Monday, November 23, 2009

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup and Chipotles

I pulled this recipe from the NY Times back in 2003 and have made it every Turkey Day since. It is pretty easy, once you get past the scooping of the flesh from the roasted potatoes and it is fantastic: sweet without being cloying and balanced with the heat of the chipotle chiles. You can puree the chiles and keep it in a tupperware in the back of the fridge until the cows come home (or it develops fuzz, whichever comes first.)

Adapted from Bobby Flay, Bolo and Mesa Grill

Time: 45 minutes

5 pounds (about 10 medium or 5 large) sweet potatoes, scrubbed

1/3 to 1/2 cup maple syrup

3/8 cup crème fraîche (yeah, its ok to go 1/2 c with this one.)

4 teaspoons purée from canned chipotles (i.e., take a can from the Latin Foods section of the supermarket, throw it in the blender or the mini food processor, and dump it into a tupperware. If you are scared of the heat, put in less.)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Salt to taste.

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place potatoes on large baking sheet, bake until soft, 35 to 40 minutes for medium potatoes, up to 1 hour for large.

2. Meanwhile, combine syrup, créme fraîche, chipotle purée, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth.

3. When potatoes are tender, remove from oven, slice in two lengthwise. Scoop hot flesh into a potato ricer or food mill, purée into bowl with other ingredients. Stir with rubber spatula to combine. Potatoes should be light and fluffy. Taste for seasoning, transfer to warm serving bowl, serve immediately.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veronica's Persimmon Salad

I got this amazing savory fruit salad recipe from my friend, Veronica.  Her salads are amazing and if you are ever lucky enough to be invited to her house for lunch, you will find yourself begging for the recipes.  She will put out 3 or 4 salads, some bread, maybe some wine and it becomes a meal more elegant than you would receive in most restaurants.  The funny thing about this particular salad is that I never actually sampled it at her house.  She sent me the recipe just for fun and I made it for a Friends of Westwood Library Board meeting (insert plug for the Facebook fan page here) without bothering to test it first.  And it was great.  So great that I was secretly very happy that there was one serving left after the meeting for me to scarf down at home. 

This is a beautiful late fall salad that makes great use of Southern California foods.  AND it is low tablespoon of walnut oil...that's it!  One last tip.  Instead of purchasing already seeded pomegranate seeds, buy a whole one (99 cents at Trader Joes), cut off a bit and submerge it in a bowl of water.  Break it apart and the non seedy parts will rise to the top.  Your seeds will be a much brighter color and it is a lot less expensive to use the whole thing.

2 lbs Fuyu persimmons (these are the flat, hard ones)
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 serrano chili, stems and ribs removed, minced
1/4 c pomegranate seeds
3 T toasted walnuts (I totally forgot this step and it was still fantastic.)
2 T chopped cilantro
1 T walnut oil

Slice off the top of the persimmons, then cut in half lengthwise and then chop into 10-12 wedges per persimmon. 

In a small, lidded jar, combine lime juice, cumin, chili and walnut oil along with a dash of salt.  Close it up and shake it furiously to emulsify. 

Combine persimmons and dressing, then toss with walnuts, pomegranate seeds and cilantro.