Kid-friendly Kid-Built Cuban Flatbread Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Kid-Built Cuban Flatbread

Recipe: Kid-Built Cuban Flatbread

Kid-Built Cuban Flatbread

by Erin Fletter
Photo by HandmadePictures/Shutterstock.com
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
12 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Kid-Built Cuban Flatbread

I'm intrigued with Cuba and hope to visit one day, and kids seem to LOVE Cuban food because of the literal explosion of flavor when the food hits your mouth. It has familiar foods that kids universally seem to like: bread, corn, beans, and cheese. But there is nothing dull about this recipe! This dish is delightfully complex yet incredibly simple to make with tender flatbreads, a generous handful of fragrant herbs, crunchy cucumber, and black bean and corn salad with a tangy-sour-sweet dressing. Other countries rely on spices in their cooking, but herbs are the workhorses of Cuban cuisine! There are no rules to making and eating this flatbread. As a family, we love exploring our local Latin grocery stores, and we gathered up all of the ingredients for this recipe for not much more than ten dollars. You can also find all of the ingredients in your local grocery store if need be (it's just not as fun of an adventure!) The melon cucumber mojito "mocktail" slushy is great to drink while enjoying the flatbread and salad. The cucumber mojito is also a fun way to show your kids a new way to enjoy healthy cucumbers. Don't leave your littlest partygoers out of the fun. Feel free to make one half for the kids and one half with the usual adult additions. It's a perfect backyard spring drink that will make the WHOLE family happy!!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • grate :

    to reduce food, like a carrot, to very small shreds or pieces of the same size by rubbing it on a tool with an outside surface that has holes with cutting edges (a grater).

  • sauté :

    to cook or brown food in a pan containing a small quantity of butter, oil, or other fat.

  • tear :

    to pull or rip apart a food, like basil leaves, into pieces instead of cutting with a knife; cutting breaks cell walls more, so herbs can discolor faster.

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

Equipment Checklist

  • Skillet
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Whisk
  • Grater
  • Heat-resistant spatula or pancake turner
  • Kid-safe knife or paring knife to slice flatbread
scale
1X
2X
3X
4X
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6X
7X

Ingredients

Kid-Built Cuban Flatbread

  • 4 T olive oil + more for cooking and drizzling
  • 1 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free flour)**
  • 1 1/2 C warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 T fresh mint and/or cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 C grated queso blanco (or queso fresco/Monterey jack/Parmesan cheese) **(Omit for DAIRY ALLERGY or sub dairy-free/nut-free cheese)**
  • 2 T Charred Cucumber Corn Salad (see recipe)

Food Allergen Substitutions

Kid-Built Cuban Flatbread

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free flour in Flatbread.
  • Dairy: Omit queso blanco or substitute dairy-free/nut-free cheese

Instructions

Kid-Built Cuban Flatbread

1.
measure + whisk

Whisk together the 4 tablespoons oil, 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 cups warm water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 pinch of black pepper in a medium bowl. Let rest for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours to give the flour time to absorb the water. It will look like a thin pancake batter. While the batter rests, make the Charred Cucumber Corn Salad (recipe below). Then heat a non-stick skillet on your stovetop to medium heat.

2.
grate + tear

Grate about 1/4 cup queso blanco, and have kids tear up 1 tablespoon of mint or cilantro leaves.

3.
heat + spread

Add about a teaspoon of oil to the skillet and swirl to coat the bottom. Add 2 tablespoons of the prepared Charred Cucumber Corn Salad (see recipe) to your preheated, oiled skillet and spread it around. Whisk the flatbread batter quickly and then pour half into the hot skillet (or all if making a thicker flatbread), tilting the pan to coat the entire surface of the pan with the batter. Add the grated cheese and the mint and/or cilantro on top of the batter.

4.
flip + brown

After about 3 minutes, when the edges are firm, gently lift the flatbread and flip it. Cook on the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes, until both surfaces are dry and beginning to brown.

5.
slice + serve

Use a spatula to work your way under the flatbread and ease it from the pan. Slice it into wedges or squares, sprinkle with extra salt and pepper, a little more cheese if you like, and drizzle with olive oil. Repeat with any remaining batter and serve with the Charred Cucumber Corn Salad (see recipe) on the side or top.

Surprise Ingredient: Cucumber!

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Photo by Taras Grebinets/Shutterstock.com

Hi! I’m Cucumber!

