Tag Archives: sweet potato

Picspam: Smoked Ham & Bean Soup and Japanese Purple Sweet Potato Bread

Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to make a comprehensive recipe post but you still want to share something you think is worth while. I made both of these dishes over the last few days.

The first dish, a smoked ham and cannellini bean soup that I’ve made in the past, is an easy, fast and filling dish, especially if you use canned cannellini beans. Or, you can be like me and soak about a pound of dried beans overnight and cook them when you finally get up on a lazy, Saturday morning.

I didn’t have any smoked ham hock but I had a chunk of smoked ham so I diced some of it up and threw it in along with the veggies at the end. If you’re cooking for a family of four, you’ll have enough for a second serving for everyone. If you’re cooking for one, it freezes very well for future meals. For my friend, spikesgirl58 on LJ, who doesn’t care for ham, I think you could use smoked turkey leg in its place.

I stocked up on some pantry items from a local international (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese) grocery store, a few days ago. One of the things that caught my eye in the fresh fruit and vegetable section was a small display of Japanese purple sweet potatoes. I was bored so I decided to try a fun purple sweet potato bread recipe I found on the Bake with Paws blog. (PS: The name made me think of the Youtube channel Cooking with Dog which I recommend for anyone interested in Japanese cooking.)

The recipe is relatively straight forward but I thought I’d throw in some pretty pictures … just because I took a LOT. The potatoes were peeled, sliced and steamed until tender and then riced to get a nice even texture.

I was pleased with the colour of the dough

Unfortunately, the post-bake colour was a lot less vibrant … sort of lavender in colour. Toasting it seemed to pep up the colour a bit. The texture was nice and fluffy and the taste was somewhat sweet due to the sweet potatoes. I wouldn’t use the bread for an egg or tuna salad sandwich but it provided a nice contrast to the salty peanut butter.


PICSPAM: Last BBQ of the Season

I love the taste of bbq’d foods but only bbq’ing a few things at a time seems wasteful to my frugal nature. So I make it worth my while with enough meat and veg for a week’s worth of meals.

I recently saw a post for Mexican market corn which made my mouth water, so I picked up a half dozen corn on the cob on sale to throw on the grill and make a batch. At 6 for $1.99, it wasn’t the best deal ever but I didn’t quibble. I didn’t quite have the energy to make them today, but there are two cobs set aside for it. The other three will probably end up in a corn chowder.

The full spread.

Here’s a picture of today’s Civic Holiday meal.

And some close-ups … sirloin steak and a sweet potato

Sweet corn on the cob and pork chops

Jumbo hot dogs

December 2016 Cooking Wrap-Up

Cooking wise, if not in other respects, 2016 has been a successful year.

I made a second sourdough starter with canned pineapple juice and whole wheat flour and then made some great breads with it. I thickened it up quite a bit compared to the one I made in 2105 and that may have accounted for some of the success. Experience helped as well, as I’m less hesitant about trying new sourdough recipes. I did revisit the old stand-by, regular yeast, and made a delicious honey challah just before Christmas. Definitely something I’ll be repeating next year.

Bacon, Cheddar Cheese and Cracked Black Pepper Sourdough loaf and round Honey Challah

Crumb of the challah

Cooking on an even stricter budget than ever before resulted in having to be creative with simple ingredients bought on sale, like chicken, pork and ground beef, or leftovers, and the results were mostly successful. You’ll have to scroll back through the posts to see them. I do miss fish, seafood and steak however. I’m also grocery shopping less often and there’s less wastage as I try to use up what’s most perishable first. I’m also going back to basics with the dishes I’ve been making such as cookies and fudge. I haven’t been buying as many jarred sauces as in the past, while using up the ones I already have in things like stir-fries.

The meat sauce I made recently with a simple spaghetti sauce base was delicious as well as economical.  One pound of ground beef was stretched to make eight cups of sauce.

I turned some leftover mashed sweet potato into muffins with raisins for added sweetness using a recipe found on Rachel Ray’s web site.

And because I missed seafood … I bought a package of mussels in garlic sauce on sale, and one of cooked shrimp, and made this pasta dish with the spaghetti sauce.

Christmas Duck Dinner (2016)

Christmas for one doesn’t have to be dull and boring. I always set the table for two. This year, I used my mom’s Christmas china … I bought it for her at Canadian Tire many, many years ago. The turkey platter (only $10) picked up at the same place is perfect for this year’s duck. I found the old linen tablecloth tucked away under a stack of ‘good’ dish towels in the bathroom closet.

