Culinary wizard and cafe owner Josefa Gonzalez-Hastings offers this extravagance of Cuban cooking as a celebration of her heritage, Many of the recipes were passed down to her from her mother and aunts; others are ""nuevo Latino cuisine"" - a fusion of traditional Cuban foods with modern dishes. Cuban food and preparation always has been varied, she says, flavored by the ancestry of the island, with contributions from Spanish conquistadors, African slaves, Asian laborers, and Indian natives. Of course, she also includes Habana Cafe's standard sides of rice, black beans, and glazed golden-brown plantains. Customer favorites are all represented here in easy-to-follow recipes and colorful photographs - from appetizers and soups, seafood and vegetarian entrees, to classics (Cuban sandwiches and flan) and beverages (mojitos, sangria,
Josefa Gonzalez-Hastings is head chef and owner of the Habana Cafe in Gulfport, Florida. Originally from Cuba, she came to Florida with her parents in 1966. She is a 2003 winner of the Southern Living Cook-off in the Signature Desserts category and has appeared on the Food Network. In 2003 Tampa Bay Magazine named her one of Tampa Bay's top chefs.