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Plantains are an underutilized ingredient here in the States but they are turning up more and more at grocery stores. Here is one fun way to use them. The pressure cooking of the plantains caramelizes them, ratcheting up the sweetness and adding more depth of flavor. Once they've been cooked, you simply puree them with dark rum and place them on crostini for a great snack.
This recipe can also be converted into a soup with the addition of water, orange juice, cream, or chicken stock during the pureeing stage. Just keep adding liquid until the soup is the consistency you want.
Also, if you are just getting started experimenting with molecular gastronomy and modernist cuisine then I highly recommend one of these molecular gastronomy kits. They have everything you need to do many different dishes.
In a small bowl, combine the water, salt, and baking soda then whisk to mix thoroughly.
Roughly dice the plantains. Melt the butter in the base of a pressure cooker and add the plantains, spices, and brown sugar. Pour the water mixture over the plantains and mix together.
Seal the pressure cooker and bring to pressure at 1 bar (15 psi). Cook for 20 minutes. Once cooked, depressurize the pressure cooker by running it under warm water.
Stir in the dark rum and lightly puree the cooked plantains. Because of the large amounts of starch, the longer you puree the plantains, the gummier they tend to get, so don't over puree.
Place a spoonful of plantain puree on top of a crostini. Finely grate some chocolate on top and sprinkle with some orange zest.