"I'm as cool as a cucumber. Actually, I am a cucumber! I have a thick, dark green peel; I am longer than I am wide; and I am a fruit that's often used as a veggie! There are three types of cucumbers: slicing, pickling, and burpless. The slicing and burpless varieties, with or without their peels, are tasty and refreshing sliced, chopped, or minced in salads, sandwiches, salsa, sauces, appetizers, and smoothies or other drinks. The pickling cucumber eventually becomes a pickle (after its pickling spa treatment)!"

History & Etymology

  • Cucumbers are one of the oldest known cultivated vegetables. They have been grown for at least 3,000 years and are believed to have originated in India. 
  • The early Greeks or Romans may have introduced cucumbers to Europe. Records indicate that the French cultivated them in the 9th century and the English in the 14th century. Then Spanish explorers brought cucumbers to the Americas in the 16th century. 
  • Pickled cucumbers, or pickles, may have been produced first by workers building the Great Wall of China or by people in Mesopotamia's Tigris Valley. 
  • A 1630 book called "New England's Plantation" by Francis Higginson, describing plants grown in a garden on Conant's Island in Boston Harbor, mentions "cowcumbers." The cucumber may have been dubbed cowcumber due to thinking at that time that uncooked vegetables were fit only for cows.
  • The word "cucumber" comes from late Middle English, from the Old French "cocombre," from the Latin "cucumis."

Anatomy

  • The cucumber is a creeping vine plant that is part of the Cucurbitaceae or gourd family. Other members are melon, squash, pumpkin, and watermelon. Cucumbers grow on a vine, often in sandy soil. Sandy soil warms faster in the spring, giving cucumbers a more favorable growing environment. 
  • Cucumber length varies. Slicers are 6 to 8 inches, burpless 8 to 10 inches, and picklers are 3 to 5 inches long. 
  • Cucumbers have a mild melon flavor. Slicing cucumbers will have seeds in their flesh, preferably small, soft seeds. Burpless cucumbers are slightly sweeter with a more tender skin and are easier to digest. They may also have no or very few seeds.
  • "Cool as a cucumber" isn't just a catchy phrase. A cucumber's inner temperature can be 10 to 20 degrees cooler than the outside air. This is because it consists mainly of water, which also applies to watermelons, and it takes more energy to heat the water inside the cucumber than the air around it. No wonder these are such summertime favorites! However, we don't say "as cool as a watermelon," so how did this expression become part of our vocabulary? It may have come from a poem in John Gay's Poems, New Song on New Similes from 1732. 

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Cucumbers are ready to be harvested 50 to 70 days after planting. They are ripe when they are firm and bright or dark green. Slicing cucumbers will be six to eight inches long. Avoid leaving them on the vine too long, or their taste may become bitter and their rind tougher. 
  • At the store, look for firm cucumbers without blemishes, wrinkles, or soft spots. Organic cucumbers are the best choice to avoid pesticide residue, if available. In addition, washing them reduces the amount of residue and pathogens. 
  • If you don't eat your fresh, uncut cucumbers immediately, store them in your refrigerator crisper drawer in a plastic bag for up to three days if unwaxed and up to a week if waxed. 
  • You can eat slicing and burpless cucumbers by themselves, slice or chop them into salads, or blend them into sauces and smoothies. 
  • Pickling cucumbers are pickled whole or sliced in brine, sugar, vinegar, and spices. There are several kinds of pickles, such as sweet, bread-and-butter, gherkin, and kosher dill. 

Nutrition

  • Cucumbers are 96 percent water, have very little fat, and are low in calories. 
  • Cucumbers contain small amounts of the vitamins you need every day and 16 percent of the daily value of vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting.

 

History of Flatbread!

Photo by Carla del Moral/Shutterstock.com
  • Flatbread was one of the earliest foods produced by humans. Crumbs dated to be over 14,000 years old, found in Jordan, were likely from a flatbread made of grains like wild barley, oats, and wheat. Archaeological evidence has also been found from ancient civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Indus Valley.
  • Flatbreads generally consist of flour, salt, and water. They can be unleavened or leavened (with yeast or another raising agent) and originally may have been baked on a hot stone and later in clay ovens. Today, flatbreads may be cooked in some type of frying pan, on a griddle, or in an oven.
  • Flatbreads are present in many countries and cultures. They vary slightly and go by different names, including Native American frybread, North American johnnycake, Indian naan, Scottish oatcake, Filipino piaya, Turkish pide, Greek pita, Italian pizza, Salvadoran pupusa, and Latin American tortilla. We feature many of these in Sticky Fingers Cooking recipes!

