a couple of sauces

we had a party at the weekend and to try and counter the cold grey weather we are having, i decided to revisit an old favourite theme for food and music – latino! i love this for giving me the whole of south america and spain to draw my inspiration from, but do have to confess to being a bit lazy and choosing some tried and trusted recipes.

mini empanadas with a spicy butternut squash and thyme filling were cooked in batches and served as people arrived and sipped the old cuban cocktails we served (a sparkling mix of rum, lime, mint, sugar syrup and cava).

the main  savoury food was slow-cooked pork, chicken tinga, sweetcorn and courgette bake, cornbreads, autumn slaw, corn and black bean salsa, chips and guacamole, yucatan pink pickled onions and two lovely sauces, both of which were particularly intended to complement the pork.

the red sauce is a brazilian style chimichurri. chimichurri is originally from argentina and is based on finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and wine vinegar – this version adds tomato, chilli, shallots (i used red onion) and lemon juice. it has a lovely freshness which means you can make it quite spicy.

a contrast in both texture and flavour was the toasted pepita (pumpkin seed) and coriander pesto. this was fabulous, with a hefty garlic kick but also a richness from the toasted pumpkin seeds and cashew nuts. the recipe gives an alternative version which also includes feta cheese, but i decided to keep it simple – this time.

sweet mexican wedding cookies, a delicious chocolate bundt cake and rose-drenched lime and yoghurt cake were the finishing touches.

marcelo de campos’ brazilian style chimichurri

1 tomato, skinned and deseeded

1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 garlic cloves (i only used 1)

2 small shallots, chopped (i used red onion)

1 fresh red chilli

2½ tablespoons olive oil

juice of ½ a lemon

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

to make the chimichurri, blitz the tomato, parsley, oregano, garlic, shallots and fresh chilli with a stick blender (or chop by hand very finely). add the oil, the lemon and vinegar then season then chill for 30 minutes.

diana henry’s pepita and coriander pesto

60g fresh coriander

20g toasted pumpkin seeds

20g cashew nuts

2 cloves garlic, chopped

juice of 1½ limes

125ml extra-virgin olive oil

60g feta cheese, finely crumbled (optional)

1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely chopped

put all the pesto ingredients in a food processor, except for the feta cheese and chilli, and blend to a purée. if you are using feta, add this now and whizz again. scrape into a bowl, stir in the chilli and set aside – it will keep for a day in the fridge under a layer of oil.