The Exponent
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Fare Report: Plantains
I recently tried preparing
plantain at home for the
first time. For many years, I
admired the long, angular,
banana-looking vegetable
from afar at the grocery
store. Passing them by for
so long was a mistake!
Plantains are starchy, low
in sugar and can be prepared sweet or
savory. Plantain recipes
vary from soups to curries
to desserts. A great substitute for potatoes, plantains
are also made into chips.
ripe, plantains
have a bitter
taste, and need
to be cooked
before eaten.
Green plantains
are not yet ripe,
and must be
processed before
consumption. Yellow plantains, and
ones starting to
brown, are ripe and sweeter
than the green ones.
Plantains are eaten all
over the world, and are the
10th most important staple
that feeds the world. They
grow year round and serve
as a reliable crop, especially
in countries with inadequate
food storage, preservation
and transportation.
Depending on what part
of the world one is in determines how plantains are
most likely cooked and
served. In Trinidad and
Tobago, one enjoys plantains
boiled or made into soup.
In Peru, chapo is a popular beverage consumed that
is made of sweet plantains,
water and spices. In the
southern United States,
plantains are usually
At my home, we recently
enjoyed plantains made into
a sweet side dish. We all
agree that plantains are
going to become a staple at
our home.
Versatile, scrumptious
and budget friendly, plantains are an excellent choice
for mealtime. My next
plantain adventure is going
to be
pachadi —
curry, or at least my version
of the dish.
Today, I am going to
share my sweet plantain
side dish recipe, and I hope
you give it a try. Plantains
are high in fiber, potassium,
vitamin A and vitamin C.
They also contain iron, magnesium and phosphorus.
Therefore, plantains are
delicious and nutritious.
Sweet Plantain Side Dish
2 large, ripe plantains,
peeled, halved and cut into 2
inch chunks
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup water
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tablespoon butter
Place all ingredients
inside a small pot. Cover
and cook over medium heat
for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Enjoy!
Chicken stock can enhance dishes
There’s a new breed of diners out
there today. More experienced and
food savvy, these are people who love
to dine out. They love the experience
of community and being served something they haven’t
tasted before or
served in a way that
isn’t familiar to
There’s a lot of
choices out there
too, from the big
chains to the small
eclectic restaurants
with seven-course
tasting menus and a
large variety in
between. They are all upping their
But there are some basics that any
successful spot should stick to. A
great wine and drink selection is a
good start to any meal; a courteous
and knowledgeable wait staff to make
you feel welcome, and of course, the
Serving hot food hot and cold food
cold — always important. Fresh produce and proteins and rotating the
menu seasonally to utilize those ingredients. “House made” or “scratch
made” ingredients to
lend authenticity to their recipes.
There’s one that tips the scale every
time, a good homemade chicken stock
or “Liquid Gold.”
I hear people talking a lot of an
experience at an eatery that they say
has surpassed all their expectations.
“It was the best sauce” or “I can’t tell
what they did to that soup, but it was
great” or “that gravy really made that
fried chicken.”
They will actually sit forever and
guess what cooking method, spice or
ingredient the chef used to make such
a flavorful dish. Well, I’ll let you in on
a little secret it was probably a homemade stock.
There is nothing that will provide
as much flavor, aroma and “mouth
feel” as a properly prepared chicken,
beef, fish or vegetable stock. I know
as the chef of Mia Margherita that
stock or “brodo” is a very important
part of many of our dishes. Whether
it’s the Stracciatella soup or one of our
risottos or pastas the stock is the key,
providing a flavorful canvas for the
rest of the ingredients. Here’s a couple easy versions of chicken stock to
enhance all your dishes
at home.
Brown (or roasted) Chicken Stock
2-3 pounds chicken bones or parts
(backs, breast, bones, necks, wings)
2 tbsp. vegetable. oil
2 Small onions, coarse chop
3 Carrots, coarse chop
3 Ribs celery, coarse chop
1 Bouquet garni(see recipe below )
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
3 Whole cloves garlic
1 Gal. water plus 1 cup for deglazing
Salt & pepper, to taste
1. Place chicken and/or bones on
a rack on a sheet tray and season with
salt and pepper, roast for approximately 1 hour or until dark brown, set aside
Meanwhile, in a 6 quart stock
pot add oil over medium heat, begin to
brown onions, carrots and celery, stirring frequently.
3. After lightly browned stir in
tomato paste and continue to stir,
being careful not to burn but continuing to cook until a rich brown.
Deglaze with wine, stirring to
release bits stuck to the bottom of the
pot and add garlic.
After wine is almost evaporated deglaze again with the one cup
of water, allow to evaporate once more
while stirring.
Add bones, bouquet garni and
the rest of the water.
