In Detroit there is a fantastic El Salvadorian pupuseria that Elias and I would frequent. It was the definition of a dive: potholes in the unpaved parking lot. No decor to speak of. Off the beaten path. We loved it. The best part of it, of course, was the food. One of the items on the menu is fried sweet plantain with sour cream and refried beans. It sounds like a strange combination, but the combination of sweet plantain with salty beans and tangy cream is amazing. I saw this version made with banana and sweetened sour cream and knew I wanted to try it. We snarfed these up in no time. Just posting about them makes me want to make them again! I would like to offer this sometime to guests as a dessert because it’s such a unique offering and it’s very easy to do. The only drawback to serving this for company is the fact that it really must be made to order. It probably goes with out saying, but this recipe is also heavenly made with sweet plantains instead of bananas.
For the bananas
4 bananas cut in half lenthwise and then crosswise
Juice of one orange
2 T sugar
2 T butter
pinch of sea salt
For the sweet cream
4 T sour cream
2 T brown sugar
1 t orange zest, finely grated
1/4 t ground cinnamon
Make the Bananas
1. Melt the butter over medium high heat
2. Add the bananas and saute until they begin to caramelize
3. Add orange juice, salt, and sugar, and continue to cook another minute or two, until the bananas are nicely caramelized and the sugar and orange juice has formed a glaze. If the glaze becomes too thick, add a T of water.
Make the sweet cream:
Mix all the sweet cream ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth and creamy
Serve a hot banana with the glaze and a dollop of the cream on the side. Dip the banana in the cream.
Source: Adapted from Ten Dollar Dinners
There are so many things to love about the food culture in San Antonio… amazing authentic Mexican, Tex-Mex and BBQ everywhere, not to mention a lot of wonderful ethnic places hidden around in little nooks and crannies. I’m a fan, and it’s one of the best parts about moving to a new place: discovering the food. Detroit (or more specifically, Dearborn) taught me about Chicken Shawarma and Crushed Red-Lentil Soup, and San Antonio is teaching me a variety of new things that will be highlighted on this blog soon, you can bet on it! This recipe isn’t particularly Texan, or native to San Antonio, but it does represent a clear part of San Antonio culture: cooking outside. While friends in the midwest are talking about sleet and snow, we’ve been grilling outside for months now. (Thanks to my friend C for upgrading our smoky joe to a great little propane grill we love so very much.)
This marinade takes five minutes (or less) to whip up and is well worth the effort. For my friends who love spicy (hot) foods, I’d add some Siracha or red pepper flakes (or both) to this. Our version was the Elias friendly “zero alarm” version… no heat whatsoever (sigh.)
A couple of notes:
- The reason I called this 1-2-3 Grilled honey lime chicken is because, when there are two babies pawing and crawling at my feet at the end of the day I don’t really feel like chasing down a recipe. I love recipes I can memorize, and this one is very easy to memorize (1 T oil, 2 T honey, 3 T soy sauce + juice of one lime, some garlic and cilantro, S+P, done! If that helps you, yay! If you’re a recipe guy or gal, well, just print it out.)
- I should have oiled my grill grates a little bit for this one. The chicken stuck, but it still turned out ok
- Other than the fact that it looks cool and is fun to eat, there’s no reason why this can’t just be made as grilled chicken breasts. (Although I suppose that cutting the chicken in to cubes makes for better surface area for the marinade.
Give it a try. Can’t wait to share some more fun grilled recipes.
Honey-Lime Chicken Skewers
1 T vegetable oil
2 T honey
3 T soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T chopped cilantro (optional)
Juice of one lime
1 – 1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into cubes
1. Whisk all ingredients (except chicken) together in a shallow pan
2. Add chicken and toss to coat.
3. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour
4. When it’s time to cook the chicken, soak wooden skewers for 5 minutes in water, and then thread the chicken on the skewers
5. Grill for 6-8 minutes per side over medium high heat
Wow! There hasn’t been much happening here on Mrs. Smith Cooks! In the little free time I’ve had in the last month or so, I’ve been working on another writing project, and so this blog has been woefully neglected. Here’s to hoping that will change as there are many exciting recipes just waiting to be showcased!
