All posts by Alicia

Breakfast Egg Cups…perfect for your commute!

Morning comes awfully early when one has a commute.  And I don’t know anyone who wants to sit down to a hearty breakfast the minute they open their sleepy little eyes.  It seems we all hit the floor running and don’t stop until we literally run out of gas.  My son, James, has never been a lover of the too-soon breakfast and we’ve tangled with this since he was in kindergarten.  At the tender age of five I struggled to offer him something healthful AND tasty.  While he was in school I drove way out on Powerline Road to a roadside stand and bought just picked produce.  Money was tight and I could little afford to waste a thin dime but I was determined that James would have the best I could give him.  I bought a little of this and little of that.  Zucchini, tomatoes, green beans and strawberries were staples.   Dawn broke and I would schlep to the kitchen trying to put together a breakfast that would interest James while, at the same time, hold him in good stead.  What a struggle!  “Mama, I can’t!”, was typically his response when he brought his plates to the kitchen.  We still laugh about this but one day I exploded.  Yes.  I popped.  I’ve been told, after the fact, that I’m a little scary when I get mad.  I ranted and raved and carried on, “What?  What is it I can fix for you that you’ll eat?  WHAT?”.  That sweet, little boy looked up at me and earnestly answered, “Coffee and a pretzel?”  Can you even?  Lord, I laughed so hard I probably tinkled in my pants.  And those strawberries I could ill afford?  They were found a long time later when I found the strength to move the sofa in order to clean.  Though we all know a good breakfast is crucial for a productive day the struggle continues.  I know my boy is NOT going to lose a precious five minutes of sleep in order to throw together a breakfast he can eat on the train or in his office.  And that’s where Mama comes in.  That boy is going to be moving out, and soon, but until then I can pack a pretty and healthful breakfast….one that will keep him fueled until 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon.

IMG_2676

These egg cups are easy, versatile, healthful and filling.  Paired with fresh fruit, your family will thank you.  Truly.  You’re going to start hearing, “Thanks, Mom!” more and more.  They can be made with fresh eggs, egg whites or Egg Beaters.  I use fresh eggs and always, always organic.  The recipe I’m posting calls for sausage and vegetables but any and all may be substituted for any other filling.  Cubed ham, chorizo, spinach, kale, chopped tomatoes, scallions, cheddar, parmesan and mozzarella are just a few ideas.  Leftover crab or shrimp are also tasty morsels.  So go crazy.  Your family will love them!

IMG_2695

Breakfast Egg Cups

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage, in bulk or out of casings
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped, green tops included
  • 2 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh spinach leaves, chopped (optional)
  • 12 grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup 2% reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Spray a non-stick spray all over the top of a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  3. In a large, non-stick skillet brown the sausage, breaking up any large clumps with the back of a spoon.  You don’t want any large pieces as they’re too big for the muffin cups.  If you’re using pork sausage drain it well.
  4. To the turkey add the scallions, zucchini, basil and spinach.  Mix well and continue to cook until the vegetables have wilted.  Remove from heat to cool.
  5. While the sausage mixture cools pour the eggs evenly into the sprayed muffin cups.  I find using a 1/4 measuring cup makes this quick and simple.
  6. Taste the sausage/vegetable mixture for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings.  I find the sausage adds plenty of salt so I add only pepper.
  7. Divide the sausage mixture evenly between the muffin cups, gently pressing the filling down.
  8. Place one tomato in the center of each egg cup.
  9. If using cheese, sprinkle over each egg cup.
  10. Bake egg cups for 20-25 minutes or until puffy and golden on the edges.
  11. Allow to cool completely before refrigerating.  I store each one in individual plastic bags.  To re-heat I place as many egg cups as needed on a plate and zap in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.  If you’re heating just one for the road, 15 seconds on a plate is perfect then drop it back in the bag it lived in when in the refrigerator and you’re good to go.

http://www.theirreverent.kitchen.com

 

Citrus and Coconut Vinaigrette, your new favorite summer salad dressing

This is the summer of counting my blessings.  It’s a stay-at-home kind of summer.  And that’s okay!  I recently found myself thinking, “I wish we could go someplace a little bit cooler.  Eat buckets of rich food and wash it down with gallons of local wine.  Maybe do a bit of shopping after seeing the sights…”.  There were loud notes of complaint in that daydream and I had to remind myself that I am damn fortunate exactly where I am.  Even if it’s not the most exciting place.  Mama taught me that lesson a very long time ago; a lesson she learned when she was a little girl in Puerto Rico.  My mother’s family lived in a town called Fajardo, pronounced fah-HAR-do, on an enormous piece of land my grandfather inherited from his father who, in turn, inherited it from his father, etcetera, etcetera.  Mama had four sisters and five brothers and her mother ran a smooth household.  My grandfather, whom we affectionately called “Papa Pepe”, tolerated no misbehavior from my uncles although they all had near fatal adventures never known to him.  The boys all had their own horses and rode through the fields and stream on their land.  They chased animals, had races, swam, played Zorro and indulged in all usual hijinks of young boys.

