Air-Fried Plantains: An Alternative Dinner Starch

We try to have a balanced meal most nights, which means we have a protein, vegetables, and a starch. When we’re looking for something a little different than the usual rice or potatoes, we lean towards items like yucca or plantains. Last night, I made tostones, which is basically fried plantain. Although, my twist is that I used my beloved air fryer. (If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you’d know I absolutely adore my air fryer.) If you don’t have an air fryer, don’t fret. You can do all the prep and pop them in the oven, too!

I’m definitely not an expert on plantains, but here’s what I know – Although plantains are technically a fruit, green plantains have less sugar and more starch. Yellow plantains are more ripe, which means they have higher sugar content and can be used in sweet plantain dishes. I had bought my plantains several days ago, so they were a bit more yellow when I got around to using them.

img_20180907_000136_418

To prepare the yucca, you’ll need to soften them. I’ve seen some people cut, peel, and boil it. In this case, the microwave is much easier.

  1. Cut off the ends and makes a few slices through the outer skin. The slices will allow the yucca to breath and release some of that steam. If you’ve ever made a “baked” potato in the microwave, it’s the same concept – you need to poke holes in the potato first.
  2. Microwave for at least five minutes. The skin will turn dark. Be careful when handling them because they will be HOT!20180906_19280720180906_193424
  3. Peel the skin off the plantains.
  4. Slice into one-inch chunks.
  5. Use a flat surface (I used a drinking glass) to flatten each chunk. Hint: If the plantain gets stuck to the bottom of the glass, carefully run a knife between the plantain and the glass.20180906_194055
  6. Place a single layer of flattened plantains into the air fryer.
  7. Spray the tops of the plantain and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and chili powder.
  8. Set it to 400 degrees and cook for approximately 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Repeat steps 6-8 until all your plantains are cooked.

20180906_194617.jpg


Jake loves dipping the tostones in this mayo/ketchup dip. Just mix relatively equal parts of mayo and ketchup to your taste. I like to add a squirt of sriracha and sprinkle pepper on top.

20180906_204919.jpg


The main meal we had last night was steak tips. The tostones were the perfect side, along with some air-fried Parmesan green beans.

20180906_212359

20180906_212325

Cheers!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Labor Day Meat Sweats

One Last Cookout –

Happy Labor Day! This holiday in the U.S. is often seen as the last weekend of summer – people begin to close their pools for the season, kids get ready to go back to school, and families and friends have one last big cookout. One of Jake’s many hobbies is smoking meat. For this Labor Day weekend, he decided to cook up some of his ol’ faithful recipes and try some new ones. He made a smoked haddock dip, smoked ribs, and a smoked beef chuck.

20180902_081955

See? Even the pups couldn’t resist waiting by the smoker for the scrumptious food!


Smoked Haddock Dip

20170416_122024
Easter 2017 – Jake’s Smoked Salmon (right)

Last Easter, Jake had tried his very first smoked fish (salmon). We had his family over that day and we conducted our own little research test. We put out store-bought cold-smoked salmon and Jake’s smoked salmon. Jake’s salmon won by a landslide.

Last weekend, Jake had ventured out on a day of fishing with his friend. He came back with a few pounds of fresh haddock. Here was the perfect opportunity to make another smoked fish. He let the haddock fillets sit in a homemade brine overnight. The brine was seasoned as if he were going to use it for a baked haddock (sans the Ritz cracker).

Next day, he smoked the fish for a few hours, regularly basting it with butter and lemon. After a taste test, Jake decided last minute to make a smoked haddock dip. The dip ingredients included cream cheese, sour cream, cayenne, pepper, and green onion. It was absolutely delicious and balanced the perfect amount of smokiness with that classic creamy dip taste.


Smoked Ribs

Jake has made smoked ribs a handful of times now. This time, he decided on two different batches:

  1. A homemade Memphis dry rub
  2. Aloha Spice Company’s Organic Aloha Chicken & Pork rub

There are a couple schools of thought on how ribs should be. Some love it fall-off-the-bone and others (Jake) like it with a little resistance and structure. As for me? As long as it’s good, I’ll eat it! Close to when the ribs are done, Jake likes to brush a bit of BBQ sauce on top. These were great and I can definitely tell he’s begun to perfect his rib smoking! Tangy outside with a little bit of that crust; tender on the inside.

20180902_170219


Smoked Beef Chuck

We stopped by BJ’s Wholesale Club on the way home the other day and picked up a 3 lb beef chuck. We really like the meat they have there and they were nice enough to cut us the size chuck we wanted. In fact, we had gotten the ribs there, as well. The beef chuck was simply seasoned with salt, pepper, brown sugar, and a basting mixture to keep the chuck moist while cooking. Jake has an extra secret technique with his chucks that he won’t allow me to disclose! I’ll try to sneak it into one of my future posts. 😉

20180902_165425

20180902_165806The chuck is one of my favorite thing that Jake smokes. (My absolute favorite is his smoked citrus turkey breast.) Look at those smoke rings on the slices. So good!


