Tag: What’s Cooking

What’s Cooking: Turkey Technology

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Republished from November 20, 2010 for obvious timely reasons.

I never went to cooking school or took home economics in high school, I was too busy blowing up the attic with my chemistry set. I did like to eat and eat stuff that tasted good and looked pretty, plus my mother couldn’t cook to save her life let alone mine and Pop’s, that was her mother’s venue. So I watched learned and innovated. I also read cook books and found that cooking and baking where like chemistry and physics. I know, this is Translator’s territory, but I do have a degree in biochemistry.

Cooking a turkey is not as easy as the directions on the Butterball wrapping looks. My daughter, who is the other cook in the house (makes the greatest breads, soups and stews) is in charge of the Turkey for the big day. Since we have a house full of family and friends, there are four, yeah that many, 13 to 15 pound gobblers that get cooked in the one of the two ovens of the Viking in the kitchen and outside on the covered grill that doubles as an oven on these occasions. Her guru is Alton Brown, he of Good Eats on the Food Network. This is the method she has used with rave reviews. Alton’s Roast Turkey recipe follows below the fold. You don’t have to brine, the daughter doesn’t and you can vary the herbs, the results are the same, perfection. My daughter rubs very soft butter under the skin and places whole sage leaves under the skin in a decorative pattern, wraps the other herbs in cheese cloth and tucks it in the cavity. If you prefer, or are kosher, canola oil works, too.

Bon Appetite and Happy Thanksgiving

What’s Cooking: Turkey Technology

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Republished from November 23, 2010 for obvious timely reasons.

I never went to cooking school or took home economics in high school, I was too busy blowing up the attic with my chemistry set. I did like to eat and eat stuff that tasted good and looked pretty, plus my mother couldn’t cook to save her life let alone mine and Pop’s, that was her mother’s venue. So I watched learned and innovated. I also read cook books and found that cooking and baking where like chemistry and physics. I know, this is Translator’s territory, but I do have a degree in biochemistry.

Cooking a turkey is not as easy as the directions on the Butterball wrapping looks. My daughter, who is the other cook in the house (makes the greatest breads, soups and stews) is in charge of the Turkey for the big day. Since we have a house full of family and friends, there are four, yeah that many, 13 to 15 pound gobblers that get cooked in the one of the two ovens of the Viking in the kitchen and outside on the covered grill that doubles as an oven on these occasions. Her guru is Alton Brown, he of Good Eats on the Food Network. This is the method she has used with rave reviews. Alton’s Roast Turkey recipe follows below the fold. You don’t have to brine, the daughter doesn’t and you can vary the herbs, the results are the same, perfection. My daughter rubs very soft butter under the skin and places whole sage leaves under the skin in a decorative pattern, wraps the other herbs in cheese cloth and tucks it in the cavity. If you prefer, or are kosher, canola oil works, too.

Bon Appetite and Happy Thanksgiving

What’s Cooking: Fried Turkey

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Republished from November 23, 2010 for obvious timely reasons.

By now you should have defrosted that frozen turkey and it should be resting comfortably in the back of you refrigerator. If you haven’t, getteth your butt to the grocery store and buy a fresh one because even if you start defrosting today, your bird might not be defrosted in time. I discussed the how to cook your bird to perfection in a conventional oven, now for a method that’s a little daring, deep frying.

Alton Brown, is one of my favorite TV cooks. Good Eats funny and informative, plus, his recipes are easy and edible. I’ve done fried turkey and while I don’t recommend it for health reasons, once a year probably wont hurt. Alton’s “how to” videos are a must watch on safety tips, how to choose a turkey fryer, equipment and, finally, cooking directions. If you decide to try this, please follow all directions carefully and take all the safety precautions.

Below the fold are recipes and more safety tips.

Bon Apetite



What’s Cooking: Sweet Potato Mash

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Republished from April 24, 2011 for obvious timely reasons.

