Category Archives: Snacks

Not Your Mama’s Plantains

We watch a lot of cooking shows, like a lot a lot.  I’ve noticed that most dishes focusing on Puerto Rican food have plantains in it.  I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to visit my parents in Puerto Rico over the Thanksgiving holiday.

beach

tunnel

on the beach

San Juan fort

Being that I had never tried plantains before (shocker, I know), I was so excited to try them on this trip.  I tried so many different versions and was so stinkin’ disappointed that I didn’t really care for them.  Not to let that stop me, I kept trying them.  Over, and over, and over, and…you get the idea.  To those of you who like the original plantain, I am so jealous, and this recipe is probably not for you.  Although the recipe may provide an interesting change…maybe?

When figuring this recipe out, I was thinking about my favorite way to indulge in starches.  I love mashed potato leftovers formed into patties and pan-fried.  I was hoping plantains wouldn’t be any different.

To start, take two ripe plantains.  They should be fairly soft (again, I have no idea if this is traditional when using plantains, but it is what I did).

ripe plantains

Peel the plantains, mash ‘em, and lightly cover the mush with salt and pepper.  I love salt, so it is a must for me.  If you don’t like salt (whaaaaa????) then leave it out.  I must warn you…if you leave it out, you may end up with bland goop.  That’s just my very biased opinion.

mash

Ok.  Now that we have established that I love salt, I will remind you, yet again, that I have had a long-standing love affair with scallions.  Unfortunately, I was out and no interest in going to the store.  The next best option was to use sliced washed leeks.  I sautéed them in butter for just a few minutes to slightly soften them.  If you use scallions, there is no need to soften them.  Now combine everything, and add a few tablespoons of flour, just to firm up the texture a little bit.  I also added about 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro, just for a little extra flavor and the pretty green color.

flour 

Next, take ¼ cup of the mixture, flatten it between your hands and coat the patties in seasoned breadcrumbs.  Once all the patties are formed, place them on a plate and refrigerate for an hour or so.  This will ensure that they stay together during cooking.

Finally, heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, and add just a little bit of oil to keep the butter from browning.  Cook the plantain patties until both sides are browned, turning only once during cooking.

Now comes the best part: time to chow down.  I decided to serve them with the most delicious spicy mango sauce that my amazing mother made and sent home with us from Puerto Rico.  It is unfortunately almost gone…she may have to mail more.  That wasn’t too subtle, was it?  Maybe she will even post the recipe sometime (it is that amazingly good, and you haven’t lived until you try it.  For real.)

done 

Happy February to you all, and here’s to many more delicious meals in 2014.

Janessa

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Tomatoes II: Wrath of Khan, or, “It is very cold in THE FREEZER!”

Much like Admiral Kirk and his inevitable defeat of Khan, I have defeated the tomatoes. (Or should I say, “TOMATOOOOOES!”)

dishes

I’m not sure if this shot captures the mess that I felt was all over the little kitchen after dealing with the tomatoes, but lemme tell you: it was a battlefield. There were tomato guts, skins, and tears all over the counter and in the sink. I submit the above as evidence, lest you think the life of bloggers is all pretty pictures of food and happiness and sunshine, all the time.

But the battle was completely worth it, because look!:

ready to go

Thanks to a brilliant suggestion by Braeden’s mom, I easily defeated most of the tomatoes by blanching, peeling, lightly chopping, and freezing them in quart-sized freezer bags.

tomato jam

A halved recipe of this tomato jam also happened. It’s been spread into breakfast sandwiches with fried eggs and blanched kale, on toast with sweet pickled jalapeños, and on toast with feta sprinkled over top. In other words it’s very versatile, and what are you waiting for? You don’t even have to use all the listed ingredients – I used a bit less sugar, no ginger, and just a squeeze of lime and didn’t bother with sterilizing and canning since it will be eaten within a few weeks anyway. Easy, peasy.

If the Khan tomatoes are still tormenting you, though, may I suggest something else? Something green, perhaps?

green tomatoes

If you have the chance to get your hands on some green tomatoes, do it. And then fry them. With a gentle salting, followed by a quick dredge in seasoned flour, a light bath in an egg whisked with buttermilk, and a hefty coating of spiced cornmeal and breadcrumbs, those green tomatoes will be the happiest of green tomatoes in the world. Who wouldn’t want happy tomatoes? (Aside from Khan, that is.)

I adapted my recipe from here and was craving a Mexican spice profile at the time. After making them again, I didn’t see a reason to change the spices. Even the leftovers were good cold, straight from the fridge. I happened to have a few tomatillos on hand and put together a quick, fresh salsa of tomatillos, a few small tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro, lime, and salt to spoon over the fried green tomatoes, but they actually didn’t need a condiment. Even Braeden, the Condiment King, ate one or two without adornment.

fixins

Give it a shot. I was intimidated at first (dredging, coating, and frying, oh my!), but I promise this formula actually keeps the coating stuck on the tomatoes.

