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Santiago de Cuba Inspired

Santiago de Cuba:  Rum Party

We’re shakin’ it up a bit around these parts.  See… every month my ad network Foodbuzz finds 24 bloggers that are keen on mixing up a few drinks, cooking up some food, inviting a few friends and calling it a party.  With this inspiration, my darling friends Rachel, Whitney and I decided to throw a rum driven cocktail party.

An evening in Santiago de Cuba was a colorful celebration of food, life and… rum!  Every dish served was either rum infused, splashed with rum or soaked in rum. Really.. what could go wrong!?

Santiago de Cuba:  Rum Party

Rachel.  Foxy as every.  You’ll never guess how old she is… and I’ll never tell.

But seriously… we’ve got rum to talk about.

Santiago de Cuba:  Rum Party

Giant paper flowers transform this ordinary chandelier into something less ordinary.

Santiago de Cuba:  Rum Party

People came through the door.  I smiled at them.  It all worked out pretty well.  We were happy to see one another.

Santiago de Cuba:  Rum Party

Drinks were served and enjoyed. This creation was a black lime and fresh orange rum inspired margarita with citrus salt.  So bright.  So delicious.

Santiago de Cuba:  Rum Party

Creamed Plantain soup with Citrus Black Bean Salsa and Chorizo.  Creamy and alluring, this soup was earthy and meaty and utterly delicious.  Coconut milk  seems to be the key to all things amazing.

Creamed Plantain Soup w/Citrus Black Bean Salsa & Chorizo
Serves 4-6

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Takes about 1 ½- 2 hours
1 small onion or half a large, diced fine
1 carrot, scrubbed, trimmed, diced small
2 slender ribs of celery or 1 fat one, scrubbed, trimmed, diced small
2 cloves garlic, crushed, peeled, sliced
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
Healthy pinch or two of dried chili flakes, your taste depending
A few tablespoons grapeseed, canola or preferred vegetable oil
2 large green plantains, peeled and sliced in 1”


Zest of 1 orange & juice to taste
Sea salt & pepper
5 cups Vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
A few tablespoons of aged rum, Bacardi Anejo or Select, or equivalent

How to make it:
-heat a stock pot or large soup pot over medium flame until you can feel heat with your palm open above the surface about 1-2”

-add a few tablespoons of cooking oil and tip pan to coat
-add the onions, celery & carrots, stir well, spread evenly over the bottom of the pan
-leave it alone for about 2-3 minutes, stir & spread across bottom evenly about every 30 seconds
-stir this way for about 5-10 minutes until vegetables are tender, add the plantains, stir to coat & increase heat slightly
-reduce heat to medium once you get a little sizzle, stir and distribute evenly, sauté 5 minutes
-add garlic, dried spices & citrus zest, stir well & toast about 30 seconds, season with salt & pepper to taste
-add vegetable stock to cover and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to maintain an active simmer, stir occasionally, while simmering, be sure to stir carefully and scrape the bottom of the pan: green plantains are very starchy, a lot of those starches will settle in the bottom & try to burn
-simmer 45 minutes to an hour until plantain pieces slide easily from a paring knife inserted to the center (if you are making the black bean salsa, now is a good time to start)
-turn off heat & cool about 15 minutes, stir in coconut milk, rum and orange juice
-in a heavy duty blender, blend the soup in batches, do not fill the work bowl over half way, remove the inner plastic piece from the lid and cover with a folded kitchen towel to make room for steam build up
-puree until smooth, you may need to add water or vegetable stock to loosen
-put pureed soup into a cleaned soup pot & gently bring back to a simmer before serving, check for seasoning and texture, green plantain can get a little gummy, so add water as needed to loosen
-serve hot, garnished with black bean salsa, fried chorizo, or simply a few leaves of cilantro

Note: if serving with black beans & chorizo, you will want to prepare your salsa & chorizo while the soup simmers. For chorizo, simply sauté a couple links with cooking oil over medium heat & break up with the back of a spoon, don’

t be afraid to let it get crispy. Each bowl of soup can be garnished with a as much or as little beans & chorizo as suits your fancy

Warm Citrus Black Bean Salsa
Takes about 20 minutes
For plantain soup garnish:
1 ½ cups cooked black beans or a small can, rinsed
½ small yellow onion, fine dice
1 small carrot, fine dice
1 clove garlic, very fine dice
Cooking oil
Zest of one small orange
Small handful of cilantro leaves, chopped coarsely
Sea salt & fresh cracked pepper
Olive oil to finish

How to make it:
-heat a medium skillet over medium heat, add a couple tablespoons of cooking oil
-add the onion and stir, sauté until tender & translucent, about 5 minutes, add carrot, sauté to tender, about another 5 minutes
-add garlic, stir about 30 seconds, add beans & stir to coat, season to taste with salt & pepper
-stir in citrus zest, stir about 30 seconds
-remove from heat & stir in cilantro
-drizzle some olive oil to finish

Santiago de Cuba:  Rum Party

Santiago de Cuba:  Rum Party

For dessert Whitney pulled out all the stops with a cinnamon infused rum and coffee drink.  With three different kinds of milk, this drink was creamy, coconutty, rich and aromatic.  I’ve never had anything quite like it.  Creamy but not milky.  Sweet but not cloying.  Spicy but still delicate.  Amazing.

Tres Leche Cafe Rumbano

makes a lot of cocktails

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Bottle of bacardi 8 yr (or other aged rum)
Generous amounts of cinnamon bark (2 cups?)
Infuse for at least 3 days. A week would be money.
Make coffee. Use equal parts coffee and raw cane sugar. 2 cups of each to make a sweet coffee syrup.
Warm 1 cup of cocunt milk, 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup half and half on the stove until slightly simmering. Add to the infused rum and coffee syrup mixture. Let sit covered in an airtight container overnight on the counter. Pass through a fine mesh strainer. Served shaken and straight up with a drizzle of coconut milk and a dusting of cinnamon.

Santiago de Cuba:  Rum Party

With the Tres Leches Cafe Rumbano we served Tres Leches Cake.  Was there any choice, really?

This Tres Leches Cake was a dense almond flavored cake soaked individually sliced and soaked in evaporated milk, half and half, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk and aged rum.  I know… that’s way more than three milks.  The cake was served with barely sweet whipped cream and garnished with hibiscus flower petals.  Pretty.  A sweet end to a rum filled evening.

Tres Leches Cake

makes 18 cubes of cake

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For the Cake:

1 1/2 cups plus 1 Tablespoon of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

5 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

For the Glaze:

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

3/4 cup half and half

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 cinnamon stick

1 cardamom pod

3 Tablespoons aged rum

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a 13 by 9-inch metal pan and set aside.

Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine.  It’s a lot of eggs and the mixture will appear soupy.  Add the vanilla and almond extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Slice the edges off the entire cake and portion into 18 cubes of cake.  Poke the top of each slice with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, half and half, coconut milk, cinnamon and cardamom in a saucepan over medium heat.  Allow to just warm, cover and place in the fridge for 2 hours.  Stir in the rum.  Arrange the tres leches cake in a dish with 1-inch sides.  Pour the milks over the cake slowly.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Most people like to leave the cakes to soak overnight…. but I don’t like overly soggy cake and find that four hours is juuuust fine.

Serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream.

Santiago de Cuba:  Rum Party

Loads of rum.  Great friends.  Pretty smiles.  That’s what happens when you take a few bottles of rum and add it to just about everything you can get your hands on.