I love sweet potatoes and not just at Thanksgiving. I like them baked, boiled and mashed and dipped in tempura batter and fried. They are great in breads and baked desserts. They are very nutritional, an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of potassium and vitamin C, B6, riboflavin, copper, pantothetic acid and folic acid. Sweet potatoes are native to Central America, grown in the Southern US states since the 16th century and are in the same family of plants as Morning Glories. The plant is a trailing vine with a large tuberous root.

Sweet Potatoes are often confused with yams which are native to Africa and relate to lilies and grasses. Even though they are both flowering plants, botanically they are different.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Unless you specifically search for yams, which are usually found in an international market, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!

A couple of Thanksgivings ago, my daughter decided to ditch the “traditional” candied version topped with marshmallow that would put a normal person into a diabetic coma and went “surfing” for something different. The recipe she found now makes it to our table more often than once a year. It is still sweet but not overwhelming. It’s great served as a side with pork or ham, as well as turkey. Nummy as a midnight snack with a little whipped cream, too.

Bourbon-Walnut Sweet Potato Mash

Ingredients:

   4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes

   1/2 cup whipping cream

   6 tablespoons (3/4 cup) butter

   1/4 cup pure maple syrup

   2 tablespoons bourbon

   1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

   1 teaspoon ground allspice

   3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

   1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped

Preparaton:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roast potatoes on rimmed baking sheet until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool slightly. Scoop flesh into large bowl; discard skins. Mash hot potatoes until coarse puree forms.

Heat cream and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally. Gradually stir hot cream mixture into hot potatoes. Stir in syrup, bourbon, and all spices. Season with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm in microwave. Sprinkle nuts over and serve.

What’s Cooking: Stuffing the Turkey Or Not

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Don’t stuff the turkey, stuff a pumpkin. Most chefs, and one of my personal favorites for cooking turkeys, Alton Brown, do not recommend stuffing the turkey for numerous reasons, the main one is salmonella:

   When it comes to turkey, Stuffing Is Evil. That’s because stuffing goes into the middle of the bird and is extremely porous. That means that as the turkey around it cooks, juices that may contain salmonella bacteria soak into the stuffing, which then must be cooked to a minimum of 165°F in order to be safe. Getting the stuffing to this temperature usually means overcooking the turkey.

   The way I see it, cooking stuffing inside a turkey turns the turkey into a rather costly seal-a-meal bag. If you’re a stuffing fan, I suggest cooking it separately (in which case it’s “dressing,” not stuffing) and inserting it into the bird while it rests. Odds are no one will notice the difference.

And really, you can’t tell the difference in the flavor of either the turkey or the stuffing. Stuffing can be put in a pan or decorative baking dish to bake but I came across a decorative idea from the New York Times Dining & Wine section: Roasted Stuffed Pumpkin. The dish is vegetarian friendly and gluten free. It can also be baked in smaller pumpkins or squash to make individual servings, just adjust the baking time.

Ingredients:

   1 6 1/2- to 7-pound sugar pumpkin, or other pumpkin suitable for eating

   1 tablespoon vegetable oil

   1 onion, finely chopped

   3 cloves garlic, 2 minced, 1 halved

   1 cup dried cranberries

   1 teaspoon ground ginger

   1 teaspoon allspice

   1/4 teaspoon saffron threads

   Finely grated zest of half an orange

   2 cups basmati rice

   4 cups vegetable stock

   Salt

Preparation:

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Fill a kettle with water, and bring to a boil. About an inch below the top of the pumpkin’s ”shoulders,” about where it would be cut to carve a jack-o’-lantern, slice a lid from top of pumpkin, and set it aside. Remove seeds and fibrous flesh from inside.

2. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the oil, and sauté the onion until it is softened. Add 2 minced garlic cloves, and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in the cranberries, ginger, allspice, saffron and orange zest. Add the rice, and stir until it is glossy. Pour in stock, and bring to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat as low as possible. Cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile rub the inside of pumpkin with cut garlic clove, and rub with some salt to taste.

