Guava Margaritas with a Smoky Salt Rim


My guava love saga continues with tequila, grand marnier, and a smoky salted rim. The brief appearance of spring in New York City has lifted my spirits and instantaneously put a skip in my step. Spring is that magical time of year when the city comes back to life and the parks and rooftops are brimming with pale New Yorkers. As the bodegas fill up with tulips and daffodils, I feel inspired wear espadrilles and to sip spirits in the sun. Guava margaritas will have you celebrating spring and cure your winter blues in one smoky sip.


Tequila reminds me of Miami and bright beach days with dirty coronas and late nights. In these guava margaritas, the sweetness of the guava is offset by the smoked paprika and the hot cayenne in the salted rim. I topped this spring cocktail with grapefruit soda, but prosecco or champagne would be killer. Apparently it is set to snow this Sunday, so I’ll enjoy this sunny spring preview with smoky guava margaritas and homemade Cuban food.


Guava Margaritas with Smoked Salt Rim

Makes 2

  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce grand marnier
  • 2 teaspoons guava marmelade or guava sauce
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Top with grapefruit soda, prosecco, or champagne

Smoked Salt Rim

  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Mix the salt rim ingredients on a flat plate. Run a lime over the rim of the glass and salt the rim. In a shaker over ice add the tequila, grand marnier, guava marmelade, and lime juice. Shake well and pour over fresh ice in the salted highballs. Top with a floater of grapefruit soda (I used San Pellegrino Pommelo) but prosecco or champagne would work well. Garnish the guava margaritas with a lime wheel and cheers to spring!


Note: Mezcal would be amazing in these guava margaritas, but I had silver tequila on hand. I bet this could also be batched as a signature cocktail for a spring or summer party using both grapefruit soda and prosecco to make plenty for a crowd.


Platanos Maduros


Platanos maduros are caramelized and crispy on the outside with soft, sweet, and gooey centers.  Plantains, a tropical starchy member of the banana family, can be enjoyed sweet or savory. Platanos maduros which translates to ripe plantains are made from totally tender black plantains. In their very ripe and green form, plantains yield savory and crunchy treats with a hint of sweetness called mariquitas (plantain chips) or tostones.


Very ripe plantains yield a sweet delicacy called platanos maduros (sweet fried plantains) that caramelize in the hot frying pan and melt in your mouth. I like to let my platanos maduros get extra crispy and nearly burnt. These tiny pieces of crunchy delights almost melt away like sweet chicarrones when done right. Platanos maduros are a celebrated dietary staple and can pretty much accompany any Cuban meal especially picadillo. While tostones might be a reigning favorite, platanos maduros offer a balancing sweetness to rich and salty Cuban dishes.


Platanos Maduros

  • 2 extremely ripe plantains
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sea salt
  • Lime wedges (optional)

Heat the oil. I placed the heat between 5-6- make sure you wait until the oil is hot. You usually want to use about an inch of oil or so. I like to use less oil or sometimes I quickly sear the outsides of the plantains and then bake them at 350 for 20 minutes with a sprinkle of brown sugar to be somewhat healthier. When the oil is hot fry the sliced sweet plantains on both sides until a golden deep rich brown color with crispy edges emerges.


Place the plantanos maduros on paper towels to drain off the excess oil when finished. Obviously they taste majestic and glorious when sitting in the oil but for my arteries’ sake I drain them. I like to sprinkle a little salt on the paper towel so they don’t stick and so the salt melts into these sweet treats.


The platanos maduros will be initially quite hot with crispy gooey exteriors but lava-like centers. Once they do not cling to the paper towel, I know they are ready to eat. Gently use a spoon to see if they will give enough to pull without tearing. Lime is not necessarily a traditional addition, but usually when you eat platanos maduros with picadillo or palomilla the lime used will get on them and taste amazing. A little squeeze of lime only amplifies their flavor.

