November 2010


So rather than going into a long drawn explanation (will leave that to Wikipedia) around what plantains are and where they originate, I am just going to boil it down to this:

– from the banana “family”
– not as sweet as bananas
– must be cooked prior to eating
– several ways to prepare them
– green plantains yield savory creations
– yellow plantains result in a sweeter side dish

And I can go on and on…

Most times we cook the yellow sweet plantains at home. My 4 year old simply loves them, and they are actually quicker to prepare, especially if you just fry them. So I will post about one of the most popular ways of preparing the yellow plantains and come back with another post on how to prepare the green
variety.

Plantains

Plantains

Ingredients:
2 cups canola oil
1 plantain

Method
1. In a medium skillet, with 1″ sides, bring the oil to 160 degree temperature.
2. While the oil heats, cut both tips of the plantain, cut a slit across the length, and with your fingers slowly pry the skin apart.
3. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and fry for approximately 5-7 minutes per side.
4. Remove from the oil and place into paper towels to drain.

Plantains Frying

Plantains Frying

Sweet Fried Plantains

Sweet Fried Plantains

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I had the best red lentil soup at this great Turkish restaurant in London.  I will only visit a chain restaurant in the US in a pinch, but London seems to be the exception to that rule.  With the weather turning much cooler, and having scored some red lentils a couple of weeks ago, I finally went for it. 

After doing a bit of googling and trying to remember taste and texture from my own red lentil soup experience, I came up with this!  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil Soup

Ingredients:
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 TB kosher salt
2 1/2 cups water
1 lb red lentils, rinsed
1 quart chicken broth, divided
2 TB ground cumin
2 TB smoked paprika
2 cups chopped tomatoes

Method:
1. Heat up a dutch oven and add the olive oil.
2. Add the onions, garlic and salt and cook till onions begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the lentils and water, cook covered for 20 minutes over medium heat.
4. To the partially cooked lentil mix, add 3 cups of broth, cumin, paprika and tomatoes. Cook for an additional 20 minutes.
5. Remove the soup from the heat and puree using an immersion blender.
6. Stir in the remaining cup of broth and serve.

*** This makes a thick soup, should you prefer it to be more “soupy”, simply add more broth.

Traditional Patatas Bravas don’t call for chorizo as an ingredient.  However I wanted to add a little protein to our meal, and had this fantastic leftover chorizo sausage from one of my favorite local butchers.  To add body and a bit of a sauce, I went with a cup of diced tomatoes from Local Folks Foods. Store bought Muir Glen is a great alternative though.

This time around I went with a locally made chorizo sausage, but would definitely use Spanish chorizo as an alternative.  Real Spanish chorizo is hard to come by.  In the Indianapolis area I have very good luck with Fresh Market as they carry a very good brand from Spain — Palacios. 

Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas

Ingredients:
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 chorizo sausages
4 medium red potatoes, peeled and almost cooked through
2 TB smoked spanish paprika
1 TB red pepper flakes
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup fire roasted chopped tomatoes

Method:
1. Heat up olive oil in a large skillet and add the chorizo sausage. Cook till browned.
2. Add the potatoes, paprika, red pepper flakes and chicken broth. Stir till combined.
3. Lower the temperature to medium and add the tomatoes.
4. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed and the potatoes start to crisp up.

So I realize this is the second “Risotto Sundays” post in a row, however GreenBEAN delivered these beautiful mushrooms and my mind immediately went to this great wild mushroom risotto I had last month — in Rothenberg, Germany of all places!  If you find yourself in Rothenberg, make sure you stop by Pizzeria Roma (Galgengasse 19) for an authentic Italian meal.  One can only eat pork for so long while in Germany, and this family owned restaurant has been cranking out traditional Tuscan fare in Rothenberg since the 70s!…. but I digress.

Mushroom and Pancetta Risotto

Mushroom and Pancetta Risotto

Ingredients:
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced pancetta
2 cups chopped crimini mushrooms
2 TB butter
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup Chardonnay
1 quart chicken broth
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1-2 TB of truffle oil

Method:
1. In a large skillet heat up the olive oil and cook the pancetta till it starts to crisp up. Place pancetta on a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.
2. To the skillet add the chopped mushrooms and cook through for about 10 minutes, stirring them frequently. Remove mushrooms from the skillet and set aside.
3. Add the butter to the hot skillet, let it melt and add the arborio rice. Cook till rice goes from translucent to slightly toasted. Add the wine and reduce the cooking temperature to a low-medium setting.
4. After the wine has cooked through, start adding the broth. Continue to add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time. Only add more when the previous addition has been absorbed by the rice while constantly stirring.
5. Right before the last addition of the chicken broth (approx. 35 minutes into the cooking time), fold the pancetta and mushrooms into the risotto. Add the remaining broth and let it cook through.
6. Add the milk, stir and add the Parmigiano Reggiano.
7. Drizzle with the truffle oil and serve immediately.