Why am I calling this blog “Fails and Wins”?

Simply put:  in the kitchen you don’t always get stuff right, and there is no need to beat yourself up about it.  Hopefully, any disaster can be salvaged.  If it tastes good but the presentation didn’t end up quite as you hoped, then you live and learn and try to figure out what went wrong *and then eat the food anyway* because who cares if it isn’t so pretty?  (ok, maybe I care when I am serving it to guests because that’s what I get paid to do…but at home? HA! Hahahaahahaha…if anyone has an issue with how my food looks at home, they can go to you-know-where) Thus far, there have been no complaints.

During Hurricane Matthew we stayed with friends on the yacht they run in order to shelter from the storm and also offer our assistance should they need it if things really packed it in.  As there were two chefs on the boat, we decided to have a bit of session in the galley which was super fun.  First I showed her the cassava flour tortilla recipe. Then she pulled out all the ingredients to make these Tostone Cups which she had seen on the web.  We had nothing better to do and some hungry people to feed, so it was all on!

Basic Ingredients:

Ripening plantains- you will know they are ripening as the skin is turning black in places
Coconut oil- enough to fry the plantain pieces immersed.  We used a smallish pot to maximize on our oil without having to use an entire jar.  Note: if you have lard, this would be nice to use here too.

Salt and pepper

Filling:

We had flank steak which was really nice and simply salted and peppered and broiled in the oven until medium rare. Flank or fajita steak is fairly low in fat if you are worried about your macros in that direction.  I personally prefer fattier cuts of meat due to the flavor and my ability to consume a lot of animal fat, but that’s just me. If you don’t want steak, you can use cooked chicken breast, or garlic shrimp or seared fish.  Your choice.  This blog isn’t about the filling so much, so this is where you choose.

Actually, if you are vegetarian, then do a stir-fry of peppers and zucchinis and onions etc and use that as a filling.  It would be tasty too.

Chimichurri Sauce:

I cannot even remember the recipe that we used here…there were herbs, olive oil, garlic, vinegar, a bit of shallot or red onion…

Here is a good mix to try:
3 cloves garlic
1 shallot chopped or ¼ red onion
½ tsp sea salt
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 TBSP chopped fresh oregano
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 jalapeno (if you like things with a bit of a kick) remove the seeds and chop.

1. Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender and whiz up.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Done.  Slather on all your favourite meats and fish and veg and eggs and chicken…I dare you not to.

Tostones How to:
Cut the tops and tails of the plantains and peel them.  Then slice each one into about 3 equal pieces.

Get the oil in the pot up to medium heat so you can see the heat shimmering in the liquid. Carefully lower a couple pieces of plantain in there for the first cook through.

Remove the plantain with a slotted spoon to paper to drain, then use the bottom of a bowl or glass to squash each one (which you have stood upright on it’s end). You want them to still maintain intact integrity…I am not sure I am explaining this very well.  Basically, do not squash them to smithereens, as fun as it is to do so, you want the fiber of the fruit to hold itself together. Learned this the hard way.

Place the squished plantain into a non-stick muffin tin to cool. I lined the tins with plastic wrap to make removal easier.

**This is where things started to fall apart for us.  Literally.  The muffin tin we used was (I surmise) a bit to large, so the plantain had to be spread out and then it wouldn’t hold the cup shape once cool.  To try to counteract this, we threw the muffin tin in the freezer, which helped somewhat. If I did this again I would use a smaller (normal) size muffin tin.  Or more likely just not bother with this step at all…

Gently lower cup-shaped squashed plantain into the oil once again to finish cooking to slightly golden brown and crispy on the outside.  Remove and drain on papers.

Reheat cups in oven and then fill with protein and top with chimichurri. **As an aside, we don’t often get to choose the plates on the yachts, so you many times end up with loveliness such as this fine example.  It’s difficult to really show off food when there is so much wonderfulness going on in the background**

My take-home lesson:  This tasted wonderful but that extra shaping step was completely unnecessary.  We would have been better to just squash the plantains down then slide them back into the oil FLAT.  This is normally how they come in a restaurant.  No need to fancy this up any further.

By cooking in lard or coconut oil, you are cooking in a heat-stable fat that is not high in Omega-6, of which we generally have too much in our Western diet. So minimize the omega-6 and do your body a favour.  Fill or top with whatever you like!  I have done the same thing and just thrown some cooked ground meat that I had sitting in the fridge on top with a dollop of salsa and guacamole.  It was really yummy. Tostones reheat nicely in the microwave if you want to take them to work. It’s another good source of starchy carbohydrate, if you are having issues finding cleaner sources of carbs when trying to avoid processed junk.

Dawn