Guru Rabbit

Turn a new leaf (and EAT it)

Brothers, Part 1 September 29, 2012

Filed under: Interestin' Food Info,Recipes — rabbit @ 8:42 pm
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Do you know what these are?  Raise your hand.

If you said “Plantains”, you  are right.

My oldest brother (aka brother from another mother), however, did not know this.

Phil told me he once bought plantains, thinking they were bananas, and tried to eat one raw.  His reaction was not pleasant.  I laughed.

Okay, I know plantains look like giant bananas with a tougher skin and a slightly different shape and slightly different coloring and they’re harder to peel…  Okay, no, I’m sorry.  The photo above may be deceiving but plantains look like ugly Hulk bananas, and if you buy plantains thinking you’re getting sweet, delicious fruit, you has a little bit of teh dumb.  Sorry, Phil, I don’t care if they were mixed with the bananas. :p

(Well, I guess it’s not all his fault.  He is from Jersey…)

He didn’t believe me when I said that if COOKED, plantains are yum-tastic.  So I bought plantains out of spite because I’m evil.

Thing about plantains, is that even though they look similar to bananas, you have to deal with them more like potatoes or pumpkin, depending on how ripe they are.  When they’re green, they act more like a root vegetable.  You can fry them up like chips or boil and mash them.  When they’re in their riper stage, you can bake, grill, saute, etc., and you’ll get a soft, sweet and savory treat.

And then you can eat as is.  Or…

You can make plantain gnocchi.

Jesus, now I have to explain gnocchi.  Lolz, just kidding.  Gnocchi is an Italian dumpling.  It’s traditionally based on potatoes, but common variations include sweet potato and pumpkin.  The cooked potato mash (or whatever) is mixed with some egg, flour and/or cheese, and dropped into a pot of boiling water.  When it floats to the top, you’re done.  Serve with some kind of sauce, and you got a nice comfort food meal.

I don’t know why or how I decided to to make plantain gnocchi.  It just felt right.

Plantain Gnocchi with Peas and Coconut-Lime-Mint sauce

For the gnocchi:

2 medium ripe plantains (yellow and black in color)

spices to flavor the gnocchi, if desired

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and shaping

Sauce– to be explained!

1) Preheat your oven to 450°F.  Make a slit down the plantain skins, peel, and slice them about a centimeter thick.  Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or greased aluminum foil.  Brush the slices with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and soft.

2)  Once slightly cooled, transfer them to a food processor, and puree with a few tablespoons of olive oil until relatively smooth.  It won’t be like mayo, but there should be no large chunks.  Maybe a little mealy-looking.  That’s okay.  Transfer to a medium bowl.

3) Add to the processed plantain whatever floats your boat.  I used a few dashings of turmeric, fenugreek, and dried garlic (salt and pepper, of course).  Mix in the egg, then the flour.  Add more flour if necessary.  You want a Play-Doh-like consistency, and slightly sticky.  Set a medium/large pot of water to boil.

4) Sprinkle some flour over the dough and whatever surface you’re using.  You can shape the dumplings in various ways. Some peeps just like to roll the dough out into snakes and cut even portions,  others like to make a fork-like indentation, or a thumbprint.  No wrong or right  if you ask me, (or as far as I know…).  I made thumb prints.  Then place them in gently boiling water until they float to the top, and drain.  After that, you can save them in the fridge or freezer, or serve them up with an appropriate sauce.

For the sauce…

The sauce depends on whether or not you season the dough and with what.  Since I went with a West Indian kind of spectrum, I made a creamy coconut-mint-lime sauce with sweet peas.  Unfortunately, this takes a little planning ahead.  You have to refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk overnight.  Then take it out while avoiding the shakes, and remove the solidified fat from the top.  Set aside.  Over medium heat, start cooking a few spoonfuls of finely diced onion and half a cup of sweet peas in a schtickle of olive oil.  When the onions are soft, add the coconut cream.  Add the zest of a lime, half its juice, and several julienned mint leaves.  Salt and pepper.  Taste, and add more lime juice if necessary.

