Tag Archives: plantain

Sancocho and Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake

This Latin feast is compliments of Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero. Once again, Terry delivers massive Latin flavour that will make you exercise all your restraint to not eat the whole thing before making it out of the kitchen. I am a novice to Latin food, but these recipes that I have previously written about (and with more to come!) have me seeking out Latin food wherever I can!

Sancocho

Sancocho: The Latin Sambar.

The Sancocho could be best described as a Latin Sambar – they are so similar in fact I often get the two confused! They are both soothing, spicy, comfort foods in a bowl. Sancocho is coloured the distinctive Latin Chorizo “hue” with Annatto spice, the Latin turmeric. The rest of the seasoning is the standard Latin combination of oregano and cumin, supplemented with some thyme and heaps of onions. The soup is loaded with veggies: carrot, yucca, green plantains, tomatoes, and corn. Lima beans add the protein element, and are deliciously creamy. For those with Lima issues, Fava beans, edamame, pinto beans, or even chickpeas would be a wonderful stand-in. I made some modifications to the recipe – I hate corn. With a passion. Thus I omitted the corn on the cob from my soup, and I think it didn’t suffer from intent at all! Although I will not deny – eating corn on a cob in a soup sounds pretty cool. I also added some spinach at the end, because greens in soups are never wrong! The resulting soup is soothing, delicious, and exotic enough to make you think you can cook any Latin dish you desire. (I may be delusional.) This is the perfect soup to usher in the not-quite-ready spring produce but tired of the winter standards of squash and potatoes.

The recipe can be found on p. 154-155 of Viva Vegan!, or on Google Books here.

Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake

Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake: Not too sweet, slightly spicy, and all around delicious!

The Chocolate Orange Dulce de Batata Cake is a surprise all in of itself. The frosting is actually Dulce de Batata, which is an orange-infused sweet potato pudding. Yes – sweet potato! I have never had sweet potato as part of a dessert before (or any non-savoury application after the Mashed Sweet Potato and Marshmallow experiences of my childhood – ick), and so I knew I had to try this cake just for that reason. To make the Dulce de Batata is relatively easy – basically boil sweet potatoes to a mash, and stir constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn the bottom of the pan. A helpful tip: use a lid when you reach pudding consistency, otherwise you will end up with sweet potato splatters all over your kitchen. The aroma from this dish was what really surprised me – it was very difficult not eating the entire pot as soon as it was made. The sweet potato taste isn’t pungent, and the cinnamon and orange pair wonderfully.

The chocolate cake is a typical chocolate cake, but with the addition of ‘spice’ cake spices and orange juice. It pairs well with the dulce de batata, and again isn’t a sweet cake. I used a combination of quinoa and buckwheat flour, and it came out wonderfully moist, and had a great crumb. The instructions say to cook the cake as one layer, and then cut the layers in two. I could foresee that disaster, and instead opted to cook two layers of cake separately, and reduced the cooking time. To “frost”, you smear as much dulce de batata as you can on the top of one half, add the second layer of cake, and frost with the remaining dulce de batata. The combination is phenomenal, and definitely something you could serve to company and bask in the compliments. Not too sweet, slightly spicy, and with the hint of orange, it is a chocolate cake you will crave. Especially so for people who are not partial to sweet desserts, and usually avoid chocolate cakes for this reason. I froze my leftovers and ate the rest like cake pops, and I think I liked that serving style even better than eating it fresh!

The recipe can be found on p. 236-239 of Viva Vegan!, or on Google Books here.

Sancocho and Chocolate Dulce de Batata cake – the latest Latin offerings that have continued to open my eyes to the delicious offerings of the Central and South Americas!


Caribbean Black Eyed Pea Curry

Ring in the New Year with this lucky black eyed pea curry! Different and delicious: transport yourself to the Caaribbean!

Ring in the New Year with this lucky black eyed pea curry! Different and delicious: transport yourself to the Caribbean!

Disclaimer: I am in the process of moving across the country, and thus haven’t had access to a kitchen for over a month. I’m working through the archives, which seem to be full of cookbook recipes. So, I present to you another recipe from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. This particular recipe took me over a year to make. I’d been eyeing it for a while, but I was often distracted by my own cravings, whims, and hesitation for sweeter, milder curries. Finally, I gave this one a try and yet again Isa didn’t disappoint! The curry is a nice balance of sweet and savoury, and there’s a good kick at the end from the addition of habaneros. I didn’t seed my peppers giving me a greater kick than usual, but that’s completely to taste! You can never go wrong with the addition of bell peppers in a curry, and the black eyed peas are a great canvas for the curry as they soak up the flavour wonderfully. Other mild tasting beans can be substituted, such as navy beans. However, the Jewish consider black eyed peas to be lucky when celebrating Rosh Hashanah (usually in autumn), and in the southern US they are considered lucky to ring in the (Roman Calendar) New Year, so why not add a little luck on your side? The plantain addition is nice, however I would recommend simmering the plantain in the curry instead of steaming it separately as the recipe suggests. I find plantains to be really starchy, and when you simmer it in the sauce it takes on the flavour of the curry while still maintaining the plantain purpose.

