Holiday Cheer!

Coquito

As the year is quickly drawing to an end, I notice my friends reflecting on the year that was, and hoping and planning for the year that will be. In the spirit of taking stock of my life, I have a confession to make. I, the one and only Cuban Reuben, have an obsession with, of all things, Christmas carols. That’s right. White Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Let it snow…you name it, I love it. But while some of my friends choose to tease me about this unconventional fascination, my good friend, Meredith, made an astute observation. My list of favorite Christmas carols? They were all written by Jews. “Of course you love them,” she says!  So, maybe it’s not so sacrilegious after all to love Christmas carols as much as I do. It’s true that Jewish holiday music doesn’t elicit the same degree of jolly cheer as your average good ol’ carol, but that’s where Coquito comes into play.

Coquito Pitcher

What better way to help bring out your jollies than to imbibe on a sip or two of the rum-spiked creamy Puerto Rican festive drink, Coquito?  Particularly if you are being held hostage by a snowy blizzard, this creamy coconut cocktail that tastes like a tropical vacation in a glass, will not only help warm your insides, but might even loosen you up to the point of joining your friends as they go caroling down the neighborhood. Liquid courage never tasted so good.

I’ve also served this for several New Years’ Eve celebrations to rave reviews. By now, my friends have requested it to help them ring in the new year. And for those of you whose resolution includes to shed a few pounds, don’t worry about the rich nature of this drink. I’ve tried this recipe using the reduced fat versions of the ingredients, and it still comes out quite tasty, though not as creamy.

Happy holidays to all of my readers here at The Cuban Reuben. Let’s toast to a happy and healthy new year!

Puerto Rican Coquito
 
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: Latin
Serves: 6-8
Prep time:
Total time:
 
This festive drink will liven up any party, Christmas time or year-round.
Ingredients
  • 1 12oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk
  • ½ Tbs coconut extract
  • ½ cup white rum
  • 1-2 whole cinnamon sticks
Instructions
  1. Pour all ingredients into a large pitcher, and stir until well combined.
  2. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 hours, or until ready to serve.
  3. The longer the drink sits, the better the flavors marry.
  4. Serve in small glasses.
Notes
Sprinkle on some cinnamon powder to each serving, to really heighten the holiday flavors.
Can also be made non-alcoholic by omitting the rum.

 

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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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