For the second year in a row, my brother has given me a great cookbook for Christmas. Last year I was lucky enough to get Heidi Swanson‘s Super Natural Cooking. Her blog is one of my favorites. This year, in anticipation of our Nicaraguan adventure, he gave me a book by Trudy Espinoza-Abrams called Nicaraguan Cooking: My Grandmother’s Recipes.
In deciding what to tackle first, I skipped over the Sopa de Mondongo (cow tripe soup) and the Pinol de Iguana. If you are wondering why, let me quote the first line of the iguana recipe, “Cut off the head, make an incision in the abdomen, and remove the innards and any eggs of a female.” Maybe I’ll be adventurous enough to eat Iguana Stew, but making it is another matter.
Finally I settled on one of my favorites when I visited Nicaragua: tostones – refried plantain patties. They can be served as an appetizer but are usually served as a side dish instead of a tortilla or bread. Another reason I picked them as my first attempt from the book was because there is only one ingredient other than salt and oil – how bad could it be? Overall they turned out pretty well. I’m sure if I made them more often I would be more efficient with my time, space, and the number of paper towels and wax paper I went through. But I can only hope my other attempts at Nicaraguan cooking go this well. Click below for more photos and the recipe.
You will need 2 green plantains, peeled, cut into 1-inch thick rounds. I found it was much easier to peel them after they were cut, rather than peel a whole plantain.
Heat the oil to moderate heat. Carefully, add plantain rounds; fry until lightly yellow on both sides. Remove. Place on a paper towel to drain. Repeat with the rest. In the picture below, the brighter yellow plantains have been flipped over.
Place a plantain round between 2 pieces of paper towel (I found wax paper works much better) and mash flat with your hand. Do the same with the remaining plantains.
Return plantain rounds to oil; refry until golden brown.
Transfer the refried plantains to a paper towel; sprinkle with salt. I used coarse salt to add some texture and visual appeal.
If you want, you can serve them with any kind of cheese or cream. Most of the cheeses listed in the book are not very common in U.S. grocery stores. I used sour cream because I couldn’t find any crema in our store. I garnished the tostones with chives. I’m not sure if that’s really Nicaraguan, but it looked pretty. Overall they were quite tasty and very simple. Maybe I’ll step it up next time and make a dish with more than one ingredient.
Recipe by Trudy Espinoza-Abrams.