Since I had prepared the gnocchi one day, and the sauce the next day, I quickly pan fried the gnocchi before plating everything.  Gives a nice little charred accent to the dumplings.  So you can prepare everything ahead of time, then just heat and serve.  This recipe will serve two to three people, so multiply as necessary.  Also remember you can try different sauces and different spices in the gnocchi.  Before going with the coconut, I had thought about goat cheese and guava.  A cashew based sauce would also be great.  Or just some sauteed veggies.

Tender, sweet, spicy, creamy.  Yes, ma’am.

Hmm.  What a shame my brother lives so far away…


Lately… September 24, 2012

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 4:24 pm
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Life has been full of adjustments.  Like, for surrious.  Henry and I finally moved into our own place last month.  I’m really loving it.  Especially the kitchen.  It’s small, but I know how to work with it.  I’ve made it my own.  And I spend A LOT of time in there.  I’m in there at my worst moments (like falling apart at 3:30 in the morning while the most amazing people in my life are catching me), and at my best moments (creating delicious treasure for family and friends.  And singing along to Elton John.)

And watching as the cat figures out how to reach the counter.

It’s all over now.  He officially controls my life via his addiction to wet food.

“You.  Mine.  Forever.”

Besides the kitty becoming my master, there’s been a lot of moving, lugging, hauling, and lifting.  A lot of evenings spent organizing, reorganizing, throwing things away, moving things around, finding new things I need to salvage.

A lot of reflecting.

I found out that cooking is therapeutic for me.  I’ve been spending my evenings slicing, dicing, boiling, baking, simmering, stirring, and caramelizing, all with a glass of wine in hand.

I’m making things I’ve been itching to try, like Tortas de Aceite.

A Spanish yeast-raised sweet “biscuit”, though I would call it a flatbread.

I’ve been making Henry tons of special meals.

Like veggie egg scramble with lime curd and raspberries on English muffins.

And I’ve been catching up with the necessities.  Like my left foot.  (Get it?  The Daniel Day-Lewis movie?  Whatever, I haven’t see it either.)

I had a cyst/alien growing on top of my foot.  The podiatrist drained it while flirting with me.  Very impressive.  I have determined my feet are angelically gorgeous and will capture many hearts.

I also acquired some free brie.  Free brie!

I really don’t know why or how that happened.  The cashier could not get the price on it, so she just told me it was free.  Is that allowed?

And why didn’t that happen with the more expensive of the cheeses I bought?

Like the blue cheese in this soon-to-be quiche with dino kale and sweet potato?

I have no decent end-result photos, but I, as well as others, can attest that this was one crazy-fantastic quiche.  And I think Dad would’ve gone nuts over it, so that’s why I am posting the recipe for all yous.

The whole shebang is adapted from a book called Homestyle Vegetarian, given to me by my Tia Magdalena.  This recipe is also dedicated to her because during the hardest of times, she’s fulfilled the roles of mommy and daddy.  And she freakin’ LOVES blue cheese.

Blue, Green, and Sweet Potato Quiche


for crust-

2 cups ( 9 oz, 250 g) all-purpose four

7 Tbsp (3.5 oz, 100 g) cold butter, cut into cute little cubes

for filling-

half a large onion, thinly sliced (a sweet onion is preferred, like Vidalia)

a small bunch of dark leafy greens ( I used several stalks of Dino kale with stems removed.  You can used other types of kale, Swiss chard, collards, spinach, etc.)

1 large (about 1 lb) sweet potato

for quiche “batter”-

1 tsp brown spicy mustard

4 eggs

1 cup (8 fl oz) half & half

a few pinches of salt and pepper

dashings of any othe herbs or spices you’d like– nutmeg, thyme, marjoram, coriander, sage, etc.

