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Tag Archive: side dishes

Tostones (Crispy Plantain Chips) (gluten-free, vegan)

March 31, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Plantains are completely under-appreciated in this country, and I think it’s time for a change. They may not be as gooey and sweet as their coveted yellow cousins, but with a little love, plantains are magical in their own special way.

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In my Oven-Fried Chicken post, I talked about some of the reasons why I don’t like frying. In this recipe, however, I do.

Why?

Because of their starchiness (and absence of fat), plantains don’t splatter and spew as soon as they hit the pan. They always brown beautifully and don’t need cups and cups of oil, and best of all, they come out salty, crispy, and absolutely satisfying every. Time.

That’s if you fry them twice, of course.

What?!

The trick to Tostones–a classic Latin American and Caribbean side dish–is to fry the plantains not once, but TWICE. In between the two rounds of frying, you pound the still-warm plantains with a mallet (or your hands) so they become big and flat, then back into the oil they go for a final crunchy finish.

If you’re nervous about all of the oil you’re using, don’t worry! By using coconut oil–which has a high smoke point–you avoid the high Omega-6 content of the traditional seed oils for frying. The plantains also won’t absorb all of the oil: using three long green plantains, I still had well over half a cup left. In any case, these are a special treat…and I guarantee there will be no leftovers after you put these on the table.

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Are you ready to make these insanely-awesome bites of heaven? I sure am! You’ll only need four ingredients to get started.

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Using a small, sharp knife, cut slits all of the way down each plantain, taking care to NOT cut through the plantain’s flesh. Peel the slices of skin off of the plantain to reveal the starchy yellow interior.

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Cut each plantain on the diagonal to make about 3/4-inch slices.

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Meanwhile, heat enough coconut oil (or other heat-stable oil) to cover the bottom of a cast iron skillet with about 1/2-inch of oil. (When you put the plantain slices in, the oil should come up about half of the way up the side.) Once the oil sizzles, add in 1/3 of the plantain slices, and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until lightly browned on the side facing down.

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Flip the plantains over to the other side and cook for another 2 minutes, or until lightly browned on that side, too.

Remove the plantain slices from the oil to a thick layer of paper towels and repeat the same procedure with the rest of the plantains. You should have two more batches to go.

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They may look tasty enough to eat at this point, but I wouldn’t recommend it! They’ll still be super tough on the inside and not very appetizing.

Now for the fun part. Rip off two large pieces of wax paper and put one slice of plantain between the two. Using a mallet (or your hand), squish the plantain as much as possible until it’s very thin, but thick enough that it’ll hold together. Peel the wax paper away and set the squished plantain slice aside; repeat with the rest of the plantains.

Reheat the oil until it sizzles, then add 1/4 of the plantain slices back into the oil. Cook until brown on one side (only about a minute), then flip over to the other side and fry again until brown. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with the rest of the squished plantain slices.

Immediately season the hot plantains with salt and freshly-squeezed lime juice. Serve right away for optimal crispiness!

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What is your favorite kind of chip? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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French Fries

March 22, 2014 Print this page

Want crispy-yet-tender French fries without wasting a ton of oil? These oven fries are your dream-come-true!

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 25 min
Total Time 40 min
Yield 4 servings

2 tablespoons of olive oil or other cooking fat, divided

1-2 lb potatoes (preferably Yukon Gold)

Salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease two large baking sheets with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or other cooking fat) each. Set aside.

You are first going to need…potatoes! I got mine at the farmers’ market, so I don’t remember what variety they were. If you’re shopping at the supermarket, I’d recommend Yukon Gold over Russet for a final product with a bit more personality.

Make sure you wash your potatoes and scrub ‘em well. Dry them off with a dish towel or paper towels, then slice them into medium-sized matchsticks, or use your 16 cup food processor’s convenient French fry blade.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of cold water to a boil. Once it vigorously bubbles, add in the French fries and reduce the heat slightly so the water just slightly bubbles. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost tender to the touch.

Carefully drain the French fries into a colander, then give them a quick rinse in cold water to wash off some of the accumulated starch and stop the cooking process. Dry the fries off well with some paper towels.

Once no longer wet, divide the fries evenly between the two baking sheets and sprinkle vigorously with salt. Toss a few times to cook, then bake until golden brown and soft in the center, about 20 to 25 minutes. Shake the pan every 5 to 10 minutes to prevent sticking and ensure even browning.

