When I think of knishes, like most people, I think of New York Jewish deli-style discs of creamy potato or savory meat, enveloped by a flaky crust. Potato knishes are my favorite, because they act as a vehicle for as much good, grainy mustard as I see fit.
I will never tire of the classically Cuban iteration of savory and sweet found in guava and cheese, and I promise you that if given the opportunity, I will find ways to insert it into otherwise unsuspecting recipes. (My guava and cheese hamantaschen come to mind.) Naturally, it was only a matter of time before I infused one of my favorite Jewish recipes with a little taste of Cuba, and came up with a pull-apart challah stuffed with sticky guava paste and silky cream cheese.
Ropa Vieja, which literally translates to “old clothes,” or as my paternal grandmother would call them, “schmatas,” is the Cuban answer to a traditional Jewish brisket. Both use inexpensive cuts of meat that are slow-roasted until tender and falling apart, but Ropa Vieja takes it a step further, and actually calls for the chunks of meat to be shredded to resemble rags. This may seem like it would diminish the allure of the dish, but as Jewish brisket is usually reserved for the holiday table, a good Ropa Vieja is truly cause for celebration. Additionally, as it is important in the Jewish culture to pass our traditions from generation to generation, most Cuban families have had a recipe for Ropa Vieja for ages.