Category Archives: Inspiration

Baked Plantains a la Schmaltz

I recently read Michael Ruhlman’s book “Schmaltz” and was inspired to make some Schmaltz and gribenes myself.

For those who don’t know what that is, schmaltz is chicken fat, made from rendering chicken skin. And gribenes are nothing more than cracklings. (You can find the recipe here:

So now I had all this lovely schmaltz sitting in my freezer. I wanted to do something unexpected with it when my glance fell on two green plantains I had purchased at a local ethnic market. An idea took shape.

I took the two plantains, scored them on two sides and popped them into the microwave for four minutes on high, until they were black on the outside and soft on the inside. Then I peeled them and cut them into ½ inch circles and with a meat pounder, smashed each one into a disc.

I then tossed them in a bowl with the schmaltz and gribenes, and laid it out in one layer on a greased cookie sheet. Just a sprinkle of garlic salt and in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F. And voila, the Jewish/Cuban version of baked tostones was born. Hubby thought it tasted a bit like home fries…I’m sure because of all the delicious bits of caramelized onion. Yummy.

Baked Plantains a la Schmaltz

2 green plantains
½ cup schmaltz and caramelized onions, with or without gribenes (note: this could be done with olive oil and caramelized onions if schmaltz is not available)
1 tsp. garlic salt

Preheat oven to 425 F

Score each plantain on two sides so that you cut through the entire skin but not into the fruit.

Microwave for four minutes on high, until skin is black and fruit is soft.

Cut into ½ inch rounds and smash into discs.

Mix with schmaltz until well coated, and place on a greased cookie tray in one layer (You can line the tray with aluminum foil)

Bake for 10 minutes. Then turn and bake for another five.


A Food App from Alain Ducasse

English: An image of an iPad 2.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just came across a new foodie app:  My Culinary Encyclopedia : recipes and techniques by Alain Ducasse.  

I don’t know about you, but these days I hardly ever use a cookbook for actual cooking.  I do still love to read them for inspiration, and I do still collect them (at a decreasing rate…it has to be spectacular for me to buy it now) but for the most part, if I’m not making up my own recipe, I’m googling or checking Pinterest.  So an app that I can access via my iPad would work for me.

But at almost $35, it’s hard for me to justify this app, as amazing as it might be. However for a newbie cook, this might really work well.  It has numerous videos that show good technique as well as how to plate, with 250 recipes.  You can add your own comments or  email yourself an ingredients list.  There’s nutritional information, plus insights into food origins, storage and more.

Of course if you’re looking to learn how to cook, you can just as easily peruse YouTube videos, or enroll in one of the online cooking schools that have been cropping up.  But then…this is Alain Ducasse one of only two chefs to hold 21 Michelin stars throughout his career!

Food Inspiration

pile of cookbooks

pile of cookbooks (Photo credit: penguincakes)

Food inspiration comes from many places.

It should come as no surprise that I read food blogs and food magazines.  I peruse cookbooks as if they were novels.  The husband likes to say that dinner each night is preceded by a research period as I scour the articles or books for new inspiration.  While it’s not true every night, I actually do that a few nights a week, mostly for inspiration although I do sometimes cook a recipe exactly as written (but not often.)

Lately I’ve added Pinterest to the mix, and I’m finding that the recipe pins are particularly interesting because they are most often from just plain folks…recipes that appeal to them as they peruse “the nets”.

You can find inspiration in novels, food tv (of course), even in paintings, traveling (or watching Anthony Bourdain), childhood memories, and of course…by the ingredients you have on hand.  (I’m endlessly fascinated by Chopped.)

This weeks’s inspirations for me came from:  I don’t know if I’ll be making this exact dish, but I did buy some Chinese sausage at the Asian market this week.  I’ve been having a love affair with strawberries of late.  Sure they’re great on their own or with whipped cream.  But I’m discovering the joys of adding them to salad, make a compote out of them, and discovered this strawberry spoon bread that’s sure to grace my dinner table this week.  There’s nothing that brings out the flavor of vegetables like roasting.  In cauliflower it brings out a nutty flavor that makes pureed cauliflower a taste sensation. I substituted cream cheese for the butter, and added some Parmesan cheese for extra flavor.  And pureed it using an immersion blender.  Delicious!