Tag Archives: cilantro

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.



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.


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.


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.)


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


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My true love gave to me more cheese.

Day three of the Twelve Days of Grilled Cheese continues the pesto-on-grilled cheese trend. (Trust me, it’s a thing. You’ll see.)

I present to you The Grilled Queso.

It’s easy and breezy. It’s just a layer of cilantro pesto, quickly whipped up in about 5 minutes. You add a layer of cheese (…obviously), a thin smear of finely chopped chipotle in adobo (if you’re feeling spicy), and what dish of such proportions wouldn’t love a few slices of creamy avocado? Exactly.

The Grilled Queso

For the Cilantro Pesto (makes a little over a cup, leftover can be frozen for future use):

  • 1 cup of cilantro, including stems if you like (I do)
  • 1 green onion
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup of pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or walnuts or basically any other crunchy thing
  • half a lemon
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt to taste

pesto makin

For the rest, to make one sandwich:

  • 2 slices of bread
  • a couple tablespoons of cilantro pesto (recipe instructions below)
  • 1/2 chipotle in adobo, finely chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • cheese – I used Manchego, although I had visions of Queso Fresco and/or Cotija



1. Make pesto: Roughly chop cilantro and green onion, place in bowl. Toast pumpkin seeds until they begin to pop, then roughly chop and place in same bowl. Add a few glugs of olive oil, juice of half a lemon, and some salt. Taste and adjust to desired salty-ness and oily consistency.

2. Assemble sandwich: Divide finely chopped chipotle and spread on each half of bread. Top one slice with layer of pesto. Top other slice with cheese, then avocado.

3. Heat pan over medium low and melt a little butter and olive oil. Same technique as before: Briefly dip the un-pesto-ed side in the oil and butter, then place the slice, pesto side down, on top of sandwich. Place sandwich in pan, put lid of a pan on top, and cook for about 5 minutes. Flip, cover, cook for about 3 minutes more. Then EAT!



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The Slaw

I love a good slaw. Sometimes I’m so desperate for a slaw, that I even like a bad slaw. You know the type – a little too much sauce, the cabbage chiseled a little too small, and the flavor a little too lacking. What’s a girl to do?

This slaw is none of those things: there’s zucchini, cut into cute little matchsticks. Next, a bit of carrot, shredded. A bell pepper or two, thinly sliced. A diced jalapeno, to add a little spice. Some cilantro, because I love it like no other herb. Top all of that off with a little onion and a mustard-y sauce, and you have The Slaw. (Also affectionately known as “The Slaaaaaaaw.”)

Pleasantly crunchy, spicy, and tangy. Could a slaw ask for anything more?

The Slaw (Zucchini Slaw)
adapted from this slaw and this slaw’s sauce

Note: As usual, the measurements I’m about to give you are guidelines. The amount of vegetables can vary depending on how much slaw you want, and you’ll probably have some leftover sauce. Save it for more slaws – it’s versatile. Also, I definitely tasted and adjusted ingredients in the sauce before dressing The Slaw, and I suggest you do the same. You could add more mayo or sour cream if you like a thicker sauce, or more vinegar or buttermilk if you like it more tangy or thin. One more thing: The zucchini needs an hour of prep time to be salted and drained to draw the water out, so prepare for that.


  • 1 or 2 zucchini, cut in 4-inch long matchsticks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bell pepper (any type), seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons diced onion (green onion would be nice, too)
  • cilantro, to taste (I used a big handful, about 1/3 cup)


  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or cider vinegar
  • a big glop of mustard (I used whole grain dijon)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
  • salt, pepper, to taste

Place zucchini in a colander and sprinkle the 1 teaspoon salt over, mixing gently to thoroughly cover. Let drain in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: combine all ingredients, taste, adjust, and repeat until the sauce is to your liking.

After zucchini is satisfactorily crunchy, blot water still on zucchini with a paper towel and place in a medium – large bowl. Add the rest of the slaw ingredients to the bowl; combine. Dress The Slaw with desired amount of sauce. The original recipe recommends chilling the dressed slaw for an hour before eating, which indeed improves the flavor, but if you simply can’t wait, then dig in.

The Slaw is best on the day it’s made, but I thought it was still quite tasty on day two.  Also, The Slaw enjoys the company of Pulled Pork – or should I say Mr. Pig?



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