Dice bacon. Saute until crisp and remove to a paper towel. Dice onion. Saute in the bacon fat until browned. Dice sweet potato. Add to the onion with salt and a small amount of water. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or so. Uncover and raise heat. Boil away the remaining water and brown the sweet potatoes. Remove to plate. Top with bacon and a fried egg. Umm, breakfast for dinner.
Tag Archives: Sweet Potatoes
I have been making croquettes — or little fried cakes — for a long time now. They are always popular, and for me they are comfort food. I usually make them with mashed potatoes or beans. It didn’t occur to me that I could use another vegetable until I found Mark Bittman’s recipe for spinach croquettes. But then I realized that the basic croquette is a versatile recipe that can be adapted quite freely. And since it requires cooked vegetables, it is the perfect vehicle for using up leftovers.
Last night I made croquettes with leftover cooked kale. They were surprisingly good, and even the baby ate three small ones. I would also try making them with other greens, artichoke hearts, broccoli, carrots, corn, peas, sweet potatoes or winter squash.
I served them dry, though, which I would amend for next time. Croquettes really need some kind of sauce to be complete. My husband suggested hollandaise sauce, which would be quite decadent and delicious. But even something as simple as a pesto, salsa or aioli would work. But even without the sauce, they are yummy and very quick to make. If you have time to chill them beforehand, all the better.
Yields: about 6 croquettes
- 2 cups cooked vegetable, either mashed or chopped fine
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ cup cheese, grated
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs, plus more for cooking
- seasonings of your choice: chopped onion, fresh herbs, seasoning mix, etc. plus salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tbsp. oil
- ¼ lb. cooked, flaked fish or ground meat (optional)
- Hollandaise sauce, pesto, salsa, aioli, or other mayonnaise or dipping sauce to serve
Combine the vegetable, eggs, cheese, breadcrumbs and seasonings in a bowl, and mix well. Add the meat, if using — these will make the cakes more of an entree than a side dish. If the cakes aren’t holding together, add more breadcrumbs. If they are too dry, add more beaten egg to bind.
Form the croquettes into cakes. You should have at least 6, or you can make mini-cakes to get more. Lay on a sheet of wax paper on a plate and cover with wax paper. Chill for at least half an hour and up to a day.
Heat the oil over medium-high. Dredge the cakes in breadcrumbs. When the oil is shimmering, fry the cakes until well browned, about 5 minutes per side. You may have to cook the cakes in batches depending on the size of your pan.
Serve with the dipping sauce on the side.
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- Mashing Vegetables Beyond Potatoes (simplycooking.wordpress.com)
Lately, I have been experimenting with mashing a wider range of vegetables than the standard potato. And why not? The baby loves mashes, even when he’s turning his nose up at vegetables in general. For adults, they are comfort food. Everyone’s happy.
What is the difference between a mash and a puree? Generally, purees are smoother, more like baby food consistency, and in our house at least, we don’t like to eat them as side dishes. I prefer to use a puree as part of another dish, such as a soup or dip. I mostly puree in the food processor so I can choose from a wider range of vegetables (such as broccoli, mushrooms and eggplant, to name a few), although I will occasionally use a finer sieve in the food mill to puree.
I always serve mashes on their own as sides. I like to leave mashes a little chunkier than purees and to enrich them with butter and cream, milk, buttermilk or sour cream — whatever I have on hand. If I am serving the mash right away, I use a potato masher to make quick work of mashing the vegetable and mixing in the additions. If I am planning to serve the mash later, I’ll use the food mill with its coarsest sieve instead, and I’ll mix in the butter and dairy when I’m reheating.
For mashed potatoes, choose the russet, white or Yukon Gold varieties. These varieties have more starch and are better suited to mashing, although I will mash large red potatoes, if that’s what I have. Other vegetables that mash well are carrots, celeriac, parsnips, peas, sweet potatoes, turnips and winter squash.
A new vegetable often benefits from being mashed with potatoes so it’s not entirely unfamiliar. Mashed potatoes and celeriac (or celery root), for instance, has a wonderful nutty flavor. The baby likes mashed vegetables like turnips and winter squash mixed with cooked apples — not a favorite of mine, but if he’ll eat it, I’ll go for it. I like to experiment with strong flavor additions to enliven a mash. Salsa, pesto or herb purees, roasted garlic and cheese are all great additions to try.
Here is the basic technique:
- Select the vegetables you want to mash and pre-cook them. Most vegetables can be peeled, cut into chunks and boiled until tender. You might choose to bake starchier vegetables, such as russet potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash.
