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spiced curiosity | healthy, vegetarian recipes in san francisco

Thursday, December 8, 2011

mangú – plantains with red onions

  • 2 unripe plantains — green, preferably
  • 1 large red onion — red! not white or yellow
  • 1/4 C. red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil — or pork drippings
  • water
  • salt

I realize something about myself. I love like crazy through food. I mean, I love people by making them food.

Last weekend my boyfriend took me to see his entire extended Dominican family (no pressure!). They are everything that epitomizes family to me: loud, loving, and caring. And, of course, food-centric. And while they stuffed me (literally: I could’ve hung myself above the fireplace and been identified as a new species of winter elk), I took notes. Now I’m slowly learning that I could dedicate the rest of my Dominican-cuisine education to just one solitary item: the plantain.


I didn’t grow up eating it, or even having heard of it. To me, food that makes me buzz with happy homesickness are more along the lines of buttermilk biscuits, tacos, and sweet potato pie (Southern for life). What is this plantain business. Bananas but no sweetness? Eat them while green?! Mix them with meat?!! Uh huh.


But I am in deep with this guy. One sweet look from him and I could eat green plantain peels the rest of my life. I have to make him food that makes him happy…because bizarrely enough it makes me ecstatic. So I aim to get acquainted with these crazy fruits, one way or another. Please enjoy.

Seriously simple recipe (thank goodness!). And it may seem like I’m bein’ a stickler here (especially with the ingredients), but I’m just relaying the recipe as close to the source (his mom) as possible.

First, dice the plantains into eighths. Place in pot, cover with water. Lightly salt. Bring to boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes (or until the fruit is tender).

While your pot is simmering (a watched pot never boils, aha), dice your onion into slivers. Now take a skillet and warm up 1 Tbsp of oil. When olive oil becomes fragrant, add the onion and 1/8 cup of vinegar (not all). Sauté by stirring occasionally; as vinegar reduces, add the second 1/8 cup. Onions are done when soft and translucent. Sprinkle over 1/8 tsp salt and stir together. Hopefully your plantains are done by now! Drain the fruit, and place in a big bowl. Take a regular fork and mash them until only medium-sized chunks are left. (Tip: gradually add a small stream of cold water to make the consistency smoother.)

Now bring the two beauties together! Mix the onions in with the plantains, salt to taste.

Voilá, mes amis.


Monday, November 14, 2011

holiday jewels – bright fruit salad

  • 2 heapin’ cups of cranberries
  • 2 crisp, red apples — any kind will do, but I stumbled upon sweet sixteen at the Tompkins Square Farmer’s Market, so nice!
  • 5 beets
  • 1 pomegranate’s seeds
  • 3 T honey
  • 1/4 C. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh minced ginger
  • dash of salt (1/8 tsp)
  • ground cinnamon

Back when I lived in Austin, I was grateful to live in a house with a bunch of crazy, hilarious students. Of all the fun things we did, my favorite memories definitely glow in the kitchen. One evening my roommate and I were prepping dinner for everyone, thrilled to get our hands on some luscious beets. All I can remember is, jaw-dropped, picking up these plump roots and gasping, “What jewels of the earth!” My friend laughed so hard and doubled over, several of the beets on my cutting board made a break for the floor…which escalated into a food fight…But I stand by what I said! These darn roots are beautiful.

I wanted to hang this beet-stained cutting board in my room.
Anyway, the dash of salt heightens the sweetness, and ginger pulls up the spice! A fresh take on the traditional Thanksgiving dish of canned cranberry gel (which, to this day, my dear dad insists on bringing to the entirely-homedid feast). The beautifully bright color from the cranberries, beets, and pomegranate seeds pack a punch to the table setting, too.

Put on an apron. (Or anything you don’t mind getting accidentally stained – beets rank right up there with ketchup and mustard). Place the beets in a small-to-medium sized pot, and pour in water until the beets are covered. Boil the beets for about 15 minutes, or until tender (easily pierced with a fork).
While the beets are boiling, prep the other foods. Rinse and chop up apples into 1/2 inch pieces; mince the ginger; dissect the pomegranate; and cut the cranberries in half. This is when half the food goes into my mouth.
Drain the beet water (or save it! apparently it makes for good dye), and let sit and cool for a few minutes. Dice into half-inch pieces (think the size of your thumbnail).
While the beets cool, pour the cranberries, the first tablespoon of honey, and the 1/4 C brown sugar into a saucepan.** Bring to boil, then simmer over medium-low heat for about seven minutes. (Or until the cranberries soften…and tartness is greatly reduced!)
Pour cranberries and glaze, apples, beets, and pomegranate seeds into bowl, then mix in the remaining honey, until evenly coated. Recommendation: slowly add chopped ginger, to taste. I tend to like things a whole lot spicier than most…And may have been slightly congested when making this.
After you’ve nibbled for a while and have the taste about right, add the dash of salt and lightly sprinkle cinnamon over the dish. I think it smells pretty darn heavenly.


**To make vegan, just nix the brown sugar cooking step. Slice the cranberries into quarters and reduce by 1 cup.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

pumpkin spicecakes – parting hug to fall

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter — melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree

I swore summer was my favorite season: freedom, warmth, and sun combine; whereas fall usually signifies the start of class, for children and collegiates alike, and the end of vacation.


But this autumn in New York brought crispness, warm coats, and vibrant leaves that would make Van Gogh blush. Obviously, I’m won over. (And who can say no to your guy in a sweater?)

pumpcakes spicebowl



So here is my (equally attractive) fail-proof, spicy (not hot!) baked good secret. Better and even more reliable than chocolate chip cookies, I swear. Adapted from Martha Stewart:

Before beginning, heat the oven to 350°. Grease your cupcake pan(s) with butter or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy on medium-high speed (about 5 minutes). Stir in eggs until just combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all other ingredients save for pumpkin puree. Stop and smell the spices. (Important.) Gradually add this dry mix to the wet mix; stir together until just combined. Add in the pumpkin and combine. By now it should smell pretty heavenly.

Pour the batter into each liner, two-thirds full. Bake for about 20 minutes, and do the fork test. (Fork prongs stuck in the middle should come back clean. If there’s batter clinging to the fork, put the cupcakes back in for a few minutes. Try to mutilate the top of only one poor cupcake, as I ditzily never do.)

So simple! Enjoy.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

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Glad to be here. Check back soon for delicious recipes.


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