. Planning is loosing one's time since reality there (for various reasons) seems to be particularly hard to predict. So: when I opened the little plastic bag the beans were full of grubs. There wasn't a bean without a tiny and absolutely circular hole in it and the little insects responsible for the holes jumped all over. I had to throw away everything and go buy white beans instead since black eyed beans are very rare in Havana. But - and this is also held as a general truth in the largest of the Antilles - tings turned out well in the end anyways! I suppose I'll make the same stew with black eyed beans some other day.

As always with stews they are even tastier a few hours after being made (am I the only person who prefer my food luke-warm?) or reheated the day after. Perfect to make on a Sunday when you have lots of time and then take with you in the lunch-box on Monday!

Eat it with rice and a nice salad. I particularly like the combination of chorizo with avocado so - if I had had some ripe avocados at home when I made it - i would have had a salad with avocados. And if I hadn't been so hungry after all the laundry and cleaning I might have had time to make some tostones too. As it was I and my friend just ate it with white rice...


Judias con chorizo - Stew on white beans and Chorizo

(serves approx. 4 persons)

1/2lb (250g) white beans
1 big onion
4-5 garlic cloves
1 red sweet pepper
2 medium sized caladiums (or potatoes)
1/2 small pumpkin
1 1/2 small chorizo (the sort that is supposed to be cooked)
1 1/2 dl of wine or sherry
1 tbsp tomato paste

Cook the beans until soft.

When the beans are almost ready it's time to prepare the rest of the ingredients:

Chop garlic, onions and pepper and fry a couple of minutes in oil. '

Peel and cut the caladium (or potatoes) and the pumpkin in big chunks (if the peaces are too small they will disintegrate when cooked).

Peel the chorizo (ordinarily they come with a "skin" that has to be removed) and cut in small cubes.

Add all the ingredients when the beans are soft and season with wine, tomato paste, cumin, salt and sugar.

Remember that the chorizo can be rather salty so be careful with the salt.

Ok, so, now comes the most difficult step. As in all Cuban bean stews it has to "cuajar"* which basically means it has to boil gently (without pressure but under a lid if you used a pressure cooker to soften the beans) until it has become thick and creamy and all the tastes have come fourth. If you have ever eaten a stew that has "cuajado" you will never want to eat a "watery" stew ever again! I let myself be guided by the sound of the boiling, the feeling of the stew as I stir it and the taste of the sauce. It's better to let it cook a few minutes too much than to end up with a watery, tasteless thing. In other words: don't panic about reducing the cooking time to preserve vitamins. That's not the priority here! Just be patient in a laid-back Caribbean way and everything will turn out just nice!


Specific notes on this stew:

I do NOT recommend you to skip the sugar! In my taste (and I'm not especially fond of sugar) white beans, just like black beans and black eyed beans, need a little sugar as it brings fourth their wonderful taste.

If you are vegetarian/vegan I guess you can exclude the chorizo but since the smoke-y flavour is the fun part of this dish you may want to substitute the chorizo with something vegetarian with a smoked flavour: sesame-oil? heavily roasted nuts? some smoked cheese crumbled over the served stew? Once I burnt my beans (making a totally different dish) and the result was a smoked taste...kind of... Anyway: be creative but don't just exclude the chorizo, replace it! (And please mail a post about the result here!)


General notes on Cuban bean stews:

Every country seems to have its own customs when it comes to boiling beans. In some countries one let the beans soak in water a couple of hours and then put them on the stove. In other countries (as in Cuba) one skip the soaking completely. Some use a regular pot while others use a pressure cooker. Some (like my parents) even put a regular pot with beans and water in the oven and let it boil slowly during the night. Choose your regular way and use a large pot, lots of water and NO SALT! The salt prolongs the time it takes for beans to soften.

Garlic and onion (and sometimes sweet pepper) fried in oil is called "sofrito" in Cuba and is used in a large variety of dishes, for example in bean stews, tomato sauces or ringled over "dry food" such as fufú, mashed caladium, boiled cassava or big chunks of boiled pumpkin. Be generous with the amount of oil if you want to be authentic, in Cuba one eats with a lot of fat! I suppose olive oil is the best choice but in Cuba that's very (VERY!) expensive so I used sunflower oil.

I haven't said anything about how much time it takes neither for the beans to soften or the stew to "cuajar". That's because it depends heavily on the quality of the beans. If your beans take an eternity to soften my mother-in-law has an advice for you: add a fork to the pot! I am unable to understand what that was to do with it but then again I'm only a beginner when it comes to Cuban cooking!


*My dictionary gives the following translation to the verb "cuajar": "m (zool.) rennet bag; va to curd, to curdle, to coagulate, to thicken, to jelly; to overdeck; (coll.) to please, to suit; vn (coll.) to jell, take shape; (Am.) to prattle; vr to curd, to curdle, to coagulate; to thicken, to jelly; to sleep sound; (coll.) to become crowded"

I guess "to thicken" would be the correct translation here although I also like "to please, to suit and to take shape". This is an essential word in Cuban cooking and loaded with cultural meaning! (Yes, I happen to be an anthropologist in the making...)


buns with apples and cottage cheese

Seems Gothenburg just can't decide if it's autumn or winter. The day before yesterday it was definitely winter. Today it's a nice autumn day with rapidly melting snow. Whether winter or autumn these buns will certainly warm your frozen soul and fill your house with a delicious smell. The recipe is inspired by Rutiga bakboken (the check baking book) where I mixed two of the recipes and altered some ingredients... In the end all turned out wonderful!

I used nice winter apples from my parents garden. They are the perfect blend of sweet and sour and have a soft and somewhat mealy pulp ideal for baking. The cottage cheese makes the buns deliciously moist...

As you might notice I use half the amount of yeast normally recommended for a dough this size. This is to prevent the buns from tasting yeast. I simply double the time for fermenting and the buns become nice and fluffy without the bad taste.

So, no more talking! Here comes the recipe:

24 buns

2 apples
25 g fresh yeast
50 g butter (or 4tbsp oil)
5 dl milk
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey
250 g cottage cheese
2 dl oat bran
ca. 1,3 l wheat flour

Peal and chop the apples. Melt the butter, add the milk and warm until tepid. Crumble the yeast in a bowl, add the milk-and-butter and stir until the yeast has dissolved. Add the apples, salt, honey, cottage cheese and oat bran. Stir. Add the flour little at a time stirring to prevent lumps. Let the dough rise for one hour. Make 24 buns and let rise for half an hour. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C. Bake for 8-10 minutes.