Miami Snowflakes

Music Pairing: Paquito D’Rivera, Nocturno en la Celda


This is a version of a dinner favorite that saves times and effort but grants abundantly in flavor and satisfaction.  For fellow vegetarians, Afa suggests a version of this Casa Dworkin classic made with any of the great meat alternatives available on the market. The best of recipes come from the best of stories, accompanied by the various soundtracks of our lives.  This unlikely title depicts a pastry so supple it feels like a snowflake…the Miami part will make sense in a moment.  We are fortunate and blessed to have our work and life partnership be rooted in the human connection and empowerment of generations of talented artists and leaders.  It has been the great privilege of our lives, one that we cherish and one that we have the great fortune to receive and learn from together, in a shared experience.  In recent months, as a beautiful gesture of gratitude for advice, a very wonderful, talented and driven young colleague and mentee gifted us a book that uncovers an array of scrumptious recipes from one of Miami’s most legendary Cuban restaurants, The Versailles. We were deeply touched and also curious about many of the recipes.  As is customary in our kitchen, we tried some of the recipes and modified them significantly to our taste.  As such, we are sharing our version of the Santiago-style chicken pie, for your experimental pleasure.  Pair this with the music of the legendary Paquito D’Rivera, fix yourself a Cuba Libre (or if you are like Afa, simply a snifter of dark aged Cuban rum, neat), and enjoy amongst the people you love!


  • ½ package of phyllo dough (or a different puff pastry)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon of room temperature water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 small green chili peppers, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp (heaping) cumin seeds 
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ cup crushed tomatoes
  • ½ lb of ground chicken
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese of choice (we used cheddar)
  • Juice of full lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup of fresh oregano, chopped


Keep the dough frozen until about 4-5 hours before cooking.  Transfer to refrigerator for about that long before you get  started.

Let’s cook the chicken filling, first.

  • In your favorite medium saucepan, gently heat 2 tablespoons of oil
  • Add the ground chicken and cook for about 5-7 minutes, mincing and separating into tiny pieces
  • Add the onion, chili, crushed garlic and all of the listed spices, including the salt. Continue to cook, stirring well for about 5 minutes
  • Now add the tomatoes, chopped oregano and the lemon juice.  Continue to stir and cook for about 10-15 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked, but not dry (times may vary slightly)
  • Set aside and let cool

Now, the dough… If you are working with phyllo, be patient.   If you are going another dough route, no worries, but we do recommend puff pastry of some sort.

  • Preheat the oven at 400 degrees
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the water.  Beat into a smooth texture and have a brush ready. 
  • On a dry wooden (or other solid) board, place about 5 layers of the dough and brush it with quickly with the egg mixture, quickly adding a layer of the chicken
  • Cover immediately with another few layers of the dough and repeat the process
  • Your penultimate layer should include the cheese and for the top of the pastry, brush more generously with the egg mixture
  • Now, transfer the entire “pie” onto a rectangular cookies sheet.  Be swift, since the texture will be delicate
  • Place to bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown
  • Use a pie or pizza cutter to separate into desired shapes
  • Serve and enjoy!

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