E’s Birthday is on February 18. On his actual birthday we were super busy going to the rodeo and I didn’t have time to make a cake. The plan was to make a wonderful (and very complicated) cake the next day, the 19th, but then life got in the way and it didn’t happen that day either. Every day for the next week or so I kept thinking “Today I’ll make that cake” and it didn’t happen. Finally on the last day of February I had had enough. Clearly I didn’t have the time or energy to make the cake I wanted to make, but I didn’t want the entire month to go by with no birthday cake, so I compromised and whipped up these super fast, super easy individual chocolate cakes. They were perfect with a dollop of ice cream right on top. This cake wins no awards for beauty, it’s not a “oh my oh my look at that impressive cake” type of cake. It’s just chocolate cake. And it’s Gluten-Free for my non-gluten eating birthday boy.
Individual Chocolate Cake
50 grams dark chocolate
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 TBS butter (plus extra for greasing the ramekins)
1 egg, separated
1. Grease the bottom and sides of 2 1 cup ramekins with butter
2. Melt butter and chocolate together in short (20-30 second) bursts in the microwave (do not overheat, let the stirring do most of the work of melting.)
3. Let mixture cool slightly and then mix in sugar and egg yolk
4. Whisk egg white with a pinch of salt in a clean dry bowl (either by hand or in a stand mixer, the latter will save your wrists and elbows.)
5. Gently fold chocolate mixture into the egg white mixture until just barely combined
6. Divide mixture between the two prepared ramekins and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are firm and dry looking
Source: Adapted from Stone Soup
On the evening I was making this dish, along with a few others, I was instant messaging a good friend.
ME: “I gotta go, working on some cooking,”.
FRIEND: “Oh what are you making?”
ME: “ropa vieja”
FRIEND (who speaks some spanish): Old clothes?
ME: Um, yes old clothes.
So, ropa vieja means, literally old clothes. It’s slow cooked beef that’s tender and then shredded, eaten over rice. I don’t know why it’s called old clothes, perhaps because it’s falling apart like old clothes? That’s my best guess. It’s a Cuban dish, and Elias loves it. It meets my criteria for a crockpot dish in that all of the ingredients are thrown in the crockpot and then you walk away. This was my second attempt at it. The first attempt was crazy and inedible. This was awesome. I adapted this recipe based on my first experience (which was a different recipe, but had some similarities) by using a larger meat to liquid ratio and using red wine instead of water. I also omitted the bay leaf. I hate bay leaves and find no purpose in their existence. It’s true.
Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja
Approximately 3 pounds of flank steak cut into three or four large pieces
28 oz can diced tomatoes (not drained)
1/2 cup red wine (whatever you have lying around the house. If you have many options, choose one that’s less sweet)
1 red pepper, cut into strips
i green pepper, cut into strips
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 and 1/2 tsp. dried cumin
1 six oz jar of green olives with pimentos
2 tablespoons of capers
3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
1. Season the meat with salt and pepper
2. Put all ingredients except for cilantro, capers and olives in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours or more, or until the meat is very tender
3. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and rest for 10 minutes
4. Shred the meat with 2 forks and return to the sauce to warm through
5. Stir in capers, olives and cilantro and serve over white rice or with tortillas
Source: Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
My love for frittatas is well documented on this blog: they are easy, inexpensive, made with just one dish. We eat frittata for dinner at least 2 times per month. When I saw this one in the January issue of Bon Appetit, I decided to give it a go. It’s different than others because the sour cream that is whisked into the eggs makes it light and fluffy. It uses 12 full eggs, the sour cream and 3/4 cup shredded cheese. Needless to say, the end result is fairly rich. This frittata should be served with a salad or fruit that has plenty of acid, to cut through the richness of the aforementioned cheese and sour cream. My husband and I lazily just squirted it with a slice of lemon at the end. Perfect.
