Ha­vana nights

Turn up the mambo mu­sic and mud­dle the mo­ji­tos. It's time for a taste of Cube!

Ideas Entertainment - - Contents -

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.

Cigar boxes

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.

Choco­late cigars

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.

Ham cro­quettes

Serves: 8 Prepa­ra­tion time: 45 min­utes, plus chill­ing time Cook­ing time: about 20 min­utes

60ml but­ter

1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped

125ml cake flour

375ml milk

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.

Cre­ole sauce

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.

Sum­mer salad

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

lemon juice

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 but­ter

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


30ml but­ter

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.


Cuba Li­bre

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.

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