I call it serendipity. Walking around the marina one morning, Gail and I thought we’d look for a restaurant, Latitude 20, that had been twice recommended to us. When we found it, a Mexican cooking class was about to begin. For 100 pesos (less than $7), we would learn to make Agua de Horchata, Ceviche Stuffed Avocados, Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, and Pineapple Casserole, and then get to eat it! Needless to say, we stayed even though we knew Jim was back at the condo waiting for breakfast upon our return. Some offers you can’t pass up.
We had front row seats and watched as the place filled up around us. This was obviously a popular weekly event that we had discovered entirely by chance.
Danny and his assistant, Carlos, started with the dessert, a pineapple casserole that would bake while we made the other dishes.
Recipe for Pineapple Casserole
1 medium pineapple, ripe
1/4 cup to 1 cup (depending on how much you like) raisins
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup orange juice
Peel and core the pineapple; slice into rounds reserving the juice. Do the same with the apples.
Distribute them evenly in a pot. Add the sugar, raisins, and juice.
Cook over low fire for about 30 minutes. (I interpret this to mean bake at 325-350. The apples need to soften up.)
Let cool and serve with whipped cream.
Simple but tasty!
Danny showed us how to slice the ends off the pineapple and core it before trimming the skin off and slicing the fruit. This worked well for him but it presumes the use of a really sharp knife and some skill wielding it. I’ll probably continue to use my old method. Incidentally, he cored and sliced the apples the same way.
Next up was the ceviche stuffed avocado. If you’re not familiar with this dish, ceviche (pronounced say-VEE-chay) is raw fish marinated in citrus juice with various other ingredients but typically onion, tomato, cilantro, and peppers. I’m always a little nervous about raw fish but Danny assured us the lime juice “cooks” the fish so it’s really no longer raw. Alright then.
Recipe for Ceviche Stuffed Avocados
150 grams of raw fish (150 g is roughly 5 oz)
1/4 white onion (I would probably use a red onion)
1/4 bunch cilantro
150 ml lime juice (150 ml is roughly 5 oz)
salt and pepper
Cut the fish into bite size pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lime juice; put aside. It’s best to allow to marinate overnight.
Chop the onion, cilantro, and tomato. Add to the fish.
Cut the avocados in half; seed and peel.
Mix the fish with other ingredients and stuff the avocados. Serve cold.
Danny demonstrated how to chiffonade the cilantro so as not to bruise it. Chiffonade is a French word for a technique to roll the herb then chop it. I actually think another method is easier–click here and it’s also from France so it is still très chic! Just be sure to trim the cilantro from the stems first because they are too coarse to eat.
We also discussed the type of fish to use in this dish. Danny told us we were using wahoo on this occasion but any mild white fish will do.
The Mexican shrimp cocktail included an interesting ingredient, Maggi Juice. I asked Danny what it was and he explained that it’s like concentrated Worcestershire. I took a picture to see whether it’s available in the US. When I googled it, I found it online at Wal-Mart by the case of 24 bottles for $37.76.
Recipe for Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
1 cup ketchup
2 avocados chopped
1 medium red onion chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
1 lb. pacotilla shrimp (smaller cooked shrimp)
2 limes, quartered
4 dashes Tabasco sauce
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes Maggi juice (substitute extra Worcestershire)
Mix the ketchup, avocados, juice of 1 lime and the 1/2 orange, Maggi, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce in a bowl.
Add the shrimp and mix well.
Serve in a bowl or tall glass and garnish with onion and cilantro with lime wedges and tortilla chips.
Last but not least, we made the agua de horchata. I’ve heard of this drink before but I had no idea it’s made from rice. It’s not the rice that makes it so tasty, however; it’s condensed milk. Anything that rich will certainly taste good.
Recipe for Agua de Horchata
3/4 cup rice (uncooked)
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 can condensed milk
water as necessary
Rinse the rice. Soak for 1 hour with enough water to cover it. Place in a blender and add enough water to cover by an inch. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and blend until finely ground. Drain the liquid through colander into a pitcher.
Return the ground rice to the blender. Add the condensed milk and about 2 cups water and blend again. Drain into the pitcher. Discard any remaining rice.
Add more water to the pitcher one cup at a time until it has the right amount of sweetness for you.
Add ice and serve cold.
I expected a heavy flavor like an egg nog but the aqua de horchata actually had an unexpectedly light, fresh taste.
Once all the dishes were prepared, the staff served us a portion of each. Everything was muy delicioso!
We returned for dinner that evening but more on that later.
ser•en•dip•i•ty (ˌsɛr ənˈdɪp ɪ ti)
1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. good fortune; luck.
[1754; Serendip + -ity; Horace Walpole so named a faculty possessed by the heroes of a fairy tale called The Three Princes of Serendip]
Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
Recipes provided by Latitude 20
Based on events of January, 2015