Serve immediately with some homemade mayonnaise on the side, or dip into your favorite sauce or broth to have a delicious bite of flavor-infused potato.


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Oven-Fried Chicken and French Fries (gluten-free, grain-free)

March 20, 2014 1 Comment Print this page

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I’ll be honest with you: I freaking LOVE French fries.

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I also freaking LOVE fried chicken. No huge surprise there.

But what I don’t love? All of the OIL!

You know me, you know my blog: I have no problems whatsoever with fat. Heck, I have a moisturizer made out of tallow; I know how beneficial good fats–from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals, nuts, avocados, coconuts, and chocolate–can be for your health and your body.

But I hate frying things.

First of all, it scares me. Even with an apron, tongs, and goggles, I still back away every time I drop a piece of meat of vegetables into more than a few tablespoons of fat. I accidentally rested on my calf on a hot tailpipe when I was in middle school–and have a scar to prove it–so naturally, heated oil kinda freaks me out.

Frying oil also seems to find its way into every nook of my hair and clothes, meaning I have to take a shower right away or I’ll smell like the pits of MacDonald’s for days. While I do enjoy smelling food, I do not enjoy smelling like food, unless that food is, oh, chocolate. Or coconuts. Or vanilla. Or perhaps mango. Maybe strawberries? CUPCAKES. YES. But anyway, I prefer to keep dinner smells at the dinner table, and that’s that.

I also don’t like using all of that oil. Two cups of coconut oil for one dish? Not worth it, in my opinion. My pumpkin spice latte cupcakes, for example, only need 1/4 cup of oil, so I’d much rather make eight batches of those instead of only a batch of truly fried food.

I am, however, a master of the oven, the most-used appliance in my kitchen.

It’s fabulous: throw all of your potentially grease-projecting, smell-inducing food into a magic box, and it comes out crispy, golden brown, and devoid of extra oil lurking around the edges. Change the temperature at will. Stir it and not have your food spew up on you. Leave it unattended. It’s amazing.

Today, I’m here to introduce you to the awesomesauceness (yes, that is a word in my world) of oven-frying. Done correctly, you can produce a crunchy, mouth-watering delicacy, all while keeping your kitchen relatively clean and preventing yourself from attaining that unpleasing fry-odor.

I do hope you like French fries. And fried chicken. Because, as I already said, I certainly do.

Let’s make the French fries first.

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Whenever I make French fries in the oven, I always run into two issues: the potatoes stick to the pan and burn in some cases, and slide around too much and become soggy in others. These are the main reasons why I rarely make oven fries and instead opt for simply roasted potatoes or mini hasselback potatoes instead.

But then, I tried the recipe in The Smitten Kitchen cookbook. And my issues with oven-frying completely vanished.

In her recipe, Deb–the author of the magnificent book–first parboils the potatoes, then drains them and finishes them off in the oven. The result is a crispy, still-tender fry that doesn’t render a soggy product. I adapted her approach based on my personal tastes, and the result was a batch of oven fries that tasted really close to “the real thing.”

Yum.

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Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease two large baking sheets with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or other cooking fat) each. Set aside.

You are first going to need…potatoes! I got mine at the farmers’ market, so I don’t remember what variety they were. If you’re shopping at the supermarket, I’d recommend Yukon Gold over Russet for a final product with a bit more personality. I suppose you could also use sweet potatoes–although they are completely unrelated from a biological standpoint–or another root vegetable, but I haven’t tested either yet.

Make sure you wash your potatoes and scrub ’em well. Dry them off with a dish towel or paper towels, then slice them into medium-sized matchsticks, or use your 16 cup food processor’s convenient French fry blade.

Guess which one I picked. Hint: it took only 17 seconds for all of the potatoes you see above here.

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My friend Breville did a smashing job.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of cold water to a boil. Once it vigorously bubbles, add in the French fries and reduce the heat slightly so the water just slightly bubbles. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost tender to the touch.

Carefully drain the French fries into a colander, then give them a quick rinse in cold water to wash off some of the accumulated starch and stop the cooking process. Dry the fries off well with some paper towels.

Once no longer wet, divide the fries evenly between the two baking sheets and sprinkle vigorously with salt. Toss a few times to cook, then bake until golden brown and soft in the center, about 20 to 25 minutes. Shake the pan every 5 to 10 minutes to prevent sticking and ensure even browning.

