I am lucky to have just returned home from a week-long vacation in Roatan, Honduras. I stayed at an incredible home belonging to my friends Tim and Cynthia on the northeastern end of the island. Thanks to their fisherman friend Jerry we ate plenty of fresh fish, but I adored these tasty, twice-fried plantains called tostones served with a pico de gallo-type salsa called chimol at Camp Bay Lodge. A Honduran specialty, the chimol was refreshing, crunchy and a little bit sweet while the plantains were salty, crispy and delicious. I made this dish from memory and am fairly certain that the one I ate had cucumbers in it and no cilantro. None of the recipes that I found for chimol online call for cucumber but I am sticking with it. If you have never tried plantains, I urge you to try them this way—you are going to love them!
Tostones (twice fried plantains)
3 plantains peeled and cut into 1" lengths (if you can't find plantains just use green bananas)
veggie oil for frying
Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat with 1-1/2 inch of vegetable oil until hot enough that the oil sizzles when a plantain is added. Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.
Cut plantains into 1-inch slices, about 10 slices each. Fry the plantains in batches until tender and just golden, 2 to 3 minutes each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Place a plantain slice between two sheets of parchment paper and using the heal of your hand or the back of a wooden spoon press the plantain. Put the pressed plantain back into the hot oil and fry until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate to drain then season with sea salt. Serve with chimole.
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1/3 of a regular cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
juice of one lime
1/4 tsp sugar
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients together and serve with tostones.
You may think that tomatoes are a weird ingredient for a jam but if you remember that they are a fruit, it might make more sense. We used this jam as a condiment spread for the turkey meatloaf sandwich that we served when I owned Alchemy Market and Wine Bar back in the 2000s. It lends a sweet, spicy and tangy taste to most anything you pair it with—goat cheese and crackers, grilled chicken or shrimp, roasted pork tenderloin, even grilled cheese. It makes about 4 cups and lasts for a couple of weeks in the fridge so, make a batch and get creative!
Tomato Ginger Jam
2 T olive oil
1/4 cup of fresh ginger, peeled - a 2" knob or so
1/4 cup garlic, peeled - about 4 large cloves
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 t cinnamon
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 T ground cumin
1/4 t cayenne
1/4 t ground cloves
2 cups chopped, canned tomatoes (or you can also use fresh apples)
1/3 cup honey
Drop the garlic and ginger through the feed tube of a food processor and chop finely. Don't bother to wash the bowl as you will be puréeing the sauce after cooking it. Sauté the garlic and the ginger on low heat, without browning, until translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the honey, and simmer for 25 minutes covered.
Purée the sauce in the food processor until smooth and then return to the pan. Add the honey and cook for a few minutes over medium heat until thickened and jammy.
This recipe is from my days at Alchemy Market and Wine Bar in the early 2000s. We had a turkey meatloaf sandwich on the menu with tomato-ginger jam (recipe coming in a separate post next week!) and peppery arugula on fluffy house-made focaccia. I recently resurrected this popular sandwich for my friends at Diestel Family Turkey Ranch in Sonora for a "farm-to-pasture" lunch. It was set out in a verdant pasture with turkeys strutting nearby—so cool. This recipe doesn't have any onions, celery or carrots in it like most meatloaves, which saves time because you don't have to sauté them before putting the meatloaf in the oven. It goes together in a flash and is in the oven in minutes. It also holds together well and makes for great sandwiches. If you can't stand rosemary (like my dear friend and colleague Kataleena) or just want to play with different herbs, you can substitute equal amounts of basil or thyme. Let's do easy.
Rosemary Turkey Meatloaf
2 lbs ground turkey meat, I use our local turkey supplier, Diestel Turkey Ranch
2 T chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley, flat or curly leaf
2 stalks of fresh rosemary, stripped and chopped
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce or pureéd tomatoes
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper
Mix all ingredients together well and place in a loaf pan. Smear with catsup and bake until a thermometer inserted in the center reads 150 degrees about an hour and 15 minutes. Let rest for 10-15 minutes then slice and serve warm or cool and slice for sandwiches, yum!
When I was a chef at Parigi in Dallas in the 1980s, we made this tart every week. It's more like a nutty cookie than a tart, and is chewy, buttery and delicious. The original recipe is in the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook by Alice Waters, but Lindsey Shere, one of the first bakers there, made it famous. I was recently reminded of its deliciousness by David Liebowitz, an American ex-pat and former Chez Panisse chef who is now living in Paris, when he posted a picture of it on his Instagram feed. I was immediately transported back to my Dallas days and began to wonder why I had not made this circle of divine yumminess in so long. Well, here it is once more, not to be forgotten ever again. Just ask my friends Sheila, Mike, Tim and Cynthia, who are still in dessert coma at last check!
Caramelized Almond Tart
1 c flour
1 T sugar
1/2 c chilled unsalted butter, cut into little cubes
1 T ice water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 c heavy cream
1 c sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 c sliced almonds
1/8 tsp almond extract
2 tsp Grand Marnier or Amaretto (the original recipe calls for kirsch if you have on hand)
For the dough
Mix the flour and sugar in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is in very small pieces, the size of rice. It should be pretty well-integrated with no large visible chunks. Add the water and extracts and mix until the dough is smooth and comes together. Press into a flat disk, wrap in plastic and chill thoroughly. Let the dough come to room temperature and press the dough into a 9"-10" tart shell using your hand. Save a little bit of dough to patch the shell if holes form during baking. It takes some practice but don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. Try to get the dough relatively flat on the bottom, and push it evenly up the sides, a little bit above the edge of the pan, with your thumbs. Put the tart shell in the freezer and chill thoroughly. To bake the shell, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the shell for 20-30 minutes, until it is set and light golden-brown. Remove from the oven and patch any holes with leftover dough.
For the tart filling
To bake the tart, line the rack under the one you plan to use with a sheet of aluminum foil to catch any spills and drips. Heat the cream, sugar, and salt in a big, wide heavy-duty pot (use one that’s at least 4 qts) until it begins to boil. Continue to cook and when it starts to foam up, remove it from the heat and stir in the almonds, the almond extract, and the liquor. Scrape the filling into the shell. Make sure that everything is evenly distributed, then put the filled tart shell into the oven. Bake, remove the tart from the oven when the filling is the color of coffee with a light touch of cream in it and there are no large pockets of gooey white filling, about 30 minutes. Let the tart cool a few minutes on a cooling rack.
*Advanced Planning: The dough can be made in advance, and chilled (maximum 4 days) or frozen longer. The dough, once pressed in the tart pan, can be frozen. Wrap in plastic if you don’t plan to bake it within 48 hours. Once made, the tart should be kept at room temperature. If not eaten the same day, wrap in plastic wrap. The tart is best the first day but can be kept for up to 4 days.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"