Celebrating Nat’l Sandwich Month with the Cuban Reuben

We’re continuing our celebration of National Sandwich month with a very special edition of our weekly series, “Food blogs we love.” Today we’re featuring Cuban-Jewish food blogger Jennifer Stempel, who shares with us her unique Latin twist on the traditional corned beef Reuben sandwich.

Who’s blogging: My name is Jennifer Stempel, a TV development executive who lives in Los Angeles with my rocket scientist husband. When I’m not developing new TV shows, I enjoy teaching cooking classes and blogging about my culinary adventures at my blog, The Cuban Reuben. Growing up, the kitchen was always where the action happened during any family gathering. I learned to cook at a young age by watching the matriarchs in my family work their magic. Eventually, they gave me small tasks, and little by little, my culinary abilities grew as I did.
Explain your blog name: I named my blog The Cuban Reuben in an effort to pay homage to my mixed background as a Cuban-American Jew. My inaugural post featured my namesake sandwich, which combines the best elements of my two favorite sandwiches: the Cubano and the Corned Beef Reuben. After all, who doesn’t like a good sandwich?

Blogging since: I’ve been blogging since January 2, 2013. It was my New Years’ resolution to begin a blog, and so far, the first one I’ve kept!

Blogging from: I blog from my beloved club chair whose grooves have worn in all the right places. Nobody is as comfortable in it as I am!

Most popular post: My most popular posts tend to be the ones that combine cultures in one plate, and share an interesting or unique story, like my Cuban Shabbat chicken, my kosher Passover Mojito-scented quinoa, and my picture-filled post on Challah bread. Some of my readers follow the blog solely for the stories, which my husband loves to hear, since it was his suggestion to share a story with each post.

What you’ve learned about food while blogging: I’m not afraid to try new things and take risks in the kitchen, but sometimes my dishes don’t always turn out as planned. It’s in these mistakes that the real lessons are learned, and my education about food and cooking occurs. It’s only after some trial and error that I have learned which unique flavors pair well together, and which leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Where do you get inspiration for your posts? I’m inspired by several different things, but many of my posts are inspired by recipes I found in my family cookbook. As a bridal shower gift, my mother gave me a binder full of the most loved recipes from both my family and my husband’s family. To me, it is one of my most treasured family heirlooms, and one I look forward to passing along to future generations.

Also, since my mom grew up on a farm in Cuba, my family has been eating from farm to table long before it was fashionable. Since I don’t live on a farm or have room for an urban garden in my home, I love to make new discoveries at my local farmer’s market. I often plan my weekly menu based on what is freshest and in season. The more colorful, the better.

What have you learned from blogging? With only six months of blogging under my belt, I definitely still consider myself a novice. It’s only when I look back at some of my earlier posts, and reflect on the stories I wrote and the pictures I shot, that I start to notice the growth. Blogging takes practice, and the more I blog, the more I learn about cooking, writing, photography, and even web design. The good news for me is that while it can sometimes be a lot of work to prepare a post, I’ve really enjoyed the process so far.

Where else can we find you online? You can “like” me on Facebook and find features of my work on sites like Forward, The Nosher and Be’chol Lashon.
What are your favorite food blogs? I follow SkinnyTaste.com pretty regularly, but in general I love to use Pinterest as a sort of guide and reference to what foods and recipes people are sharing. If it’s a popular pin or has an interesting spin, I might give it a try.

Here is Stempel’s recipe for a Cuban Reuben, a bocadito which combines classic Jewish deli flavors (sauerkraut and corned beef) with elements from the traditional Cuban sandwich (roasted pork).

The Cuban Reuben

1 French sandwich roll
4-5 slices, corned beef
3-4 Tbs., roasted pork, shredded
2 Tbs. sour kraut
1 dill pickle slice
3 slices Swiss cheese
Russian dressing and/or yellow mustard

Heat a sandwich press.
Slice bread in half, and lay two pieces side by side.
On one half, layer a slice of Swiss cheese, lean corned beef, sour kraut, and top with ½ slice of Swiss cheese.
On the other half, layer a slice of Swiss cheese, roasted pork, dill pickle slice, and top with ½ slice of Swiss cheese.
Add dressing or mustard, and close the sandwich. Press down on the top of the sandwich, flattening it a little.
Place the sandwich in the press, and close the lid tightly.
The sandwich is done when the cheese has melted, the meats have warmed, and the bread is crisp. Cut on the diagonal, and serve.


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