Pastelón, Puerto Rican Plantain Lasagna

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So, this was new. I’d haven’t had anything with plantains in them in ages, and have never cooked with them. It’s both a bit sweet and savory, and I really enjoyed it. I had to let my plantains ripen a bit, until turning black all over. They were not black ALL over, but I couldn’t wait anymore. I also spaced out on pictures of the process, I’ll add some when I make it again!

 

Ingredients:

  • 7 ripe plantains
  • 2 lbs ground beef (I usually use ground sirloin, this time was just “lean” and really had too much fat in it for me, but whatever you prefer)
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 medium to large sweet/yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup of chickem broth
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped (I used chopped from a jar. sue me!)
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • coconut oil
  • 12 eggs
  • 3-4 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the ground beef with the bell pepper and onions. Add the broth, vinegar and tomato paste, salt and pepper, keep cooking on low for 10 minutes. It should be thick.

Peel the plantains. I cut off each end, cut them in half, cut a slit through the peel and pulled the peel off. If not ripe enough, this will be much harder, though (also, the plantains won’t be as sweet, from what I understand). I then cut each half lengthwise into 4 strips.

Heat a skillet with a bit of coconut oil in it. I used my non-stick griddle, so I didn’t need much oil, but did need to add some by the third batch.

Lay the plantains flat in the skillet, and cook them until they start to brown on each side. Maybe 3-4 minutes per side. Drain on a paper town while you do the rest.

When those are done, whisk the eggs with the milk. Now, I did this in batches, too, so I had an even amount of  eggs for each layer. So, I whisked 4 eggs with about  1 1/2 Tbsp of milk, separately as I got to each layer.

Now the fun part.

Put one third of eggs on the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish. (4 eggs)

Layer plantains over the eggs, they don’t need to be layered perfectly and you have some some space, but try to make them touch. Does not require perfection, though!

Next, put half the ground beef mixture over the plantains.

Now another third of the egg mixture (4 eggs) poured over the beef.

Layer of plantains.

Layer of beef.

Top with last of the plantains and pour the last of the eggs (yes, 4) over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, until browning and bubbly.

Let sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Eat!

This is delicious for breakfast, too. And dinner the next night.

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I can see spicing it up a bit more next time, maybe toss a hot pepper into the ground beef, or more seasonings. But it’s a really interesting and good blend of tastes. Will definitely make again.

 

 

 

Pão-de-queijo aka Brazilian Cheese Bread

Last month, we ate at Texas de Brazil, in San Antonio. I had planned to make a blog post about it, but most of the pictures aren’t worth posting. Here are a few, though:

Trapeze girl that gets the wine bottles

Meat!

Meat!

Citrus crème brûlée

Citrus crème brûlée

On to the recipe. Texas de Brazil had rolls on the table, that I resisted most of the meal. UNTIL I found out they were not only gluten-free, but grain-free. So good. I decided immediately to learn how to make them. It’s taken a couple tries, but I think I’ve gotten the hang of it now!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil, vegetable or canola is what I’ve used
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pound sour starch, I used almida alzado by Yoki
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, I’ve been using a mix of parmesan and romano, freshly grated
  • 2 eggs

Put starch in a large bowl. I put it in the kitchenaid bowl.

Put milk and oil in a saucepan. Heat until it almost boils.

Add to the starch, and mix. I use a wooden spoon on this step.

 Let the mixture cool for a few minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Add the eggs and cheese.

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I use the mixer to blend it now, it becomes a lovely sticky mess.

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Now form small balls from the dough and put on a cookie sheet. I use a small, 2 teaspoon cookie dough scoop. Anything larger they take too long to cook and will start burning on the bottom before cooked through. I end up with 48-50 rolls.

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Turn oven down to 350 degrees. Put the cookie sheets into the oven and bake 20 minutes.

Eat.

Sausage making – first attempt

Italian sausage

I’ve been wanting to make sausage for a while. Then a friend gave us some deer meat for it, so I had to! I started with Italian, with a little heat in there. I also tried a cajun one, but I need to sample it again to see how well I like it, and what I need to tweak, before posting it.

There are so many recipes on the internet for sausage, I ended up just getting an idea then going with my own mix. This is really seasoned, and I love fennel, so, as usual, adjust for your own tastes.

Ingredients

  • 2  pounds deer meat (mine was a mixture of parts)
  • 3  pounds pork shoulder
  • 4 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4  tsp minced garlic (I confess, I used already minced in a jar)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp fennel seed (I crushed it a bit first)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 1/2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • about 1/4 water
Pork shoulder

pork shoulder

deer meat

deer meat

I started by trimming some of the outside fat off the pork, but leaving all the marbling. Sausage needs some fat, and the deer meat doesn’t have much. Then I cut up the pork into 1-2 inch pieces, that fit easily into my grinder.* Fortunately, the deer meat was already cut up, yay! I then mixed both meats together in a, well, a big pot. It’s a lot of meat.

seasonings

seasonings

I mixed salt through black pepper together in a bowl before I started, so it was all ready to go.

ground

ground meats

Now, my butcher told me to season the meat before grinding, but I was a bit worried about how my grinder would do with that, so I ground it all first. Make sure the deer/pork are mixed together well as you feed it through.

seasoned

seasoned

I then added the seasonings and water, and mixed it well with my hands, which is fun and oogy.

Next, very important step, make a small patty and cook it! Taste it! Make sure you have it have it seasoned how you want!

