Mojito Popsicles: A refreshing taste of Havana

Mojito Popsicles

Several years ago, on one of my family trips to Cuba, my dad and I returned to our hotel, exhausted from a day spent handing out clothes, medicine and food to our family members in need. Just as I was ready to hit the sack and recharge before another similarly trying day, my dad signaled to me to get dressed and follow his lead. I’ll be the first to admit that as tired as I was and as hot as it had been that day, all I really wanted to do was rinse the heaviness of the day off in the shower and tuck into bed. But then again, I was up for an adventure.

Havana street art

Havana street art

As my dad lead the way through the old Havana blocks, we noticed the colorful lines of drying laundry decorating the neighborhood homes, and the young children kicking makeshift soccer balls barefoot in the street. Music played from every open window, and couples danced in the doorways, reminding me of my family back home. Finally, we arrived at our destination, La Bodeguita Del Medio, a small bar/cafe in the middle of Havana, made famous by Ernest Hemingway, and their signature drink, the mojito.

LaBodeguitaDelMediosign

We grabbed a table in the center of the joint, and ordered two mojitos. As we sipped our drinks, we reflected on our experience, and discussed our plan to head towards Santiago to see the rest of our family in the coming days. We talked about Ernest Hemingway, and what Cuba must have looked like when he frequented the island. And we may or may not have indulged in a real Cuban cigar. Our mojitos were the perfect night cap to the day, and every time I recreate them at home, I think about that little adventure.

At my recent Cuban-themed dinner party, I served mojitos to my guests, and even used fresh mint from my friend’s garden. At the end of the night, I noticed that we still had a bit left over, and I knew exactly what I’d do with it. I poured it into a popsicle mold, and popped it in the freezer. The next day, I created the exact thing I wish I had on that hot, Havana night: a Mojito Popsicle!

As a word of caution, please note that alcohol doesn’t freeze particularly well. Therefore, if your intention is to turn your mojitos into popsicles, I recommend using a little less rum than usual, and a little more soda and lime juice. That way, you get a solid popsicle that won’t slush at your first bite.

Mojito Popsicles
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert, Drinks
Cuisine: Cuban
Serves: 10
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Turn your favorite cocktail into a refreshing summer treat.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • ¾ cup fresh mint leaves, torn
  • 3 fresh limes
  • ½ cup white rum (Like Bacardi or Havana Club)
  • 2 cups club soda
Instructions
  1. In a large pitcher, add the sugar and the mint. With a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, muddle the mint into the sugar.
  2. Juice the limes into the pitcher.
  3. Add the rum and the club soda. Stir well.
  4. Pour into popsicle molds, and freeze overnight.
  5. Unmold each popsicle, and wrap in wax paper. Refreeze for 2 hours before serving.
Notes
This recipe makes extra mojito. Go ahead, and pour it over ice. Enjoy!

 

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Passover those Dancing Shoes: Mojito-scented Quinoa

Mojito-scented Quinoa

Holidays are meaningful for a variety of reasons, but more often than not, because they include a gathering of family. This will come as no surprise, but in my family, that gathering always features two elements: a mouthwatering feast and a dance party. Without exception, if there is music playing in the general vicinity, there will be dancing. Regardless of the amount of space we have, someone always finds room to bust a move. And depending on how much alcohol was served at dinner, the elders have been known to cut a rug, as well.

Quinoa cast of characters.

Quinoa cast of characters.

On the rare occasion when I need a little liquid courage to hit the makeshift dance floor, one of my favorite cocktails is the classic Cuban mojito. Made famous by Ernest Hemingway, this literary favorite blends the distinctly clean, fresh scent of lime and the aromatic essence of sugar-bruised mint leaves with world-class rum only found on the motherland and the nose-tickling fizz of seltzer. Topped off with a splash of bitters, it’s clear why the mojito is favored by Cubans and Americans, alike.

Since we’ll soon be gathering as a family for Passover, and rum will certainly be off-limits due to the dietary restrictions that accompany the holiday, I thought I’d transform this citrus-y cocktail into a tasty bite suitable for any seder table. By seasoning naturally bitter quinoa, a longtime Passover favorite across the board, with the most memorable elements of a mojito, hopefully, all it will take is one bite to get the more shy family members to hit the dance floor.

Featured on The Nosher at MyJewishLearning.com.

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Mojito-scented Quinoa
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Cuban, Kosher for Passover
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Reminiscent of a favorite Cuban cocktail, this quinoa will liven up any seder table.
Ingredients
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 tbs minced fresh mint leaves
  • 2 limes, zested
Instructions
  1. In a medium pot, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add the salt, pepper, and quinoa, and toast for 1 minute.
  2. Pour in the chicken broth, and bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Fluff the quinoa, and stir in the almonds, mint leaves, and lime zest.
  5. Serve immediately.
Notes
To make this dish vegetarian, swap vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

 

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