Duck and orange is a classic pairing but, instead of an orange sauce, I added oranges to my kale salad and dressing. Or rather, Kraft did.

Drippings from roasting the duck made a tasty base for gravy.

Bread pudding made with leftover Nutella, chocolate and pecan babka, Bree Drummond’s easy caramel sauce and a scoop of French vanilla ice cream

I spent a bit over $13 CDN for the duck (2.3 kg) but there’s enough meat for at least 4-5 servings. And the carcass (not in the picture) will end up as stock.

Sage and Brown Butter Sauce …

Well, I finally bought a bunch of fresh sage and gave the titled sauce a try.

I researched several recipes and came up with a dish that I thought would showcase it, thawed leftover wontons and microwaved the sweet potato for the filling. And then I happened to be in the Italian grocery store to pick up a bag of all purpose flour and was tempted by a package of fresh gnocchi. I ended up with a couple of dishes which I loved. I’d make either one again.

I rewrote the recipe below to reflect the fact that I FORGOT to put the pine nuts in the filling.

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Lemon, Pine Nut, Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Lemon, Pine Nut, Sage Brown Butter Sauce – makes 18 ravioli, 3 each as an appetizer, 6 as a main

For the Ravioli

1 (1-pound) sweet potato (baked squash or pumpkin may also be used)
2 tbsp grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
18 wonton wrappers
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

6 quarts water to cook the ravioli, 1 tbsp salt
Cooking spray

For the Lemon, Pine Nut, Sage Brown Butter Sauce

1/4 cup butter
8-12 leaves fresh sage, depending on size and preference
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp pine nuts

Grated parmesan, about a tablespoon per serving

Optional garnish – large fresh or fried sage leaves

Preparing the filling:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pierce the potato several times with a fork; place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes or until tender.  Cool. Peel potato; mash.

For a faster alternative, put the pierced sweet potato in the microwave. Cook on high for 3 1/2 min. Turn over and repeat. Cut potato in half and scoop out the cooked flesh with a tablespoon. No peeling necessary. Mash with a fork.

Combine cooked sweet potato, cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl.

Making the ravioli:

Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to keep them from drying), spoon 1/2 tablespoon potato mixture into the center of each wrapper.

Brush the edges of the wontons with beaten egg white; bring the 2 opposite corners to the center.

Press edges together to seal, forming a triangle and pressing out as much air as possible as you do. Repeat procedure with the remaining wonton wrappers, potato filling, and egg white.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add about a heaping teaspoon or two of salt to the water. Add 9 ravioli; cook 2 minutes or until done. Remove the ravioli from pot with a slotted spoon.  Lightly coat cooked wontons with cooking spray; keep warm.  Repeat the procedure with remaining ravioli.

Making the sauce:

Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the lightest part of the butter seems to be turned a golden brown, add the sage leaves and pine nuts to the pan. Cook for a minute or two, or until butter is lightly browned.

Take off the heat, stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, lemon juice, and pepper.

Drizzle the sauce over the ravioli. You may also add your warmed ravioli to the sauce, stir gently to coat and serve in a more rustic fashion out of the saute pan.

Sprinkle grated Parmesan over each plate just before serving.

Garnish with fresh or fried sage leaves, if desired.

Gnocchi with Mushroom, Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Gnocchi in Mushroom Sage Brown Butter Sauce – serves 2 to 4 depending on appetite

1 pound of cooked frozen (use package directions) or fresh gnocchi

1/4 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, finely minced
8-12 leaves fresh sage, depending on size and preference
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-2 cups of sliced white mushrooms

Grated Parmesan, about a tablespoon per serving

Optional garnish – large fried sage leaves

Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are golden brown and the lightest part of the butter seems to be turned a golden brown.

Add the sage leaves to the pan. Cook for a minute or two. Take off the heat, stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, lemon juice, and pepper.

Add drained cooked gnocchi to the sauce, stir gently to coat and serve.

Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over each plate just before serving.

Optional crunchy sage leaf garnish:

Wash and pat dry large, fresh, sage leaves. Deep fry in an inch or so of hot vegetable oil or in a small frying pan with a couple of tablespoons of hot melted butter, turning over carefully to fry both sides. Remove to a plate covered with a couple of thicknesses of paper towel and allow to dry and crisp up.

