While watching an episode of Man Vs. Wild, I couldn't help think what British adventurer, Bear Grylls would do, if he had to feed my toddler. Not that I think any less of his running-through-forest-fires-and-free-grappling-waterfall-ways. But, seriously, cooking for toddlers is right up there with the rest. Especially, if said toddler will have only three morsels, and then insist on feeding you. Thankfully, that is a thing of the past for us, and our three-morsel-eater, now eats more or less everything. Except for almost every vegetable there is. Excluding French Fries, obviously. So, what does that leave us with? All dairy, chicken (fried), rice, lentils, all fruits (other than bananas), flat-breads, and breads (off-late).
The path up has been nothing, but treacherous. Complete with landing on our heads and behinds. There were times when AM and I didn't know whether we should try new recipes. Or, simply give up, and pluck what was remaining of our hair. We tried everything -- mashed potatoes, un-mashed ones, juice of every kind, mac-and-cheese, just cheese. But the little ankle-biter wouldn't have any of it -- she was more than happy with her bowls of oatmeal, every single meal. How she didn't tire of it for one whole year, we will never know.
Then, somewhere in mid-August, the winds finally began to change. And, I think it has a little something to do with Alton Brown's double-fried plantains or Tostones. They looked so beautiful, and golden as Alton made them, that despite all odds, I knew I must make them. At the time, I remember saying to AM, if nothing else, it will make a nice post for the blog. Besides, I certainly never like thinking twice before attempting anything deep-fried and sinful.
..."hmm, what's this? something new. Do I HAVE to?" "Like, really?" I imagined her thinking, as she picked the tiniest piece there was. A split-rolling-eyes-second-later. "Alright, if it will get you off my back, already." I can still see it. In slow motion, actually. Her eyes, the little hands turning the Tostone over. Then, ever so slowly IN THE MOUTH!! yaayy. Now, would she take another? Yep. Double yaaayy! And a third! You can imagine how hard it must have been for me not to break into an Egyptian dance at this point. But, now was no time to act Sphinx-y. This was the real test. Would she, or would she not take another bite? Typically, this was the point where she stubbornly refused to go on. But, change was in the air. It was a Christmas miracle in August. My little girl took another, and then another. And looked askingly for more.
This was what it felt like to free-fall down a waterfall. No two ways about it.
♣ Gimme More!
this recipe by Saveur magazine. I didn't have any Culantro, but the other ingredients -- garlic, cilantro and extra-virgin olive oil -- really complimented the twice-fried plantains, well. Also, do try to serve the Tostones with some orange juice -- the three are really dynamic together. This is my entry for Day 3 for Nupur's seven-day-seven-recipe-marathon at One Hot Stove.
1-2 green plantains
Oil for frying
Salt to taste
Choose firm, green plantains for a savory version. In case, you crave for a sweeter version, wait for the plantain to ripen well beyond a few dark spots.
Cut off the ends of the fruit, and give it a deep nick to make way to peel the skin. Now, slice into one-two inch medallions. Alton shallow-fries his plantains in the first stage, but I found deep-frying for a minute or two, worked as well. Heat enough oil (as much as you would for fritters) and gently slide in the medallions. Turn them over for a minute-and-a-half, and remove on to a rack.
At this stage, Alton dropped the medallions into warm, salted water, but I skipped this step. All, it does is to salt the Tostones evenly, and lend some softness.
Gently press down on the plantain medallions to flatten them (you can do this between a couple of plates, a bottle with a rounded bottom, or between your palms, even). Deep-fry them once again, until golden and crisp. Remove on to a rack, sprinkle with salt to taste, and serve hot with garlic-cilantro dipping sauce, and orange juice.
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