Monday, March 28, 2011

Banan Peze (Buh-nun Peh-ze)

I may be biased (I probably am) but Haitian food is one of the best cuisines in the world!

It's always delicious, full of spices, and incredibly filling.

When you grow up in a Haitian household, you always know what's for dinner--some kind of rice, beans, and a variation of meat.

I didn't appreciate the deliciousness of my culture's food when I lived at home, but now that I live in a different state and am a grown up (BARF), I no longer have my mom, grandmother, and aunts cooking these daily meals for me, and I miss it--A LOT.

This past week I was stocking up on ice cream grocery shopping and I saw that there was a new display of plantains in one of the produce  bins. Well, Banan Peze immediately popped into my mind.

Banan Peze  in Haitian Creole literally means "pressed plantains" and that is exactly what these are. My beloved Latino friends call these Tostones or Platanos, but they're Banan Peze to me.

Mmmm, they are so good! You know it was a good day when you came home from school and saw your mom frying up some banan peze. :)

My friends were visiting this weekend so I thought I would cook up a batch for them to try.

After an unfortunate moment where I had the oil burning a tad bit too hot resulting in me almost burning down my apartment and blinding my friend Takena with the smoke, they came out pretty well! My ladies devoured them.

Typically, we Haitians serve these up with a delicious fried pork dish called griots, but I have not mastered cooking those yet so I'll save that for another day. However, I did make the "gravy" that all Haitians make but has no name really. I  think it's called, sauce? That's it.  It's a tomato based thing.

I made everything from my memories of watching my  mom cook them so my recipe may be a bit off, but I think not too much.

Hope some of you try these. They're so easy to make.  :)

Banan Peze Recipe (Made from memory)
 - 2 medium sized green plantains
 - 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
 - 1 tablespoon salt (adjust to your taste)
 - 1 cup of salted water
 - A cup  or cutting board or any device to flatten the plantains (I used a cutting board)

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a deep skillet. Don't let the oil get too hot because you don't want your plantains to get too brown.

2. While the oil is heating up, peel the plantains and then cut them in chunks crosswise in a diagonal.

3. Add the cut plantains to the heated oil and let them fry up for about 2 minutes per side. You want them to get a light golden brown color. When they're done, take them out of the pan and lay them on paper towels to drain.

4. Using whatever smashing device you choose, flatten out the plantains making sure you don't make them too thin.

5. Dip each flattened plantain in the salted water and then place back in the heated oil where you'll fry it for about 1 minute.

6. Take out the now fried plantain (Banan Peze) season with a little more salt and enjoy immediately. 

Haitian Sauce
- 2 tablespoons of oil
-About 2 (maybe 3) tablespoons of Tomato paste
-1 onion sliced into rings
-2 cloves of crushed garlic
-1 Bouillon cube
-Salt to season to your taste
-About 1/2  cup of water  
-About 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
-1 sprig of thyme (I used cilantro because it's what I had, but definitely use thyme)

1. In a frying pan heat up oil and sautee onions and garlic until fragrant.

2. Add in the tomato paste and then the water letting the mixture come to a boil.

3. Add the bouillon cube and the salt and bring the sauce down to a simmer.

4. Throw in the sprig of thyme and lemon juice and stir the sauce letting all of the flavors come together.

5. Serve with the plantains and enjoy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

First Place St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes!

Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting--Homemade Sugar Candy Crystal on top

Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting

Cupcake decorating/best tasting competition at work for St. Patrick's Day.

Didn't think many people would  enter  and I would be the only fool with cupcakes---I was wrong. Many many submissions.

Some were really pretty---others, not so much.

Some tasted good---most, not so much. Just sayin'...

Didn't think I would win because as the judging was going on most people seemed to be raving about all the cupcakes that were made using boxed  mixes. I honestly think majority of people like the taste of those more because it's what everybody grows up with.

That's cool.

I sat around the conference room joking with some of my colleagues, went back to  my desk to get some work done, walked back  to the conference room because I realized I forgot my favorite pen, and everybody started clapping and saying congratulations.

