I’ll Take that as a Condiment….


Salsa! Like any good condiment — ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, sriracha, horseradish, kimchi, hot sauce, chutney, etc… — we’ve all got a jarred version in the cupboard that we turn to when needed to cover up a dish that would otherwise be a mistake. But a good condiment shouldn’t just enhance our food, it should also be good enough to stand alone.

Salsa, of course, just means sauce, and can come in many varieties. At their best, they’re straight-forward to make, but their beauty is in the abundance of fresh local ingredients available this time of year. Here are my four favorite recipes using the season’s great tomatoes, tomatillos, avocados, corn and more…

Read More

Plantains Three Ways


Fruit is pretty great and all, but how much better is it when deep-fried? Am I right?

Well, I know I am. Having grown up on Nuyorican restaurants, I’ve been a pretty rabid plantain fan for a long time. But one longtime frustration was that I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to recreate these delicious little fritters at home. But, after much experimentation and web browsing, I’m happy to report I’ve started to get the hang of it. The secret turns out to be the same secret as every other delicious restaurant food: you’ve got to throw all delusions of semi-healthiness to the wind. Oil, baby. Lots of it. Like seriously, gallons. Cooking plantains in a tablespoon or two of oil always resulted in bland, starchy discs with not-quite-right texture, but once I worked up the courage to really douse them in oil, I’ve been able to make both sweet, rich plantains from super-ripe bananas, as well as crispy, more hearty ones from green bananas.

You don’t necessarily need a deep-fryer, but you need to cut those plantains thin, fill your saucepan up with a whole lot of the golden stuff, get it nice and bubbly, then let ’em fry for just a few minutes.

That dilemma solved, obviously I was ready to start getting a little wacky. As much as I love eating plain crispy plantains with the simple garlic sauce they serve at Puerto Rican places, I wondered if they couldn’t stand for a little spicing up at home, so I took three different attempts at crafting a more creative plantain. No, this is not a lame, haute cusine “three-way” dish, but merely three different ways they can be prepared…

Read More