Friday, February 15, 2013

More Sweet Potato Love

We had a bit of a party at the studio this week. We were so happy to welcome good friends and avid collectors Rick & Mary to spend the day with us, watching multiple Raku firings and in general having a very nice visit with all of us in the studio.

The weather wasn't as lovely as it could be, so we devised a warming menu of lamb/chuck burgers, with all sorts of fixin's!

Mary wanted the recipe for the Sweet Potato Fries, so that's what we'll focus on today. The burgers were freshly ground lamb and chuck from The Chop Shop, so needed very little in the way of seasoning beyond a dash of salt, pepper, and soy sauce before hitting a hot grill (thank you again, George Foreman!). Maybe a light sprinkle of smoked sea salt once on the grill.

To begin prep on the sweet potatoes, they were all cut, then tossed in some unfiltered olive oil and an herbed sea salt with a dash of cayenne. Thinly sliced shallot and chopped garlic were tossed in as well.

Next, fry up a pound of bacon (to be used as a burger topping)*. We use an electric skillet at the studio, but you can cook the bacon on the Foreman grill as long as you have a method to collect the grease. Pour off the grease and clean out the pan. When you're ready to cook up the fries, pour in some bacon grease so you have about 1/4" standing. Get it nice and hot (but not smoking) and add the sweet potatoes. I've not listed quantities, as you'll make as much as you want. We used about 6 sweet potatoes, so the pan was full. Toss to make sure the bacon fat is evenly coating the fries, then cover and let cook 5 minutes or so. Open the pan and give them a stir - you'll get some nice browning and caramelization on the bottoms. Give a taste for doneness and season as needed, they'll likely need a few more minutes under the cover.

Remove them to a paper towel lined platter to soak back a bit of the grease before serving.

Our burger buffet, also featuring saute-ed mushrooms (crimini/shiitake blend with leeks), caramelized sweet onions, avocado, and goat cheese.

Mary, if you have any questions, let me know. And if you don't mind, perhaps I'll share the recipe you'll be sending me for those delicious Nutty Apple Muffins when I get it!

*If you're not frying up bacon, you can use oil for cooking the sweet potatoes. We won't judge.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

What a Difference a Drizzle Makes!

In the winter months, sweet potatoes and greens abound. Luckily, I never tire of them and rather look forward to letting them dominate the menu. Even so, the same old thing need not be the same old thing!

It's a chilly, chilly day in Asheville, and I'm at the Gallery longing for some good comfort food. This is one of my favorite stand by meals in winter, at any time of day. Recently, I picked up a lovely bottle of aged balsamic vinegar from The Tree & Vine, and a drizzle atop the greens just before I plated the eggs truly transformed the dish. It's warming me up from the inside out as I tell you about it!

Comfort Brunch
(this makes two modest or one generous serving)

1 shallot, finely chopped
1 bulb of garlic, smashed and chopped
Olive Oil*
3 large stalks of curly kale, cleaned and torn into smaller pieces
1 small sweet potato, diced
liberal pinches of salt
liberal shakes of cayenne pepper
about 1/2 tsp turmeric
optional: vegetable broth
1-2 eggs
dried basil
aged balsamic vinegar

At the studio, I use an electric skillet. Use the cookware appropriate to your kitchen set up.

Heat 2-3 tsp olive oil over med/lo heat and add the shallots and garlic. Saute until fragrant and softened, then add sweet potatoes. Season with salt, cayenne, and turmeric (more or less to your taste). Continue to saute, and add a little of the veggie broth if it seems too dry (I'll often add mushrooms for additional flavor and liquid, but had none today).

When the sweet potatoes are tender (the greens will be a nice, bright green), remove the contents of the pan to your beautifully handmade plate or plates. Add a bit more oil to the pan, and crack open your egg or eggs. Season with a pinch of salt and crush some dried basil on top of the eggs. Cook moderately until ready to flip (I go 'over easy' - cook them as you like them). Once flipped, turn off the heat.

Drizzle aged balsamic vinegar over the greens. Slide the eggs on top. Enjoy with a nice cuppa.

* I love to use Theros unrefined olive oil, also available at The Tree & Vine. It comes in a clear glass bottle, so you can decant it into one of my lovely oil bottles for ease of use and to protect the oil. Bottles also available at The Tree & Vine.