This week we finally brought plantain into the co-op, and the most I could offer in the way of what to do with them was "fried plantain". A friend from El Salvador had introduced them to me that way years ago, pan-fried until golden brown on each side and light sprinkled with powdered sugar, if I remember correctly. (That was also the night I had my first taste of properly-made guacamole - no sour cream, thank you very much.) Fried plantain is a comfort-food dessert or snack par excellence, lightly crisp on the outside, soft inside, warm and naturally sweet (I make it without the sugar at home). But I had never bothered to go beyond that and find out what else could be done with it beyond one failed attempt at eating it raw, not realizing that what I'd call "ripe" in a standard banana is still "underripe" in a plantain.
Fortunately my friend and co-op'er Gina Lissette White came to the rescue with some suggestions on the FH Facebook page this week that are too good not to share here as well, with her kind permission (text below courtesy on Gina; any errors however are to be blamed on my editing).
Ripe plantains are delicious raw - "ripe" as in very yellow, so ripe that the outside is nice and spotted. What is "perfect" in a standard banana is underripe in a plantain because of their increased starch content. (The same is true of red bananas.)
Fried plantain: Be careful when frying the very ripe ones because they start caramelizing and can fall apart if they're cut too thin. For a less sweet version, peel and slice green (underripe) plantain to about an inch and a half thickness, fry once on the outside, drain on paper towels, then "smash down" with the flat side of the knife or paddle, or glass bottom.
Mix a little cilantro, sour cream, lime juice, and season to taste as a dip for those green plantains.
You can also shred the green ones using a grater, season with a little salt and garlic and fry in clumps; in spanish they're called arañitas or "little spiders".
Grill them with a chili pepper and honey baste.
Or you can make mofongo out of it. (Janice's note: There are countless versions found online, no two exactly alike.) I don't have an exact recipe, but I have a list of ingredients that I use: mix some green plantain with yellow for a sweet/savory texture; add bacon or pancetta, throw in sauteed garlic, salt, pepper. I like to keep it simple and let the ingredients speak for themselves. -Gina White
Variation: The contributor of the Chowhound version of mofongo (see link above) says that "if you don't use bacon stop at step 2" - that is, fry the ingredients together but don't smash them together in a mortar and pestle, "you have tostones". -Janice
This is the dressing I made for an appearance on “Thinking Green”, the cable access show hosted by Ronna Stuller, earlier this month. The focus of the show was actually a conversation with Rob Schacht from Hunts Brook Farm. He was passionate and knowledgeable and about a variety of issues affecting the business of a small organic farm. (Watch the show on our YouTube channel here.)
I meanwhile played "Vanna Organic", and managed to cut open a blood orange for the camera without actually drawing any blood...mine, that is. (Sorry, kids, no squirting arteries for your viewing pleasure; perhaps you'll get lucky next time.)
Blood oranges, sesame oil and fennel have been staples in my kitchen lately; the bitterness of the HBF greens provided a perfect foundation for the light and zippy dressing. (Last week Rob and Teresa made their last shipment of bagged mixed greens and spinach to the co-op, which we will dearly miss.) To the salad I also added slices of orange bell pepper, chopped tomatoes, carrots, sliced fennel stalks and more fennel fronds, cilantro leaves and blueberries. This recipe is very flexible and you can alter the herbs and spices to your liking. If you use celery instead of fennel, add a little celery seed; I like to include the chopped leaves in that case.
Another evening I mixed the salad dressing with homemade teriyaki sauce (store-bought would work just as well, if you like) in about a 1:1 ratio and used it as a glaze for pork chops; simple directions are below as well. My next adventure will be trying it with a tofu stir-fry; the tofu should absorb the glaze quite well. (If you get there before I do, let me know how it goes for you.)