Sour Cream, Ham & Potato Soup and Sweet Potato Biscuits

I have several containers of ham stock/broth in my freezer and, rather than the usual ham and bean soup, I decided to make a ham and potato soup for a change. My only regret is not doubling the recipe.

Sour Cream, Ham & Potato Soup

Sour Cream, Ham & Potato Soup – serves 4-6

2 slices bacon, diced
1 very small (1/4 cup)  finely chopped onion
4 cups ham stock, divided (reserve 1/2 cup to mix with flour)
3 medium (3 cups) potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large (1 cup) carrot, cubed
1 stalk (1/2 cup) celery, cubed
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup (or more) cubed or shredded leftover ham
1 1/2 tbsp flour
salt / pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/4 cup sour cream

In a large saute pan or soup pot, render the diced bacon over medium heat until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon to a small bowl with a slotted spoon, and save for garnish. Saute the diced onion in the bacon fat for 4-5 minutes, or until translucent and lightly browned on the edges, over medium heat.

Add 3 1/2 cups of the ham stock, potatoes, carrots and celery to the saute pan. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the corn and diced ham and cook for an additonal few minutes in order for the soup to return to a simmer.

Whisk together the 1/2 cup of reserved ham broth and flour until smooth. Pour into the soup in a small stream while stirring, to avoid lumps. Let the soup simmer for 3 more minutes until the soup is thickened and the corn is cooked. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the saute pan from the heat and let cool for a couple of minutes. Add the heavy cream, then the sour cream, stirring very well to combine. Do not let the soup boil after sour cream is added, to prevent thinning or curdling.

Serve with a few strips of crispy bacon on top.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sweet Potato Biscuits – makes 4-6 biscuits

1 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup milk (fat free or 2%)
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, diced**

** Shortening used cause that’s what I had handy

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and milk; let sit for 5 minutes to make buttermilk.  Add the sweet potato and stir until smooth, then set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chopped rosemary.  Add the butter and cut into the flour with a pastry blender or two forks until the butter is -pea-sized.  Make a well in the center.  Pour the sweet potato mixture into the flour and stir until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured working surface.  Knead together 3-4 times, then form into a 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick round.

Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to stamp out as many biscuits as you can, reforming the dough scraps as needed.

Transfer to the prepared sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes, until the biscuits are set and the tops are golden.

Serve hot.

Once cooled, store in an air-tight container for up to one week on the counter or two weeks in the refrigerator.

Weekday BBQ … Warm Sweet Potato and Couscous Salad

You just got home in the middle of the week too exhausted to cook anything elaborate. And you have a craving for bbq.  (Or at least, I did.)

So, what do you do?

If you have a freezer, and you planned for just such an event, you can take some of the lamb kofta kebabs you’ve bbq’d previously out and warm them up. For a side dish, this warm couscous salad is mostly hands off, fast and filling. Put it on a pretty plate with a couple of tablespoons of home made or purchased tzatziki, and you could serve it to company.

Dessert … a scoop or two of butterscotch ripple ice cream.

Warm Sweet Potato & Couscous Salad – serves 4

1 cup couscous
1 cup (250ml) hot chicken stock seasoned with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 (400g) sweet potato, peeled, cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) cubes
1 tbsp vegetable oil (optional if roasting sweet potatoes)
2 tbsp (300g) pine nuts**
2 tbsp (40ml) orange juice
2 tbsp (40ml) olive oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1-2 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped or 2 tsp dried parsley

** If you find you’ve misplaced your pine nuts, 1 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds work just as well.

Place couscous into a heatproof bowl. Pour the hot stock over couscous, cover and allow stock to absorb for about 5 minutes. Gently fluff with a fork.

Cook sweet potato in a saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain.
(Or, if you have the oven on, drizzle some vegetable oil over the cubes, and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 425 deg F for 25-30 minutes, turning after about 15 minutes until the outside is golden brown and the inside is tender.)

To toast pine nuts heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Add pine nuts and stir until slightly golden. Transfer to a bowl immediately as nuts will continue to cook.

In a small jar with a lid, shake together the orange juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add cooked sweet potato, sliced green onions, toasted pine nuts and parsley to the couscous. Pour the dressing over the ingredients and gently combine.

Serve warm.