(And on your fingers. But this is a battle, so you should expect some minor injuries.)

battle wounds

A glass of sangria while you work couldn’t hurt, either.

Fried Green Tomatoes
Adapted from Simply Recipes

Notes: The first time I made these, I followed the original recipe measurements for the flour, egg/buttermilk mix, and cornmeal coating but ran out before I finished frying the last tomato, leaving me in a frenzy of mixing more to finish it off. Having enough coating just depends on the size of your tomatoes. The below measurements will likely make a little more than you need, but you should know that the flour, egg/buttermilk, and cornmeal combo also does wonders to other things that may be lurking around your kitchen – pickled okra, leftover slices of grilled eggplant, slices of already cooked sweet potatoes, for example. About the seasonings: I used cumin and two other spice blends (Goya Adobo and Ancho Chili and Lime), but use whatever you’d like. Do let me know if you try something you’re particularly excited about!

  • 3 medium-large green tomatoes
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup breadcrumbs (plain, Panko, homemade, whatever you have)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Adobo seasoning
  • 1-2 teaspoons Ancho Chili and Lime seasoning
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying

1. Slice the tomatoes into ¼ inch rounds and arrange on a plate, lightly salting each slice. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. In a wide, shallow dish or bowl, combine the flour and pepper to taste. Set aside.

3. In another shallow dish, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs. Set aside.

4. In one more shallow dish, combine the cornmeal, breadcrumbs, and seasonings.

5. Heat about a 1/4 cup of oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet. While the oil is heating, arrange your assembly line: sangria with straw (optional), sliced tomatoes, flour bowl, buttermilk-egg bowl, cornmeal-breadcrumb bowl. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and place near your skillet.

assembly

6. Once oil is heated, start coating your tomatoes. Dredge both sides of a tomato slice lightly in flour, then coat both sides in the buttermilk-egg, and finally coat both sides in the cornmeal-breadcrumbs. Place in oil. Quickly repeat with more tomato slices, filling pan in a single layer of tomatoes. Cook about 3 minutes per side (they’ll be nicely golden-brown) and remove to paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat until you’ve used up all your tomatoes, replenishing the oil if needed. If you have leftover coating ingredients, experiment with other things in your refrigerator! (Just don’t save the cornmeal-breadcrumb mixture, since it will be contaminated with the raw egg.)

side one

side two

done

7. Serve with salsa, barbecue sauce, tomato chutney, or eat plain. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator – they’re good cold or gently crisped in an oven.

with salsa verde

Yes, tomatoes, it has been lovely doing battle with you, but I have won yet again.

In conclusion, I leave you with these words of wisdom:

“Ah Kirk, my old friend. Do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us ‘Revenge is a dish that is best served cold.’? It is very cold in SPACE!”

Kara

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Salty

Last year I reported on my strange, early-morning moments when, awakened by hunger but with too little energy to walk 20 steps to find something to eat, I would drift restlessly back to sleep with an unsatisfied stomach.

Today, I bring you a similar story, but at the opposite time of day: The mid- to late-afternoon munchies.

Sure, I have farm-fresh apples and pears that I could always munch on. Yes, I have a yogurt (Soy! It doesn’t have the weird texture!) that I could slurp up. But what I really want is something salty.

Like a burger.

Instead, I begrudgingly chip away at a dark chocolate bar with whole hazelnuts inside, dreaming of the time I’ll set aside to make some salty snacks. (I know, I know. #firstworldproblems.)

Well folks, that time has come.

Voila, my salty snack. I adapted this oh-so-easy recipe from La Tartine Gourmande, who adapted her recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook. There’s really not a lot that needs to be said about these crunchy, salty snacks. They’re easy, infinitely adaptable to what nuts and/or spices you have on hand, and quick to make. They may not be a burger, but they’ll do.
Salty, toasted nuts
adapted from this recipe
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups mixed nuts – I had pecans, cashews, and pumpkin seeds on hand
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (what I used), flax seeds, or other small seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon – 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes (I just bought some Aleppo pepper and have become obsessed, but crushed red pepper would be good too)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt + a few pinches of a coarse salt
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 300 Fahrenheit; line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, beat the egg white until frothy. Add the spices, salts, and herbs, beating to combine. Stir in the nuts and seeds, combining until they’re all covered in the egg white mixture. Spread the whole mess evenly over the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until nuts are toasty and fragrant. Let cool before serving.

Kara

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