Turn up the mambo music and muddle the mojitos. It's time for a taste of Cube!
Mojitos, cigars and Che Guevara – it’s time for a taste of Cuba!
Keep the feeling rustic and informal and play with colourful accents. Use a mixture of weathered cutlery and old silver and pewter plates and bowls to fit in with the theme. Decorate the table simply with ornamental cigar boxes, pictures of Che Guevara and vintage rose elements. A set of dominoes and some old-fashioned board games add to the Cuban feel and will also provide lots of fun.
Buy cigars in decorative boxes or embellish them yourself with scrapbooking paper that complements the theme. We also made a few of our own and put all sorts of things from limes to cold drinks and dice in them.
You will need
template for the cigar box on page 98
sturdy white cardboard
double-sided adhesive tape
craft knife, cutting mat and metal ruler
Set the scene To make
1 Copy the template on page 98 in the desired size onto the white cardboard and cut it out using your craft knife and metal ruler. 2 Make small pencil marks on the back of the cardboard to indicate the fold lines – use the smaller template with cutting and folding lines as your guide. 3 Use your metal ruler and trace lightly over the fold lines with the blunt side of your craft knife. Fold the box into shape and stick the flaps down with doublesided tape.
We made these ‘cigars’ from rolls of Rolo. Cut strips of cigar-coloured paper to fit around the chocolate rolls and seal them along the side edge with double-sided tape. Copy the cigar label on page 98, cut it out and stick one onto each chocolate cigar.
Flowers for the table
Place a few loose rose heads on the table and in cigar boxes, and finish off with rose pictures – that’s all you need for flamboyant flowers on the table.
Che Guevara cones
Serve a starter or something sweet in these cones – we used ours for our ham croquettes. Copy the Che Guevara picture on page 98 onto an A4 sheet of white paper. Fold the paper into a cone and seal it along the side edge with double-sided tape.
Serves: 8 Preparation time: 45 minutes, plus chilling time Cooking time: about 20 minutes
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
125ml cake flour
450g ham, finely chopped
250ml fresh white breadcrumbs
30ml finely chopped fresh parsley
1ml ground nutmeg
oil, for deep-frying
creole sauce, to serve (recipe below)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
250ml dried breadcrumbs
65ml cake flour
1 Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and sauté until soft. Stir in the flour. 2 Add the milk gradually, stirring well to make a smooth paste. Stir over the heat until thick. Remove from the heat. 3 Stir in the ham, fresh breadcrumbs, parsley and nutmeg, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cool and then refrigerate for about two hours until firm. 4 Once the mixture is firm enough, break it into small balls and roll them into small cylinder shapes. 5 COATING Whisk 15ml water into the eggs. Mix the dried breadcrumbs and flour together and put into a flat bowl. Dip the croquettes into the egg mixture, then into the breadcrumb mixture. Dust off the excess crumbs then dip into the egg and the breadcrumbs again. Set aside and repeat with the remaining mixture. Refrigerate again until firm. 6 Heat the oil for deep-frying. When it is hot, fry the croquettes, a few at a time. Once they are golden, remove them from the oil and drain on absorbent paper. Serve warm with creole sauce for dipping.
Heat 30ml olive oil in a saucepan. Add 1 chopped onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add a clove of crushed garlic, 1 seeded and chopped red pepper and 1 chopped tomato. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add a can of tomato purée, 1-5ml Tabasco sauce, 30ml water, 2ml sugar and salt to taste. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 30ml finely chopped parsley and 30ml cream. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Serve your fish and rice with a fresh and crunchy salad alongside. Mix 1 bag curly lettuce leaves with a punnet of cherry tomatoes, a bunch of steamed asparagus, 1 orange or yellow pepper, seeded and sliced, 125ml cooked peas, 2 sliced avocados and 1 sliced onion. Drizzle with olive oil and lime juice.
Fried fish with mojo sauce
Serves: 8 Preparation time: 40 minutes Cooking time: about 40 minutes
canola oil, for frying
2 fresh line fish, gutted and cleaned
limes and salad, to serve
125ml olive oil
125ml freshly squeezed lime or
juice of 1 small orange
5ml grated orange rind
6 finely sliced spring onions
65ml chopped fresh coriander
10ml dried origanum
5ml ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3ml freshly ground black pepper
1 Heat a thin layer of oil in a large nonstick frying pan. Fry the fish whole for about 10 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the fish. The flesh should be white and flake apart easily once it is cooked. (You can also cook it under the grill, if you prefer.) 2 MOJO SAUCE Whisk together all the ingredients. 3 Once the first fish is cooked, remove it from the pan, cover and set aside while you cook the other fish. Put both fish onto a platter and pour the sauce over them. Alternatively, serve the sauce separately so your guests can add their own as they prefer. Garnish with lime wedges and salad.
Savoury rice with black beans
Serves: 8 Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes
500ml basmati rice
40ml olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
5ml ground cumin
3ml ground turmeric
3 bay leaves
250ml black beans, cooked and drained
1 Rinse the rice and then cover with water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave the lid on. 2 Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion until soft. Add the garlic and red pepper. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the cumin, turmeric and bay leaves. Stir well, then stir in the cooked rice to combine well. Lastly add the beans. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.
Banana cake with rum syrup
Serves: 8 Preparation time: 30 minutes Baking time: 35 minutes Oven temperature: 180oc
250g brown sugar
3 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
5ml vanilla essence
250g self-raising flour
whipped cream or vanilla ice
cream, to serve
100ml brown sugar
100ml light rum
flaked coconut, to decorate
1 Beat the butter and sugar together until light. Add the eggs and beat well. Add the banana, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Beat for a few seconds to combine. 2 Fold in the self-raising flour and then spoon the cake mixture into a greased ring tin. 3 Bake in a preheated oven for approximately 35 minutes. You may need to cover the cake with a piece of aluminium foil if you see it is browning too quickly. The cake is done once a skewer inserted comes out clean.
4 Remove from the oven and set aside to cool, then invert onto a serving plate.
5 SYRUP Heat the butter, sugar and rum together. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and spoon over the top of the cake. Scatter with coconut to decorate and serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Squeeze a little fresh lime juice into a tall glass. Add a few ice cubes and 25-35ml light rum. Top up with cola.
Mix 180ml light rum, 60ml sugar, 90ml lime juice and a few fresh mint sprigs together in a cocktail shaker. Fill short glasses with ice, lime wedges and more fresh mint. Pour the cocktail over the ingredients in the glass.