Sheesh!!! Its been major league HOT around here this summer. Three Tuesdays ago, at about 3:30 in the afternoon, I briefly thought that maybe, just maybe, there might be something to the whole global warming thing.
I know, I know…crazy thought…thank God it only lasted 4-5 seconds before sanity returned.
The heat did get me thinking though. It got me to thinking that while this heat was completely inappropriate, unusual and just plain weird for the mountains of North Georgia where I live…
Hush up! I know they are really the FOOTHILLS of the Appalachian Mountains, not really mountains, but so what? I live here and you don’t, so if I wanna call ‘em mountains then they ARE mountains. You don’t be messin’ with MY fantasy and I’ll leave yours alone, OK?
Where was I? Oh yeah…I was thinking that the heat may be unusual here, but on a Caribbean island beach…oh, say Jamaica or the Virgin Islands…this heat would be normal, pleasant even. After all, all you would have to do to cool off would be to take a dip in the water, right?
Well, as regular readers of JuicyMaters.com know, my mind works in really…er…different ways, and this time was no different. When I woke up the next morning I wanted a breakfast that would be appropriate on…you guessed it…a Caribbean island beach.
Don’t be laughin’ at me for my weird train of thought. You’re thinkin’ is pretty weird too. After all, you knew what I woke up craving before you read what I wrote, so you are as odd as me.
You are aware that is pretty dang weird, right?
So anyway, I went to rummaging around the pantry and refrigerator to see if I had anything on hand that could be used to satisfy my craving, and what I came up with was this…
A loaf of stale French Caribbean bread, two plantains, 5 eggs, a splash of whipping cream, orange juice, butter, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla extract (the real stuff, not imitation).
Eureka!!! I’ll make some Plantain French Caribbean Toast!
A special note to Ree…AKA P-Dub, TPW, and Mother-to-4-Punks…if you show up here:
HUSH UP! If you can sing the virtues of sushi, known in these parts as fish bait, over there at The Pioneer Woman (that’s so, so wrong woman. Eating raw fish is just SO wrong!), then I can sing the praises of this banana look-alike.
We are all weird, just in different ways. Me…it’s OCD tendencies. In P-Dubs case it’s pathological fear of flying, crowds, and…bananas. Oh yeah…and she likes to eat fish bait.
Now, back to the Plantain French Caribbean Toast.
First you break five or six eggs in a small bowl (Not this small. You’ll make a mess and wish you had started with a larger bowl).
Along about now would be a good time to pre-heat your oven…350 degrees or so will do just fine.
Next add some…a quarter of a cup or so…cream to the eggs and whisk them together.
Blend them real well so they don’t separate when you quit whisking.
See how the red bowl magically became blue…and bigger? I told you the bowl was too small.
Pour the cream/egg mixture in a flat bottom square or rectangular pan. For six slices of toast from a loaf of French Caribbean bread a 9×13 pan is JUST barely big enough.
The cream/egg mixture should cover the pan about a quarter inch deep.
Along about now would be a good time to turn on the heat under your 13 inch cast iron skillet…
You DO have cast iron cookware, right? No? Ah heck…that’s ANOTHER post for the future…
So anyway, turn the heat under the skillet to medium-high and put a half a stick of butter…butter, not margarine…in the pan to be melting.
Put the slices of bread in the cream/egg mixture, turn the heat down a bit on the melting butter so it doesn’t burn, and…WALK AWAY.
That’s right…walk away. Don’t be flippin’ the bread over to coat the other side for TWO FULL MINUTES. You want to give the bread time to really soak up the creamy eggs mixture…or is it eggy cream mixture…?
OK…after two minutes, come back, flip the bread over…and walk away for another two FULL minutes.
You want to really, really let the creamy eggs soak into the bread.
OK…bread is well soaked, so it’s time to put it in the hot buttered frying pan…right?
Not so fast Grasshopper.
The bread is well soaked with the egg mixture, but it is also well coated, and if you put it straight into the pan from the soaking you just gave it, you’ll wind up with bread wrapped in fried egg rather than French Caribbean Toast. Move the soaked bread to a cooling rack with a sheet pan or something else under it to catch drips and let it rest and drain off the excess egg for a couple of minutes, and then…
…put it in the well heated frying pan.
You aren’t trying to cook it through at this point (remember I had you pre-heat the oven?), you are just sealing/cooking the egg wash on the surface of the bread.
Give it about 45 seconds to a minute on the first side, then…
…flip it over for another 45 seconds or so. You should wind up with both sides of the bread cooked to a beautiful, golden toasty brown that looks like…well…like French Toast. Ahhh…but we are going to make it Caribbean Toast.
Remove it from the frying pan, place it on a cookie sheet and put it in the pre-heated oven which should be at 350 degrees by now. It needs to bake for 12 minutes.
Now, while the toast is baking, back to the topping.
You know…the topping? The stuff that makes this Plantain Caribbean Toast instead of French Toast…the stuff that satisfied my craving for the island beach breakfast? Remember?
Put the other half of the stick of butter in the frying pan. Yes…the other half. I didn’t say anything about this being non-fattening, did I?
You are aware that butter is its own food group, aren’t you?
While the butter is melting, peel a plantain…
…and slice it into half inch thick slices…slices like you would put on a bowl of cereal.
Let’s take a minute to talk about plantains.
Plantains look like big, discolored bananas…sorta the ugly sibling…and folks seem to consider them the same. They aren’t.
A green plantain…one that looks like not-quite-ripe bananas at the store…really should still be on the tree. They are hard and beyond a bit tangy like a green banana…they are just plain nasty.
A yellow plantain…one that looks like a perfectly ripened banana…is about where a green banana is in the ripening process. It is edible, but only marginally, and still fairly hard. A whole lot of cooking will sweeten and soften them, but only marginally. A plantain like this will usually go straight from hard and bitter to burnt with hardly a glance at “right” when you try to cook it.
A plantain with a whole bunch of brown spots…looking like a well past prime banana that would only be good for banana bread…is just right. Slightly soft, and deliciously sweet. Applying some heat will serve to sweeten it even more.
OK…so you have sliced the plantain…
…and you have a hot skillet with the butter right on the edge of starting to smoke.
Put the plantain slices in and spread them out so they are evenly spread on the pan bottom. Let them sit for about a minute, until they caramelize and soften a bit, then flip them over and caramelize the other size.
When both sides are a bit brown, about a minute to 90 seconds a side, add a quarter cup of brown sugar…
…and a quarter cup of honey. Incorporate them well, making sure all the lumps in the brown sugar are dissolved.
Now add a quarter of a cup of orange juice and stir in well and reduce heat to a fast simmer. Continue simmering, stirring often, as the water in the juice steams off and the volume reduces and the sauce begins to thicken.
While the sauce is still fairly thin, add a half teaspoon of vanilla extract and stir it in well.
When the sauce is ALMOST BUT NOT QUITE the thickness of maple syrup, turn the skillet off.
Remove the now baked Plantain French Caribbean Toast from the oven and arrange on a plate. Your timing should be just about right…it usually takes me 11-12 minutes to make the plantain sauce from start to finish.
Spoon the plantain sauce over the toast and you now have…ummm…
…excuse me…I’ve gotta eat this before it gets cold…