Mojo Cubano: The Most Garlic You’ve Ever Eaten

When you love something, really love something, you can never have enough. I feel this way about a lot of things — primarily food and alcohol-related, of course — and I definitely feel this way about garlic. So I was obviously thrilled when my friend, Vanessa, who was giving me a Cuban cooking lesson (! best night ever, and there are more recipes where that came from) mentioned, “You like garlic, right? I bought plantain chips and I really wanted to make this dipping sauce for them…it’s basically just pure garlic and it’s one of my favorites.”

Turns out this is one of the easiest recipes ever, and yeah, it does pack a punch. If you’re one of those people who is averse to “smelling like garlic” (personally, I never understood those people) this is probably not the snack for you. I’ve been cruising the Cuban recipe sites (normal) and it looks like many of them use a version of this as a marinade or sauce for all kinds of dishes. Whatever, we like this as a straight-up dip for our fried plantains. Hardcore eaters.

Mojo Cubano Dip

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Grilled Cheese Gone Wild!

Sure, mom’s buttery white bread and American cheese version is a classic, but these days grilled cheese has hit a whole new level. Here are some of our favorite crazy grilled cheese options.

1. Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese

Can’t decide between your two favorite cheesy snacks? Have them both with Simply Scratch’s simply amazing jalapeno-cream cheese-onion-sourdough-colby concoction.

2. Fried Green Tomato Grilled Cheese

Fried inside fried? Yes and yes. Life’s Ambrosia has the recipe.

3. Bechamel Grilled Cheese

You thought rubbing a layer of butter on grilled cheese was indulgent? At Firefly in D.C., chef Danny Bortnick’s cadillac grilled cheese has bechamel sauce spread in between white bread, with garlic-herb butter, aged Cabot, and Gruyere.

(Photo: Dakota Fine)

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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…

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