Leek, Fontina and Mushroom Frittata
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium leeks, chopped (pale and light green parts only)
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced (baby bell are the same as crimini)
- 12 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
- 3/4 cup + 1/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese
- Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Heat 1 T oil on medium heat in a 10 or 10 inch nonstick ovenproof skillet. Add leeks and saute for five minutes or until softened, stirring constantly. Add mushrooms and saute until softened and all liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes more
While mushrooms are cooking, whisk eggs, sour cream and parsley (if using) in a large bowl; mix in 3/4 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and turn the skillet to medium-high. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables, and use a spatula to make sure the top is level. Cook the frittata on the stovetop, without stirring, until its edges begin to set, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the remaining (1/4 cup) of cheese over the top of the frittata and transfer skillet to oven. Bake until golden and cooked all the way through. The frittata should not look wet in the center. This will take 25-30 minutes
Source: Adapted from Bon Appetit
I have been wanting to make gluten free banana bread for a long time, and the reason is this: when I made this banana bread, the look of sadness on Elias’s face that he couldn’t have any was, well, unbearable. The man loves his banana bread. The main reason for the delay is pretty silly: we can’t keep bananas around this house to save our lives. I like them, Elias loves them and Clayton, well, he is obsessed. So when I found a whole bunch of overripe bananas at the store at a discount I snatched them up and made the banana bread that evening.
We LOVED this banana bread recipe. It tastes like traditional banana bread. It doesn’t have a strange gluten free flavor or texture, you could serve it to all of your gluten eating friends and they wouldn’t even know the difference. Definitely a keeper. I made these in mini-loaves. To make them into full size loaves just cook them longer. I haven’t done it, but I’ll post the suggested baking time at the end of the recipe.
A couple of notes about this recipe:
1. It calls for gluten free all purpose flour. The all purpose flour I used did not (I repeat, it did not) have any xantham gum or guar gum mixed in. I didn’t add any either, and the result was perfect. In researching this recipe, though, I saw that some people did use it and were equally pleased with the results. I was nervous this bread would be crumbly as a result. It was not. The mix contains rice flours and potato/tapioca starches.
2. I didn’t have any granulated sugar (gargh!) and I was entirely too lazy to go to the store, so I used lightly packed brown sugar. As noted, it turned out amazingly well, but the original recipe calls for granulated white sugar. Use what you have, I say!
Gluten Free Banana Bread
- 2 cups gluten free all purpose baking flour
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups very ripe bananas, mashed (about 4 bananas)
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed, or 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1/2 cup apple sauce
- 1/3 cup neutral flavored oil (canola or vegetable)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
To top the batter: 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray or oil 4 mini loaf pans or 2 regular sized loaf pans
2. Mix dry ingredients (flour, salt and baking powder) together in a large bowl
3. Mix wet ingredients together in a smaller bowl
4. Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Do not overmix, but stir until all dry flour disappears into the mixture
5. Pour batter into prepared molds (depending on the size of your mold, the batter will fill 1/2 to 2/3 of the mold)
6. Top batter with chopped walnuts
7. Bake at 375 until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
8. Remove from molds after 10 minutes and let cool on wire racks
For Mini Loaves – 375 for 20-30 minutes (Mine took about 25 minutes)
For regular loaves – 375 for 45-55 minutes
As I type this post, I’m looking out the window in sunny Texas. I’m about to go for a jog with my family. It feels a little silly to be writing about soups that warm the soul when it’s 70 degrees out. Yet, it’s the beginning of February and I know how much of the country is snuggled inside on these cold winter days. Soup is such a comfort in the winter, so friends in colder places — these soups are for you!
These soups are all a bit unusual and from different cultures. They will take you somewhere new this winter. In that spirit… Buen Provecho.
Lemongrass and coconut milk make this soup special. Easy to make, but tastes very complex.
The cinnamon in this soup adds a special dimension to this soup.
Simple but oh so good. A lot of lemon juice brightens up this dish. Serve with rice and salad for a simple meal.
Serve with grilled cheese for a grownup indulgence!