It was a big week for Les Petits Chefs last week – not only did they teach their parents how to make chicken tikka masala from scratch for Food Revolution Day but they also had regular cooking club. With a guest chef, to boot – Chef Rossy Earle. The boys have already had the chance to work not once but twice with Rossy – once making empanadas and Panamanian milk candies and once making alfajores. What could she possibly make with the boys to top those amazing dishes? Why “Platano en tentacion” of course! What the what???
One of the things I love about having guest chefs come in and work with the boys is that they introduce them to different ingredients and dishes they might not have heard of. The boys were fascinated to hear all about plantains from Rossy and quickly got to work cutting them up.
We talked a little bit about where the boys could find these in Toronto – Kensington Market, most likely – and I have NO DOUBT that some of the guys will be taking their parents on a little field trip in search of plantains and queso fresco (also used in this unusual side-dish).
It’s an easy dish – we were actually done the class early for once (thanks Rossy for choosing a stress-free dish for me and the guys last week – I don’t know we could have handled too much more excitement!) – with only plantains, lime zest and juice, sugar, butter, cinnamon and water, it’s a perfect example of how sometimes simple ingredients can create amazing flavours!
We got to smell amazing cinnamon from Panama (so different from what we are used to – it’s more subtle), marvelled at the BUTTER and SUGAR going into this dish – they boys couldn’t get over that it was not a dessert but a side dish! – and enjoyed the wonderful aromas. Since plantains are not at everyone’s local supermarket, we discussed alternatives that might work as well. We also decided that this might make a great pie filling too. Not very Panamanian but a pretty great idea!
As the boys waited for their take-home portions to cool down enough to add the cheese, Rossy portioned out a tasting sample for everyone. I was very surprised to see the boys going back for seconds…
The we portioned out the cheese and I was thrilled to see all the boys were taking some – even just a little. And then sneaking away and starting to eat before they left the lab. Yes boys, Ms Carter, Ms Lynch and I saw you. Yes, you – the ones who told your mums that it was “ok” when you got home. Ahem!
A sweet and savoury plantain side dish. Or a pie filling. Or a dessert.
- 2 ripe plantain - not too soft
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp ground
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- a pinch white pepper
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Optional - crumbled Queso Fresco or fresh mozzarella or feta cheese
- Peel and cut the plantain into 1" slices.
- Place all ingredients in a frying pan, except butter and vanilla.
- Add water and bring to a boil.
- Add plantain slices making sure they’re covered with the liquid. Top with a bit more water if necessary.
- Mix and let cook for around 15-20 minutes. As the sugar & spices blend, the natural starch from the plantain will make the liquid thicker.
- At this point, stir in butter & vanilla.
- Once they are caramelized & soft, they are ready. Do not overcook as they will get mushy.
- Serve hot with cheese crumbled on top.
Verdict? Well I’ll be making this again – as both a side dish and a dessert. Or, sans cheese, I could even see this on some yogurt for breakfast. Thanks Rossy for opening our eyes to new ingredients and unusual uses for them!
*** It’s my THIRD blog birthday! To celebrate, I am giving away a copy of Wini Moranville’s “Bonne Femme Cookbook” – open to anyone, anywhere. Contest closes on today Tuesday May 22nd at 9pm EST and winner will be announced tomorrow Wednesday May 23rd. Good luck!