Serve immediately with some homemade mayonnaise on the side, or dip into your favorite sauce or broth to have a delicious bite of flavor-infused potato.

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Now, eating French fries for dinner would possibly be perfectly acceptable, but I think we need something other than potatoes in this meal.

We need fried chicken. And we need it NOW. So let’s make it!

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet with coconut oil or your fat of choice. Don’t skimp! You don’t want the chicken to stick, because that would kinda suck.

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Take out three bowls to set up your assembly line for coating the chicken.

In the first bowl, combine 1 cup of arrowroot powder with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  In the second bowl, beat together 2 large eggs. In the third bowl, stir together 2 cups of almond flour with 1/2 cup of ground flax meal, 1 tablespoon of paprika, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of thyme, and 2 teaspoons of salt, making sure to break up any clumps in the almond flour.

You’re now ready to make finger-lickin’ oven-fried chicken! Take out 2.5-3 lb of chicken drumsticks, thighs, or a combination of the two, and dunk each one first in arrowroot, then in egg, then finally in the almond flour/flax meal mixture. Put on the wire rack and let dry at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, then dunk once more in JUST the almond flour/flax meal mixture. This will help create a crust that both sticks to the chicken and is actually crunchy.

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Bake for 10 minutes on the top rack of the oven, or until the crust is just firm to the touch. Remove the chicken from the oven, brush with 2 tablespoons of melted ghee, then put back in the oven on the middle rack for another 10 minutes.

Flip the chicken over and repeat the same on the other side, starting on the top rack, brushing with ghee, then moving to the middle to finish cooking.

Serve immediately to the hungry army that will likely be awaiting you when you present them with this dish. It’s to die for. Leftovers are also delicious, if there are any.

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So, there you have it! Oven-frying can work–and be super tasty. I promise.

What are your favorite things to oven-fry? Do you have any tips or tricks? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Rutabaga Fries and Healthier Hasselback Potatoes

February 10, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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So, as you may or may not know, I work at a farmer’s market. A winter farmer’s market.

And you know what that means? Roots. Lots, and lots, and LOTS of roots.

When the market began back in November, there was kale. Fresh baby spinach. Brussel sprouts. Salad greens. But as November turned to December and fall turned to winter, the amount of green slowly diminished. People began arriving early so they could buy up anything that wasn’t brown or white before everybody else. I soon found myself with a serious problem. Friends, family, readers: I developed VEGETABLE HOARDING.

A few weeks ago, the vendor that sold her produce next to me had kale. KALE. Just a few precious bags of leafy, crunchy goodness. It was a little hard-hit from the snow and extremely cold weather, but it was green, and I wanted it. BAD. I proceeded to immediately reserve four bags for myself, then laughed with relish at my success. (It was incredibly delicious, by the way.)

Right now, in the heart of February, only the toughest of the veggies have lingered on at the farmer’s market. Sweet potatoes. Gnarly celeriacs. Fat, twisted carrots. Baby beets that definitely need a cuddle instantaneously upon purchase. While they may not be beauty pageant winners, I love them all the same, and I’ll always work with what I’ve got.

Let’s start with rutabaga.

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Everyone, this is a rutabaga.

Hi, rutabaga!

He (or she?) is very hearty in appearance, with a bulbous middle and slightly stringy top. Upon sniffing this magnificent creature, you’ll detect almost cabbage-like notes. You know why? It’s because both plants belong to the Brassica family, which also includes cauliflower, collard greens, and broccoli. This means your kitchen will be a little stinky, too, but no need to fear–rutabaga tastes awesome. Especially when paired with some spices for flavor and color.

Usually, when I’m working with a new vegetable, I cube it and roast it in the oven with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, then taste and determine what it needs for next time to enhance its flavor.  I didn’t do that with rutabaga–I went straight to matchstick mode to make oven-baked fries.

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Crunchy on the outside and just a bit creamy on the inside, these fries are a wonderful change of pace from your typical vegetable side dish. I like them plain, but I bet they’d also be super tasty with Citrus-Infused Mayo on the side.

First things first: preheat the oven to 450 degrees and take out two medium rimmed baking sheets.

If you’d like, peel the skin off of your rutabaga–it’s not absolutely necessary–and slice it into thick matchsticks. Want to make cutting a little easier? Cut off the rutabaga’s bottom so it can stand up on its own on your cutting board!

