Category Archives: side dish

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.



Everyday Roasted Veggies

There isn’t an easier way to make vegetables!

Since there are only two of us at home to feed, I don’t often use an entire bunch of asparagus or celery, or even an entire broccoli, so I often find myself with just a little of this and a little of that.  Since I’m very fond of simply roasting vegetables, I’ll cut them up into even pieces and toss them with some seasonings and olive oil.  Here’s today’s veggie:
½  lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3-inch spheres

1 medium yellow squash, washed and cut into 3-inch strips

1 medium red pepper, seeded, and cut into 3-inch strips

5 cloves garlic, minced  (we really go whole hog on the garlic, use less if you’re going to be among non-garlic eaters.)

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (or canola oil, or any oil you prefer)

salt and pepper to taste

½ tsp minced lemon rind

lemon juice (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Combine vegetables and garlic in a small roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and stir to coat evenly.

Sprinkle on salt. pepper and lemon rind.

Sprinkle on lemon rind.

Drizzle olive oil over it all and stir to coat.

Roast in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes (or less depending on the thickness of your vegetables), until lightly browned and tender.

Drizzle with lemon juice before serving.

Serves 3.

Caponata Sicilian Style


Caponata is the Italian version of the French ratatouille, a stew of eggplant and other vegetables.  Generally both sweet and sour, it almost always has tomatoes, sugar and vinegar, and may also contain anchovies, capers and olives, or in the south of Italy, raisins and pignoli nuts.  I’ve even run across versions that had potatoes.

Caponata is served at room temperature, and can be eaten alone, as a salad, but I know folks who serve it on crusty Italian bread, or over baby greens.  This is a dish that is best made the day before you plan to serve it, allowing for the flavors to meld overnight.

1  medium eggplant ( about 1-1/2 pounds)
1-1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup pine nuts
3-4 TBS olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery rib, diced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 TBS tomato paste, mixed with ¼ cup of water
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup golden raisins
¼ cup capers, rinsed and drained
¼ cup. white wine vinegar
2 TBS sugar

Cut eggplant into half inch cubes. Sprinkle lightly with salt and place in a colander to drain for 30-60 minutes.  Pat dry with paper towels.

While the eggplant is draining, toast the pine nuts over a large fry pan over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, watch to ensure they don’t burn. You will need to stir frequently. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add olive oil to the fry pan and turn heat up to medium. Add the eggplant and sauté until softened and browned, about five minutes.  Add more olive oil if needed.  Remove from pan.

Add the diced onion, carrots, and celery, salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 2-3 minutes.  Add tomato paste mixture and cook until most of the moisture has evaporated.  Add diced tomatoes and simmer for ten minutes.

Sir in the raisins, capers, vinegar and sugar and continue cooking, about another ten minutes.  Add up to ¼ cup of water if needed.

Add the eggplant and stew an additional five minutes until it thickens.  Remove from heat and add pine nuts. Cool and refrigerate over night.

Bring it back to room temperature before serving.  Serve over greens, plain or on toasted Italian bread.

Recipe Testing: Roasted Brussel Sprouts

We love brussel sprouts in our family (really!) and often roast them with olive oil and garlic.  The brussel sprouts from Steamy Kitchen have a secret ingredient.  But shhh…I can’t tell.

So easy to make!

Eggplant “Fries”

Česky: Lilek vejcoplodý Deutsch: Aubergine Eng...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve always been a fan of fried eggplant, but as I become more health conscious I’m less inclined to actually fry foods.  So I was determined to come up with a recipe for eggplant that was not oily, crunchy but not dried out, with just the right amount of creamy center.  After a bit of experimentation, here’s what turned out to be perfectly yummy!  I serve it just as is for a side dish, but have also used it on pizza, a delicious combo eggplant/chicken parmesan dish, and as an interesting addition to a panzanella salad.

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4″ x 2″ sticks

3 TBS vegetable oil

1 TBS kosher salt (can use coarse grain sea salt as well)

4 TBS flour

2 eggs, beaten with 1 TBS water

1-1/2 cups Italian flavored Panko breadcrumbs

3/4 cup regular bread crumbs

3 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)

Preheat over to 300 F.

Add oil to bottom of a sheet pan and distribute.

Place cut eggplant into a colander and sprinkle with salt.  Toss to distribute.  Leave for at least 20 minutes.

Set up three bowls:  1) with beaten egg, 2) with mixure of panko and regular breadcrumbs plus garlic powder and 3) with flour

Toss 1/4 of the eggplant in flour mixture at a time.  Make sure they are all coated.

Toss floured eggplant in egg mixture.  Shake off any excess and toss with breadcrumb mixture.

Put breaded eggplant sticks on oiled sheet, making sure they are in an even layer.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Turn and bake another 10-15 minutes.

Remove from oven and enjoy!