I love those lazy days off from work where I can, at my discretion, knit, nap, read, and most importantly, cook. I always have veggies in the house, but today I noticed that some of them needed to be used as soon as possible – you know how veggies get that sad, dull, almost-but-not-quite-squishy look to them, begging to be eaten or cooked. Yep, I had quite a few of those.
Take cherry tomatoes, for instance. I bought them last week at a local farmer’s market; a tiny, but heaped-up basket full – and down to about 10 or so today, they were looking a little wan. I also had an uncut green pepper who needed attention as well, so I chopped those guys, along with some elephant garlic, and started a tasty sofrito that will be used in some black beans and rice. Sofrito – the homemade kind -adds a wonderful flavor to Caribbean dishes. Skip over the jarred stuff and make our own – trust me. It smells awesome while it’s cooking.
Last week’s leek greens and kale stems had been saved, along with some mushroom stems and onion bits. I’m of the mindset that you pay (sometimes dearly) for produce; you should get every bit out of it that you can. I save things like stems and inedible parts to make pure vegetable stock. Kale makes amazing stock. I let my bits boil away for two hours, and the result is a hearty stock that forms the base for many soups, such as this shell pasta/veggie soup I made today as well. Yum. Good comfort food for a lazy day off!
Is there anything the wondrous sweet potato can’t do? I’m so in love with this veggie that I trawl the web seeking out new recipes for this tasty tuber.
Confort food with a kick.
But inspiration came to me via TV one day, in the guise of Guy Fieri and his Food Network show “Guy’s Big Bite.” Usually Guy makes, well, “guy food,” but on one episode he whipped up a side dish involving mashed Yukon potatoes, sofrito, and cilantro. How bad could it be? I opted to use sweet potatoes which I happened to have on hand. Lucky me.
I veganized the recipe by omitting the milk. You can add plain (not vanilla!) soy milk if desired, but I found that the sweet potatoes whipped well without it. Add a dollop of vegan margarine and you’re off. The sweet potatoes already have that beautiful orange-gold color and the cilantro, added at the end, is just the icing on the cake!
Recipe: Sofrito Mashed (Sweet)Potatoes
Yes, I did it. I bought a tostonera. I had to. I’ve tired of platanos maduros and needed to move beyond, to tostones, in part thanks to my love for crispy, crunchy, salty, oily things, and also because my friend Chris invited me to her house one evening last month and prepared the most amazing tostones, Puerto Rican style. (I’ll post about Chris’s technique later).
Tostones. MY tostones.
My tostones were double-fried in peanut oil, sprinkled with sea salt while still hot, then dipped in a garlicky slurry of black beans, onions, green pepper, cilantro and olive oil with a little Sazon con azafran thrown in. The result: tempting Caribbean finger-food that’s perfect for a sultry summer evening, accompanied by a cold, cold beer.
I love my cute little tostonera (yes, I bought the small one) and plan to use it for more than plantains: I’ll be smashing lots of things with it. Yay for experimentation!
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