My uncle, Tio Hector, playing Zorro. He was 17 at the time.
My uncle, Tio Hector, playing Zorro. He was 17 at the time.

The girls, on the other hand, were almost housebound.  My mother and aunts could read and do needlework.  They played with china dolls, sang songs and made up skits under the shade of mahogany trees.  One day my mother found herself standing alone in the house, looking out of a large window onto a splendid meadow.  Mama said the sun was shining, the grasses were green and there were butterflies.  Under the butterflies was a little boy, dancing and skipping, the happiest ever.  It was Miguelito, the youngest of Pedro, my grandfather’s driver, and Angelina, who helped my grandmother with the children.  My mother was  entranced….such freedom…such happiness!  Standing at the window she thought, “Oh, how I wish I was Miguelito!”.  She stayed looking out of the window until long after he was gone.  When suddenly came Miguelito’s mother, Angelina flying around the corner of the house, leather belt in hand, all the while roaring, “MIGUELITO!!!! Ven aca!  Te voy a dar!  Miguelito!”, “Get over here! You’re gonna get it!”.  Crystal clear was the realization Mama had that you never know what life has for you or anyone at any given moment.  Life can change on a dime.  She was practically limp with relief that she wasn’t, and never would be, that little boy, Miguelito,  whose happiness would end as soon as that leather belt struck his scrawny legs.  This was what I told myself when I started grousing about not going away for the summer.  This was what I told myself when I whined of not being in Greece or France or England.  I quickly reminded myself of the beautiful neighborhood I live in and see every morning when I workout.  I thought of afternoon dips in our pool, wearing flip-flops every waking moment of the day, summer hours with girlfriends and cool drinks and foods we savor day in and day out.  No.  I’m blessed beyond belief that I have all this and more.  I’m happy to munch on mountains of cold, crisp salads, refreshing myself with tervis tumbler after tervis tumbler packed with ice and coconut water and doing this in my beautiful home.  Because life is very, very good.

IMG_2649

This salad dressing is a marvel.  Whether it’s plain field greens you are dressing or the combination of arugula and shaved fennel, this dressing will be a summer favorite.  The coconut oil will solidify as it is kept  in the refrigerator so I portion out the amount I’ll be using when I want it.  I allow it to come to room temperature on the counter or gently zap it in the microwave to liquify the coconut oil.  The dressing may be prepared with fresh orange and lemon juice or with just fresh lemon juice.  It is extremely thin and runny but somehow works really well.  The citrus is like a tonic and the coconut  oil gives the dressing a sweet smoothness as no other.  Every night I heap this salad on my dinner plate and I am happy, happy.  Hope you like it!

Citrus and Coconut Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 navel oranges, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, can be found at the grocery store
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in blender or magic bullet and blend until smooth.
  2. Taste for any needed salt or pepper and adjust as needed.
  3. Bring to room temperature to liquify coconut oil before serving.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

