Inspired by her own mother, Cruz tells the harrowing and poignant story of 15-year-old Ana Ruiz who immigrates to New York City in the 1960s from the Dominican Republic, leaving her entire family behind in hopes of building a life for them in the U.S. She's marrying a man twice her age in the hope of helping her family come to the U.S. someday.
Food and cooking is a theme throughout the novel, so we have recipes that recreate central dishes in the book: Ana's Pastelito Love Bites, a pastry filled with beef, cilantro, onion and more, and Juan's Locrio a lo Loco de Pollo, a chicken rice dish from the Dominican Republic. The recipes were created by chef Farys Rojas.
Get the recipes below and send us photos on Instagram using hashtag #GMACovertoCover with your book club meals!
Read along with us and join the conversation all month long on our Instagram account – GMA Cover to Cover and #GMACoverToCover. Listen to songs mentioned in the book while you read on our "Dominicana" Spotify playlist. At the end of each month, we'll invite the author on "GMA" to answer your questions.
Ana’s Pastelito Love Bites
Ingredients for filling:
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp canola oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 bell pepper, diced
1 ½ tbsp salt
½ tbsp pepper
¼ cup raisins, optional
Ingredients for dough:
6 tbsp cold water, plus more if needed
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out dough
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
6 tbsp vegetable oil for dough; 3 cups for frying
Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add ground meat, breaking up with spoon until it browns. Stir in onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic, stir for a minute.
Add tomato sauce, bell pepper, salt, and pepper. Stir and cover. Simmer for 3 minutes.
Uncover and mix in raisins. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Remove from heat and set aside.
Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add water and oil, and combine well.
Using your hands, mix everything on a lightly floured surface until well mixed, adding flour if dough is too sticky or water if too dry.
Cover dough and let rest for 15 minutes.
On a lightly-floured surface, roll out dough, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.
Cut 3-inch circles, and brush inside edges with egg. Place 1 tbsp of filling in middle of dough. Cover with another piece of dough and seal by pressing the edges with a fork.
Heat oil on medium heat in a medium pot. Fry pastelitos until golden brown. Place onto paper towel to drain oil. Serve warm.
Juan's Locrio a lo Loco de Pollo
5 tbsp canola oil; reserve 2 tbsp for later
4-5 lb. whole chicken cut into smaller pieces
4 cups long-grain rice
4 ½ cups water
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 tbsp halved, pitted olives
2 tsp garlic, minced
¼ cup sour orange juice
½ cup white wine
½ cup celery, diced
½ cup cilantro, chopped
2 tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
4 tbsp tomato paste
In a large mixing bowl, marinate the chicken for 20-30 minutes in a mixture of oregano, garlic, sour orange juice, 1 tsp salt, and pepper.
In a medium pot, heat 3 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat.
Add sugar to the heated oil, and when the sugar turns dark brown, add chicken, reserving the liquid from the marinade.
Stir, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, adding reserved marinade liquid as needed.
Add white wine, stir, and simmer until all liquid evaporates.
Add tomato paste, celery, olives, cilantro, and green bell pepper, and stir to combine well.
Add 4½ cups of water, mix well, and bring to boil.
Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste, then add rice and stir to avoid sticking.
After the water has evaporated, cover and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes.
Uncover and add reserved oil, stirring so you move the rice at the bottom of the pot to the top.
Taste: Rice should be firm but tender inside. Serve warm.
Recipes created by chef Farys Rojas and reprinted here with permission.