I’m freshly back from a wonderful trip to Cuba. While I didn’t discover many amazing foodie delights to share with you, the food I experienced in Cuba was fresh and plentiful, but a bit on the plain side. I did however get a chance to cement my love of mojitos, which I’m fairly sure will be my drink of choice this summer. I also discovered a Cuban cocktail new to me, the Canchánchara at a beach party just outside of Trinidad. The beach party was fabulous complete with bonfire, Cuban band, sun setting into the ocean and the cocktails flowing.
My highlights from Cuba include the proud and passionate people, the amazing architecture – either crumbling or painstakingly restored, the music and salsa dancing.
Rum is cheap and plentiful in Cuba, and forms the basis for most Cuban cocktails. It is made with sugar cane or small guavas, ranging from white rums through to darker aged rums. Havana Club is the brand most easily obtained outside of Cuba, but Barcardi also originated in Cuba. This cocktail relies on a balance between sweet from the honey, sour from the lemon and a healthy kick from the rum. Lime and lemongrass can also be used instead of or as well as the lemon. Feel free to play with the ratios until you get a balance that is right for you. In the spirit of the margarita, and because of the heat in Cuba, you could also add a pinch of salt to replace some of the salts lost through sweating.
What I was cooking this time last year: Seasame Shortbread
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 shots of white rum
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Soda water or sparkling mineral water
- Add the honey, rum and lemon juice to a glass. Stir to combine.
- Add ice and fill the glass with sparkling water. Stir. Enjoy.
What is your favourite summer cocktail recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?
Fresh figs are at their beautiful best at the moment in Sydney. If you can stomach eating figs after watching that particular Sex in the City episode, this post should provide some inspiration.
I have used Brioche in this recipe, which is a type of French bread that has a rich, slightly sweet taste and yellow colour thanks to the egg and butter used to make it. You could of course use your favourite bread, or skip the bread altogether.
Juniper berries are a key ingredient in gin or generally used with rich or fatty foods. Allspice is different to mixed spice, but according to Ian Hemphill of Herbie’s Spices, allspice has a flavour reminiscent of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg hence the confusion with mixed spice.
Baked Figs with Goat Cheese and Honey Vinaigrette
* This recipe was inspired by a Baked Figs with Ribblesdale Goats Cheese and Pink Peppercorns recipe by Rachel Tooher-Rudd that appeared on the British TV show Come Dine With Me. I have modified and adapted it over the years to come up with the below reincarnation.
- 8 fresh figs
- 4 thick slices of brioche
- 115g goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 2 juniper berries
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Rocket, or other salad greens, to serve
- Heat the oven to 180°C.
- To make the vinaigrette, crush the juniper berries in a mortar and pestle, then add the honey, white balsamic, dijon mustard, allspice and olive oil.
- Stir to combine.
- Remove the stalks from the figs.
- Cue a deep cross in the top of each fig and squeeze the base to encourage the figs to open up.
- Place the figs in a baking dish.
- Stuff the middle of the figs with the goat cheese.
- Drizzle half of the vinaigrette over the figs and cheese.
- Toast the brioche until golden brown on each side.
- Place the toasted brioche and figs in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
- Use the remaining vinaigrette to coat the rocket leaves.
- To serve, place a piece of toasted brioche on each plate, top with some rocket and 2 figs, drizzle any juices from the baking dish over the figs. Enjoy.
What is your favourite fruit? Has this post inspired any new ideas?