Summer.  My favorite season of the year.  It does get hot here in Lauderdale, darn hot.  I can’t imagine putting on long pants.  Even linen sounds stifling.  Shorts and little cotton dresses are the order of the day.  Hot shower?  No, thanks.  I’ll just take a dip in the pool and the chlorine will take care of the rest.  For some reason when we were kids the heat didn’t bother us.  Heck, we didn’t even notice it.  The days we weren’t at camp or running to and fro from tennis lessons to sailing lessons our mothers would kick us out of the house early in the morning.  No sleeping in for us.  No.  A soft-boiled egg and a bowl of Cheerios later and we were on the street, running and playing, racing each other on our bikes or messing around in our forts.  It was a different time.  None of us went home until lunchtime and we all ended up at one house and the mother in that house would put out a platter of sandwiches, some apples or grapes, a pitcher of ice-cold tea which we all scarfed down in a matter of minutes.  Then she’d kick us all out and off we’d go for more adventures.  It was a coed crowd of the neighborhood boys and girls ranging in age from 6-12.  We all got along well and, in retrospect, it was probably too hot to fuss with each other.  Often we would all ride our bikes to the very end of our street, Sea Island Drive.  It’s a dead-end street and at the very point stood an enormous house owned by an oil and gasoline corporation.  It was one of their luxury houses used to wine and dine important clients.  The house was on a kind of “hill” with an enormous circular driveway in front, perfect to pick up speed and fly down the slope to the bottom of the hill on a bike.  And fly we did.  Round and round we’d all go, every now and again someone would drop out and take it easy in the shade…chat with whomever was sitting in the grass.  We’d whoop and holler as if the house was abandoned.  And it wasn’t.  The staff of maids and a butler was always there.  They never said a word to us; never told us to quiet down or get the hell off the property.  They were practically invisible.  Except one day every summer the butler, formally dressed, would walk outside, all stiff and nose in the air, and ask no one in particular, “Would you children like some ice cream?”  Brakes shuddered to a stop, any conversations were cut short.  “Ice cream?”, we all thought.  Then came the exclamations, “Yeah!”, “Awright! Ice cream!”, “Wow! Ice cream!”,  and “You mean it, mister?”.  You’d have thought we had never had it the way we carried on.  But we never had it during the day and in our house we rarely had sweets at all!  He always replied, “One moment, please.” and disappeared back into the house.  Minutes later he and several maids returned each balancing a tray with small, silver cups of ice cream, every cup holding three perfect balls of the cold, creamy stuff, a small silver spoon jutting out to one side.  Vanilla, chocolate and peppermint were typically offered.  No one pushed or shoved, big brothers and sisters made certain the little ones all got their servings, probably so they wouldn’t get in trouble later on.  Taking our bowls to whatever shade we could find, we sat down on the street or on people’s lawns to enjoy this unexpected treat.  Ten minutes later the same staff returned and stood in the driveway while we stacked the little bowls on their trays and collected all the little spoons and any stray napkins.  We thanked them profusely in our little squeaky voices, “Gee, thanks, mister!” as they turned and vanished into the huge, silent house.  We, on the other hand, returned to our hooting and hollering, “Bet I can pop a wheelie at the bottom of the driveway!” Sweet sounds of summer, people.

IMG_2609

Chocolate covered frozen bananas are an easy but fantastic treat for kids and adults.  They’re great for a party or just to have on hand when you want to offer your people a li’l special something.

IMG_2616

 

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3 large bananas, yellow with a little green in the tips of the peel
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or canola oil
  • 1 cup each of any of the following, sprinkles, chopped peanuts, toasted chopped almonds, coconut flakes, chocolate cookie crumbles, crushed peppermint candies.
  • 9 popsicle sticks
  1. Peel the bananas and cut off the pointy tips.  Eat the tips, give them to the dog or discard.
  2. Cut each banana in thirds, each piece ends up being about 2″-3″ inches long.
  3. Insert a popsicle stick into each banana and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or wax paper.
  4. Place in freezer overnight or until frozen.
  5. When ready to assemble place chocolate in a bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.
  6. Add the oil and stir briskly until completely incorporated.
  7. Remove one banana from freezer, dip until covered in chocolate, quickly roll in topping of choice and place on another baking sheet covered with parchment or wax paper.
  8. Continue until all bananas are covered with chocolate.  If chocolate in bowl begins to harden, microwave for 15 seconds to soften.
  9. Place tray with covered bananas in freezer for 2 hours or until ready to serve.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Deviled Eggs…Classic Southern or Sriracha?

