Thursday, November 17, 2011

Simple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes or yams? A friend of mind asked me that question this week and I couldn't remember the difference. 

There are two types of sweet potatoes, the paler-skinned type has a thin, light yellow skin with pale yellow flesh which is not sweet and has a dryer, more crumbly texture, similar to a white baking potato. The second type has a darker skin (which is sometime referred to as a yam in error) with a vivid orange, sweet flesh and a moist texture. That is what I have used here. 

Yams are not even related to the sweet potato and are the tuber of a tropical vine. They have a higher sugar content so are sweeter than the sweet potato, but have a brown or black skin and an off-white, purple or red flesh. Most likely if you buy a yam in the grocery store, it's really a sweet potato.

I probably make this recipe once a week. Lately it has become our go to dish for potatoes. I love the color, the flavor and the creaminess of the dish. There is just a hint of sweetness but they are rich and satisfying. And you're getting a little extra nutrition by eating these over regular white potatoes which doesn't hurt.

These are so simple. Peel, boil, mash, add butter, honey, salt and pepper and you're done! This would even work for Thanksgiving. You could sprinkle some candied walnuts or mini marshmallows on top and then put it under the broiler for a few minutes.

Simple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch cubes
1 stick of unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons of honey (depends on how sweet you like it - I used 2)
Salt and pepper

Add your cut up sweet potatoes to a large pot of salted water. Turn your heat on high. Add a lid if you want it to boil faster. Once it starts to boil, remove the lid and turn your heat down to a low boil. After five minutes, poke the potatoes with a fork to see if they are tender. They don't take very long! If they are tender, drain the liquid from the pot. Add the butter, honey and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8.

-Try to cut the potatoes all the same size so they cook at the same rate. 
-This recipe makes a lot so you can adjust the recipe according to your needs. 
-Make sure you season them well with salt and pepper. Taste after each addition until you get the flavor just right. Salt will really bring out the flavor of your dish. This is why dishes taste so good at restaurants because they add salt but a lot more than you or I would. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Roasted Asparagus Bundles with Prosciutto

Asparagus. Prosciutto. Garlic. Toasted breadcrumbs. Uh yum.

Since Thanksgiving is around the corner I thought I'd share some special recipes that are perfect for the occasion. Not only does this one taste good but you'll really impress your guests.

I discovered this recipe a few years ago. It goes nicely with a simple piece of meat or fish because it has so much flavor. If you haven't cooked with prosciutto before, give it a try. It's a dry cured ham that's different from bacon but has amazing flavor. You can find it in almost any grocery store and I usually keep some in the freezer until I need it. 

I'll be with family this year for Thanksgiving and in the kitchen cooking with my mom and grandmother. We are all headed to southeastern Idaho where most of my family resides. We decided to drive the 12.5 hour trip so we can pick up some lamb meat from my uncle's farm the Thomas Sheep Ranch. The sheep ranch was started by my great, great grandfather and has continued successfully now for four generations with my grandfather, who passed away in 2005, and now my uncle. They produce the best lamb you will ever taste - I only wish you could! I know it's a serious claim to make but the meat is amazing.  Anyone who has tried it always thinks I've marinated it and all I've done is added salt and pepper. Needless to say, we are looking forward to restocking the freezer.

In the meantime though I need to make two pies - an apple and pecan pie for the trip. I have scoped out a new pie crust recipe and can't wait to try it. I'll let you know how it goes. :-)

Here are some previously posted thanksgiving recipes just in case you are looking for something new to try - Sweet Potato Casserole, Broccoli Casserole, and Easy Cheesy Brussel Sprouts.

Blanch the asparagus in boiling, salted water.

Brown the breadcrumbs in oil and garlic.

Prosciutto Di Parma - very thinly sliced.

Roll the asparagus up in the prosciutto. Works best by keeping the paper underneath the slice.

Pull the paper off as you roll up the asparagus.

Place in a baking dish or sheet and sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top. Bake.


Roasted Asparagus Bundles 

1 tablespoon butter
1 large bunch of asparagus, washed and trimmed to even lengths
Salt and pepper
Seasoned breadcrumbs
8 thin slices prosciutto
2 tablespoons olive oil

Seasoned Break Crumbs:

1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, heat enough water to cover asparagus. When boiling, salt the water and add asparagus. Cook for 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Grease a large baking sheet or dish with butter. Set aside. In a medium saute pan, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil. When hot, add garlic and saute for a minute, careful not to burn. Add in breadcrumbs and pepper. Stir until start to brown slightly. Remove from the heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Add parsley, lemon zest and Parmesan. Toss to combine.

Take a slice of prosciutto and lay flat. Add 3 asparagus and roll up in the prosciutto. Place in baking sheet. Complete the rest. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until breadcrumbs are nicely brown. Serves 4-6.

Adapted from Michael Chiarello
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