I did win!

It was kind of exciting.

Wasn't going to put these cupcakes up because I already have similar recipes here, but since they DID win (cupcake carrier caddy was the prize) I decided to put up some pictures.

By some,  I mean the 2 that are at the beginning of this post.

That's all I have.   :)


Dark Chocolate Cupcakes from How Sweet Eats

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting from Chaos in the Kitchen 

Peanut Butter Frosting from All Recipes


Monday, March 14, 2011

Oreo Mint Truffles

This weekend was simple, fun, and easy with the sun shining and friends helping to make it enjoyable.

It helps that I happened to be off today (Monday) so that was a double treat.
Crushed Oreos and Thin Mints

You know what else is simple and easy? Oreo Truffles! 

Oreos mixed with cream cheese and then dipped in chocolate? Yea, I’m all over that.

I first learned of this treat from my college friend Shana-Banana. She mentioned it on her Facebook a long time ago and I just had to try them. So I did--and I love 'em.

I decided to make a quick batch to have on hand for a friend who was visiting, and I’m glad I did! They came out great, especially since I also threw in half a sleeve of Thin Mints in the mix from my gluttonous supply of Girl Scout cookies that I ordered. 
White chocolate bath.

Long story short, if you want a quick, simple, tasty and easy treat, make Oreo Truffles!

I'm off to enjoy the rest of my day off.  :)

Adapted from everywhere and anywhere all over the internet.
  • 1 sleeve of Oreo Cookies
  • 4oz. Cream Cheese
  • 8oz of white chocolate--(you can use more or less--depends on your preference)
  • 1/2 a sleeve of Thin Mints (or you can use mint extract or other mint cookies)
1. Crush both Oreos and Thin Mints in a food processor until they make fine crumbs.

2. Mix in softened cream cheese and the mix should feel gooey and doughy in your hands.

3. Form the dough into balls and then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Stick it in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

4. Melt white chocolate or candy melts and dip the oreo truffles in chocolate using a spoon. Shake off the excess chocolate and place back on the parchment lined sheet.

5. Once they are all dipped, place the sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes to let the chocolate set and then-- Enjoy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Southern Caramel Cake

Holy Sugar Rush!
Between the cake and caramel frosting, this decadent dessert has 4 different kinds of sugar in it. Yes, 4. Dark brown, light brown, powdered, and granulated.

After I made it I was so shocked that I had to tell my friend Sam about it, and she too was shocked.
Simple vanilla cake base

I ate a piece of the cake immediately after I frosted it, and had to eat it alongside a tall glass of milk to counteract the sugar.

That was yesterday.

Today, the cake is just perfect! I came home from work and sliced a piece for myself to snack on and it was seriously so delicious!

I know it sounds weird, but I think you have to let this cake "rest" before you eat it. I'm convinced that all of the flavors need to settle down and mesh together so you don't only taste sugar.
Mmm! Caramel River!

I hope I don't scare you out of making this caramel cake becuase it is really good!

I had never heard of it until I read a great book called "The Help" about 2 weeks ago. The cake is mentioned several times throughout the book and I was dying to try a piece---so I made it.

If you want a rich and decadent cake, I would seriously give this a try. Just remember to let it sit for a couple of hours to let all the flavors  "get happy".  :)

Recipe for Caramel Frosting
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place butter and light and dark brown sugars into a medium sized saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture combines  and begins to bubble, about 2 minutes.

Add milk and stir bringing back to a barely bubbly boil. Then remove from heat.

Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Stir vigorously with wooden spoon until smooth.

Frost your cake immediately while icing is still warm or it will harden. If it does harden while you are still trying to ice your cake just place the pan back onto low heat and stir until it softens up.

Recipe I used for Cake
If you remember from my past posts, I'm not particularly fond of yellow cakes. I found one that I really enjoyed and have been using it ever since. You can find the recipe at  The Fresh Loaf.