Let's Learn About Cuba!

Photo by BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock.com
  • The Republic of Cuba is an island and country in the Caribbean Sea and is part of the North American continent. The country includes the main island of Cuba, Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth), and numerous minor archipelagos (island groups). 
  • Cuba's population is over 11 million, and 2.1 million live in Havana, the capital city. Its total area is 42,426 square miles. The official language is Spanish, and although there isn't an approved religion, many Cubans practice Roman Catholicism. 
  • The Cuban peso is now the only currency of Cuba. Until 2021, the Cuban convertible peso was also in circulation but is now retired. 
  • The government of Cuba is a Unitary Marxist–Leninist one-party (Communist) socialist republic. Its economy is based on its socialist government. Therefore, it is a state-controlled planned economy that thrives through various sectors tobacco farming, fish, coffee farming, and nickel mining. Recently, Cuba's constitution was changed to allow individuals to own private property such as small businesses and homes.
  • Even though Cuba is a developing nation, it has a 99.8 percent literacy rate, the tenth highest in the world, possibly due to the free education it provides. The government also offers free universal healthcare. 
  • Did you know that Cuba is only 90 miles from the United States? Havana, Cuba, is 105 miles from Key West, Florida. 
  • Because the island of Cuba resembles a crocodile or alligator from an aerial view, it is sometimes called El Cocodrilo or El Caimán. 
  • The Bee Hummingbird, native to Cuba and only two inches long, is the smallest bird in the world.
  • Baseball is especially popular in Cuba. In fact, some Cuban baseball players have come to the United States to play on Major League Baseball teams. 
  • Music and dance are very important in Cuba. Dances that originated there are the Danzón, Mambo, and Cha-cha-cha.
  • Christmas was banned as an official holiday in Cuba from 1969 to 1997. However, due to pressure from Pope John Paul II, when he visited the country in 1998, the government made Christmas a legal public holiday once again. 
  • On New Year's Eve, Cubans burn dolls as a symbol of putting away the bad times of the previous year as they look forward to new and good times during the new year.
  • Cuban cuisine includes a mix of Spanish and Caribbean foods and a lot of spices. Traditional foods include black beans, shredded beef, rice, and plantains. Family meal planning has to work around government food rationing, established in 1962.
  • A national dish of Cuba is "ropa vieja" ("old clothes"), which came from Spain. It is a slow-cooked beef stew with tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and spices and is often served with "Moros y Cristianos" ("Moors and Christians"), a dish of black beans mixed with rice and fried plantains.
  • Cubans have not typically written down their recipes, passing them on orally from generation to generation.

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Cuba?

  • Every child in Cuba between 6 years and 15 years of age must attend school, and every student wears a distinct uniform according to their grade level.
  • The toys kids play with in Cuba are often homemade, sometimes a combination of wood and leftover industrial parts, but they have fun with what they have.
  • Kids often play outside with little supervision. There is a sense of responsibility among the Cuban people, especially for the safety and well-being of kids!
  • Internet access is limited, but students may be able to use it at school. Instead of playing games on their computers or phones, you'll often see kids outside playing "las bolas" ("marbles"), "el pon" ("hopscotch"), or "cuatro esquinas" ("four corners"), a simple street baseball game using the four corners of an intersection as the bases. 
  • Popular sports for Cuban kids are baseball, boxing, volleyball, and basketball. 
  • For breakfast, kids may eat "tostada" (toast made with Cuban bread) dipped in "café con leche" ("coffee with milk") or chocolate milk. They may also have eggs with toast or rice. Meals often depend on the family's income and the availability of ingredients.
  • Favorite desserts include "pastelitos de guayaba" ("guava pastries"), "arroz con leche" ("rice with milk" or rice pudding), Cuban flan (made with canned evaporated and condensed milk), and "cake de ron" ("rum cake").

THYME for a Laugh

"Doctor, doctor, I’ve got carrots growing out of my ears! How did that happen?"

"I don’t know, I planted cucumbers there!"

That's Berry Funny

Why was the cucumber mad? 

Because it was in a pickle!

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