- If you are serving the mash immediately, transfer to a large bowl. Add ½ tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. cream, milk, buttermilk or sour cream per serving (just eyeball it). Salt and pepper to taste.
- Using a potato masher, mash until the vegetables are the desired consistency, the butter has melted and the cream is incorporated. Mix in any other flavorings with a rubber spatula.
If you are not serving the mash right away, omit the butter and dairy. Use a potato masher or food mill to mash the vegetables, and either freeze or store in the refrigerator. Before serving, add the butter and dairy. Reheat over low until heated through, stirring frequently.
Mashed vegetables, including potatoes, can be frozen. Usually, I freeze them without the butter and dairy, which I add when reheating. To freeze as individual servings, scoop the mash into muffin tins. Once frozen, store in ziploc freezer bags, and just remove the number of servings you need.
Image by shannon_turlington via Flickr
When the days get chilly and gloomy, I get in the mood for soup. We eat a lot of soup around here, at least once a week, and I am always on the lookout for exciting new recipes to try. Now that I am in the habit of making my own stock, I always want to make soup when I have a fresh batch on hand.
I never thought of making sweet potato soup before, although we eat a lot of butternut squash and potato soup. But when I saw the recipe for Roasted Sweet Potato and Tomato Soup in Sara Foster’s cookbook, Fresh Every Day, it sounded just like fall to me.
This soup was not very difficult to make, although it requires quite a bit of time. Most of that time is not hands-on, so this is a good choice for an afternoon when you want to do other things while making dinner. The flavor was warm, hearty and filling. The smooth sweetness of the sweet potatoes were punctuated by the acidity of the tomatoes. I definitely advocate adding a bit of browned sausage–it provides a contrast to the sweet flavor and turns this soup into a meal.
The recipe makes a lot of soup, enough for 8 or more portions. I ended up freezing 3 batches of it for later. I made a few adjustments to the recipe. I cut back on the amount of oil and butter used to lower the fat content, and I omitted some herbs that I didn’t have. The recipe calls for stirring in some fresh-squeezed orange juice at the end, which I forgot to do, but we didn’t really miss it.
Roasted Sweet Potato Soup
Yields: 8 servings
Time to make: ~2 hours
What you need:
- 5-6 med. sweet potatoes
- 2 tbsp. olive oil plus some extra for oiling the sweet potatoes
- 6 plum tomatoes, cored and halved
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 6 cups stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8-10 thyme sprigs, leaves removed
- sausages, sliced or crumbled, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Rub the sweet potatoes with some of the oil.
- Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet covered with foil and put them in the oven to roast for 15 minutes.
- Toss the tomatoes and garlic with 1 tbsp. olive oil and vinegar.
- Spread them on a baking sheet covered with foil and place them in the oven alongside the sweet potatoes.
- Continue roasting another 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are slightly shriveled and the sweet potatoes are soft when squeezed.
- Remove the pans from the oven and let cool a bit.
- Tear the tomatoes into pieces over a small bowl to catch the juices and set aside.
- Remove and discard the skins from the sweet potatoes.
- Melt the butter with the remaining 1 tbsp. oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium.
- Add the onion and saute until translucent, 10 minutes.
- Add the carrots and celery, and cook until soft, 10 minutes.
- Add the stock and season to taste.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
- Add the sweet potatoes, thyme and garlic cloves, and simmer another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, brown the sausage.
- Remove the soup from the heat and puree until smooth (an immersion blender works best).
- Stir in the tomatoes, season again and reheat if necessary.
- Garnish with the browned sausage to serve.
Note: This soup can be made ahead and served cold as a kind of vichyssoise.
Glazing vegetables is an extremely useful technique for punching up an otherwise boring vegetable side dish. I used to avoid recipes that used this technique, because I associated glazed vegetables — specifically, carrots — with a sugary, syrupy sweet dish. If I wanted to eat dessert, I’d have ice cream.
But I was wrong. The traditional method for glazing requires very little or no sugar. The technique relies on reducing a flavorful cooking liquid, such as chicken stock, to a glaze and thickening it with butter. While this technique works very nicely on carrots, many other vegetables can also benefit from it, such as brussels sprouts, pearl onions, sweet potatoes, turnips and winter squash. The other night, I made some delicious green beans also using this technique. So I encourage experimentation.
Here is how you do it:
- Prepare the vegetable by slicing or cutting into bite-sized pieces, if necessary.