3. When rice has cooked for 15 minutes, it will be damp and not very fluffy. Adjust seasoning to taste, and spoon into pumpkin cavity. Press lid firmly on top. It may sit above stuffing a bit like a jaunty cork. Wrap bottom two to three inches of pumpkin in a double layer of foil to protect it from contact with water during baking. Place in a roasting pan, and add about 1 inch of boiling water to pan.

4. Bake the pumpkin until it is tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 1/2 hours. (If there is resistance when pumpkin is pierced, allow more baking time.) To serve, remove pumpkin from pan, and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes. Discard foil, and place pumpkin on a serving platter. Slice into segments like a cake. Place a wedge of pumpkin on each serving plate, and mound with rice stuffing.

YIELD: 8 to 10 servings

Thoroughly Modern Meatless Mince Pie

Cross posted from The Stars hollow Gazette

Mince pie is a old holiday tradition that can be traced back to 13th century when European crusaders returned from the Middle East with recipes for meats, fruits and spices. Mincing was a way of preserving meats without salting or smoking. The pie has been served at royal tables and, at one time, was banned by the Puritans since it was a symbol of the Pagan Christmas celebration.

Traditional mincemeat pie contains shredded meat and suet along with fruits and spices and cooks for hours. Mostly made with beef, there is a record of a recipe that used whale meat.  Today, most cooks buy mince in a jar, like Cross & Blackwell or None-Such, to make pies and small tarts. I use to do that as well, adding chopped apples, walnuts and extra brandy.

Several years ago, I came across recipe for a meatless mince full of apples, dried fruits and lots of spices. It cooks over low heat for about ninety minutes filling the house and the neighborhood with its spicy aroma. This recipe calls for pippin apples but MacIntosh, Granny Smith or any pie variety of apple is a fine substitute. I use a combination. It can be made a week or so ahead of time and kept refrigerated in an airtight container. The recipe will make one pie or about a dozen medium tarts. I like the tarts even though it’s more work making the crusts. For the top crust, I make decorative cutouts with small cookie cutters, shaped like leaves and acorns. I’ve also just made a few cutouts in the top crust and surrounded the pie edge with the dough cutouts.

Modern Mince Pie

Ingredients:

   3 1/2 pounds small pippin apples (about 7), peeled, cored, chopped

   1/2 cup chopped pitted prunes

   1/2 cup golden raisins

   1/2 cup dried currants

   1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

   1/4 cup unsulfured (light) molasses

   1/4 cup brandy

   1/4 cup orange juice

   1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

   2 tablespoons dark rum

   1 tablespoon grated orange peel

   1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

   1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

   1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

   1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

   1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

   Pinch of salt

Preparation:

Combine first 17 ingredients in heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven. Cook over low heat until apples are very tender and mixture is thick, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool filling completely. (Can be prepared up to 1 week ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Roll out 1 pie crust disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch-diameter round (about 1/8 inch thick). Roll up dough on rolling pin and transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie plate. Gently press into place. Trim edges of crust, leaving 3/4-inch overhang. Fold overhang under crust so that crust is flush with edge of pie pan. Crimp edges with fork to make decorative border. Spoon filling into crustlined pan, gently pressing flat.

Roll out second disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut out about 28 three-inch leaves using cookie cutter. Press leaves lightly with tines of fork to form vein pattern. Brush bottom of 1 leaf with milk. Place leaf atop mince, overlapping crust slightly and pressing to adhere to crust. Continue placing leaves atop pie in concentric circles, overlapping edges slightly until top of pie is covered. Brush crust with milk. Bake until crust is golden brown and mince bubbles, about 40 minutes. Cool completely. Serve pie with rum raisin ice cream if desired.

(To make this recipe vegan substitute light olive oil for the butter.

Bon appétit!