Mojo Beef Short Ribs

Fontignac Mojo-Beef-Short-Ribs  

Mojo beef short ribs with yuca frita and cilantro garlic sauce are utter perfection.  The mojo, tender short ribs, crispy yuca frita, and garlicky sauce all combine to create wondrous Cuban amazingness in your mouth. I have a love for fall off-the-bone beef short ribs, and I wanted to make this into a Cuban dish. The Fontignac cast-iron enameled French cooking oven I ordered finally arrived, and braised beef short ribs were the first thing on my list to make.


I made classic beef short ribs first with a red wine sauce last week as practice, and it left something to be desired. So I decided to give it another go, and this time my recipe was a homerun! Seriously- these mojo braised beef short ribs will change your world. Your taste buds will rejoice and your friends and family will let out a gasp as you place this dish before them.


The mojo flavors subdued the intense richness of the beef short ribs and cut through the fat. The crispy yuca frita added texture, and the creamy cilantro garlic sauce supplied the necessary tang to marry the flavors together. If I ever had my own restaurant this recipe would undoubtedly be on the menu. I loved the plating and the true Cuban flavors in the perfect mojo sauce. Mojo braised beef short ribs are taking Cuban flavors to another level.

Plated-Beef-Short-Ribs Mojo-Fork-tender-vertical

Mojo Beef Short Ribs 

Salt and Pepper Flour 8 Beef Short Ribs 2 tablespoons Olive Oil 1 onion diced 1 medium carrot diced 1 large (or 2 small) celery stalks diced 5 garlic cloves ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice ¾ prepared Mojo Criollo ½ cup- ¾ dry white cooking wine 1 bay leaf ½ teaspoon ground oregano ½ teaspoon cumin 1 cup beef broth ( or more to cover) Serves 4 hearty portion

Dice the onion, carrot, and celery. This is called a mirepoix; set aside for later. Juice 2 limes (or enough for a ¼ cup) and 1 orange; set aside.


Add a tablespoon of the olive oil to a dutch oven and turn the stove top to medium-high heat (I used Fontignac cast-iron enameled French cooking oven). Pat the beef short ribs dry and season all sides generously with freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt. Dredge the beef short ribs in flour.


When the olive oil is very hot place 3-4 beef ribs, meaty side down (bones facing up) in the bottom of the pan. Do not crowd the beef ribs. They will steam instead of searing and browning nicely if they are crowded in the pan. Sear the ribs on all sides, including the cut ends. Each side should get about a minute (or more if you want a nice hard sear on the outside). This gives the beef short ribs great color and locks in the yummy juices and keeps them tender. Add the rest of the olive oil if needed in this step. It took me three batches of browning and searing to finish all the beef short ribs. Set them aside on a plate when you are done.


Preheat the oven to 350F. Now add the mirepoix to the same pot making sure to scrape up any tasty brown bits. Allow the vegetables to soften and cook. Add the garlic when they are almost done cooking.  Next pour in the white cooking wine, fresh squeezed orange, lime juice, and mojo. Stir in the cumin, oregano, and add a bay leaf to the liquid. Bring to a boil. Add the beef ribs back into the pot with the meaty side down once again. Pour in enough beef broth to just cover the beef short ribs. Bring to boil again, and then put the lid on top and place in the oven and braise at 350F for 2 ½ hours. Check out the before and after below… the beef ribs were falling off the bone!!


With about 50 minutes left in the cooking begin to prep the yuca and cilantro garlic sauce. The crispier the yuca the better! Squeeze a lime wedge over the yuca frita and sprinkle with sea salt. I plated both dishes with five yuca frita.  Make the cilantro garlic sauce per the instructions in my recipe. Place the yuca row and drizzle with the cilantro garlic sauce.


The tender beef short ribs were literally falling off the bones when I took them out of the oven. You can strain and cook the braising liquid to make gravy, or just ladle some mojo into a bowl for dipping. Top with two beef ribs, and drizzle the thickened mojo sauce on top of the beef short ribs. Sprinkle with torn cilantro leaves or parsley. Mojo braised beef short ribs are perhaps one of my best creations and crazy impressive looking when plated!