sweet potato

Sweet potato’s great! Don’t you love it? I do. I’ve made it seasoned with shoyu and toasted sesame oil, which is amazing. They’re lovely simply oven baked, too.

my somewhat blurry yet fabulous version of roasted white sweet potato in garlic and ginger

my somewhat blurry yet fabulous version of roasted white sweet potato in garlic and ginger

Somehow, I’m disappointed to see so few stories on our blog about this humble tuber. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new culinary trend for us at weirdcombos.

This recipe couldn’t be simpler (though I’ve read some food blog advice somewhere that strongly discouraged describing things as “simple” “quick” or “easy,” as all that’s very subjective, isn’t it?). And it packs a lot of flavor: you have the sweetness of the potatoes, the spiciness of ginger and garlic all stitched together with just plain sea salt. You can serve this for the holidays. Thanksgiving is already right around the corner.

well, aren't you four the sweetest little things

well, aren’t you four the sweetest little things!

roasted white sweet potato in garlic and ginger

4 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch thick rounds
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
¾ cup vegetable broth

Pre heat over to 350F.

Toss sweet potato slices with salt, ginger, garlic and olive oil. Lay them in a loaf pan. Pour vegetable broth over potato. Cover with tin foil and bake to 20 to 30 minutes or until soft. Remove foil towards the end for a slight caramel color.

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This is my attempt at a very simple side dish I enjoyed many times at a small Korean restaurant in Palo Alto. Tofu House is a tiny chain in Santa Clara County. Chain or no, I really love their food. When I worked in PA, I’d often go there for a special lunch-upgrade. I have to thank my great friend Euriele for introducing this restaurant to me.

sesame oil and shoyu flavored sweet potato

sesame oil and shoyu flavored sweet potato

I work in San Francisco now so don’t get there much any more. Too bad for my stomach, though the car is a lot happier. These days, anytime we visit Palo Alto I try to eat there. My favorite dish is the spicy soft tofu soup flavored with kimichi. They deliver it piping hot in a stone pot. It is thrilling and dangerous. You have to let it cool for a while or you’ll burn your mouth and lips. (That’s happened to me more than once.)

Like a lot of Korean places, they serve kimchi and a myriad other small dishes both before and during the main course, all with endless refills. Tofu House is pretty creative so there’s lots to choose from: Napa cabbage kimichi, scallion and seafood pancakes, pickled cucumber, pickled radish, rice cooked with beans and, of course, the sweet potato dish.

Lately I have been reminiscing about Tofu House and the sweet potato side dish in particular. I think I got the recipe “right” based on my taste buds. I served this at a small dinner party. Everyone went back for seconds. The secret is the smoky flavors that the sesame oil and shoyu add to the potatoes.

sesame oil and shoyu flavored sweet potato

1½ lbs yellow or white sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium size cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup water
pinch of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp shoyu (soy sauce)

Add olive oil, garlic and sweet potatoes to a pan and sauté for about 4 minutes. Add water, salt, black pepper, cover and cook on high temperature until potatoes are cooked through: sort of holding their shape but nearly dissolving. Add a bit more water if not fully cooked. Remove from heat. Fold in sesame oil and shoyu. Add more shoyu or salt if needed. Delicious!

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oven roasted sweet potatoes before "the accident"

Eat your sweet potatoes! They’re tasty (and sweet). They make a perfect side dish for almost any meal: breakfast, lunch or dinner. They’re good snacks, too. Plus they’re nutritious with loads of vitamin A, complex carbs, protein and so on.

This oven-baked sweet potato chip recipe is really easy to make. It’s delicious and has vibrant and inviting colors, which adds to their overall appeal. Unfortunately, we only had the chance to sample a few from this batch. You see, I accidentally dropped the tray on the floor! Ughhh! According to Murphy’s Law, the buttered side of the bread always hits the ground first. Well, in my case, the sweet potatoes made it first. I’m not that clumsy normally. I just don’t know what really happened to me that day, At least Clarence loved the extra treat he got for dinner that day.