1) In a food processor, throw in the flour, a couple pinches of salt, and the butter.  Process for 15-20 seconds.  Then add 1-2 Tbsp of ice-cold water, and process in little bursts until the dough starts to come together.  (You can also use an egg yolk instead of water for a richer crust.)  Once the mixture just starts to become a dough, turn it out onto a counter, board, or into a large bowl.  Use your man hand to bring together the elements into a ball, then plastic-wrap it and chill in the fridge for ten minutes.

2) If it’s morning when you’re doing this, have another cup of coffee or tea.  If it’s afternoon or evening, have a glass of wine or beer.

3) Preheat your oven to 350 °F.  Now you need a 9 inch pie or tart plate/pan.  Butter that shit up, just to make sure.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out.  If you have a large enough cutting board (i.e. larger than 9 or 10 inches), roll the dough out on there.  Then you can just flip the board over onto the plate or tin.  If not, once the dough is rolled out, roll it onto the rolling pin (let it curl around the pin), then release it onto the plate/tin.  By the way, remember to roll your dough from the center and outward.  This ensures a more even crust.

4) Press your crust into the assigned vessel and make it pretty.  Place a piece of parchment paper or foil in the center, and top it with some kind of weight– dry beans, pie weights, an oven-proof plate, etc., and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove the weight (haha, get it, like the song??  Whatever, I hate you), and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden and dry.  After 10 minutes I turned the oven off and left the crust in there for an extra 5-10, just to make sure there was no raw dough.

5) While your crust is cooling, prepare the fillings.  Rub the  sweet potato with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Even though we’ll be peeling the sweet potato later, I find the salt and pepper kinda seep through and add a little more flavor.  Bake at 400°F until it’s soft (I think around an hour?  Sorry).  Saute your onions until they start to soften, then add the kale (or whatever), and cook until the greens are easy to eat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

6) Now make the quiche batter.  Whisk together the eggs, mustard, and half & half.  You can add whatever other seasonings you want.  I can’t remember for the life of me, but I’m sure I used paprika, thyme, and marjoram, in addition to salt and pepper.  “Pedro, just listen to your heart.  That’s what I do.”  Then bring the oven back down to 350°F.

7) Fill the crust!  First place the crust on a baking sheet.  Peel and slice the sweet potato and arrange it on the bottom (Save the peel.  Eat it.).  Top with your greens and onions, then plenty of blue cheese (Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, whatevs).  Then pour your quiche batter on over the whole thang.  You will now find you are glad the pie/tart plate is on top of a baking sheet.  I brushed some of the batter over the crust to ensure some golden-ing.  Bake for around 40 minutes.  If you stick a toothpick in it should come out clean.

See?  Horrible camera phone picture.

I would’ve stolen Henry’s fancy camera but I couldn’t find it and he was at work and I hate his stupid face.

A few notes… One, yes, you can use a different crust recipe, or even a store-bought one.  But you know how I am about doing things from scratch.  Two, you can totally prep all the elements ahead of time– crust, fillings, batter.  That’s what I did.  Then you just fill the crust and bake it off.  Three, I want to note the brands of eggs and dairy I use.  Organic Valley for dairy products, and Vital Farms for eggs.  Why?  Because according to the Cornucopia Institute, these brands are true to their word in how they treat their cows and chickens.  Although Organic Valley sells eggs as well, their scorecard for eggs is sub-par compared to their dairy scores.  Ah dunno.  And the cheese I used contains vegetable rennet.  I know you probably don’t care, I’m just saying.  For any vegetarians who think about all these little details the way I do.


A Little Playlist September 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — rabbit @ 8:59 pm

As a reflection on the past month, the past year, and looking towards the future…

For Dad

For my mother, brothers and sisters, through blood and through spirit

For aunts and uncles and cousins, the canvas of my life

For the friends who have held me up, and practically saved me from myself…

Times are changing, folks.  Guru Rabbit will be back, and better than before.