- In a large skillet, add the vegetable, a pat of butter (about 1 tbsp.), salt and just enough good (preferably homemade) chicken stock to halfway cover.
- Bring the liquid to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer the vegetables until tender, adding a little more liquid if necessary.
- When the vegetables are done, raise the heat to medium-high and add 1-2 tbsp. butter. If desired, stir in 1-2 tbsp. sugar.
- Stir until the liquid reduces to a glaze coating the vegetables; there should be very little liquid left, and the glaze should be thickened and browned.
- Remove from the heat and stir in a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice to finish.
There are probably two main ways we all learned how to cook vegetables with liquid: boiling and steaming. But both of these techniques have disadvantages. Boiling vegetables in a lot of water often yields overcooked, mushy results that many of us remember (and hate) from our childhoods. And steaming all too often lets the flavor and moisture escape into the air rather than keeping it in the vegetables.
Lately, I have been simmering vegetables in an attempt to retain moisture and flavor without cooking the vegetables to death, and I’ve loved the results. Simmering is a hybrid of boiling and steaming that takes advantage of the best aspects of both.
Simmering involves cooking vegetables in a smaller amount of liquid than boiling them, and at a lower temperature, enough to keep a gentle simmer going. The pot is covered, trapping the steam and cooking the vegetables in less time so that their vibrant colors are retained.
Liquids other than water can be used to add more flavor. My favorites have been chicken stock, apple cider and orange juice. Flavorings can also be added to the liquid, such as soy sauce, herbs or garlic. Once the vegetables are cooked, if you like, raise the heat, uncover the pan and reduce the cooking liquid to a sauce to retain every bit of flavor.
Here are the basic steps for simmering vegetables:
- Cut the vegetables into smallish pieces, if necessary, such as cubes.
- Add the vegetables to the pot with enough liquid just to cover them halfway.
- Add a pat of butter or a small amount of olive oil, salt and other seasonings as desired.
- Bring the liquid to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are just tender (see below for suggested cooking times).
- If desired, uncover the pot, raise the heat and let the liquid reduce for a sauce.
- Serve as is or with the cooking liquid, or toss with a vinaigrette, flavored butter or a little lemon juice and fresh herbs.
Not all vegetables lend themselves to this cooking method, but many do. Here are some of my favorites:
- Simmer less than 5 minutes: asparagus, bok choy, corn (off the cob), green beans
- Simmer 5-10 minutes: artichoke hearts, broccoli florets, brussels sprouts, carrots (baby or cut into rounds)
- Simmer 10-15 minutes: cabbage, summer squash, baby zucchini
- Simmer 15-30 minutes: new potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squash
Burritos are probably the easiest weekday dinner to throw together, and are especially good for using up bits and pieces hanging around the kitchen, such as the stray vegetable, chile, bit of cheese and leftover beans. I try to make healthier burritos than the kind you get in Mexican restaurants, with many more vegetables and less cheese and sour cream. This is a filling, warming burrito with plenty of good beans and sweet potato, plus just a little cheese to tie it all together. This recipe makes 4 large burritos or 8 small ones, enough for 4 people.
Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burritos
Time to make: ~1 hour
What you need:
- nonstick cooking spray
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt, oregano, cumin and cayenne to taste
- 1 can black beans (not drained)
- 1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
- 4 large or 8 small flour tortillas
- 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- sour cream (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking pan with nonstick cooking spray
- Simmer the sweet potato and water in a covered pot until tender, 20-30 minutes
- While that is cooking, heat the oil in another pot over medium-high
- Add the onion and saute a few minutes
- Add the garlic and saute 30 seconds
- Season well to taste
- Add the beans and chile, and bring to a simmer
- When the sweet potatoes are done, mix them with the beans and mash them coarsely with a potato masher
- Spoon some filling down the center of a tortilla and top with the goat cheese
- Roll each burrito, place in a baking pan and bake for 15-20 minutes
- Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, if desired
One good-sized chipotle will add plenty of kick. If you want your burritos less spicy, add less chile.
I use goat cheese in this recipe because I think it adds some tartness in counterpoint to the rich, smooth potato-bean mixture.
To roll up a burrito so it will stay rolled, first fold the bottom halfway over the filling. Then, fold in each side. Roll up from the folded bottom and place in the baking pan seam side down.
Of course it’s no secret that sweet potatoes are in their prime right now. Why else would they be ubiquitous on the Thanksgiving table? But sweet potatoes should come to visit more often than once a year in a sweet and sticky casserole. They can do anything that potatoes can do, and they can do it with more nutritious value and more glamour, thanks to that bright orange color.