This dish is simple to throw together – perfect for a weekday meal or for mimizing time spent in the kitchen with company over. The smells of this curry simmering on the stove will transport you to the Caribbean, making you forget that it’s -30 Celsius outside! So when ringing in the New Year, add a little bit of luck to the holiday spread and make this curry!

The recipe is available in Appetite for Reduction, but it is also posted on the PPK here: Caribbean Black Eyed Pea Curry with Plantains.


Sweet and Nutty Stuffed Plantains

Roasted plaintain stuffed with cayenne walnut crumble and topped with Daiya cheese

Stuffed plantains – my first Latin dessert experience. Before this dish, I didn’t really understand the hype of plantains. I had tried them before in a variety of dishes, but they had never wowed me. I am guilty of substituting sweet potatoes for plantains more than once. But what the pupusas started with their plantain contribution this simple dessert finished. Not one for sweet desserts, this dish has a nice bite to it and is a delectable way to finish off any meal – Latin or not! They are also a 5-star way to start your day – I ate one for breakfast to beat the Monday blahs, and successfully beat them all the way to lunch!

The dish itself is very simple to prepare, and as Terry suggests very versatile in stuffing components. First you roast the plantain like you would a baked potato – wrap it in foil and stick it in the oven at 375oF for ~30min. Then comes the fun part – the stuffing! This stuffing is a simple crumble with brown sugar, walnuts, and a dash of cayenne for a nice surprise kick. Slit the plantains lengthwise and stuff to the best of your ability. If some stuffing doesn’t make it into the plantain, leave it in the pan! They crisp nicely and you can sprinkle it over the finished product. Sprinkle with some lime juice for a nice tart flavour, and finally top with Daiya cheese. The cheese is optional, but I couldn’t resist the strange combination of a crumble, a fruit, and melted cheese. Pop the stuffed plantains back into the oven to roast uncovered for ~15min, and you’re done! The plantains take on a sweet caramelization flavour, almost like a subtle baked banana. The lime juice and the cayenne really stand out, cutting the sweetness of the plantain and stuffing nicely. The cheese adds a touch of salt and a different flavour that make the dessert extra unique. I couldn’t get enough of these delicious desserts!

Other stuffing ideas could be a simple crumble like in a rhubarb crisp, or just the cheese, or even just roasted with a sprinkling of cayenne and lime juice. Depending on your sweetness threshold, I imagine chocolate, pie fillings, or even a simple syrup of butter and brown sugar would also be delicious. To store leftovers (if you have any!) I wrapped them in tinfoil and froze. To eat, just unwrap and go! Like a stuffed plantain popsicle, they are even better than frozen bananas topped with tahini and molasses, and I didn’t know that was possible!

Terry includes in her book Viva Vegan! a 4-page Ode to the Plantain (pages 115-119). How to ripen (like an avocado), which plantains work best for what cooking method, how to roast, how to stuff, how to make crisps, fries, and so on. After tasting this dish, I understand both the hype and the lengthy review and will be guilty no more of substituting with sweet potatoes!

The recipe can be found on page 117-118 on Google Book Preview here: Sweet and Nutty Stuffed Plantains. However this dessert alone is worth checking out the book at the library!


El Salvador Feast: Black Bean and Plantain Pupusa, Curdito, and Simple Tomato Sauce

Components: Curdito in the bowl; Pupusa topped with Simple Latin Tomato Sauce and sliced avocado sprinkled with chili powder on the plate.

 

The hot weather made me do it. I finally got around to trying Terry Hope Romero’s cookbook Viva Vegan! a tomb of 200 Latin American recipes. I quickly learned in my 3h read through of the book that what I thought was Latin American was actually Tex-Mex, and everything I hate about Tex-Mex has no bearing in authentic Latin American food. It was one of the more expensive library trips for me – what started as a 20-recipe ‘must try NOW’ list plus an additional 20-recipe ‘must make within the month’ resulted in me purchasing the only copy of the cookbook in my city. And thus began the Latin Cooking Extravaganza!