Oven-baked Sweet Potato Chips

4 longish sweet potatoes in mixed colors (mine were orange and yellow)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp canola oil
1-2 tbsp potato flour
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Sprinkle of lemon juice (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 450F.

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into long strips or chips. Add to a bowl and toss with salt, pepper and oil. Dust chips with flour. Place chips sparsely on a tray that has been greased or lined with parchment paper. Transfer to oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Carefully turn chips over and bake an additional 15 minutes or until chips have shriveled up a bit and become browned.

Serve hot but be careful: these things can quickly get out of hand and hit the floor!

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mmmm! I love this thing!

I love roadside snacks almost anywhere. In the American Southwest I chomp on Cornuts. In Virginia or at the movies, nothing is better than cherry Twizzlers. When I took a three week tour of China about fifteen years ago, the other members of our little tour group started calling me “snack man” because I would buy anything and everything from little hole-in-the-wall shops to nibble. Brazil is no different. There they’ve got a lot of “rustic” sweets made from pumpkin, peanuts, coconut or sweet potatoes. I particularly adore the doce de batata roxa, or “purple potato sweet.”

On our recent visit to attend Hegui’s nephew’s graduation from engineering school (congratulations, Neto!), we stopped to refuel and stretch our legs a bit at this large market/restaurant/bar/gas station/rest stop. Inside they had an extensive array of homemade sweets, including doce de batata roxa. I was in heaven!

You can see me in the pic devouring my sweet right outside the store in the parking lot. These candies are typically either log-shaped or come in lumpy, freeform disks. The color is always dark purple. When you bite into the better ones there’s a chewy, almost crunchy outer shell hiding a soft, creamy interior. It tastes very sweet, a little like sweet potato, and sometimes coconut-y.

Brazilian roadside sweets including doce de batata roxa

I wanted to reproduce the magical dessert here at home, so looked around online for some recipes to try. Most of them were for a pudding made of sweet potato rather than the firmer candy. Finally I discovered one recipe that added gelatin to make the sweet into bars that could be individually cut and served. I had to improvise a bit as I can’t find sweet purple potatoes. I used the red ones instead. Mine didn’t quite turn out as I had hoped. It tastes wonderfully. That’s not it. The problem is that it didn’t firm up enough to cut. So it was sweet potato pudding after all.

Sweet Potato Pudding

3 lbs sweet potatoes (about four medium sized ones)
2 cups sugar
2 whole cloves
¼ cup light coconut milk
6 g. Gelatin
some water for gelatin
brown sugar as garnish

Clean sweet potatoes and put in a large pot. Cover potatoes with water and heat to boiling then simmer for about half an hour to cook potatoes and soften skin. Test them with a fork for doneness. Remove when soft.

sweet potatoes

Drain and rinse to cool. Peel off and discard skin (I did this by hand as it was quite easy). Throw into food processor and process a few minutes until smooth.

Put potato purée, sugar, coconut milk and cloves in medium sauce pan over high heat. Once it heats up to boiling, lower heat to simmer. Stir with wooden spoon to prevent sticking. Cook about an hour until it glistens.

Dissolve gelatin in some cold water for a minute. Pour half a cup boiling water over gelatin and stir until fully dissolved, about five minutes.

Mix gelatin into potato. Pour into a baking dish and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Here’s where my recipe diverged. The original says that you “Corte o doce em quadrados ou em losangos e role no açúcar cristal um pouco antes de server,”or ‘Cut into squares or lozenges and roll in crystallized sugar before serving.’ Ah, if only it had been so easy!

sweet potato pudding

I ended up serving mine in a bowl sprinkled with brown sugar and ate it with a spoon. It has a very intriguing flavor from the clove and coconut milk: really quite good and better than pumpkin pie filling. Nevertheless, if you know a reliable recipe for the bars, please send it to me!

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