The High Heeled Kitchen Video: Fourth of July Mojito Recipe

Fourth of July: the grill is fired up, watermelon slices are chilled, and the kiddos are excited about ohhing and ahhing during the PM's fireworks show. How about adding a Mojito to your Independence Day tradition?

I'll be sipping this authentic and refreshing drink recipe courtesy of Mixology Mad Scientist Mcgarrit Franco of Washington, DC's Cuba Libre.


This is a first for The High Heeled Kitchen (click here to view more recipes from The High Heeled Kitchen video recipe series): a drink recipe plus, as you'll see in the video, the first time a featured guest almost steals the spotlight.

Click below to watch this video recipe:

Cuba Libre's Mojito Recipe


6-8 sprigs of mint leaves

1 oz. and ½ of rum

1 oz. and a ¼ of fresh lime juice

2 and a ½ ozs. of fresh guarapo

Lemon lime soda


Measure ingredients using a jigger, combine with ice in a mixing tin.

¡Shake it!

Pour into a Collins glass and top with lemon lime soda.

Garnish with lime.



Exclaim: ¡Delicioso!

This post was first published as "The High Heeled Kitchen Video: Happy New Year Mojito Recipe" on December 29, 2011.

What is your favorite Fourth of July drink?

What Cuban Cuisine Would Be If There Had Not Been Fidel

Talk food and politics with Cubans and you’re bound to get into water hotter than that which divides the South of Florida from the island.

Most will gingerly tip toe around the topic, or just avoid it--unless you’re Guillermo Pernot. Chef-partner of Cuba Libre restaurants, he has dived right into this bubbling political and culinary stew.


He liberally dishes out a provocative theory: that the flavorful, heavy, and simple foods known throughout the world as Cuban cuisine are actually a cultural relic, a palate frozen after one of the world’s longest ruling strongmen Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista government.  The food we eat, argues Pernot, is that of recipes that stopped evolving after Cuban refugees left, some more than half a century ago.

“What would Cuban food be if Fidel had not been in power?” asks the Argentine-born chef who came to the U.S. as a teenager.

That question came to him during culinary cultural exchanges to Cuba, which follow his Cuban-born wife’s Quaker humanitarian trips.  He returned, leading tours of cultural foodies, with the groups heading straight to Havana paladares or small “restaurants” owned by Cubans and located in their homes.

“The first time I ate at a paladar, I couldn’t believe the intensity of the food," he said.  "It was delicious and not what I expected."

I met him in his Washington, D.C. restaurant, which has always reminded me of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyland--in other words, kitsch galore with faux balconies above a side bar accented with wrought iron, palms that sway under large ceiling fans, and waiters in guayaberas--the iconic tropical dress shirt revered alike by ol’ school Caribbean men like my Papi and Brooklyn hipsters.


Not even the flimsiest dinghy vying to safety cross the Florida Strait for the U.S. would sink--Pernot runs that tight a ship.  Sous chefs need to trade their Crocs for Sauconies to keep up with rapid-fire orders, sometimes emphasized with the quick snapping of fingers.  It’s easier to control a gas range than flaring tempers right before the dinner rush.  No wonder so many reality TV shows focus on chefs and the drama of a kitchen.

We were also minutes from a special food series called “Pop-Up Paladares” featuring Cuban chefs Pernot met in Havana, including chef Alain Rivera Santana of Havana’s Doctor Café, and invited to the U.S. to cook with him.


With every bite I went overboard, savoring hints of the familiar: merluza al escabéche, fresh cod in vinegar-chile sauce with lamb tongue and beet salad followed by canelones de cangrejo: fresh corn pasta cannelloni stuffed with sweet chili crabmeat.

We feasted on grilled yellow fin tuna in a Malta honey reduction with ruby red grapefruit and lavender supremes.  Pernot and Rivera arguably saved the best for last: sopa de mango, chilled mango soup, with Cuba Libre’s rum ice cream.


Like the subtle touches of fine extra-virgin olive oil in each savory dish, politics permeated the dining room.

