This article originally appeared as part of the story Tempting Tapas in the May/June 2019 issue.
Rincon 38 co-owner Hector Ruiz offers the following tips for home chefs.
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) isn’t the best to use in all situations. It has a low smoking point and that can ruin the flavor. If you’re cooking at high temperatures, try mixing your EVOO with a flavorless oil like canola or grapeseed oil with a ratio of 1 cup of EVOO to ¼ cup of flavorless oil.
If you’re making aioli, Ruiz recommends using first press EVOO from Calif. For aioli, use a blend of 75 percent EVOO and 25 percent canola oil.
Be aware of what kind of sugar you use. Sugar cane tastes different, and better than beet sugar. Ruiz uses a lot of maple syrup as a sweetener, which he gets locally at Fischer’s Croix Farm Orchard. Ruiz also uses agave nectar as a sweetener. Ruiz really likes Demerara sugar—a raw sugar that has a natural light brown color and toffee-like flavor. It’s sometimes confused with brown sugar, which gets its color from molasses. Demerara costs more than regular sugar, but is well worth the extra cost, says Ruiz.
If you want to use goat cheese but find the taste overwhelming, try using an equal mixture of goat cheese and mascarpone.
Ruiz’s most important tip? “When you cook, think of whoever it is that you love the most,” Ruiz says.