Tostones

The ripeness and color of any plantain you choose at the market has a huge impact on the taste of your intended meal.  Green plantains are fantastic as a savory dish, as they are only slightly sweet; yellow and black plantains are more suited for sweet caramelized dishes.  

When I make tostones I choose a green plantain with almost no black spots.  When I make platanos maduros, I prefer a ripeness somewhere between yellow and black, although many traditional Latin-American dishes suggest using a completely black plantain.  Generally, I buy them green and store in a bowl on the counter for future use.  A green plantain can take up to a month to turn black, so its an easy fruit to perpetually have on hand.

INGREDIENTS:
1 green plantain
1/4 inch corn oil in a cast iron skillet
1 small dinner plate
Sea salt to taste
Lime wedges

DIRECTIONS:
Peel the plantain by cutting off each edge and then slicing lengthwise on both sides. Peel away the remaining peel. Slice the fruit at an angle into 1 1/2 inch chunks–slicing at an angle (rather than creating a flat surface) will help with smashing later in the process.

Heat 1/4-1/2 inch of corn oil in a cast iron frying pan. When a small drop of water sizzles in the pan, the oil is ready for frying. Carefully add plantain chunks to pan and fry both sides for approximately 3-5 minutes–until tostones just begin to brown.

Remove chunks and drain oil on a paper towel.  Using a small plate, flatten the tostones one at a time. The idea is not to make them super-flat, but just mash them down.

Return to oil and fry an additional minute or two flipping halfway through, until tostones are golden brown.

Remove from frying pan and drain oil once more onto paper towels.  Sea salt to taste, and serve with Lime-Garlic Mayonnaise and some extra lime wedges.


Lime-Garlic Mayonnaise

I absolutely adore homemade mayonnaise because its nothing like the store-bought stuff.  Its really fun to make, and its totally customizable.  All you really need is an egg, some oil, and an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or vinegar; experimenting is really cool.

One tip if you’ve never made mayo before: really, really take your time when emulsifying the oil and egg.  If you pour too quickly, the ingredients will not bind.  Further suggestions are in the recipe directions below.

Since you will not be adding any preservatives (yay!) to this awesomely homemade mayonnaise, be especially attentive to its life outside the refrigerator.  Also, I always throw mine out after a week.  Any longer might be compromising the food-safety integrity of the mayo.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe does use raw eggs so if you are unsure about whether you are “at risk” when consuming raw eggs, check out the USDA Egg Fact Sheet.

INGREDIENTS:
1 egg
1 C vegetable oil, divided in half
1 T Dijon mustard
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Juice of one small lime
1/2 tsp salt

In a food processor, add the egg and mustard. Turn the food processor on. Through the feeder tube, add a drop (and I do–literally–mean 1 exact drop) of oil. Add another drop, and then another, until you have the thinnest, slowest possible stream of oil going through the feeder tube. This process of adding the oil will take several minutes. You will begin to notice when the oil and egg emulsify as the texture will suddenly “come together” and you’ll recognize the creamy consistency you are used to seeing. The reason I divide the oil in half is to ensure I don’t pour too fast; having a smaller volume to pour ensures maximum concentration each time.

When the oil is completely incorporated, and your mayonnaise is creamy, turn off the food processor. Add garlic, lime juice, and salt. Pulse several additional seconds, taste, and adjust flavor.  If you want to make an aioli garlic spread, try substituting olive oil for the vegetable oil–delicious!  Serve with Tostones, Tuna Burgers, or your favorite sandwich.


Tuna Burgers

This is one of my favorite childhood meals that I continue to make when I want a quick home-cooked meal.  My mom used crushed saltines instead of the breadcrumbs, and she also added relish to the mix–which is definitely reminiscent of 1980’s food culture–but this is my own updated recipe.  

You’ll only be able to make 2 average-sized burgers from this, so just double or triple the recipe if you are cooking for more than two people.  If you use homemade breadcrumbs, as I do when I have them on hand, then add 1/2 tsp or more of salt, and your choice of Italian seasonings to taste.  Store-bought breadcrumbs already contain all that good stuff–and some bad stuff too, but they are a nice staple to have on hand in the pantry for emergencies.  

Serve on a toasted bun, or wrapped in romaine leaves with avocado and sprouts.

INGREDIENTS:
1 can tuna, drained
1 egg
1/4 C finely chopped onions
1/2 C Italian-style breadcrumbs (homemade or store-bought)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T olive oil, for pan-frying

DIRECTIONS:
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the egg into the tuna with a fork.  Add onions and garlic.  Mix again.  Add breadcrumbs and mix with hands until moist and evenly distributed.  Split the mix into two evenly-sized balls, and mold into patties.  Let sit for 3-5 minutes so the breadcrumbs become completely absorbed.