I was raised in a household of egg lovers.  Mama couldn’t cook, and didn’t, but she could scramble, poach, soft or hard boil an egg all day long.  My father had taught her when they were first married.  Eggs and hamburgers she had hands down.  But deviled eggs must have fallen into the cooking domain because she didn’t know the first thing about them.  Nor was this dish served in Puerto Rico.  Consequently, I didn’t have my first one until maybe late in grade school?  Junior high?  I don’t remember.  I do, however, remember where I was and with whom.  I was at my best friend’s house, Ann, and we were standing in the kitchen of her house.  Her mother, Mrs. A., had prepared classic southern style deviled eggs for the family.  It was summertime because Ann’s brothers, Trey and Steve, were home from college.  One went to Annapolis and the other the Citadel.  Both Ann’s parents were from South Carolina and being that Mrs. A. cooked…well, there were always homemade southern delicacies at her house.  I don’t mean to get off point but all morning I’ve had the hardest time writing this post.  I’ve been on Facebook, Instagram, texting, watching youtube videos…I even cleaned out the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator.  I’ve had an unsettling, somewhat resentful feeling while trying to write all this and I’ve figured out why.  Ann was my best friend growing up.  We went to kindergarten through high school together.  Adventures galore, we had sleep overs, dance contests and parties at her house when her parents were out-of-town.  I loved her.  She loved me.  But we drifted apart during the college years, her family retired to North Carolina and we lost touch.   I got along just fine with her parents.  They were friendly and fun and always included me in everything.  But about, I don’t know, maybe 10, 15 years ago my mother and I were talking about Ann and I mentioned to Mama how I’d love to see Ann again and how fond I was of her.  That’s when Mama said, “Yes, Ann was a lovely girl.  Her mother didn’t care very much for ME, though.”  “What?”, I asked.  “What do you mean? What happened?”  Mama answered that Mrs. A. had never liked her, avoided her at social functions.  When Mrs. A was forced to call our house she “talked down” to my mother.  All those years I never knew.  I knew Mama had faced plenty of discrimination here.  With her heavy Spanish accent she dealt with it almost on a daily basis.  But my BEST FRIEND’S MOTHER?  I was livid.  Livid with impotent rage.  I wanted to jump on my broom, fly to North Carolina and…well, never mind. I think you’ve got the picture.  Anyway, my first deviled egg was eaten in the A’s kitchen.   And it was fabulous.  Mrs. A. might have been uppity towards my mother but she could certainly cook.  Smooth and creamy with the sweet bite of relish, she had the classic down pat.  But I ain’t forgetting how she treated Mama.  She can keep her damn recipe because here’s mine.

IMG_2530

Deviled eggs.  The first to disappear at a cocktail party or cookout.  Some folks won’t admit it but deviled eggs are heaven on earth.  And these will do you proud.  A few years back I decided to add some heat to these little jewels.  Add more or less Sriracha as your taste dictates.  They are truly sublime!

Classic Southern Deviled Eggs and Sriracha Deviled Eggs

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 6 large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, I use only Duke’s
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Slice eggs in half lengthwise.
  2. Being careful the whites don’t tear, remove the yolks and place in a small bowl.  Set whites aside.
  3. Using a fork, mash the yolks well, completely breaking them up.
  4. Add the mayonnaise, relish, mustard, salt and pepper and stir well until there are no lumps of yolk and the mixture is creamy.
  5.  Taste for salt and pepper.
  6. Spoon the yolk mixture into the center of each egg white.
  7. Cover and store in the refrigerator until serving.
  8. Serve eggs well chilled.

If preparing Sriracha Deviled Eggs replace the relish and mustard with 1 tablespoon Sriracha, (or more if you wish), and 2 tablespoons freshly minced chives.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Peanut Butter-Fudge Cake

This is the cake of your childhood.  This is the cake the sweet cafeteria ladies served you in grade school.  I went to East Side School, as did all my childhood friends, and I positively loved it.  Five minutes away from our house, East Side was our neighborhood public school.  Mint green in color, the stucco two-storied building was connected by open air hallways so, although we didn’t have air conditioning, we could always enjoy our tropical breezes.  Our playground was carpeted by thick, emerald-green grass and seemed immense to us.  Dotted through the campus were mammoth ficus and banyan trees, perfect for shady rests after rousing games of “dodge ball” and “red rover”.   The cafeteria was set away from the  school connected by a lengthy open-air breezeway.  I remember walking single-file in the heat of the day for lunch.  Everyone bought.  I don’t think I know of one child who brought his lunch.  And we ALL had our favorite lunches.  My older sister, Cynthia, loved fish sticks, always served on Fridays.  I enjoyed them as well except the cafeteria ladies only gave you two and I was always left hungry.  She also mentioned, as all the food was made from scratch and hand-made, they made a mean meatloaf and their mashed potatoes were the stuff dreams are made of.   I called my best friends, Dana and Andrea, to find out what their best-loved meals were at East Side.  Dana and Andrea both called me right back and it turns out we all have the same fave…spaghetti!   It had such flavor; something we never, ever had at home.  Dana’s little sister, Dawn, LOVED the tater tots.  She also reminded me the absolute worst to eat was the spinach and pointed out we always seemed to have it after the grass was cut.  To quote her, “Yuck!”  But what we all agreed was the best was the selection of desserts, again all made from scratch and by hand.   Thick, creamy chocolate pudding was scooped out of enormous bowls.  Generous wedges of apple pie were cut.  But the best had to be the chocolate cake squares with peanut butter on top.  Oh man.   The icing and peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth while the cake melted in your mouth, all washed down with a healthy gulp of cold milk.  Heaven on earth and all for a whopping 35¢!