What’s Cooking: Grilled Marinated Sirloin Steak Tips

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is a dual tutorial because there are two methods of grilling: charcoal (wood) or gas. But first some ask what cuts of beef are “sirloin steak tips”. The answer is they are some of the pricier and tastier cuts of beef that come from the hind quarters. :

   The loin has two subprimals, or three if boneless:

       the short loin, from which club, T-bone, and Porterhouse steaks are cut if bone-in, or strip loin (N.Y. strip) and filet mignon if boneless,

       the sirloin, which is less tender than short loin, but more flavorful, and can be further divided into top sirloin and bottom sirloin (including tri-tip),

      the tenderloin, which is the most tender.

It can be removed as a separate subprimal, and cut into fillets, tournedos or tenderloin steaks or roasts (such as for beef Wellington), or can be left on wedge or flat-bone sirloin and T-bone and Porterhouse loin steaks.

   The round contains lean, moderately tough, lower fat (less marbling) cuts, which require moist cooking or lesser degrees of doneness. Some representative cuts are round steak, eye of round, top round and bottom round steaks and roasts.

   The flank is used mostly for grinding, except for the long and flat flank steak, best known for use in London broil, and the inside skirt steak, also used for fajitas. Flank steaks were once one of the most affordable steaks, because they are substantially tougher than the more desirable loin and rib steaks. Many recipes for flank steak use marinades or moist cooking methods, such as braising, to improve the tenderness and flavor. This, in turn, increased the steaks’ popularity; when combined with natural leanness, increased prices have resulted.

What’s Cooking: Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Loosen your belts and check your blood sugar. I plan on trying this recipe with the chocolate version of chocolate chip cookies.

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Photobucket

Ingredients:

• 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter

• 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

• 1 cup granulated sugar

• 2 large eggs

• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

• 3 1/2 cups flour

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

• 1 package Double Stuff Oreo cookies

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together with a mixer until well combined.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.

In medium bowl mix the flour, salt, and baking soda.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.

With a cookie scoop, form balls with the dough.

Place one ball on top of an Oreo cookie, and another ball on the bottom. Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Oreo cookie is fully enclosed with dough.

Place onto parchment or silpat lined baking sheets and bake cookies for approximately 13 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Makes 24 gigantic cookies

Prep: 25 minutes

Cook: 13 minutes

from Amandeleine, originally from Picky Palate

What’s Cooking: Baked Rigatoni with Ham and Mushrooms

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In case you still have a few slices of that ham left and are truly sick of ham sandwiches, don’t let it go to waste. Here’s an easy recipe that can make use of those last few slices.

Baked Rigatoni with Ham and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

* 1/3 oz. dried porcini mushrooms or 6oz. fresh button mushrooms

* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, if using fresh mushrooms, plus 6 tbsp.

* 12 oz Rigatoni

* 1/3 cup all purpose flour

* 2 1/2 cups of milk (low fat is fine)

* pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

* salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

* 4 oz of Fontina or Swiss cheese, cut into julienne strips

* 6 oz ham, roughly chopped

Preparation:

If using porcini, place in a bowl with lukewarm water ans soap until softened about 30 minutes. Drain. squeeze out excess water and chop finely; set aside. . If using fresh mushrooms, cut off and discard the stems, wipe clean with a towel and thinly slice. In a frying pan over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp. butter. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté fir 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

 In a large pot bring 5 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add rigatoni and cook for about 6 minutes; they should be very al dente. Drain the pasta and transfer to a bowl. Ass 2 1/2 tbsp of the butter and toss well.

Preheat an oven to 350 F. In a sauce pan melt 2 1/2 tbsp. of the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth, about 2 minutes. Stirring constantly, gradually add the milk. Continue to stir until it thickens and is smooth and creamy, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, ass the porcini or fresh mushrooms, sprinkle with the nutmeg and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Grease an 8 by 12 inch oven proof dish with the remaining butter. Arrange 1/3 of the rigatoni in the dish. Sprinkle one third of the cheese and ham over the top and spoon on one third of the sauce. Repeat the layers in the same order two more times, ending with sauce.

