Bacon-wrapped Sweet Plantains

>> Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Bacon Plantains photo baconp3_zpsnjwuaxlh.png

This is one of my go-to snacks/appetizers whenever I am entertaining. This recipe calls for only 2 ingredients - ripe plantains and bacon. The combination when baked is sweet, smoky and salty. They go very quickly so make an ample amount.

There are so specific quantities for this recipe, make as much or as little as you like. The important thing is to ensure that you use the best ingredients (always) but especially when a dish calls for very few ingredients. The idea is to let the ingredients speak for themselves. Choose plantains where the skin is a combination of black streaks and a dull yellow (click here for a photo reference); they should be firm to the touch but not hard nor should they be mushy when gently pressed. If you find them with more black skins, you can buy those too, just be sure that they are firm to the touch.

INGREDIENTS


  • Ripe plantains
  • Bacon rashers
  • Toothpicks


DIRECTIONS


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil or non-stick foil.
  3. Remove the top and bottom tips of the plantains, using a paring knife, slit the skin from top to bottom and peel; the skin should remove easily. Cut the peeled plantains into 1-inch thick rounds.
  4. Cut the bacon rashers in half.
  5. Wrap each piece of bacon around each piece of the plantain and secure in place with a toothpick. Transfer to baking sheet. Place the wrapped plantain with the bacon layer of fat top side - this way when it bakes, the bacon will baste the plantain. Continue wrapping and securing bacon with plantain until all is done.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until the bottom of the plantains are caramelized and the bacon is cooked through.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks; reserve the bacon drippings for later use or discard.
  8. Remove toothpicks before serving. Serve warm.


Bacon Plantains2 photo baconp9_zpsaptozcus.png

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Sweet Balls Of Coconut

>> Monday, 13 February 2017

Coconut Balls photo iballs6_zpsknjnbppp.png

These sweet coconut balls are like sugar cake but not in the traditional sense because they are not spiced with fresh ginger and other spices, dropped by large spoonful and left to harden on its own. These are soft and chewy, just the way I prefer sugar cake. Most Caribbean sugar cakes are made with brown sugar or brown sugar and molasses. The texture of the coconut varies from one place to the other; the coconut could be chipped, shredded or finely grated. We also boast of making coconut ice, something we inherited from the Europeans.

This recipe came about as a result of me testing no-cook coconut ice recipes. Most of the recipes called for desiccated coconut but I opted to use fresh coconut. Moisture-rich, the coconut ice did not set they way I wanted it to. After the mixture did not harden overnight, the following day, I dumped everything into a pot and decided to make these balls in the style of laddoo/ladu.

Coconut collage photo Coconut_zpsg4mpvcct.png

Yield: 24 - 28

INGREDIENTS


  • 4 cups fresh grated coconut
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, plus extra for optional dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond essence/extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 - 2 drops red food coloring


DIRECTIONS


  1. Mix together all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot or pan and place over low heat. Stir frequently to avoid scorching, and cook the mixture until it thickens and becomes glossy. It should come away easily from the sides of the pot/pan when it is done cooking (this could take anywhere from 15 - 20 minutes). The mixture should be pasty, not dry.
  2. Let cool until you can handle it but do not let it come down to room temperature, you want to be able to roll the mixture into balls while it is still very warm and soft.
  3. Lightly oil a pan or platter and set aside.
  4. Dab a little oil onto the palm of your hands and take a little of the mixture at a time and roll into balls.
  5. Let the balls cool completely, dust with powdered sugar and serve at room temperature.


NOTES


  • Remove the brown skin of the coconut is optional.
  • Desiccated, unsweetened coconut can be used for this recipe but you will need to add more powdered sugar to suit your taste and 1/2 - 3/4 cup more milk.
  • When rolling the coconut balls, if you find the mixture sticking to the insides of your hands, it needs to be cooked a little more to become a bit drier. On the other hand, if you find the balls cracking, it means that the mixture is too dry - add it back to the pan/pot along with some milk and cook to the described consistency.


Coconut Balls2 photo ice balls10_zpsqgpqp6cp.png

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Beautifully Different

>> Wednesday, 1 February 2017

 Cherry Tomatoes photo tomatoes8_zpsl7bsujba.png

Ingredients, like people, come in all varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes. Side by side, together - it's a beautiful thing.

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