Both men tried answering the question of Cuban cuisine without Fidel, although it means messing with some of my all-time-food faves--mouth-watering ropa vieja, comforting arroz con camarón, and crispy tostones, staples I will always find in Miami’s Little Havana restaurants.

Crucially, how can the regular people of Cuba afford to buy grilled tuna when shelves in markets stand bare?

Pernot tried to keep the focus on food, but Alain subverted his host for a moment, answering honestly: “Regular Cubans don’t have this meal.  They don’t have the money.”

The Wise Latina Club's Viviana Hurtado with Havana Chef Alain Rivera Santana

A bit shy and soft-spoken, he admitted being blown away by the blast-chillers that cool food in seconds, a kitchen staple in U.S. restaurants he had never seen, much less used and that probably couldn’t fit in his home kitchen.

Rivera also told us some recent policy changes have allowed paladares to expand from seating a dozen to more than three times that number, that some don’t serve rice and beans, and that Havana’s #1 lunch item is pizza!

Maybe food is more dynamic that the politics that expelled whole peoples or the memories that keep them trapped in that moment.

Maybe we are more resilient than the policies that rule us.

Maybe the change that everyone’s been waiting for is already happening.

This post appears in Fox News Latino where I am a regular politics columnist as What Cuban Cuisine Would Be If There Had Not Been Fidel.

Click here to read my other Fox News Latino politics columns.

To see The High Heeled Kitchen video recipes where I learn to makes some delicioso dishes and drinks, click here.

To learn more about Cuba Libre Restaurant’s Pop-Up Paladares and culinary tour of Havana scheduled for the Fall, click here.

What your favorite Cuban dish? 


The High Heeled Kitchen Video: Happy New Year Mojito Recipe


On the edge of a New Year--2012--and I'm looking back at 2011:

What a year!

Think about everything that happened. Osama bin Laden was killed. Andy Rooney died. So did thousands in Mexico as the drug war continues ripping this neighboring country apart. Charlie Sheen held the social media world captive with his ranting tweets. The Arab Revolution was sparked by escalating indignation at repressive autocracies on Twitter after Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi lit himself on fire. Today's victims of the recession are on average without work longer than Kim Kardashian was married.

I judge 2011 a mixed bag year and am optimistic about 2012: an exciting Presidential election; will the shoots of economic recovery flourish, despite Europe's teetering economy? Ah si, don't forget the Mayan calendar which ends this coming December.


More reason to love and live it up this year, beginning New Year's Eve when I will be sipping a Mojito courtesy of Mixology Mad Scientist Mcgarrit Franco of Washington, DC's Cuba Libre.

This is a first for The High Heeled Kitchen (click here to view more recipes from The High Heeled Kitchen): a drink recipe plus, as you'll see in the video, the first time a featured guest almost steals the spotlight (from the recipe. ¡Gotcha!)

Click below to see how you can ¡Wepa Wow! your familia and friends with this simple drink:

Cuba Libre's Mojito Recipe

6-8 sprigs of mint leaves

1 oz. and ½ of rum

1 oz. and a ¼ of fresh lime juice

2 and a ½ ozs. of fresh guarapo

Measure ingredients using a jigger, combine with ice in a mixing tin.

¡Shake it!

Serve and finish with lemon lime soda.

Garnish with lime.



Exclaim: ¡Delicioso!

What expectations do you have for 2012?
Continued blessings to you and those you love in 2012.  ¡Happy New Year!

The High Heeled Kitchen: Christmas Made Feliz with Tostones Video Recipe


Whether you're serving a Honey-Baked Ham, frying a turkey Deep South-style like Big Bro, or roasting a pernil, how about adding some feliz to your Christmas with a side of tostones?

¿Que quéééé?  Tostones or fried plantains is a staple of the Caribbean kitchen.  In Colombia, where my parents were born and La costa--Papi's region--they're called patacones, and as chef Jason Kaufman of DC's Cuba Libre Restaurant pointed out, tostones--unlike patacones--are twice-fried.