Place in the oven and bake until heated through and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Serve at once.

Serves 6

My daughter says to increase the sauce by half for a creamier dish

What’s Cooking: Ham Bone

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The holiday is over, besides the candy, you most likely have a refrigerator full of leftovers and one of them may be a ham bone. Don’t throw it out just yet, there is still another use for it, soup. Served with a salad and a hearty bread, these soups make a hearty, nutritional meal meal that is also budget conscious. Accompanied by a good beer, this is real comfort food on a chilly Spring evening.

One soup recipe that uses a ham bone has been served in the US Senate for over 100 years. The current version does not include potatoes but I like tradition in this case. I also would add a cheese clothe sachet of bay leaf, parsley, peppercorn and thyme for flavor. I also use chicken broth in place of the water. You can play with your own seasoning to taste.

United States Senate Bean Soup

1 lb. dry navy beans

1 ham bone with meat

Soak beans overnight in 3 quarts water. Drain. In a large soup pot put ham bone and beans. Add 2 quarts cold water and simmer for 2 hours. Add:

4 cups mashed potatoes, minimum (more makes soup thicker)

3 medium onions, chopped

2 garlic buds, minced

2 stalks celery, chopped

4 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp. salt (optional)

1/4 tsp. pepper

Simmer all for 1 hour more.

And then there is the real traditional that has been around forever. There are numerous versions of this recipe, this one uses ham hocks but the left over ham bone can be substituted.

Split Pea Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons

Ingedients:

  2 meaty ham hocks (1 3/4 lb total)

   16 cups water

   4 large carrots

   1 large onion, chopped

   2 celery ribs, chopped

   5 tablespoons olive oil

   1 lb dried split peas (2 1/4 cups), picked over and rinsed

   1 teaspoon table salt

   1/4 teaspoon black pepper

   5 cups 1/2-inch cubes pumpernickel bread (from a 1 1/4-lb loaf)

   1 teaspoon kosher salt

   1 cup frozen peas (not thawed)

Preparation:

Simmer ham hocks in 16 cups water in a deep 6-quart pot, uncovered, until meat is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Transfer ham hocks to a cutting board and measure broth: If it measures more than 12 cups, continue boiling until reduced; if less, add enough water to total 12 cups. When hocks are cool enough to handle, discard skin and cut meat into 1/4-inch pieces (reserve bones).

Chop 2 carrots and cook along with onion and celery in 2 tablespoons oil in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add split peas, table salt, pepper, ham hock broth, and reserved bones and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until peas are falling apart and soup is slightly thickened, about 1 1/2 hours.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

While soup simmers, toss bread with remaining 3 tablespoons oil and kosher salt in a large bowl, then spread in 1 layer in a large shallow baking pan and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool croutons in pan on a rack.

Halve remaining 2 carrots lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Remove bones from soup with a slotted spoon and discard. Add carrots and ham pieces to soup and simmer, uncovered, until carrots are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add frozen peas and simmer, uncovered, stirring, until just heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt.

Serve soup with croutons.

Cooks’ notes:

· Croutons can be made 3 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

· Soup is best when made, without frozen peas, 1 day ahead (to give flavors time to develop). Cool completely, uncovered, then chill, covered. Reheat and, if necessary, thin with water. Stir in frozen peas while reheating.

What’s Cooking: Crab Cakes

I was raised by the sea and seafood has been a main part of my diet. When I was a kid, my Dad and I spent weekends at the beach nearly year round. We would catch out own bate, fish, dig for clams and set crab traps near the sea wall that lined the inlet. That was back when the water was clean. now all of my seafood comes from the local supermarket that has an excellent department and a manager that is quite knowledgeable.

