Appetizers and Snacks · Desserts · Sides

Tostones

Plantains…we have all seen them in the stores, sometimes green, but more often yellow with black spots so large I used to think they were past their life expectancy.  The truth is, have paid little attention to them, mostly because their appearance put me off.

image

But then, one evening, watching The Amazing Race, the contestants were in Ecuador, which piqued my attention because we have friend from that country.  Wouldn’t you know it, one of the challenges was to cook plantains!!  They were making twice-fried  plantains, called Tostones.  Finally, a clue, and basically, a how to video right there, on prime time television!

I was very happy to surprise our Ecuadorian friends with a batch of these the next time they came over.

The technique is the same regardless of the colour of the plantain.  Greener ones will be savoury and can be served as part of a meal.  Salt them and dip them in ketchup, like French fries.  The yellow and black ones are riper, and therefore sweeter.  They are great for breakfast or dessert.   I like these sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.

Unfortunately there are no photos of my finished product because I was lame and forgot, but if you google Tostones, you will find many examples.

This makes 4 servings, about 120 calories per serving (without toppings, of course).

 

Tostones

2 plantains

oil for frying

Heat oil in large skillet.  You can either deep fry or just pan fry in a bit of oil.  (I chose to deep-fry mine)

Peel plantains and cut into 2″ pieces.

Add plantain pieces to hot oil and fry until they soften and are golden on both sides.  About 5 minutes.

Place fried plantains on paper towel covered work surface and gently press with bottom of a heavy glass or aa frying pan , squishing them until they are about 1/2″ thick.

Return flattened pieces to hot oil and fry until crispy.  About 3 minutes per side.

Drain on paper towels, season with salt and pepper.  Serve.

 

Advertisements
Appetizers and Snacks · Sides

Ratatouille

Basically,  vegetables cooked in olive oil, but !Ratatouille! is so much more fun to say.

There are as many versions of Ratatouille as there are cookbooks, it seems.

This version is much quicker than some, but the flavours are great and you wont have to spend 3 hours in the kitchen.

Because the ingredients are added to the pot in the order they need to cook, there is also less clean up at the end.

Seasoning is key, be sure to salt (and taste!) as you add each veggie to the mix, or you will end up with a tasteless bowl of sad veggies.

Serve at room temperature, or just slightly warmed.    A bowl of this with a sliced  baguette, maybe a little cheese… makes a great appetizer or even a light lunch.  You can also serve it as a side to your favourite grilled meat or toss it with some cooked pasta for a quick weeknight meal.

This makes about 4 servings.  Can be made a day in advance, and best if eaten within 3 days.

IMG_1213

Ratatouille

1 eggplant, about 1/2 – 3/4 lb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 large white or yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 red bell pepper, chopped into bite size pieces

1 small zucchini, scrubbed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into thin slices

3/4 pound ripe tomatoes, chopped coarse (about 1 1/4 cups)

1 sprig fresh rosemary (optional)

2 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled

salt & pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Toss eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large colander and let stand in sink 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop and prep all your other veggies.

In a large skillet cook the onion and the garlic in 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened.

Pat eggplant dry with paper towels.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil increase heat to  moderately high and when oil is hot but not smoking, add the eggplant.   Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened.  If mixture looks dry, add a bit more olive oil.

Stir in the zucchini,  bell pepper, thyme and rosemary sprigs.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until all the vegetables are very tender and tomatoes are soft and have released their juices.

Taste for seasoning, add salt, and pepper to taste if needed.  Remove the thyme and rosemary sprigs.  Cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute.  Remove from heat, stir in the parsley and combine the mixture well.

Let cool to room temperature.  Spoon onto crusty bread or crostini and enjoy.

The ratatouille may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled.  Bring to room temperature or reheat  before serving.

 

Pasta · Sides

Linguine with Zucchini & Walnuts

A nice way to enjoy those zucchinis you worked so hard this summer to grow.

This takes minimum effort which makes it a great weeknight meal choice.  There is protein in the walnuts, which makes this perfect for Meatless Mondays.

Use a vegetable peeler (or mandolin) to slice the zucchini lengthwise into long thin ribbons. If you don’t feel you have the time or patience to do this, just cut it in half lengthwise and slice thinly into half moons.

Don’t skip the part where you salt the zucchini.  Use that 30 minutes to get the water ready for the pasta, toast the walnuts and mash the garlic and anchovies into submission.  You can have this on the table in 45 minutes.

Serves 4 as a main, 6 – 8 as an appetizer or side.

 

IMG_1162

Linguine with Zucchini & Walnuts

2 1/2 lbs small zucchini, trimmed

1 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic minced

2 anchovy fillets, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 lb linguine (450 grams)

1/3 cup olive oil (plus more for drizzling)

3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1 cup grated parmesean

1/2 cup fresh basil or mint leaves, thinly sliced

Use a vegetable peeler to shave the zucchini into long ribbons, or simply slice the zucchini lengthwise, then cut crosswise into half moons.  Discard any scraps.

Place the zucchini ribbons into a colander, over a large bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Let stand 30 minutes, tossing a couple of times.

Rinse under cold running water and drain well.   Spread over 2 lint-free kitchen towels, roll up gently to absorb any excess water and set aside.