Dunno what's worse: feeling my arteries harden by the minute or feeling like a fake Latina whose flimsy creds have just been confiscated by a Philly native.

The fabulosity of this dish is that it's an earthy-tasting chameleon side; it will compliment whatevah' you serve.

Oh yes, vegans, although this movement was born no where near the Caribbean coast, nix the manteca or lard, substitute vegetable or canola oil, and you can savor this tropical mmm mmm goodness.

Cuba Libre's Tostones Recipe

Green Plaintains

Oil or manteca

Kosher Salt

Mojo de ajo or Cuban garlic dipping sauce


3 parts Garlic

1 part Salt


Peel plantains.

Soak plantains in warm water for a few minutes.

Cut into three pieces.

In fryer at 270° for 10-12 minutes, "slow poach" plantains into tostones.

Place between a folded kitchen towel, cup with your hand, press down, and turn to mash.

Soak tostón in garlic liquid marinade for 24 hours.

Then place marinaded tostón back in fryer at 365º for 2 minutes until crispy and golden brown.

Immediately salt and serve with mojo de ajo.



Exclaim: ¡Delicioso!

Is your holiday meal traditional or do you add some sabor?

 ¡Happiest of Holidays, a most Feliz Navidad to you and all you love!

The High Heeled Kitchen: Celebrity Chef José Andrés' Política of Food


Celebrity Chef José Andrés is as passionate about food as he is about politics.

When he's not opening a new hot spot restaurant, taping an episode of Made in Spain on PBS, guest-starring with his culinary partner-in-crime Tony Bourdain on the Travel Channel's No Reservations, racking up awards such as the 2011 James Beard Foundation Chef of the Year, he is volunteering with DC Central Kitchen and World Central Kitchen, organizations working to feed the vulnerable and combat hunger through innovative cooking and agricultural techniques and skills training.

¡Mea Culpa Alert!  Every time I see José Andrés, my heart flutters.

My body temperatures rises.

Maybe it's his crystal clear blue eyes...(Click here to read more on how my knees start-a-knockin' when in the presence of an Ol' Blue Eyes)...

...or how without fail, he bellows, ¡Hola, Guapa!, with a broad, warm smile every time he says hello...

...or that he claps after making a point...

...or the fact that since he arrived nearly 20 years ago to America, he's been visiting the National Archives because he's a huge history aficcionado.

THAT'S it! (history nerds of the world, UNITE!).

When he found out about the exhibit What's Cooking Uncle Sam? which traces the government's role in our food policy throughout history, he called and asked to be involved. Next thing you know, he's named chief culinary advisor and turns his DC staple Café Atlántico into the exhibit's accompanying pop-up restaurant America Eats Tavern where every dish and drink on the menu comes with its significance to American cuisine explained with historical precision.

Click below to watch this interview where José Andrés dishes with me as much about the exhibit, as his política of food--how immigration has changed our national palate, agro-biz v. locavores, and what knowledge chefs could share with politicos to end hunger here and throughout the world.  ¡Clap!

What's your política of food?

Updated: Picked up by Univision News & HuffPo Latino Voices! The High Heeled Kitchen: Cheater's Delicioso Flan Video and Recipe Thanksgiving Edition


Isn't it just the way things work? You bust your cola on something you love and...

[insert sound of crickets]

Then you pull something out of a hat and gang busters, all kinds of karmic wonder unlocks from up above!

This is how I felt last week after I resurrected the previously-on-hiatus High Heeled Kitchen in time for some Thanksgiving Pumpkin flan goodness.

The servers burned down [in my head at least] when my video recipe got picked up by two internet gigantes!

Click to see "The High Heeled Kitchen: Cheater's Delicioso Flan Video and Recipe Thanksgiving Edition" in the Univision News English language blog and Huffington Post Latino Voices.

Counting my holiday blessings!

###Original Post###

Show up with this flan for Thanksgiving dinner and you will be worshiped and gloried.