One of my favorite dishes is Crab cakes. Crab Cakes are an American dish composed of crab meat and various other ingredients, such as bread crumbs, milk, mayonnaise, eggs, yellow onions, and seasonings. Occasionally other ingredients such as red or green peppers or pink radishes are added, at which point the cake is then sautéed, baked, or grilled. They can be served on a bun or, as in the recipe here, on a bed of lettuce either as an appetizer of main dish depending on how big they’re made. The ones in this recipe are sautéed.

Maryland Crab Cakes are the official food of The Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, a horse race that is run on the third Saturday of May each year.

Crab Cakes with Herb Salad

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

   1/2 cup grapeseed oil (I use a good extra virgin olive oil)

   1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

   1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

   1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon

   1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

   1 tablespoon minced green onion

   1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Crab cakes

   1/4 cup mayonnaise

   1/4 cup minced green onions

   2 large egg yolks

   2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

   4 teaspoons minced fresh dill

   4 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon

   4 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro

   1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

   1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

   1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

   1 pound blue crabmeat or Dungeness crabmeat

   2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs),* divided

   2 tablespoons (or more) butter

   2 tablespoons (or more) grapeseed oil (Canola oil is a good substitute)

   2 5-ounce containers herb salad mix

   Fresh dill sprigs

   Fresh tarragon sprigs

   Fresh cilantro sprigs

   *Available in the Asian foods section of supermarkets and at Asian markets.

Preparation

For vinaigrette:

Whisk oil, lemon juice, dill, tarragon, cilantro, green onion, and mustard in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

For crab cakes:

Line baking sheet with waxed paper. Whisk first 10 ingredients in large bowl. Mix in crabmeat and 1 cup panko, breaking up crabmeat slightly. Let stand 10 minutes. Place remaining panko on rimmed baking sheet, spreading slightly. Form crab mixture into sixteen 2-inch-diameter patties, using about scant 1/4 cup for each. Press both sides of patties into panko. Transfer patties to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in each of 2 heavy large skillets over medium-high heat. Add crab cakes to skillets and cook until golden on both sides, adding more butter and oil as needed, about 5 minutes total.

Place salad mix in very large bowl. Add 1/2 cup vinaigrette; toss. Arrange crab cakes on platter. Garnish with herb sprigs, drizzle with some of remaining vinaigrette, and serve with salad.

What’s Cooking: Sweet Potato Mash

I love sweet potatoes and not just at Thanksgiving. I like them baked, boiled and mashed and dipped in tempura batter and fried. They are great in breads and baked desserts. They are very nutritional, an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of potassium and vitamin C, B6, riboflavin, copper, pantothetic acid and folic acid. Sweet potatoes are native to Central America, grown in the Southern US states since the 16th century and are in the same family of plants as Morning Glories. The plant is a trailing vine with a large tuberous root.

Sweet Potatoes are often confused with yams which are native to Africa and relate to lilies and grasses. Even though they are both flowering plants, botanically they are different.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Unless you specifically search for yams, which are usually found in an international market, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!

A couple of Thanksgivings ago, my daughter decided to ditch the “traditional” candied version topped with marshmallow that would put a normal person into a diabetic coma and went “surfing” for something different. The recipe she found now makes it to our table more often than once a year. It is still sweet but not overwhelming. It’s great served as a side with pork or ham, as well as turkey. Nummy as a midnight snack with a little whipped cream, too.

Bourbon-Walnut Sweet Potato Mash

Ingredients:

   4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes

   1/2 cup whipping cream

   6 tablespoons (3/4 cup) butter

   1/4 cup pure maple syrup

   2 tablespoons bourbon

   1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

   1 teaspoon ground allspice

   3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

   1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped

Preparaton:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roast potatoes on rimmed baking sheet until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool slightly. Scoop flesh into large bowl; discard skins. Mash hot potatoes until coarse puree forms.

Heat cream and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally. Gradually stir hot cream mixture into hot potatoes. Stir in syrup, bourbon, and all spices. Season with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm in microwave. Sprinkle nuts over and serve.

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