Thursday, September 30, 2010

Semolina Rolls, Sweet Plantains and a Field Trip to Whole Foods

Before we moved to where we live now, a trip to San Francisco or Berkeley was only a 30 minute drive. Since it's now not feasible to do awesome-foodie-gourmet shopping in the city on a weekly basis, we make the 2 hour trip out to our old haunts every few months to stock up at places like Whole Foods and Cost Plus World Market.

I am like a spoiled kid in a toy store when I go to Whole Foods--I want everything--fruit, veggies, whole grain flours, vegan chocolate, and on and on. Poor Dave suffers silently, and patiently pushes the cart as I ooh and ahh over ever third thing I see.

Here are some of my favorite finds from our most recent Whole Foods expedition:

The 2010 crop of local almonds. They're so moist and fresh that I have to force myself not to snack on them 24/7.

Cara Cara oranges--the best oranges ever. They are pink inside like a grapefruit, but incredibly sweet and less acidic than regular oranges.

Neat melons and heirloom tomatoes.

Cactus fruit--sweet and juicy and an awesome color.

Olives, olives, olives. I like all kinds and Whole Foods has a really neat selection.

I also stocked up on dried currants, unsweetened flaked coconut, pastry flour, and other fabulous baking ingredients.

Vegan donuts! Yum.

We stopped at Blush, a yogurt shop almost exactly the same as pinkberry. I had the plain with strawberries and it was delicious--not sugary, but tart like real yogurt.

I found semolina flour in the bulk bins at Whole Foods, so I was able to bake Semolina Black Olive Boats--hoagie type rolls filled with a yummy salad. Semolina is made from durum wheat, and it has a bit of a yellow color and is a little coarser than regular flour. It's mainly used for pasta. I've made bread before with small quantities of semolina, but this recipe calls for 3 cups of it to 1 cup of bread flour. The rolls came out pale gold and beautifully puffed. Lovely!

Here's the recipe for the Semolina Black Olive Boats.

I spotted some ripe plantains at Whole Foods. Usually, the only plantains I see at the store are still hard and green. These were almost black and were fairly soft. I used them to make Sugar Baked Plantains. The recipe is from a neat older cookbook that my sister-in-law found for me at a library sale. The book is Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables by Elizabeth Schneider.
Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables: A Commonsense Guide

The plantains were good and would be wonderful with ice cream or on top of a plain cake or biscuit. They tasted sort-of like bananas, but sort-of not--less sweet and also not as strongly flavored as ripe bananas.

Sugar-Baked Plantains
2 good-sized black-ripe plantains
2 tablespoons soft butter or margarine
1 cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces
3 cloves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons rum

Peel the plantains and slice in half lengthwise, and then cut in half crosswise. Spread half the butter or margarine in a small baking dish. Add the plantains and scatter over the cinnamon and cloves; spoon over lemon juice and top with the remaining butter.

Bake 10 minutes in a preheated 450F oven. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Gently turn over pieces and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake 10 minutes longer, or until plantains are soft.

Add rum, baste, and bake 5 minutes longer, or until liquid thickens.

It's all about me, me, me:

My super-sweet blogging buddy Michelle asked me to share 7 things about myself that most readers don't know.

1. Dave and I are celebrating an anniversary soon and since it's difficult to travel far right now with the animals, we're going to have a big Las Vegas blow-out. I'm looking forward to lots of good food.

2. I have a huge rock collection--mainly rocks I've found during our my travels.

3. I read a lot--usually 3 or 4 books a week.

4. I'm very clumsy and am (almost) on a first name basis with the local urgent care.

5. I've been trying to learn how to knit for weeks and have made zero progress. It's so confusing!

6. I'm addicted to "to-do" lists and have one for every day of the week.

7. The only celebrity I care a whit about is Brett Favre. Go Brett!


  1. You forgot to mention that it is your 25th wedding anniversary which is a milestone anniversary!! Have a wonderful time in Vegas, wish I could meet you there, but then who wants a stepmother interfering??

  2. OK, I need to get to Whole Foods more often! I love Cost Plus World Market! We've had them in the area for a few years and it's such a fun place to shop.

    I haven't had plantains in a while, but I've had really yummy plantain chips at a Cuban restaurant.

  3. What a fun shopping day!

  4. WOW! That is the hugest Whole Foods...what an amazing selection. That looks incredible!

    WOW! Happpy 25th anniversary (in advance)!

    WOW! I know just the person to help you with that Brett Farve addiction :)

  5. How I wish there was a Whole Foods near me, Michele. Your photos are tantalizing! And if you lived nearby, I would show you how to knit.

  6. I don't know if you saw on my blog...but I replied about your knitting---if you have skype I would be more than happy to show you how!!!! I've taught a couple friends already :) just search for zenmasterlauren or lauren miller on there! Happy Anniversary coming up :)