Dinner & Dancing in Havana


Turn up the “Son Cubano” Radio station on Pandora, muddle the Mojitos and get ready for a night of Dinner & Dancing in Havana. I’ve never gotten the opportunity to visit Cuba, but the classic cars, colorful houses and Ernest Hemingway’s obsession with the country, intrigue me. Tonight’s Dinner Party has a bit of a twist on the traditional Cuban favorites. We start the night with Blood Orange Mojito’s sweetened with basil simple syrup. The meal begins with an avocado salad, followed by my most favorite Skinnytaste recipe of all time: The Cubano Pork Loin (which is pretty much a Cuban sandwich without the bread). We will serve the pork alongside Cuban stewed black beans and end the night doing the Rumba.

Blood Orange, Basil Mojito

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice from 3-4 blood oranges, depending on size, plus more to garnish
  • 1/2 cup basil simple syrup (instructions below. You will need 1 cup sugar. 1 cup water into and 10 large basil leaves, stems removed, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup white rum
  • 1 cup club soda
  • Crushed iced

Directions:

  1. To prepare the basil simple syrup, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in saucepan with 10 basil leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring the mixture until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove pan from heat and let the basil infuse the syrup for at least 2 hours. Strain, reserving the syrup.
  2. When ready to serve, combine blood orange juice, basil simple syrup and rum in a medium pitcher.
  3. Serve over crushed ice.
  4. Garnish with blood orange slices and fresh basil.

Simple Avocado & Red Onion Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 Hass avocados, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Arrange avocado slices on a plate and top with onion.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.

Skinnytaste Recipe: Cubano Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

Pork:

  • 1 pork tenderloin or loin
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 2 oz Swiss cheese
  • 2 oz deli ham
  • Pickles and/or banana peppers
  • Kitchen String

Rub:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Prep a baking pan with aluminum foil.
  3. Mix spices together to create the rub in a small bowl.
  4. Cut pork lengthwise, slit down the center of the tenderloin to within 1/2- inch of bottom (careful not to cut all the way through).
  5. Open tenderloin so it lies flat. On each half, make another, lengthwise slit down the center to within 1/2-inch of bottom, cover with plastic wrap.
  6. Flatten to 1/4-in. thickness with a mallet.
  7. Remove plastic wrap.
  8. Spread mustard on one side of the tenderloin. Add the Swiss cheese on top of the mustard, then the deli ham on top of that. Last, add your pickles and/or banana peppers.
  9. Roll up pork jelly-roll style, starting with a long side. Tie the roast at 2-inch intervals with kitchen string each about 12-inches long.
  10. Rub the pork with olive and season generously with spice mixture.
  11. Place on a rack in a shallow baking pan; bake, uncovered, at 425° until a meat thermometer reads 160°, about 35 minutes.
  12. Transfer to a serving platter or cutting board.
  13. Let it stand 10 minutes before removing string and slicing.
  14. Slice into 8 pieces and serve.

Cuban Black Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 large garlic clove – minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 scallions
  • 3 tbsp cilantro
  • 2 15 oz can Goya black beans (do not drain)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Chop onion, garlic, bell pepper, scallions and cilantro in a mini chopper or food processor.
  2. Add oil to a medium-sized pot on medium heat.
  3. Add vegetables to the pot and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add beans, water, bay leaf, cumin, oregano, vinegar, salt and black pepper and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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