Category: Winter Holidays


Anticuchos (Skewered Beef Hearts)

Anticucho Beef Heart

Mary Sue loves grilled beef heart for its chewy texture and lean, clean, meaty flavor. When well trimmed, it needs only a brief visit to a hot grill and a drizzle of aioli. If you can’t find arbol chiles for the marinade, feel free to change up the peppers depending on whatever your heart desires!

2 to 3 cloves garlic
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 to 2 dried arbol chiles, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound beef hearts, trimmed of all sinew and silver skin
Aji Amarillo Aioli, see recipe below, for serving

To make the marinade, puree garlic, jalapeno and arbol chiles, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper in the blender. With motor still running, slowly add olive oil until thoroughly incorporated.

Cut the beef hearts into 4- x 1/2-inch strips about 1/2-inch thick. Place in a bowl, pour on the marinade, and toss to coat evenly. Cover, refrigerate, and marinate for 2 hours.

To cook, preheat the grill or broiler. Thread 4 or 5 pieces of beef heart on each skewer. Grill the skewers until seared on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes total. Serve hot, over Arugula, Fennel, and Blood Orange Salad if desired, with a drizzle of Aji Amarillo Aioli.

Aji Amarillo Aioli

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons aji amarillo paste, to taste
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

In a blender, combine egg yolks, vinegar, lime juice and zest, garlic, salt, and aji amarillo paste.  Blend until smooth. With the motor still running, drizzle in olive oil very slowly until mixture is the consistency of mayonnaise (adding too much oil will cause the aioli to break).  Stir in parsley, taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary.


Venezuelan Spiced Hot Chocolate


There’s nothing like a rich mug of hot chocolate to warm the soul on a cold winter night. We add our signature twist to this cup of chocolate with a fragrant mix of spices and a touch of orange zest. For the chocolate, try a nice Venezuelan cacao like El Rey’s Gran Saman Dark Chocolate 70% for a bold, earthy flavor.

Makes 8 cups

1/2 gallon whole milk
5 whole allspice berries
3 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
Zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup rum

Combine milk with spices, orange zest, and sugar in large heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, until milk just starts to bubble around the edges (scalding). Lower heat and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steep 10 minutes.

Strain spice-infused milk into another large heavy pot, discarding spices. Add chocolate and rum to milk. Cook over low heat, whisking briskly until chocolate is completely melted. Serve immediately.




It wouldn’t feel like winter without a little nog. For centuries, egg-based drinks have been a popular holiday tradition throughout Europe and the Americas, with many cultures creating their own versions. Rompope, the rum-spiked eggnog from Mexico, is the inspiration for our favorite recipe yet. Since eggs, sugar, and spices were once considered to be foods of the upper class, eggnog was often used in toasts to prosperity and good health. Salud!


3/4 cup heavy cream
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup rum
6 egg whites
Ground cinnamon, to taste
Ground anise, to taste
Ground allspice, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1 cup whole milk
Rum, to taste, for spiking

Whip heavy cream to soft peaks and refrigerate.

Combine egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar, and rum in a mixing bowl. Place bowl over a pot of gently simmering water and cook egg yolk mixture while whipping constantly. When mixture becomes satiny, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In another mixing bowl, combine egg whites, 2 tablespoons of sugar, cinnamon, anise, allspice, and nutmeg. Whip to soft peaks.

Fold whipped egg white mixture into cooked, cooled egg yolk mixture. Then fold in the whipped cream. Fold in the milk and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

To serve, spike with rum to taste.

Note: By combining some of the hot milk into the yolk mixture first, you are slowly heating the eggs to avoid coagulating or cooking them. This step, called tempering the yolks, is important in egg cookery because after an egg is cooked, there’s no turning back.


Red Roasted Quail

red roasted quail

Achiote paste, or recado rojo, gives the rub for this Red Roasted Quail recipe a deep red hue, making for visually striking roasted holiday birds. Arranged around the outside edge of a round platter, these birds will look like a red holiday wreath. Serve with a winter greens or simple herb salad.

Achiote paste is a bright red-orange seasoning from the Yucatan made of ground annatto seeds, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, and cloves. Thinned with citrus juices, it becomes a bold, tangy marinade for quail roasted on the grill.

Serves 6

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted
Pinch ground cinnamon
8 cloves garlic
2 ounces achiote paste
12 whole quail
Canola oil, for the grill

Combine juices, olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, garlic, and achiote in a blender and process until smooth.

Pat the quail dry, then coat inside and out with the marinade. Refrigerate, covered, 3 to 5 hours.

Prepare a grill for indirect grilling over medium-high heat. Oil the grates. Sear quail breast side down on hot side of grill, until skin lightly browns and birds can be lifted without sticking, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, then move to cooler side of grill. Cover and cook, turning occasionally, until an instant read thermometer inserted in breast reads 165 degrees F, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from grill, cover loosely with aluminum foil and rest for 5 minutes.