 

I will be honest, I didn’t know much about Latin American food, aside from the aforementioned Tex-Mex. Tacos, Enchiladas, and Mole sauce and I was out. This is just the tip of the iceberg, with plenty more to be explored! Viva Vegan! is a fantastic resource for the uninitiated and adventurous – such as myself. It has recipes from all over Central and South America, with plenty of tips on how to properly roast chilies, when to use the special ingredients and when you can get away with substitutions (especially important for chili powders!), as well as well written step-by-step instructions on how to make your own Latin kitchen staples, such as tortillas. The best part of cooking Latin was that with my pantry stocked with Middle Eastern, Indian, and Asian spices, I could cook almost every recipe in the cookbook without a special trip to the grocery store. But where is the fun in experimenting if it doesn’t come with a trip to the ethnic market? Three kinds of chili powder, two kinds of dried chilies, a bottle of habanero hot sauce, and a Mexican spice called Epazote that smells like gasoline later and I was set.

 

Opening the fest was Black Bean and Plantain Pupusas (pg. 162), Curdito (pg. 79), and Simple Tomato Sauce (pg. 46). Pulled together in under an hour, Latin weekend opened with a bang of flavour! The Curdito is the same as the coleslaw recipe for the Baja Tacos in Veganomicon, and my favourite coleslaw recipe ever. The Simple Tomato Sauce is exactly that – simple and delicious. It amazed me how something with such few ingredients could taste so fantastic! I used green onions and garlic scrapes from my CSA vegetables which made the sauce fresh and bright even though I used canned tomatoes. I ate the sauce straight from the saucepan, until I deployed some measure of restraint to serve it with the pupusa.

 

The Pupusas are very easy to make, and require no time at all to cook! The dough is just masa flour and water, which turns into the consistency of homemade PlayDoh making the pupusas very easy (and fun!) to shape, mould, stuff, and close. The filling for this batch was the suggested black bean and plantain filling with a sprinkling of Daiya cheese. This combination was heavenly, and when served with the tomato sauce tasted like a Latin Pizza Pocket, only 100x better! So successful were these pupusas they have inspired my creativity, and I am planning a future themed evening of other variations – including a dessert pupusa. Cocoa powder added to the dough, and stuffed with a cinnamon-nut crumble with plantains. Mmmm… The leftover pupusas froze very well, and were very travel-friendly for meals-on-the-go. Of course, they didn’t hurt with a quick warm-up in the microwave/pan and served with some more sauce!

 

If you do not have the cookbook, I strongly urge you to check it out of the library. For a taster, the recipes for this delectable meal can be found here: Pupusas, Curdito, and Salsa Rojo. Previews of the cookbook are also available on Google Books, found here: Viva Vegan!  You will be surprised at how easy and delicious this seemingly complex dish is. Plus, you get to play with ‘PlayDoh’ dough. So roll up those sleeves, get creative with the stuffing, and enjoy!


Lentil Stew with Millet-Almond Pilaf

Another genius recipe from Eric Tucker and his Millennium Cookbook. The full recipe is found on pg. 120, and is called “Lentil Stew with Millet-Almond Pilaf and Millet Crepes”. I have learned my lesson regarding crepes during previous attempts at buckwheat crepes, and more recently at my misshaped (but tasty!) dosa attempt. This did not stop me from trying this delicious recipe. This was also my first experience with millet, and it is now in the ranks of quinoa in my eyes. A staple.

Millet is like quinoa, but remains somewhat firm and slightly crunchy even when fully cooked. The texture is welcome – I am not a fan of mush. It contrasts nicely with the lentils in the stew, and absorbs the stew flavour even better than rice would. In fact, leftovers are almost better than the fresh dish – a quick warm up in the microwave and it’s like the stew is made anew, but marinated! The stew itself is based on Ethiopian flavours, and makes use of Berber. I had some extra from Papa Tofu, and used that instead of the Millennium spice blend. The results were delicious! I don’t know if they have eggplant and plantains in Ethiopia, but they are gorgeous in this lentil stew. The plantains add a different texture to the stew deepening the flavour profile. Subtly spicy, it is a warming spice instead of a heat/spicy hot. As always, eggplant adds a nice meaty texture to the stew, absorbing all the lovely flavour and adding a toothsome texture. Do not be daunted by the number of steps to the recipe or of all the components – all in it took me less than an hour to pull the dish together, and I am one of the slowest prep cooks you will ever find! And as always, cooking from this book makes me feel like I belong on Top Chef Canada or at the very least a ticket to a cocktail party with Marcus Sameulsson.

This recipe can be found on page 120 of the Millennium Cookbook, which if you scroll ~2/3 of the way down can be found here on Google Book Previews. I highly recommend this recipe for your next weekend meal – either for yourself in your sweats or for company in your LBD, it’s sure to impress everyone!


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