We revisit the first webisode of The High Heeled Kitchen--Cheater's Delicioso Flan--adding one 14 ounce can of pumpkin to my basic recipe.

Imagine if a pumpkin pie and flan got together and had a baby.

Click here to read the original post which dishes about a dessert born of deceit and how I was able to bake the cheater out of a flan.

My Basic Cheater's Delicioso Flan Recipe:

1 can condensed milk

1 can evaporated milk

1 14 ounce can of pumpkin

3 eggs

½ 8 oz. cream cheese

Optional: a dash of pumpkin spice or your combination of nutmeg or cinnamon to taste

For Caramelado Sauce:

1 cup sugar

½ cup water

Pre-heat oven to 325°

I start with the Caramelado Sauce.  Combine sugar and water in pan.  Heat on high until mixture boils, slightly lower, and stir quickly until the sauce begins to caramelize.  This can take a few minutes.

¡Ojo Alert!  Once the sauce turns, it will caramelize and can burn rápido.  Immediately coat the bottom of a medium-sized baking recipient (I use an 8 inch square Pyrex) with caramelado sauce, as the sauce hardens quickly.

Add contents of the 1 can of evaporated and 1 can of condensed milk, the cream cheese, 3 eggs, and 1 14 ounce can of pumpkin to the blender. Blend. Pour mixture into baking recipient.

Place in a larger baking recipient (lasagna size) that is filled with a ½ inch of water.  This is called a Baño María or a Bain-Marie and allows you to bake the flan without burning it.

Bake for 1 hour (up to 1 ½ hours, depending on your oven)

Remove from oven and cool stovetop for about 1 hour.

Chill at least 8 hours.



Exclaim:  ¡Delicioso!

Is your holiday meal traditional or do you add some sabor? 

¡Happy Thanksgiving to you and all you love!

The High Heeled Kitchen Video: Q & A with "Top" Chef Richard Sandoval


I am a chica with a serious appetite.  I love to eat as much as I adore the rituals around food: family gatherings, learning how to make arepas or arroz con coco while chatting with PAPI, celebrations of milestones and holidays as a nuclear family in San Francisco and with our big-in-size, big-in-personality extended family in Colombia where I summered as a kid.

I've never taken a cooking class in my life, and although I appreciate technique and principle, I'm absolutely intoxicated by the passion and memories the kitchen evokes.  Whether I've spoken with a world famous chef or a mom whipping up some mac & cheese for her kids, all are on the same Proustian madeleine quest: to capture that feeling of sheer bliss we once experienced--either in childhood when we felt protected, on vacation when you heard your soul whisper, "I've been here," even though your passport bears no seal to confirm this hunch,  or realizing somewhere between the umpteenth pour and dessert, that we might not make it, but right now, we are in Love.

Interviewing Chef Richard Sandoval was a whirlwind, because he had flown in from who-knows-where (with critically-acclaimed restaurants in New York City, Dubai, Qatar, Virginia, Denver, Las Vegas, California, Mexico City, and the nation's capital, he lives on a plane).  His taquería, tequilería, rooftop, lounge--El Centro D.F. in Washington, DC--was just hours from opening.

No literary device, no hyperbole for effect.  When I arrived, 2x4s lined the floor, drills were frantically buzzing, the shellac on the tables was still drying (my martini glass--¡zip it!--got stuck).  But in he swooped, in all his Mexico-City-Lomas-neighborhood fabulosity.  Despite having his minutes measured by his PR goddess, in typical Mexican fashion, he was gracious, charming, welcoming, and game to get out of the kitchen.

Get ready for perhaps the only Flip Cam video restaurant tour and interview Chef Richard has ever granted!  He introduces us to the three "experiences" at El Centro, D.F.  Then he opens up about his culinary influences, the one ingredient he can't live without, and shares what he believes the 2010 U.S. Census results reveal about American food.

Watch video here:


What's the one ingredient you can't live without and why?

The High Heeled Kitchen - Cozumel Ceviche Video