Heat the olive oil in a no-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the burgers, and pan-fry until golden brown, approximately 3-5 minutes per side.

Serve on a toasted bun, or wrapped in romaine leaves with avocado and sprouts.

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Hummus

I make hummus practically every week, so I have to vary the recipe a bit in order to keep myself interested in my own cooking!

This hummus has a hint of brown sugary sweetness with the richness of a peanut butter and pumpkin combination–and is still justifiably healthy!  If you are serving it in a dish, garnish with a cinnamon stick, caramelized walnuts, or a drizzle of honey.  It tastes best with celery sticks, graham crackers, buttery crackers, or wrapped in crepes with potatoes and greens.  

INGREDIENTS:
1 16 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzos)
1 C pumpkin (cooked or canned)
1/2 C peanut butter
1/8 C olive oil
1 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
4 T brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2-1 C water

DIRECTIONS:
Add all ingredients to food processor except water.

Begin blending.  Slowly pour 1/2 C water through the feeder tube in your food processor. Blend 10 seconds, or until hummus reaches a smooth consistency.  Taste and adjust spices.  Blend again, pouring in the remaining water until hummus becomes fluffy and smooth.  You might not need all the water–or you might need a little more than 1 C–just stop pouring when your hummus reaches the consistency you prefer most.

Garnish with a cinnamon stick, some caramelized walnuts, or a drizzle of honey.

Slow Cooker Apple Pie Oatmeal

I have eaten oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon, and fresh apple slices 5 days a week for the past 6 years of my life–I love it–but I was also looking for a more unique approach to the meal.  Often times I stir in peanut butter, flax seeds, chocolate chips, walnuts, fig jam–whatever, really; oatmeal is so versatile, and it pairs amazingly well with a fresh cup of coffe in the morning.  Wrap a spoonful in some fresh Crepes and dust with powdered sugar for a brunch-y style home-cooked meal.

INGREDIENTS:
2 Granny Smith Apples
4-6 T brown sugar, to taste
1 tsp cinnamon
3 C water (plus 1/2 C extra if you prefer a less chunky oatmeal texture)
1 1/2 C rolled oats
1 T butter (omit for vegan recipe)

DIRECTIONS:
Chop apples to desired size.  You can use an apple slicer to begin the process, but I like to chop my apples a bit finer than the thickness the corer provides.

Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.  Add apples, 4 T brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and water.  Stir.  Cook on high for 1 hour.  Apples will be soft on the outside, but still crisp on the inside


Add rolled oats.  Stir.  I love thick oatmeal, but here is where you can add an additional 1/2 C of water if you find the texture too thick.  Taste and adjust cinnamon and sugar to your liking.  Replace lid and continue cooking on high for 1 hr.

When finished, mix should begin to clump together and have a sticky consistency.  Apples should be soft, and a little mushy.

Serve with milk or soymilk.  Wrap a spoonful in some fresh Crepes and dust with powdered sugar or a honey drizzle for a brunch-y style home-cooked meal.

You can store this in the fridge for a few days and simply reheat in a saucepan (or microwave) with a splash of milk.  I find the taste is even more pronounced the next day when reheated.

This recipe was adapted from the wonderful Kalyn’s Kitchen, however I amended it a bit because I’m not a big fan of Splenda.  I also wanted to add a more buttery flavor so as to mimic apple pie.  

Crepes with Parmesan Scrambled Eggs

You can stuff anything into a crepe–sweet or savory–and it will be a new experience each time.  Some of my favorite fillings are nutella with banannas and raspberries; crockpot apple pie oatmeal; and marinated peppers, mushrooms, and onions.  Here’s a nice brunch-y recipe that pairs great with a spicy bloody mary.  If you don’t want to make the parmesan sauce, garlic hummus is an awesome substitute!

PREPARATION ORDER:
1- Prepare crepe batter, and set aside for 20-30 minutes
2- Prepare parmesan sauce
3- Prepare scrambled eggs in a bowl, but do not cook until crepes are almost finished
4- Make crepes.  Keep warm on a plate covered with foil, or in a stove warmer on very low heat
5- Cook scrambled eggs when crepes are almost finished
6- Fill crepes with eggs, drizzle with sauce, wrap, & eat!

