Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sweet Potato, Pataato

I have a good friend, D, who is in charge of the sweet potatoes for his family's Thanksgiving feast this year. He asked if I had any suggestions and since I just emailed him a private suggestion list, I thought why not post it in time for everyone else? So here's a short one, with little background and pictures to come post-holiday. (Or make your own and email me your pictures and I will post them.)

I am not really a sweet potato casserole kind of girl. Maybe it is not in my family, the casserole, that is. We hail from Latvia, Russia and the Czech Republic. I am pretty sure casseroles are not the pièce de résistance in these parts. Growing up, I kept a blind eye to the marshmallow sweet potato bakes and it was not until a few years ago that I ventured to try one. I must confess, I still do not understand the marshmallow's use as a non-dessert accompaniment.

There is a good article in this month's New York Magazine (I know, referenced before but it's a good holiday feast spread) about all those sweet tubers and lays out the difference between Yam and Sweet Potato.

Last year for Thanksgiving, I found an excellent recipe for baked cumin sweet potato fries with a perfect tangy lime dipping sauce. I cannot find where I placed that recipe, but it was a hit (better yet, it they are baked, not fried and fun for kids):


Serves 8
1-½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground curry
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbl vegetable oil
kosher salt/ fresh pepper to taste
4 sweet potatoes
1 pint plain yogurt (non- or low-fat is fine)
juice of 1 lime
1) Preheat oven to 400F. Wash well and slice the sweet potatoes in half, and each half into 6 wedges.
2) In a mixing bowl, toss the potatoes with the vegetable oil until lightly coated. Add 1 tsp ground cumin, the curry, ½ tsp of the paprika, salt to taste and ground pepper to taste. Toss until evenly coated.
3) On a baking sheet, lay the potato wedges out in a single layer. Bake on the middle rack for 15 min, flip, and bake another 15 min.
4) While the potatoes are baking, prepare the dipping sauce. Squeeze the lime into the yogurt, add ½ tsp cumin and ½ tsp paprika. Mix well and refrigerate until ready to serve.

My office loves to order food. This is a quandary for me, who totes my homemade, frozen single-serving size of soup to work daily, only to find we are celebrating another birthday. How am I to know? Why can I not be told about this in advance? In actuality it is not really so bad because I just leave my soup refrigerated and join in the celebrations. Two weeks ago it was BBQ. I swear I would be southern (if I were not so Eastern European) because I will devour this stuff when it is put before me. One of our sides was a butter-laden, sweet potato mash. Here is my take on it. This is an indulgence:


Serves 10
6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters (or 6 for faster boiling)
butter, and lots of it (4 Tbl)
brown sugar, and lots of it (2 Tbl)
1 tsp nutmeg
½ cup buttermilk
kosher salt to taste
¼ cup candied pecans, slightly crushed
1) Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium pot, bring lightly salted water to a boil. Add sweet potatoes and boil until tender, about 25 min.
2) When done, drain and transfer potatoes to a mixing bowl, mash. Add remaining ingredients and blend together.
3) Transfer to an oven safe baking dish. Sprinkle pecans on top and bake for 10 min, until top is lightly browned.
NOTE: Another take on this:
Add 1 tsp orange zest to the mash for a little citrus tang.

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