Over the years I have learned, through trial and error, how to live somewhat peacefully with the mister. I've learned that if I need help with something I hadn't planned for or told the mister about in advance, that I need to have a pacifier on hand ready to go...like poking an ill-tempered, hungry/injured grizzly bear and then throwing it a piece of meat - that sort of thing. Surely you're familiar with that?!? This is how I poked the bear...he was working in his cave and I was in our bedroom changing the sheets on the bed. If you have a king-size bed then you know it takes several trips from one side to the other to put on clean sheets...several. So, in order to make it a bit easier I called for the mister to come and help me...not something he had scheduled on his daily calendar but given his cave is next to our bedroom...ten paces away...I didn't see the harm. Oh sure, I expected some bellowing...anyone who pokes a bear will get a growl or two...but then there was a desk slap and some stomping...all grizzlies have to posture to ward off any threats...finally, when the mister entered the room complaining that I had interrupted him at a crucial moment (he was sharpening his pencil) I threw him a pacifier by telling him we would go see The Avengers (as we're the only people in the country who had not seen it) and it worked - it was like watching the Hulk change back into Dr. Banner (what? too many metaphors?) I thanked the mister for his help and that should have been it...but he had one last growl to get out: "Now leave me alone, I've got work to do! It's not like what you do which doesn't require any brains!" Yep, that's what he said...dug himself a nice little grave. Did you know it's possible to short-sheet a king-size bed and make-up only one side? It was quite effective.
Plantains or Tostones are the ugly-step-sister of the beloved banana. Bananas are thought of as dessert next to the plantain, because bananas can be eaten raw, but plantains need to be cooked. I love plantains, to me they taste like a cross between a banana and a sweet potato...you can steam or boil them, but I like them fried...and that's how they were prepared for this Hoagie...sliced, fried, and smashed.
This recipe came about after I had a nice chat with Abby who works in the meat department of our local Safeway. Abby is from Cuba and one day while I was looking for ham to make a run-of-the-mill ham and cheese sandwich, we started talking...one thing led to another and the next thing you know, I'm dashing around the store getting the ingredients I needed to make this Cuban sandwich! I wish Safeway would give Abby her own kitchen in the store...she could teach classes and give cooking tips and Safeway would make tons of money and we would all be ten pounds heavier! Thanks for the inspiration Abby, this sandwich is fabulous!!! Adding tostones to a run-of-the-mill ham and cheese sandwich transforms it into something special...it's adds a meatiness with it's sweet texture and has just the right amount of "chew." This makes a great sandwich for any game-day lunch...or picnic...or as a bury-the-hatchett-truce-sandwich after a much needed apology!
Ham and Tostone Hoagies...Pots and Pins and Abby at Safeway
4 Hoagie buns
8 slices Provolone cheese
1 large tomato, slices
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed, roughly chopped
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1 large plantain, peeled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices
1 1/2 lbs. deli ham
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
3 teaspoons hot mustard
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, garlic and mustard; stir and let sit for 10 minutes. Spread each half of Hoagie bun with mayonnaise mixture. On one side of Hoagie bun put two slices of cheese, tomato slices and slices of shallot. Divide deli ham equally onto each bun; put a handful of cilantro on top of ham and season with salt and pepper.
In a small frying pan, heat 2 teaspoons of oil until hot. Carefully place plantain slices into pan and fry for about 4 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp, season with salt and pepper, then turn and repeat on the other side. Remove from pan and drain on paper toweling for just a few seconds. Move plantains to a cutting board and with a mallet, or the bottom of a ban, slightly smash them, just so they're a bit thinner. Put pieces of plantain on top of cilantro and top with Hoagie bun. Serves 4.