that's forking good

adventures in a culinary neophyte's kitchen

I love it when a plan[tain] comes together

Posted by culinaryneophyte on October 5, 2014

chipotle turkey burger plantainSometimes I’m so excited about my food, I refuse to accept it is unphotogenic. That’s pretty much what happened with this creation: a chipotle turkey burger with bacon, caramelized onions and fresh guac on a plantain bun. It’s like when you’re defending a girl you’re dating to your friends who are judgingly flipping through her Facebook pictures — trust me when I say it was way better looking in person.

For such a seemingly complex dish, the most difficult part was not burning the shiz out of my onions like I always seem to do whilst caramelizing. Some people might say I’m not the most patient person… and that also applies to caramelizing onions. For the sake of the dish, I curbed my impatience best I could and focused on the other elements, like this newfound plantain bun.

One of my friends at the gym told me she used jicama to make a burger bun, but I couldn’t find that on a late-night ShopRite run (I’m sure I’ve mentioned my local ShopRite is the worst one on the planet), so I went searching for some other novel sort of something. Enter: the plantain. I remembered seeing something like this before on Instagram (my favorite #foodporn spot), and it was brilliant. (And no, It doesn’t taste much like eating a smushed banana around your burger.)

makes four slider-sized burgers
♦1 ripe plantain
♦1/2 lb. ground turkey
♦Dashes (I didn’t measure — sorry!) of chili powder, sea salt, cumin and chipotle seasoning
♦1/2 red onion, cut into slices
♦1 tbs. coconut oil or butter + 1 tbs. coconut oil
♦4 slices of bacon, cooked
♦avocado slides

Mash up plantain, split into two separate ramekins and place in the fridge for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, heat frying pan over medium heat and add coconut oil (or butter). Once melted, add sliced onions and cook and stir to caramelize over the next 15-20 minutes. Be patient (unlike me)!

Also in the meantime, combine spices and turkey, then form into mini patties for a slider-sized burger.

Remove plantain ramekins from fridge. Loosen plantain mash from sides of ramekins and pop out whole. Heat coconut oil over medium heat. Once melted, place plantain in pan and sear for three minutes per side. Once removed and slightly cooled, slice longways to create two “buns” from one mold. (You could use each mold as a side of the bun, but I initially found that was too thick and too much to put in my mouth [get the "that's what she said" out now -- go ahead], so I sliced it in half. [Yow!])

While aforementioned plantain patties are cooling (pre-slice), add turkey burgers to pan and cook eight minutes per side or until cooked all the way through.

Add turkey patty to sliced plantain bun, top with avocado, bacon, onions and/or whatever your heart desires.

Total time? 25 minutes
Cost? $4 meat, $1.50 avocado, $3.99 bacon, $1 plantain, $5.99 coconut oil
Overall success relative to expectations? Obviously, these are not as “real burger-y” as a bread bun, but they present a very palatable paleo option. The burgers held together really well, which I found surprising considering there’s no egg to use as a binder, and kept well as leftovers. She may not be a looker, but she’s definitely a keeper.

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on Sunday morning

Posted by culinaryneophyte on September 29, 2014

chocolate coconut pancakesThis weekend, we held a surprise retirement party for my dad, who’s retiring early and moving to NC to play golf all day, erryday. In catching up with family friends whom I have not seen in years, I got a lot of questions about whether or not I’m still writing — for work (barely) or in my blog (embarrassingly little). It is one of those things I think about almost on a daily basis, but life has been flying by — more so this year than ever before — and so many things have been pushed aside if they are not of the utmost priority.

(And yes, pretty much every post I publish here now is some sort of apology and/or promise to write more. This is no exception.)

To be honest, Instagram has taken the place of my blog because it’s “Twitter for people who can’t read,” and I can post from my phone while I’m laying in bed worrying about all the things I didn’t get done today and all the things on the horizon for tomorrow. If you are interested in checking out my latest creations, please follow me on IG, @thejerc. I will also try to make a better effort to post them here to at least keep you drooling.

In other news, these are the pancakes I made yesterday morning using AboutTime chocolate coconut protein as part of the sauce and these fancy new little brownie thins from Mrs. Thinsters. I tried them at a festival in Philly this weekend, and they’re delicious. I can’t wait to use them on top of my “protein ice cream” and other assorted goodies. (Also, big thanks to them for the recent shout out on social media!)

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this is why I don’t have my own cooking show

Posted by culinaryneophyte on May 27, 2014

Realizing it’s been 10 years since I last posted, I thought I would give you an extra special treat and post a video. Please enjoy “Jess v. The Lobster.”

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seasonal sucker

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 19, 2014

so delicious pumpkin

One of the things I pride myself on is my grocery shopping proficiency. I make lists, plan a route, study the circulars… I’m basically a supermarket Rain Man. Avocados are on sale this week. Yeah, definitely four for $5. Uh oh, long line at checkout. I militantly stick to my list, steadfast in my in pursuit of savings and abbreviated supermarket visits. But sometimes — just sometimes — I cross paths with a seasonal or novelty item packaged or marketed in such a way that I cannot say no.

