Recipe: Candied Lime Sweet Potatoes

So to be clear…I am not a vegan.  I really enjoy meat in all varieties, especially bacon wrapped steak which I am sure reserves me a special seat in Vegan Hell.  However, my torrid love affair with all things flesh doesn’t preclude me from enjoying those things that don’t involve the ritualistic slaughter of a beast.

In fact, I would venture to say that this past Thanksgiving, I put up a valiant effort to accommodate a member of the dinner party with pretty restricted dietary guidelines – no dairy, gluten, wheat or rice.  Basically, the person didn’t eat anything that I hold near and dear to me.  A bit at a loss, I thought my vegan friends could steer me in the right direction and they did not disappoint by introducing me to this fantastic recipe from VeganYumYum for Candied Lime Sweet Potatoes.  They were every bit as delicious as they sound – sweet, tart and a wonderful counterpoint to the heaviness that can be associated with Thanksgiving dinner.  Matter of fact, I liked them so much, that I made them again for another dinner party later that weekend.

In addition, I won major cool points for bringing a totally vegan dish to both dinner parties. So to recap, I got kudos for being (1) a good cook and (2) awesome sensitive person who thinks about others…..seriously, I could totally be a vegan….well if it wasn’t for giving up bacon, otherwise I would totally be down for it……

Candied Lime Sweet Potatoes
Serves 8

4 Sweet Potatoes, peeled
1 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Molasses
1 tsp Salt
Juice of 2 Fresh Limes
Zest from 1 Small Lime
1 tsp Minced Ginger or 1/4 tsp Ginger Powder, optional
Black Pepper, to taste
Earth Balance/non-diary butter , for dotting
Parsley or Cilantro, for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 400 degree F

2) Slice sweet potatoes thinly, about 1/8″, with a mandoline or a food processor. Mix remaining ingredients (except pepper, non-diary butter and garnish) together to form a paste. Place sweet potato slices in bowl and coat well with the lime sugar mixture.

3) Arrange the coated slices in overlapping rows in one layer in an oiled casserole dish. Dot with non-diary butter, sprinkle with pepper, and wrap tightly with two layers of aluminum foil.

4) Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes. Finish under the broiler to brown the top. Sprinkle with parsley/cilantro and serve immediately.

 Notes:

– Yams can be substituted for sweet potatoes

– Brown sugar can be used in lieu of white sugar.  However, raw sugar doesn’t work well for this recipe as the granules sometimes do not dissolve, leaving a crunchy texture.

So tell me, did you find a new holiday dish that you incorporated into your meal?

Picture courtesy of VeganYumYum

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Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie – My “Go To” Winter Dish….

When I was making this dish, I tweeted my progress to one of my former CIA classmates who immediately upon seeing I was using ground beef rather than lamb informed me that actually I was making “Cottage Pie”.  While I normally am true to a dish’s history, I am going to deviate this time around simply because  cottage pie sounds like a dish you make with cottage cheese and honestly that would be gross.

In any case, this recipe is a modification of the one by Mitchell Davis in his cookbook Kitchen Sense.  This book doesn’t have pretty pictures or exotic dishes but does have over 600 recipes and multiple variations on each.  I love Mitchell’s approach to cooking – straight forward, timeless and simple.  While some of his dishes, while simple, are not easy, they all use a common sense approach to cooking.  If you want a solid primer in how to cook or bake a variety of dishes, then I strongly suggest this cookbook.

This recipe is a mainstay in my winter rotation.  It is perfect to make after a dinner party as it allows you to use up leftovers quickly and in a tasty way.

Shepherd’s Pie

Makes Approximately 8 servings

Ingredients

2 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold, peeled and cute into chunks

Kosher Salt

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 lbs cooked lamb or beef, finely shredded or chopped (or 2 3/4 lbs of raw ground lamb or beef)

1 cup fresh button mushrooms, sliced

1 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup frozen corn

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 cup sour cream

1 large egg

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 400 degree F.

2) Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water and liberally add salt to water, set over high heat and boil until they are soft approximately 25 minutes.

3) Drain well and mash with butter and sour cream.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

4)  In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add carrot and celery and cook until vegetables are soft and the onion begins to brown approximately another 5-7 minutes.

5)  If using cooked meat add now and heat through, approximately 3-5 minutes.  If using raw meat, cook until nicely browned making sure to drain off any extra fat.

6) Add mushrooms and cook until they have wilted and given off their liquid.  Pour in tomato sauce and add peas, corn, thyme rosemary and 2 teaspoons of salt and a generous amount of black pepper.    Cook until the liquid evaporates somewhat and the mixture comes together, approximately 5-7 minutes.

7) Stir in 1/2 cup of the mashed potatoes to give the meat mixture additional body.  Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper.  Transfer this mixture to a deep 2-quart baking dish.

8 ) Beat egg into potato mixture and spread evenly over the top of the meat.  Smooth out the surface with a flexible spatula and sprinkle with paprika.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until the potatoes have browned on top and the meat mixture is bubbling.

9) Let cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Notes:

– This dish is a great make ahead dish.  I tend to make double portions and place one of these, in the baking dishes, unbaked, in the freezer.  I  place a layer of parchment on top and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.  If cooking from frozen, add 20-30 minutes to overall cooking and place tin foil on top to avoid drying out.

Do you have any “go to” dishes when you need a comforting and easy meal?

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