We invited our friends, Rob and Lindsay, over to enjoy the meal with us. We whipped up a couple of sides, including a quinoa salad and pasta salad. Lindsay brought homemade lavender lemon squares and her fail-safe brownies for dessert.

(Side note – Every once in a while, Lindsay and I plan out full cooking days where we try out a bunch of new recipes. I can’t wait until our next one so I can post the mouth-watering photos.)

We ended the night with some drinks and conversation around the fire pit. It was a wonderful day and I hope you enjoy your weekend, as well.

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Pears, Pears, Pears

A Trio of Pear Dishes –

My in-laws live in a town outside of Boston. Believe it or not, they have been in the same house for 40 years! In their side yard, they have a single pear tree. Most years it produces an abundance of pears and this year was no exception. Jake’s dad knows that we like to cook and decided to bring us a bag full of those delicious pears.

These pears were so juicy and sweet; they made for the perfect afternoon snack. If it’s at all possible, they were almost too juicy. I needed to lay out at least three napkins at my desk at work – still a small price to pay for the ripe goodness.

20180806_181659

After about a week, it was time to figure out what to do with the rest of the pears. We weren’t going to finish them all just by eating them as snacks. This was the perfect opportunity to find some new pear recipes and go to town. I had a mini cooking day to myself and whipped up three dishes:

I mentioned in The Fu Behind the Fu’d page that I get almost all of my recipe inspiration from Pinterest, so I linked each to the recipe I used. Because I also made multiple dishes on this occasion, I won’t provide step-by-step instructions on what I did. (It should all be in the recipes.) I will add a little commentary on my experiences making each dish and a judgment on the final products.


Raspberry Pear Pecan Bread

Get the Pinterest recipe here.

I originally chose this recipe because I had just bought my very first KitchenAid stand mixer and wanted to make bread. I don’t have a lot of experience making bread. From what I gather now, this was much less of a traditional bread recipe and much more like a banana bread recipe. I probably didn’t need my stand mixer at all. Oh well!

This bread was good. I loved the tangy and tart flavor that the raspberry left throughout each bite. I also went light on the brown sugar, so it wasn’t overly sweet. The recipe called for grating the pears. Because of how juicy the pears were, there was a lot of liquid, which I think caused the bread to fall apart a bit. I think counteracting it with more flour may have helped. The pear flavor was also barely there. For a sensitive palate, it might be the perfect hint, but I was craving more. We enjoyed the bread for a few days and ate most of it. But because I used fresh fruit, it was best to toss the rest after that. Regardless, this would make a beautiful gift during the holidays or to bring to a lunch/dinner party.


Creamy Sweet Potato and Pear Soup

Get the Pinterest recipe here.

I enjoyed this soup. I was surprised that Jake liked it, too. He is usually much more of a hearty stew type person, but he thought this had a unique flavor. I followed the recipe closely. Although, I did mistakenly sprinkle thyme leaves throughout the soup, which left a small chunk every few slurps. I should have left the thyme sprigs whole to flavor the soup and then removed them.

I don’t frequently use my immersion blender, so I get excited at any opportunity. The photo below reveals how infrequently I use it because I still have the label on it! It worked like a charm and left the soup with a great consistency.

I gave half the batch to my in-laws, but I wish had doubled the recipe and saved even more for ourselves! This soup seems like it would freeze very well, since you don’t have to worry about any chunks of vegetables or starches getting too soggy when re-heating.


Pear Vinaigrette

Get the Pinterest recipe here.

The vinaigrette was a bit of trial and error. In general, I love homemade dressings that have olive oil, fresh garlic, and lemon. I was able to use the extra juices when grating the pears for the bread recipe. However, again, the pear flavor was almost non-existent and I decided to scrounge up some extra grated pear to throw in.

20180812_125629

I used it a few times as a salad dressing and as a slaw dressing. I still have not figured out the best way to store something like this. I feel that the pear needs to be refrigerated, but after a couple of days, the olive oil begins to solidify at the top. This means that when I want to use the dressing, I need to let it sit out for a bit and then shake it up. I will be sure to report back if I ever figure out the right technique or perhaps you can help me out and let me know how you make it work!


Pears seem to be a great alternative to other fruits. They have a much more subtle flavor. I think that it can complement savory dishes well, but could be too mild for sweeter dishes. Overall, another successful mini cooking adventure with some lessons learned!

Sincerely,
Fu’d