Enter SO Delicious‘ pumpkin spice coconut milk. Hooooly wow.

I was sucked in during the holidays when I spied a long line of bright cartons on the end cap at ShopRite: Mint Chocolate, Egg Nog and Pumpkin Spice. All dairy- and gluten-free, and good enough to drink straight from the carton with the fridge door ajar, telling yourself that it’s probably not the best idea to drink the entire quart in one shot, but doing it anyway. (Don’t judge me.) The former two flavors seem to have petered off as Christmas fades into the rearview, but Pumpkin Spice remains and sometimes its sweet, creamy goodness is just too much to pass up, even if it’s not on my list.

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welcome, 2014!

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 2, 2014

In the past, I’ve done a year-in-review post just before New Year’s Eve, recalling my favorite posts throughout the year. Sadly, this year was very light on posts, and if I made a Top 10 of 2013, it would basically contain every post I wrote this year, because I’m not sure I got that deep into double digits.

This would make sense if I hadn’t spent much time in the kitchen, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. (My Instagram can back that up. I pretty much only take pictures of food.) It’s just been a matter of time… well, I guess more a matter of priority. If something is important to you, you’ll make time for it. Writing fell by the wayside in 2013, and that breaks my little writer heart. I miss crafting posts and sharing my food fun with you. This blog was such a big part of my life, and I want it to be a priority again. I haven’t been big on New Year’s resolutions the last few years, but maybe a New Year’s aspiration?

2014 sparkler

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bejeweled breakfast

Posted by culinaryneophyte on December 27, 2013

This year, most of my gift giving and Christmas revelry took place in advance of the actual holiday, leaving my Dec. 25 all to myself. I did not let this opportunity go to waste. I set my alarm for a rare “late” start (10 a.m.), donned some mismatched sweats, put on a little Ke$ha and got to work in the kitchen. What emerged was a a glorious breakfast of coconut vanilla waffles with vanilla protein “fluff” and homemade pomegranate syrup.

coconut pom waffles

I had this idea saved on Pinterest for weeks, but wanted to make it paleo/clean, so I made some alterations and thankfully ended up with a beautiful and tasty plate. Frankly, I was giddy over it. While everyone on Facebook was posting pictures of their presents, their babies, their dogs, their dogs with presents, their babies with presents, their babies with dogs as presents…  I was posting pictures of waffles.

I have been obsessed with pomegranates for awhile now. Once I had my first taste of those  juicy little jewels, I couldn’t get enough. I already had my pomegranate deseeded, so that saved time because it’s a slight process. There are a few ways to get into that baby, but I use the water bowl method: cut pomegranate in half, submerge in water for 10 minutes, then pull apart the rind and allow it to float to the top of the water while the seeds (arils) sink; strain arils, then dry on paper towel.

The genesis of the protein “fluff” was initially for aesthetic purposes (I wanted to brighten it up a bit before adding the dark pom syrup), but I dug the creaminess it added, plus it’s always nice to sneak a little extra protein into a meal that may not otherwise be that rich in it.

This was a fabulous start to my day. I ran around cleaning and organizing the file cabinet I bought for myself (oh yeah, be jealous), then spent the next five hours marathoning the hell out of season two of “Girls.” Pretty much the best Christmas ever.

coconut pom waffles 2makes two waffles
inspired by foodiecrush
♦1 egg, whisked
1/8 c. coconut milk
3/4 c. almond meal
1/8 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 tbs. coconut flour
1 tbs. honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Heat waffle iron. Whisk egg, then add milk. Combine almond meal, coconut, coconut flour and baking soda, then add to wet mixture. Add honey, vanilla, sea salt and cinnamon. Put batter into iron and cook for three to four minutes or until golden.

for protein fluff
1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Cellucor)
about 2 tsp. almond milk
(play around with these measurements until the consistency is correct; you want it somewhat liquescent, but not runny)

for pomegranate syrup
1/2 c. pomegranate arils
1 c. POM Wonderful juice
1/8 c. organic coconut sugar
1/2 tbs. coconut oil

Heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add arils, juice and coconut sugar. Heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture has reduced by half. (This took a bit longer than I thought it would, so start it going before you start cooking waffle mix.)

Total time? 20 minutes (without deseeding of pomegranate)
Cost? $3.99 POM, $1.50 pomegranate, $6.99 almond meal, $8.99 coconut flour, $3.99 organic coconut, $4.98 organic coconut sugar, $5.99 coconut oil
Overall success relative to expectations? My first bite of the waffle on its own was underwhelming. I thought it was a little bland and moderately dense. (I may separate the egg first next time.) The good news is all the toppings help sweeten and moisten up the dish, and the combination is perfect — like a holiday in my mouth.

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