In the effort to keep my diet fresh and fun, I often shop in the "exotic fruits" section of Hannafords for mangoes, yucca, and plantains. I'm not a seasoned chef so I can't get too crazy with the recipes, just the basics. Slice up mango. Put in container in fridge- transfer to baggie when packing lunch. Slice up yucca, add some fresh onion and garlic powder with a splash of oil and dump in boiling water. Boil until the yucca is a little squishy and I am transported to Cuba. Well, ok, my yucca is not THAT good, but it does the trick for a while until I can make it to a real Spanish food restaurant to buy some.
Plantains is another story. There are so many things that can be done with them. Fried, mashed, baked, eaten raw (I've never done this though...). Two recipes that seems to be closest to what I typically eat in Spanish food restaurants is one for Platinos Maduros, or Sauteed Sweet Plantains. And also Fried Plantains. I love both, although I have never attempted to make them myself. Too afraid I will mess them up and ruin my taste for them I think. So I make them mashed instead, with a little bit of Earth Balance margarine and make hard boiled eggs to go with them. This is the breakfast of champions down in Dominican Republic. Or at least that's what Jonathan tells me. I love it- it sticks to the ribs, keeps me full for hours. And from what I know, is insanely cheap to make too. Perhaps that's why it's the perfect breakfast in DR!
Today was no exception, I was going to mash these babies up and boil some eggs and bring them in for lunch for work! I turned the heat on in a giant saucepan up, coated the pan with some "buttery cooking spray" (which does not contain any dairy, or hydrogenated oils so it's a great one to use!). I then melted a little Earth Balance margarine in the saucepan as well. A little fat tastes good- I probably put in a teaspoon. I peeled and chopped up the plantains and poured the chunks into the pan. It was my intention to mash them with a potato masher and stir them up for a few minutes when suddenly I realized my plantains were frying themselves. Like they had minds of their own. I turned the heat down and tried to mash them. Dang it they were too hard. I should have softened them up first! But lo and behold, I was frying plantains! Probably not the BEST way. Probably not the easiest way either! But I kept spraying them with that "buttery spray" and shaking them around in the saucepan. I tested one and WOW!!!! Pat me on the back, ring the alarm, I just made freakin fried plantains! And they were AWESOME!
Since my confidence in the kitchen was now boosted all the way to the ceiling fan, I decided to make my typical saute of side veggies as well. I usually just use zucchini and summer squash and saute with a tablespoon of olive oil. Black pepper. Shake of salt. It's simple and it works. But today? I threw in some fresh onion, tomato, and a handful of mushrooms I just bought that morning. They were cooking away in EVOO and black pepper, I would push them around a little with the spatula... when I decided to pick up the pan to shake them around a bit. I grabbed the handle. And grabbed the metal part of the handle. My reaction time was unusually delayed and I managed to actually pick up the pan off the burner before I realized what was in my hand was really burning my skin off. EOOOOUCH!!!!! I dropped the pan- veggies flying everywhere! It wasn't too bad of a mess or a burn- I do have a blister on my finger though and it still hurts! The veggies still came out great anyway, and they are also packed in my little lunch bag.
For a day of cooking accidents, I think I made out pretty well. Learned a few lessons. Like never grab a hot pan. Mash the plantains before they go in the pot. And the biggest lesson of the day: stop pretending I'm Giada (we may both have a big chest but she's way cuter and a much better cook!)!!!!