CREPES (Ingredients & Method):
1/2 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C milk
2 eggs
1T butter (melted)
1/3 tsp salt

In a food processor, mix eggs for about 10 seconds.  Add milk and butter, and mix 10 additional seconds.  Add flour and salt.  Mix again for 10-15 seconds.  The batter should be considerably runnier than a pancake mixture, but should also maintain a slight thickness.  If its still too thin add additional flour 1 T at a time until desired texture is reached.  See video below for an example of my own ideal crepe batter consistency.  Let batter sit 20-30 minutes while you prepare the sauce and eggs.

When cooking crepes, heat a no-stick skillet over medium-low heat.  Remove the skillet from heat and coat the pan with a small layer of vegetable oil (I use a pastry brush).  Scoop 1/4 C of the crepe mixture into the skillet and use your wrist to distribute the batter evenly around the circumference of the pan.  Return to stovetop.  When edges begin to brown (after about 1-2 mins), use you fingers and the tip of a cereal spoon to flip crepe.  Cook for an additional minute.  Remove from heat, store on a plate covered with foil, or in a warmer.  Repeat until batter is gone.  This recipe should make about 4 thin crepes.

PARMESAN SAUCE (Ingredients & Method):
1/2-3/4 C milk
1/4 C cheese (shredded)
1 T butter
1T flour

In a small saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in flour.  Add 1/2 C milk and stir until sauce thickens–this will happen as the mixture boils for a few seconds, but it is important to continue stirring during the process so the sauce does not burn.  After sauce thickens, add cheese and stir until melted.  This will be a pretty thick sauce, so if you’d like to thin it out, add extra milk 1 T at a time until sauce reaches desired consistency.

SCRAMBLED EGG FILLING (Ingredients & Method):
4 eggs
1 tsp garlic
1/4 C shelled edamame (thawed if stored frozen)
1/4 C shredded carrots
1/8 C shredded parmesan cheese
1 T mixed Italian herbs
4 T water

Beat eggs in mixing bowl with 4 T water.  Add garlic, edamame, carrots, parmesan, and herbs.  Beat until thoroughly distributed.  Scramble over medium heat in no-stick skillet to your preferred consistency.

Assemble by spreading 1/4 of the egg mix in the center of one crepe.  Drizzle parmesan sauce over top and roll crepe into a tube shape, shown below.

You can fold your crepes simply by placing your filling in the center and then rolling them up, as in the picture at the top of this post; or place your filling on one half of the crepe, flap the other side over the top to form a half, circle, and then fold again to form a triangle.

Drizzle the remaining parmesan sauce on top & enjoy with a fresh bloody mary or some apple slices!

Crepes

You can stuff anything into a crepe–sweet or savory–and it will be a new experience each time.  Some of my favorite fillings are nutella with banannas and raspberries; crockpot apple pie oatmeal; and marinated peppers, mushrooms, and onions.  They also go great with a scrambled egg filling of your choice, accompanied by a nice spicy bloody mary.  

If you’ve never made crepes before, the batter will be considerably runnier than a pancake or waffle batter, and the crepes themselves will be no more than 1/4 inch thick when baked.  If you have a 12″ no-stick skillet, try folding them the traditional triangular method.  I have a smaller skillet, so I roll mine, just like the picture above.

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C milk
2 eggs
1T butter (melted)
1/3 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:
In a food processor, mix eggs for about 10 seconds.  Add milk and butter, and mix 10 additional seconds.  Add flour and salt.  Mix again for 10-15 seconds.  The batter should be considerably runnier than a pancake mixture, but should also maintain a slight thickness.  If its still too thin add additional flour 1 T at a time until desired texture is reached.  See video below for an example of my own ideal crepe batter consistency.  Let batter sit 20-30 minutes while you prepare the sauce and eggs.


When cooking crepes, heat a no-stick skillet over medium-low heat.  Remove the skillet from heat and coat the pan with a small layer of vegetable oil (I use a pastry brush).  Scoop 1/4 C of the crepe mixture into the skillet and use your wrist to distribute the batter evenly around the circumference of the pan.  Return to stovetop.  When edges begin to brown (after about 1-2 mins), use you fingers and the tip of a cereal spoon to flip the crepe.  Cook for an additional minute.  Remove from heat, and store on a plate covered with foil, or in a warmer.  Repeat until batter is gone.  This recipe should make approximately 4 thin crepes.

You can fold your crepes simply by placing your filling in the center and then rolling them up, as in the picture at the top of this post; or place your filling on one half of the crepe, flap the other side over the top to form a half, circle, and then fold again to form a triangle.

You can fill these guys with anything under the sun: scrambled eggs and spinach; peanut butter and chocolate chips; or strawberries and creme fraiche.  Sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top for the sweet ones.