Zacapa Rum Cocktail
created by Lynnette Marrero
1 ounce (2 Tbsp) Zacapa Rum
½ ounce (1 Tbsp) Grand Marnier
½ ounce (1 Tbsp) Fresh Lime Juice
½ ounce (1 Tbsp) Oregat Syrup
Combine all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain contents into a double old fashioned glass over crushed ice.
La Latina - The Cookbook, a Journey through Latin America, will be published in October 2015 by Penguin/Random House
Good avocadoes equal good guacamole. Always check for ripeness by gently pressing the avocado: it should be firm but with a little give, but it shouldn’t feel mushy. But go the extra mile for your perfect guac. Once you’ve got a good avocado candidate, take a peak at what’s inside. Flick the dry stem off — if the fruit right under the stem is bright avocado yellow-green, you have a winner; your avocado will be great. If all you see is brown under the stem, put it back because it will be brown inside.
2 ripe avocadoes
½ red onion, peeled and diced (about ¼ cup)
1 jalapeño, serrano, or other chile, minced (optional)
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro (coriander) leaves, plus extra leaves for garnish
1 tbsp fresh lime
coarse pink Himalayan salt (or flaky sea salt) to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp black sesame or toasted sesame seeds to garnish
1 tbsp pomegranate seeds to garnish
Halve the avocadoes. Remove seed and scoop flesh out, putting it in a mixing bowl. Using a fork, mash the avocado, adding some lime juice to prevent oxidation. Add onion, chille, coriander and lime juice, and season to taste. Keep the pomegranate and toasted sesame seeds separate until ready to serve. Just before serving, finish by garnishing with pomegranate and sesame seeds, some extra coriander leaves and coarse or flaky salt.
To prevent oxidation (browning), put the avocado seed in the middle of the guacamole. Acid also prevents oxidation, so feel free to add a thin layer of lemon or lime juice on top, folding this through just before serving.
If you need to refrigerate your guac for hours (up to 2 days), put it in a bowl that has a tight-fitting lid. Pack the guacamole tightly in the bowl, pressing out any air bubbles. Dribble in some lukewarm water, making sure that the water covers the surface of the guacamole to about 1 cm deep. Put some plastic wrap directly over the guac, then put the lid on and refrigerate. When ready to eat, take the lid off and and gently pour out the water. Stir the guacamole to incorporate any extra moisture.
Do not over-mash your guacamole; leave it a bit chunky. It will have more texture and better taste. Chillies vary individually in their hotness. Start with half of one, and taste. Be careful when handling chilllies — wash your hands and do not rub your eyes! If it is not pomegranate season, you can substitute tomatoes in the guacamole. De-seed them first, or the guacamole will be watery.
Ceviche with Coconut Milk
Serves 4 (as an appetizer)
500 g fresh snapper, lemon sole, sea bass, gurnard or tarakihi fillets, deboned and skinned
1 large red onion, peeled and thinly sliced (use a mandolin, if you have one)
1 each red, yellow and green little sweet peppers (capsicums), de-seeded and thinly sliced
1 fresh red or green chile, de-seeded and finely diced
1 cup lime juice
2 Tbsp fresh coconut milk
2 ice cubes
1 bunch cilantro (coriander), finely chopped
himalayan pink salt, or maldon sea salt
freshly ground pepper
Place a medium-sized bowl in the refrigerator or freezer to get cold.
Dice fish fillets into 2 cm cubes and transfer to the cold bowl. Season the fish with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Add red onion, peppers (capsicums) (this adds color and crunch, so if you only have one color is fine too), chile, lime juice, coconut milk and ice cubes. When the fish turns white, or is how you like it, remove the ice cubes and serve. I’m often asked how you know when if the ceviche is done. Well, ceviche is like steak — it depends on your preference. I like to eat ceviche 7 to 10 minutes after it has been marinating in the lime juice because, just like steak, I like it medium rare. The lime juice will ‘cook’ the fish, so the longer you leave it the longer it will cook. You eat sushi and sashimi raw, so do not be afraid to eat your ceviche 10 to 15 minutes after starting to marinate. Just don’t eat it right away, so that the fish can soak up a lime juice and cook a little.
When ready to serve, garnish with cilantro (coriander). Serve with grilled or steamed corn and boiled or roasted sweet potato (kumara).
The most important things to know about ceviche making are: (1) use the freshest fish available, never frozen; (2) a semi-firm, white-fleshed fish that is not too fatty works best —and use a very sharp knife to cut it and the herbs to avoid bruising them; (3) be generous with the amount of salt, and even if you do not like chile, I encourage you to add a touch of it — rub some of the chile flesh inside the bowl, it will go a long way; (4) never use bottled lime juice, always fresh, and if you find it too strong you can use a combination of lime and lemon juice; (5) do not over-squeeze the fruit because the juice gets bitter; (6) the bowl in which you make your ceviche should be cold — remember to put the bowl in the freezer while you gather all the ingredients.
Pulpo a la Gallega
Most are intimidated by pulpos (octopus): they immediately think hard and rubbery. I love octopus! My husband’s family lives in Spain and we eat ‘pulpo a la gallega’ almost every day when we are there. To tenderise fresh octopus, my grandmother says to massage and beat the octopus for at least 10 minutes: ‘Dale duro pero con amor,’ she says — ‘Beat it but do it with love.’ In some fish markets, however, it is more common to find it frozen; if that is the case, leave the octopus defrosting overnight then cook, no need to beat it.
1 kg octopus
2 tbs salt
1 medium-sized potato, any kind (optional)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp paprika
Maldon sea salt
If the octopus is not frozen, massage octopus, place in a large sealable plastic storage bag, and beat with a mallet or rolling pin for at least 10 minutes. Remove from the bag and prick with a fork a few times in the body and each tentacle.
Bring a large stockpot of water to the boil, with salt. With a pair of tongs, submerge the octopus for 5 seconds then take it out for 5 seconds; repeat two more times. This process plumps the tentacle suction cups and shocks the octopus flesh. The tentacles will curl up and look all fancy and chef-y as they cook, (my mother in law swears this helps tenderize it as well) . Then leave octopus fully submerged in the water, add the potato, and lower the heat. Simmer for about 30–45 minutes, until the potato and octopus are fork-tender. To keep the meat tender and soaking up flavor, let it cool completely while still in the liquid. Once cool, chop into bite-sized pieces. You can serve it straight away — or add olive oil, paprika and maldon sea salt, to taste
When poaching an octopus, my mother-in-law likes to use the potato as a reference — when your potato is done, your octopus should also be done. If you decide to use the potato, save it and serve it alongside your octopus. Also, save the strained poaching liquid and use it as stock. The liquid will keep for 3–4 days in the refrigerator and for one month in the freezer.