Blood orange, Fennel & Sesame Salad Dressing
3 blood oranges (or other sweet, intense citrus fruit), juiced
1-2 tea. unfiltered apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s)
toasted sesame oil, in 1 : 1 ratio with the amount of orange juice
3 T fresh fennel or dill fronds, finely chopped; or 1-1/2 T dried fennel or dill
2-3 tea. finely-chopped fennel stem and/or bulb, or same amount celery stalks
finely ground sea salt, and black or white pepper to taste
2 tea - 1 T gomasio; or sea salt and sesame seeds, coarsely ground together; plus extra sesame seeds
3-4 cilantro stems and leaves; stems finely chopped and leaves torn
1T fresh or frozen blueberries, crushed (optional)
Blend all ingredients until thoroughly emulsified; I like to do it by hand with a small whisk, or simply shake vigorously in a jar. Taste after the addition of each ingredient to make sure it suits you, and adjust as necessary. Makes approx 1 cup.
Variation - Pork Chop Glaze: Combine equal parts of the dressing (above) with a thick, homemade or store-bought teriyaki sauce. Brown 1-2 pork chops in a lightly-oiled or nonstick pan or skillet on both sides over medium heat; pour sauce over chops and cover, about 1-2 minutes or sauce has thickened on surface of chop, turn and repeat, adjusting heat if needed. If using high-quality pasture-raised pork (with no added preservatives, etc), such as Four Mile River Farm’s, make sure you do not overcook the chops; they should still be slightly pink (not completely grey) and tender inside.
Oil on board, 8"x 8"
Co-op member Judy Holder picked up this portabello mushroom from our produce cooler last week and knew immediately she had to bring it home, not to eat it but to paint it! She'd never seen a 'bello from the co-op come with it's own babies, and neither had we. A graduate of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts whose work is found in international collections, Judy was kind enough to allow me to share her painting here. (The 'shroom came from FH, after all, so it seems only fair.)
Visit her blog Always Artful to see this and more of her original paintings, prints and drawings.
*Last week on our Facebook page, we had a lively discussion about our favorite ways to eat blueberries. (The consensus? Grab handful, pop into mouth, chew and repeat.) Then Loretta McElwee found this scrumptious recipe for grilled chicken breasts with blueberry chutney, from the Vitacost website. I think this recipe would also work great with pork chops, or seafood, also at Fiddleheads, but will it work with tofu, tempeh or seitan? Anybody game to give it a go?
*Sweet Tanka Chili, comes from Marco Frucht , an Uncasville-based NAMA-nominated songwriter (for his song "Frybread"). Like a lot of contemporary music by Native American artists, who work in every musical genre, Marco's recipe marries traditional elements with unexpected surprises: nitrate-free, hormone-free Tanka Bites (bison meat nuggets with cranberry and spices); cumin, cayenne and black beans; jalapeno and sweet potatoes. (Check out the link to his Reverbnation page above for a calender of upcoming appearances.)
*Co-op on the March: A Little Insurrection of Good Taste is a wonderful article written by author, political activist and FH tea buyer Frida Berrigan in time for our forth anniversary on Feb 4. She sets down in words the experience and the very feel of being a part of FH - as staffer as well as customer - more accurately and engagingly than I could imagine possible.
*Ellen Anthony, shared an "action alert" from the Organic Consumers' Association: you can contact the FDA if you believe we have the right to know about dioxins (remember Agent Orange?) in our food supply: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_24750.cfm
*Since we're speaking of politics and going off the subject of food for a moment - your forebearance I ask, gentle reader - did you see this article in Sunday's New York Times about the deaths and injuries of Chinese workers making Apple products, thanks to the company's willingness to ignore health and safety violations? But thanks as well to our insatiable demand for the newest Apple products at the lowest cost. It also puts paid to the warm and fuzzy image Apple has so carefully cultivated. (And as it happens, I'm typing this on an Apple desktop 'puter, so it's a chilling reminder that I'm part of the problem as well.) How does that relate to food? Not at all - until we remember that how we treat workers any place around the world, in any industry - including food production and argriculture - is all part of the same philosophical paradigm, whether the end product is cheaper toys or tomatoes.
/recipe-archive.htmlPrintable pdf files of the recipes on this blog can be found on our Recipe Archive Page.
Text and photos copyright 2011-2013 Janice Janostak unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.