Bring to a boil then reduce
heat immediately to a very slow simmer and allow to simmer, skimming
occasionally to remove impurities.
Simmer for approximately 3
hours or until stock has a full rich flavor and has reduced by a third.
Strain through a fine mesh
sieve or a colander lined with a double
layer of cheese cloth
10. If using the whole chickens allow
them to cool and pull the meat and
reserve for another recipe.
11. Bouquet Garni — In a 6X6 piece
of cheese cloth add 2 bay leaves, 10
peppercorns, 8 sprigs fresh thyme or 1
Tbsp. dried, 1 small bunch of fresh
parsley or 1 Tbsp. dried. Roll in cheese
cloth and tie with butchers twine.
Chicken Stock
2-3 pounds chicken bones or parts
(backs, breast bones, necks, wings)
2 small onions, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 gallon water
1 bouquet garni — see recipe below
6 Whole cloves garlic
1. Combine chicken parts, vegetables, garlic, bouquet garni & water
in a stock pot.
Bring to a boil & reduce heat,
simmer gently skimming often to
remove impurities.
3. Simmer uncovered for 3 hours
continuing to skim.
4. Strain slowly through a fine
sieve or colander lined with a double
layer of cheese cloth
5. If using whole chicken, retain,
cool & pull meat from bones to use in
another recipe.
6. Bouquet Garni — In a 6X6
piece of cheese cloth 2 small bay
leaves, 10 peppercorns, 8 sprigs fresh
thyme or 1 tablespoon dried, 1 small
bunch of fresh parsley or parsley
stems or 2 tablespoons dried. Roll in
cheese cloth & tie with butchers twine.
Tim Goots is chef at Mia Margherita.
Oven baking ensures perfect frittatas
by JeanMarie Brownson
Our spring entertaining
often centers on brunch
after an early morning bike
ride or hike in the woods
with friends. Hungry, we're
looking for strong coffee
and an easy to assemble
main course. Enter the
oven-baked frittata. Fresh
eggs, beaten with cream or
milk, embrace tender vegetables and fresh herbs.
Easier than an omelet,
Italian-inspired frittatas are
cooked in a skillet with the
vegetables stirred in rather
than used as a filling for
folded eggs. Frittatas can be
cooked completely on the
stove top. I prefer to cook
them in a low oven where
the steady heat prevents
excess browning and overcooking.
As for the flavorings,
fresh, tender spring vegetables, briefly cooked in
advance, welcome the velvety texture of gently
cooked eggs.
asparagus, new
p o ta to e s,
carrots, baby spinach and
sweet onions. The first
shoots of garden fresh herbs
work here too.
In this recipe, fresh mozzarella offers silken bits
in between the
eggs and vegetables.
When the asparagus is very
tender and fresh, I skip
peeling the stalks. Fingerling potatoes, cut into 1-inch
rounds, can stand in for
round new potatoes. Green
onions and fresh dill perfume the whole dish.
This dish tastes great
served at room temperature
or even chilled. Accompany
the asparagus frittata with
thickly sliced ripe tomatoes
and crusty bread. Brew
fresh coffee, offer a mimosa
of fresh grapefruit juice and
sparkling wine and you'll
have happy friends.
Asparagus, new potato and
fresh mozzarella Frittata
Prep: 25 minutes / Cook: 35 minutes / Makes: 6 servings
8 small (1-inch diameter) new potatoes (12 ounces
total), scrubbed clean, quar tered
1 bunch (12 ounces) asparagus, tough ends trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 green onions, trimmed, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
10 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk or half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly
ground pepper
1 cup diced (4 ounces
total) fresh mozzarella or
brick cheese
Chopped fresh dill, for garnish
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Put potatoes
into a large microwave-safe bowl. Add water to
barely cover potatoes. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap
vented at one corner. Microwave on high (100 percent power), stirring once, until nearly fork-tender,
4-5 minutes. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, cut asparagus into 1 inch
lengths and set tips aside. Heat olive oil in a 12inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add
asparagus stalks; cook until nearly fork-tender,
about 3 minutes. Stir in asparagus tips and
green onions; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat;
stir in potatoes and dill. (Mixture
can be made ahead up to 2 days;
re-warm before continuing.)
3. Whisk together eggs, milk,
salt and pepper in a medium
4. Place skillet with vegetables over medium heat. When hot, sprinkle cheese over vegetables. Reduce heat to low; gently pour egg mixture over vegetables. Cook until bottom is nearly set, about 3 minutes. Transfer
to oven; cook until a knife inserted in center comes out clean,
about 20 minutes. Serve warm sprinkled with more dill.
Nutrition information per serving:
279 calories, 18 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 327 mg cholesterol, 14 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein,
337 mg sodium, 2 g fiber