IMG_2509

This is the Peanut Butter-Fudge Cake of your childhood.  It is beyond sublime and puts all those fancy-dancy, beet for color, salted, chocolate with ancho chile, corn flake and beer creations to shame!  This cake is simple, straightforward and ain’t nothin’ hoity-toity about it.  I suggest using only regular, store-bought peanut butter like Skippy or Jiffy.  A more “natural” or organic, grind your own butter is flat and bland tasting.  The only change I made is I added two teaspoons of vanilla extract to the cake instead of one and also to the chocolate icing but only because I love vanilla.  This recipe comes directly from a pulled out page of an old Southern Living magazine.  The paper is stained and water marked.  The article is titled “Make Mine Chocolate” and I treasure this recipe in the short collection.  So thanks, Marian T. Talley from Huntsville, Alabama who contributed the recipe for this cake.  You have a fan in Fort Lauderdale.

Peanut Butter-Fudge Cake

  • Servings: 20-25
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • Chocolate Frosting
  1. Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl; set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan, stir in cocoa. Add water, buttermilk and eggs, stirring well.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils.  Remove from heat; add to flour mixture, stirring until smooth.  Stir in vanilla extract.  Pour batter into a greased and floured 13X9-inch baking pan.
  4. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Carefully spread peanut butter over warm cake.  Cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 (16 ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Bring first three ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Pour over powdered sugar in a bowl, stirring until smooth.  Stir in vanilla.  Yield: 2 1/2 cups

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

This Red, White and Blue No-Bake Berry Cheesecake is perfect for your 4th of July

IMG_2354

What a great holiday the Fourth of July can be!  It’s always a day of sunshine, relaxation and family.  The beach, the pool; cold, light grown-up drinks.  Sweet watermelon, crispy fried chicken and spicy deviled eggs are summer favorites.  Hamburgers and hotdogs sizzle on the grills manned by our husbands, fathers and boyfriends patiently braving the searing heat to give us the platters of perfectly prepared foods we crave.  Our American celebration of independence is particularly precious this year in light of all that has happened in our world the past few weeks.  Our 4th get-togethers speak of the value we give our loved ones.  We choose to spend time with them.  We long for those dear, dear days when afternoons with our special people unravel slowly, leisurely and we have the luxury of wiling away the hours laughing or relaxing in silence enjoying their presence.  Yes, the Fourth of July allows us to slow down and appreciate a relaxed and easy commemoration of independence.  That said, I’m going to make my Fourth simple, stress-free AND gloriously delicious.  Dessert will be this make-ahead No-Bake Berry Cheesecake.  Cold and not too sweet; it can easily be made one or two days prior to serving.  Any berries may be used, however, if cut strawberries are to be used keep in mind the juices will bleed into the cream cheese mixture.  And it’ll be pretty but it will be pink…-ish.  This dessert may be assembled in single-serving cups of your choice or in a large trifle bowl.  I’ve even called into service big, crystal flower vases for a more dramatic presentation.  I’ll tell you, though, it all looks pretty darn good.  So here’s to a Fourth of July gathering that honors all we hold priceless…liberty, tolerance, individualism, justice and objectivity.  I’m certain we’ll all do a good job of that!

No-Bake Berry Cheese Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature, reduced fat is fine but not fat free
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yoghurt, make sure it’s a thick one, like Fage
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups assorted fresh berries plus any to garnish
  1. In a small bowl mix the pecans, granulated sugar, graham cracker crumbs and butter until thoroughly combined.  Set aside.
  2. Place the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a separate bowl and, using a hand mixture on medium speed, beat until well combined.
  3. To the cream cheese mixture add the Greek yoghurt and vanilla extract.  Mix well.  Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl whip the cream until soft peaks form.
  5. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
  6. Divide the graham cracker mixture evenly between the serving glasses.  Do not pack down.
  7. Spread a good inch of cream cheese filling over cookie crumbs in each glass.
  8. Top filling with an inch of berries followed by cream cheese, layering until you get to the top of each glass.
  9. Garnish with berries and a sprig of mint.
  10. Chill a minimum of 6 hours up to 2 days.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Make it Mofongo