Many people around these parts refer to sweet potatoes as “yams,” but they’re not the same thing at all. Sweet potatoes are the orange tuber we’re all familiar with. Yams are harder to come by, and are usually white or red. Still, yams can stand in for sweet potatoes, as can boniato, pumpkin and winter squash.
One medium sweet potato will serve two easily. Look for smaller sweet potatoes that are deep orange in color. Try to avoid those with worm holes or soft spots, but if you get one, cut away the affected area when peeling; the rest should be fine. Sweet potatoes will keep for up to two weeks in a cool place (not the refrigerator).
Mashed sweet potatoes are a holiday staple (see my simple recipes here). But there are lots of other ways to cook a sweet potato. Here are some suggestions:
- Simmer ‘em: Cube and simmer over low in 1/4 cup stock per 1 pound cubed sweet potatoes with a little butter until just tender, 20-30 minutes
- Braise ‘em: Dice and brown in butter before simmering until tender in 1/4 cup liquid
- Bake ‘em: Prick the skin with a fork and bake at 425 degrees until soft, about 1 hour; great topped with Parmesan, butter or even pesto
- Roast ‘em: Peel, cube and roast; they are particularly nice as part of a medley of roasted root vegetables
- Make “fries”: Cut into wedges, toss with oil and cayenne, and bake at 475 degrees for 20-30 minutes
- Make “hash browns”: Cut into matchsticks and pan-fry over medium-high in oil or butter until browned, about 15 minutes
Sweet potatoes make an unusual addition to many recipes. Why not try them in risotto, as a filling for ravioli or use them to make a vegetable bread (similar to pumpkin bread)? I have one left over from Thanksgiving that I am planning to turn into a filling for burritos; I’ll post the recipe afterward.
So, how are you going to use your leftover sweet potatoes?
Where else would a foodie’s thoughts turn to this week but to the greatest eating holiday of the year? We had two Thanksgiving dinners that couldn’t be beat, one of which I contributed sides to, and the other I mostly cooked myself. The rest of the holiday was kind of a bust, though. I won’t go into details, because other family members may be lurking, but let’s just say that if they didn’t tempt us to their houses with promises of plenty of fatty, rich foods you’d never allow yourself to eat on a sane day and equal helping portions of guilt, we’d probably just say fuck it and go to work.
So I’ll talk about mashed sweet potatoes instead. I got to do two versions and compare. I used the same easy technique for each: simmer diced, peeled sweet potatoes over medium-low heat in a small amount of liquid and a good amount of butter for 30-40 minutes until soft, then mash gently. For the first batch, I simmered the potatoes in ¼ cup water with a healthy dash of baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice), ¼ cup brown sugar and 4 tbsp. butter. For the second batch, I simmered the potatoes in ¼ cup heavy cream with 2 tbsp. butter, salt and pepper, and mashed with another 2 tbsp. butter at the end. They both turned out great, but the first batch with the brown sugar, while not overly sweet, was more toothsome and satisfying to me.
I tried a lot of recipes for the occasion, all from various Cook’s Illustrated sources, and there wasn’t a bad one in the bunch. The winners were:
Onions Agrodolce: Sweet-and-sour cocktail onions, Italian-style, first sauteed in butter and sugar, then simmered in red wine vinegar, water and more sugar plus herbs to create a syrupy glaze. (This was the only thing I remembered to take a picture of; click the thumbnail for the large version.) They were great as an h’or d’oeuvre with crackers, cheese and crudites, sweet on the front end with a tart bite at the back.
New York-Style Cheesecake: Quite a project, requiring 2 hours of prep and baking, 3 hours of cooling and 3 hours of chilling. The top was a bit overdone, but no one cared after pouring strawberry sauce all over it, and slicing into it revealed the creamiest, lightest, most ethereal cheesecake I’ve ever tasted. And I don’t normally like cheesecake much. I must confess, though, that I was not the one who stayed up until two in the morning to make this one; that was my stepbrother. I would have just made brownies.
Updated Green Bean Casserole: This was my favorite new recipe, an update on the holiday staple but using no canned products except french-fried onions. I blanched the green beans, then tossed them with a rich sauce of sauteed mushrooms, chicken broth and cream. I topped it all with a mixture of homemade breadcrumbs, butter and french-fried onions, and baked until brown and bubbly. I couldn’t help going back for seconds on this one!
All in all, it was a successful Thanksgiving, food-wise. And now we can all forget about it for another year. Whew.