Chef D’s Kitchen by David Blackmon
Leftover Tips 101
My first attempt at reusing leftovers was in college. I made “grain casserole” using all the leftovers I could find: Rice- a-Roni, pasta, rice, and Stovetop Stuffing. Some things shouldn’t be saved.
One way to cook the “big banana” of the starch world
by J.M. Hirsch
They’re sold by the bananas, but they probably belong closer to the potatoes.
Because while plantains may resemble bananas, they taste and cook more like a tuber. And in much of the world, that’s how these starchy fruit - sometimes called a “cooking banana” - are used. In Africa and India, they often are used as the base of stews and cur- ries, much as potatoes would be.
In this one-pot dinner from Brazil (inspired by a similar recipe in Leticia Moreinos Schwartz’ The Brazilian Kitchen), simmered plantains make a deli- cious base to a chicken curry. They also provide a nat- ural starch that thickens the sauce. When shopping for plantains, look for large, firm
fruit. The thick skin can vary from green to yellow to black. Green is unripe, while yellow to black colors indicate the plantains are ready. But be warned - even ripe plantains are not pleasant eating when raw. Stick with recipes such as this one for cooking. Got leftover plantains? They also can be thinly sliced and fried, then dusted with salt, paprika and sugar.
Chicken and plantain moqueca Start to finish: 45 minutes Servings: 4
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
Salt and ground black pepper 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 large yellow onion, diced
2 green bell peppers, cored and cut into chunks 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger 1 tablespoon minced jarred jalapeno slices 2 cups chicken broth 15-ounce can coconut milk 1/4 cup tomato paste 2 bay leaves
3 ripe (skins should be yellow and black) plantains, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Place the chicken in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Sprinkle it with salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Stir to coat, then cover and set aside for 10 min- utes.
Set the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute the chicken until lightly browned, about 6 to 8 min- utes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a bowl. Cover and set aside.
Return the Dutch oven to the heat and add the onion and bell peppers. Sauté until softened, about 4 min- utes. Add the garlic, ginger and jalapenos, then saute for another minute. Return the chicken to the pot, then add the broth, coconut milk, tomato paste and bay leaves.
Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add the plantains and cook, uncovered, for another 15 minutes, or until the plantains are soft but not mushy. To serve, remove and discard the bay leaves, season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with cilantro. Nutrition information per serving (values are
rounded to the nearest whole number): 780 calo- ries; 330 calories from fat (41 percent of total calo- ries); 37 g fat (23 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 135 mg cholesterol; 58 g carbohydrate; 59 g protein; 7 g fiber; 500 mg sodium. AP
My best friend’s granny was gifted at making the most of leftovers. When she was young she picked cotton. Since she was a hard worker she made as much as the men: a silver dime each day. Most of that money was used to buy beans and cornmeal for the family and nothing was wasted. Whatever was for Sunday lunch ended up in Monday’s stew and it always tasted good.
Saving food has become somewhat of a lost art due to abundance and conven- ience, but it’s essential to save money on groceries. Here are 20 tips to make the most of your food and minimize food waste.
Use the freezer 1. When you cook a meal that’s big enough to have leftovers, go ahead and freeze them right away. The food will taste better and you won’t have to eat the same thing three nights in a row. 2. When you freeze sauces or soups in plastic freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing the bag. Stack them flat so they won't take up much space in your freezer.
3. Preserve an abundance of lemons and limes by squeezing the juice into ice cube trays and saving the frozen juice for later.
4. Fruits like grapes, bananas, and strawberries can be frozen. Spread out berries on a cookie sheet to freeze so they won’t be stuck together, before you wrap them up.
5. Leftover wine can be frozen in ice cube trays, and then later added to sim- mering meat dishes or spaghetti sauce. Make the most of older food 6. What do you do with old bread? Cut the bread into squares and toast on low heat to make croutons. Toast and then crumble bread in a food processor to make breadcrumbs. Make French toast or stuffing.
7. Fried rice is better when made with day-old rice instead of fresh-cooked rice. 8. Brown bananas taste sweet in
smoothies and banana bread.
9. Old vegetables can be added into stews or stocks. 10. Tomatoes can be pureed into toma- to sauce or salsa. Save the smaller things 11. A small portion of leftovers might not be enough for a meal, but it could make a good snack. Check the fridge for small servings before pulling out a bag of chips.
12. Leftover roasted chicken can be added to a stock.
13. Rinds of hard cheeses such as Parmesan can be frozen and later added to soups for richer flavor. 14. When your little one runs off with- out finishing a glass of milk, don't pour it down the sink and wash the glass. Put it back in the fridge for the next time they want something to drink. Prevention is best 15. Know what’s in your freezer or fridge. Keep foods in the freezer labeled well and review your inventory every few days, or at least before you go to the grocery store.
16. Package foods properly. Don’t toss something into the fridge uncovered or leave something sitting on the counter. Wrap it up or place a plate over a bowl of food to cover it up.
17. Be realistic about what your fami- ly will eat and keep that in mind before you stock up on a good sale at the gro- cery store.
18. Have wooden clothespins accessi- ble in the kitchen to seal bags closed in the pantry and freezer.
19. Mason jars are an easy and inex- pensive way to store bulk pantry foods. While you don’t want to reuse a lid for canning, it’s fine to wash and reuse them for storing dry goods.
20. One bad apple… Check your large bags of potatoes, onions, apples and car- tons of berries before you store them away. You wouldn’t want to let one funky potato cause the rest of them to go bad before you eat them.
David Blackmon is the chef/owner of The Culinary Solution (Private Event Chefs for Hire). Questions or com- ments? E-mail him: Chefblackmon@gmail.com
Chicago Defender • ChicagoDefender.com
• October 5-11, 2011 19
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