After that, I weighed into one pound portions, bagged and tagged it. The friends that have given us sausage and the deer meat for this venture, seemed to like it well enough that they threatened me with making all their sausage now. 🙂

I like the Italian type in bulk, as I usually take it out of casings anyway to cook. But next time I’ll think I’ll try stuffing some. I’m brave, I can do it!

*I used the grinder attachment on the Kitchenaid. It worked fine, although the pork fat sometimes got caught up in the blade. I can see if this becomes a routine project, investing a good meat grinder will be smart.

Grain-free herb crackers

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I put off making crackers for a while, it always sounded tedious. But really, they are so simple to make. These are very versatile, you can use any herbs you want, or leave them out.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup finely ground almond flour
  • 3  Tbsp ground flax meal
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary or any herb you prefer
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp salt to taste
  • 1/ tsp paprika
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp or so olive oil to bring it all together nicely

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients together well, mix in the egg white, then start adding the olive oil. I added enough to hold it together so it was still a bit crumbly and not really wet.

I put the ball of dough on a silicone mat, or parchment, shaped it into a rectangle, put a piece of parchment over it, then rolled it out thin. I need to watch to not leave the middle too thick, they take longer to bake. Gently cut into 20-24 pieces with a pizza cutter or knife. (I use a pizza cutter and don’t press hard, so not to mark silicone mat. You can also roll it out between 2 pieces of parchment and leave the dough on the bottom piece and move it to a baking sheet.) You  Bake 12-15 minutes, keeping an eye on them near the end, they can overcook quickly. After taking them out of the oven, break them apart along the lines. Eat.

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After adding egg and oil, held together but still a bit crumbly.

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Rolled out, make sure it’s a uniform thickness across.

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After being cut, but before baking.

Swiss Chard

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While at times I love complicated recipes, getting great satisfaction when everything turns out just right after hours of working on a meal, nothing beats the sheer pleasure in a fabulous simple recipe.

Daniel and I haven’t had swiss chard before, as far as we recall, so I grabbed a bunch at the farmer’s market this weekend. Now I wish I’d bought more.

Ingredients

1 bunch swiss chard

1-2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp coconut oil

fresh ground pepper to taste

1 tsp lemon juice

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

I cut the leaves off of the stems, then chopped the stems into 1/2 inch or so pieces, and the leafy parts into bite size pieces. Keep the stems separate from the leaves. Melt the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the stem pieces and cook 3-5 minutes until starting to get tender. I left a bit of bite to them. Add the leaves and stir to coat everything. Let cook about 3 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the leaves are wilted and tender. I grated some pepper on while cooking, then when done mixed in the Parmesan cheese. Not enough to overpower the taste of the chard, though.

cooked swiss chardSo colorful and flavorful!

Tri-tip dinner

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Tri-tip is something I only had when visiting my brother and his family in Kansas, and I think he makes it every time we visit. It is always amazing. I finally found it at my butcher shop. (they might have had it, I just never saw it and always forgot to ask).

I make a rub for it, put it on either early in the day or the day before, then we grill it. This is probably the only piece of meat we grill with careful check on the temperature, usually it’s just guessing. We aren’t rare meat eaters, so this is as pink as it gets for us.

Rub

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp finely ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary

This is more than enough for two pieces of meat. I rub it generously on both sides, then cover and let sit in the refrigerator all day or overnight.

As far as grilling the meat, I’m not terribly helpful. We use a charcoal grill with mesquite pieces thrown in, and cook it to 150 degrees, then let it sit 10 minutes before slicing.

tritipcroppedMelt in your mouth good.

Recipe for swiss chard can be found here. I’m still working on the biscuits, but the recipe I started with can be found on the Delicious as it Looks blog. I substitute flax meal for about 3/4 of a cup of the almond flour, and add some more cheese.

I love the farmer’s market!

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I only go to the farmer’s market every two weeks, so it’s a big deal for me! I meant to take pictures while there, but I get so excited around fresh produce, I completely forgot. Today I picked up onions (not pictured), escarole, red romaine, turnips, beets, swiss chard and mustard greens. I don’t believe I’ve ever had escarole, I’m thinking it’s going into a white bean soup. I’ve never made swiss chard, so we’ll see what happens with it. I also picked up TWO of the HUGE bunches of mustard greens today. Yummy.

mustard greens

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swiss chard

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red romaine

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Mustard Greens

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Here we go, I’m going to start with something I made a couple weeks ago, just to try my hand at this.

I’ve never had mustard greens, but Daniel adores all greens. I finally bought a HUGE bunch at the farmer’s market. I cleaned them, then cut the thick stems out and tore the leaves into mostly bite sized pieces. All amounts are depending on how many greens you have, and I’m not a good measurer, I go by taste.

INGREDIENTS

  • Mustard greens, cleaned and torn into pieces
  • bacon, but into 1-inch pieces
  • onion, diced or cut in half and sliced thinly
  • garlic, 1-2 cloves minced

Directions

Cut up 3-4 slices of bacon into 1-inch pieces. In a large pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until it starts to crisp up. Leave it in the pan and add onion, cooking until they start to soften, 1-2 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minutes more.  Add in allll your greens. I stirred them around to coat them with the bacon drippings, then put a lid on for a couple of minutes until they start to wilt. I didn’t leave the lid on, as I didn’t want to add much moisture. Stir the greens and keep cooking until tender and delicious.

Eat.