Once properly cut, put the rutabaga matchsticks in a large bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil, 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast, 1-2 teaspoons of paprika (depending on how spicy you want them), 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. When all are evenly coated, divide the matchsticks evenly among the two baking sheets.

Bake until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Stir every 10 to 15 minutes to ensure that both sides get properly crisped. Serve immediately with your favorite meat, poultry, or white fish. (May I recommend the Crispy Sweetbreads?)

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Onto our next installment of winter vegetable madness: HASSELBACK POTATOES.

OK, so unless you’ve been living under a foodie boulder for the past, er, year, you’ve probably seen countless of pictures of hasselback potatoes floating around the internet. Unfortunately, all of these recipes are LOADED with butter and cheese…and while I have a problem with neither in moderation, I don’t think that a vegetable side dish should contain an entire stick of butter and up to a cup of cheese. That basically defeats the purpose of a vegetable, don’t you think?

Then, one day, I was hanging out in the kitchen watching Barefoot Contessa, because I was bored and my T.V. channels are pretty much exclusively the Food Network, the Weather Channel, and Kids 13 when Arthur is on. (I am not a tasteful T.V. watcher, mind you.) I was about to turn it off when Ina started talking about potatoes. Immediately, a picture of mini hasselback potatoes popped up on the screen, and I darted downstairs to look  up the recipe.

I was so excited. Hasselback potatoes. Without any butter and cheese. And mini-sized. Yes.

My recipe is slightly adapted from Ina’s; I also used a combination of baby golden and purple potatoes for color and variety. These are so pretty and so tasty…I could eat the entire batch, if you wanted me to. Really.

Just like the rutabaga fries, you’ll need to preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Get out the biggest rimmed baking sheet you have–you’ll need lots of space for these potatoes!

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Unless you’re a knife pro, you’re going to need some help cutting up the potatoes. (FYI, I used about 1 lb.) Here’s a great trick: use a spoon that’s about the same size as the potato you’re using! Every 1/4-inch or so, cut down until you hit the spoon. Repeat until you reach the end of the potato, and here’s what it should look like…

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It holds together, but you still have the cuts you want for crispy hasselback potatoes!

Repeat with the rest of the potatoes and transfer them all to a big bowl. Toss with 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary, and a good crack of black pepper.

Pour the coated potatoes on the baking sheet, and bake until tender on the center and crispy all over, about 40 to 45 minutes. Give the pan a shake every 15 minutes to make sure the potatoes don’t stick!

Serve immediately with your favorite main dish: I’d recommend either Spatchcocked Chicken or the Easiest Roast Pork Ever.

My dad thought they looked like armadillos. What do you think?

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And there you have it! Two tasty vegetable sides that are actually in season.

What’s your favorite winter vegetable? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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Healthier Hasselback Potatoes

February 10, 2014 Print this page

OK, so unless you’ve been living under a foodie boulder for the past, er, year, you’ve probably seen countless of pictures of hasselback potatoes floating around the internet. Unfortunately, all of these recipes are LOADED with butter and cheese…and while I have a problem with neither in moderation, I don’t think that a vegetable side dish should contain an entire stick of butter and up to a cup of cheese. Mine are made with olive oil and rosemary, and are so pretty and so tasty…I could eat the entire batch, if you wanted me to. Really.

 

Ingredients

Prep Time 10 min
Cooking Time 40 min
Total Time 50 min
Yield 4 servings

1 lb of potatoes (I used mini Yukon Golds and Purple)

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of dried rosemary

A good crack of black pepper

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Get out the biggest rimmed baking sheet you have–you’ll need lots of space for these potatoes!

Unless you’re a knife pro, you’re going to need some help cutting up the potatoes. Here’s a great trick: use a spoon that’s about the same size as the potato you’re using! Every 1/4-inch or so, cut down until you hit the spoon. Repeat until you reach the end of the potato.

Repeat with the rest of the potatoes and transfer them all to a big bowl. Toss with the olive oil, salt, rosemary, and black pepper.

Pour the coated potatoes on the baking sheet, and bake until tender on the center and crispy all over, about 40 to 45 minutes. Give the pan a shake every 15 minutes to make sure the potatoes don’t stick!

Serve immediately with your favorite main dish: I’d recommend either Spatchcocked Chicken or the Easiest Roast Pork Ever.

My dad thought they looked like armadillos.


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