Meanwhile, toast walnuts in a small dry pan, tossing frequently, over medium heat until fragrant.  Transfer to small dish immediately so they don’t burn.  Set aside.

On your cutting board, using the side of your knife, mash garlic, anchovies, crushed pepper flakes with a pinch of salt to form a paste.  Transfer the paste to a large serving bowl.

Meanwhile, cook, pasta according to package directions until tender, but still firm to the bite.  Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta.

Transfer pasta to the bowl with the anchovy garlic paste add a splash of pasta water and the olive oil.  Toss well to combine.

Add zucchini, walnuts, half of the cheese and continue tossing until well combined.  Season with salt and pepper, toss again, adding additional pasta water if mix seems dry.

Drizzle with additional olive oil, sprinkle with remaining cheese and the chopped basil.  Serve.

Incase you are interested, the original version can be found here.

 

 

 

 

Appetizers and Snacks · Sides

Green Chermoula

Great on Grilled Flatbread, but give it a try on pasta, shrimp or your next omelette as well.

This can be made using any combination of parsley, cilantro and mint.

 

img_08651.jpg

Green Chermoula Salsa

1 jalapeño, stem and seeds removed

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

1/2 cup (loosely packed) fresh cilantro leaves

1/2 cup (loosely packed) fresh mint leaves

1/2 teaspoon chopped peeled ginger

1 clove garlic, crushed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sides

Lemony Grilled Potatoes

We really do love our plain old baked potatoes in this house.  Plus, they are so easy, right?  Why bother with anything new?

Because, sometimes it is good to get out of our comfort zone and try something different, even if it means a little extra effort.

These potatoes are not that difficult and if you are worried about having to wash that extra pot, just partially cook them in your microwave to save a dish.

This recipe comes from the last issue of Gourmet Magazine I bought, Summer 2011,and perhaps the last issue they ever published.  I still miss that publication.  Fortunately, I am a bit of a packrat when it comes to recipes and I still have some old issues that I can pour over.

IMG_0662
Lemony Grilled Potatoes

 

Lemony-Grilled Potatoes

2 lbs Yukon gold or other waxy potato

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 Tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup olive oil

1 lemon, cut into wedges, divided

Mix parsley, rosemary, lemon zest, garlic and olive oil together in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Cut potatoes into 1′ thick slices and cook them in a large pot of salted boiling water for 8 -10minutes.  Potatoes will not be cooked through.  Drain potatoes and toss with the olive oil mixture.

Preheat gas grill to medium high.  Transfer potato slices to hot grill, letting excess oil drip from potatoes back into the bowl.  Reserve oil mixture.

Grill potatoes, in a single layer, with grill covered, turning once until tender.  About 5 -7 minutes in total.  Return cooked potatoes to oil in bowl and toss to coat.  Squeeze a lemon wedge over top and serve with additional wedges on the side.

Helpful Tip – if you are concerned about the potato slices slipping through the grill racks, place a perforated grill pan on the rack when preparing the grill.

Salads · Sides · Uncategorized

Potato Salad

img_1921

No summer gathering in our family is complete without an enormous bowl of potato salad.  My Mom makes an excellent version, and my sister in law takes hers over the top with the addition of dill pickles and cheddar cheese.   There are as many versions of this salad as there are households in North America and every cook holds the title of Best Potato Salad in their respective households, sometimes even the neighbourhood!

It is a dish that smacks of summer, bbqs and gatherings of happy people.  When we lived in Canada, potato salad during winter months was unheard of in our house.   Now that we live  in the land of perpetual summer, I make this at any time of year.  It is my go to side whenever  a large group gathers  for a few laughs, a couple of drinks, and most likely, something from the grill.   If you happen to live in cooler climes, make it this weekend anyway.   It is a handy thing to have in the fridge as you run from one Christmas Craft Fair to the next.  And besides,  summer really is just around the corner.

The key to this dish is adding the dressing to fully cooled potatoes, so be sure to start well in advance of when you want to serve it.

 

Potato Salad

 

3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled, cut 1″ pieces (bite size)

2 stalks celery, sliced thinly, crosswise

4 radishes, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced

6 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled  (chop 5 and slice 1)

1 1/4 cups mayonnaise

3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in steamer basket over boiling water until fork tender.  Remove from basket and cool completely.

Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar stirring well to combine.

Once potatoes are cool, combine with celery, radishes, green onions and chopped eggs in a large bowl.   Pour mayonnaise mixture over top and stir gently to combine.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with slices of hard boiled egg and serve.    You can make this one day ahead and refrigerate, just be sure to let stand at room temperature for half an hour before serving.

 

img_1920

 

 

 

Sides

Spicy Pan-Seared Broccoli

 

img_1788

A nice change from the usual boiled or steamed.

Spicy Pan-Seared Broccoli

1 teaspoon butter

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 medium head broccoli, cut into bite size florets

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more to taste)

Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat butter and oil in skillet over medium high heat.   Add garlic,  broccoli and red pepper flakes, tossing to coat.  Cook until broccoli is brilliant green and slightly softened, but still tender-crisp, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle grated parmesan over top, toss once more and transfer to serving dish.

Serves 4

Estimated time, 10 minutes, including cutting and dicing.

COOKS NOTES – The stems of the broccoli can also be included,  just peel, slice it and toss it in with the florets.