IMG_2162

In Puerto Rico if pork is king, and by the way it is, then the prince would have to be the exquisite plantain…in all its forms.  Plantains can be boiled, baked or fried.  They can be mashed, shredded or creamed.  Green or ripe, the starchy member of the banana family is a favorite through out the Latin Caribbean and is used in a myriad of dishes including stuffed into many a Puerto Rican Thanksgiving turkey! Although its roots hail from Africa, the plantain immigrated and laid down permanent roots in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica, Colombia, Peru through to the Amazon region.  To say plantains are wildly popular in these places is an understatement.  Mofongo is made from fried green plantains which are then mashed in a mortar and pestle with fresh garlic, salt and olive oil.  It can be served alone or with crispy pork cracklins mashed in.  Often a well is fashioned in the middle of the mofongo mass and spicy shrimp or lobster or savory chicken or pork chunks  are stuffed in.  A small bowl of homemade chicken broth is served on the side to wet the dish.  It’s crazy good!  We NEVER had mofongo at my grandparent’s house in Puerto Rico.  Every once in a blue moon my grandmother would prepare tostones for us, which are like flat, round plantain fries; crunchy and salty on the outside,  earthy and almost creamy in the middle.  But mofongo?  Uh uh.  Not in our house.  Even so, when I lived in Puerto Rico as a young girl  in her 20’s, I discovered the glory and wonder of the mashed plantain at the beach with friends.  Mofongo is made all over the island but is especially good at the beach.

IMG_2202

A good number of beaches boast kiosks which sell all manner of local island fare and are known for their mouth-watering dishes, mofongo being one of them.  I remember my first bowl was stuffed with local crab.  One bite and I was head over heels in love.  You’ll often here laughter when crabs are discussed on the island.  Local crabs are sometimes fed by hand and almost raised as family pets.  The incredible sweetness of the meat will convince you as to the love of local seafood.  Often at these kiosks when seafood is ordered, the person who is preparing your meal in front of you will mention in passing, “You’ll love these little fried fish!  They come from the waters a couple of miles down the road.  You can’t get them anywhere else on the island.”  Rum and rum drinks are sold with a smile to anyone old enough to order.   The beat of salsa and reggaeton spills down the beach.  Gorgeous girls stroll up and down the beach and, as in so many post-colonial territories, they walk hand-in-hand or arm-in-arm, as sisters would.  The water is almost always clear as an aquamarine… you’ll want to stay all day… with two fingers of local rum and a bowl of mofongo.  Buen Provecho!

Mofongo

  • Servings: 5-6 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 7-8 green plantains
  • 1-2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 5-6 tablespoons olive oil to taste
  • vegetable oil for frying

 

IMG_2173

When you go to the store make certain you purchase plantains and not green sweet bananas.  You cannot peel and eat green plantains raw.  Notice in the photo above plantains have three or four, sometimes five ridges or sides running up and down the plantains.  A small paring knife is all you need to score each ridge from top to bottom to make peeling easy.  Use your finger or the paring knife to ease under the peel, separating the skin from the plantain.  Work from section to section.  Cut the plantains in 1″-1 1/2″  pieces and drop into a bowl with water that has been salted, 2-3 tablespoons of salt will do.  After 15 minutes, drain, dry and set aside.

IMG_2175

While the vegetable oil is heating up in your frying pan, crush the garlic and salt together in a mortar and pestle to make a smooth paste.  Set aside.

IMG_2178

Pour vegetable in a large frying pan over medium heat.  When hot carefully place as many plantain pieces in pan as will fit, cut sides up and down and fry for 7 minutes.  You don’t want to brown them just cook them so adjust the temperature accordingly.  After the first 7 minutes turn the plantains over and fry for another 7 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and fry the remaining pieces the same way; 7 minutes on each side.  While the last plantains are frying take 3-4 of the cooked, drained pieces and drop into the garlic-salt mixture in the mortar.  Using the pestle, crush the cooked plantains to make a fairly smooth mash.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of good olive oil and salt to taste to each batch of mashed plantains.  Leave the mash in the mortar as you add more and more chunks of plantains.  Work quickly while the fried plantains are warm so they absorb the flavors of the salt, garlic and olive oil.  Continue until all plantain pieces have been fried and mashed.  Serve immediately or as soon as you can.

IMG_2179

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com