Thursday, November 26, 2009

Grandma's Sweet Potato Pie

My father's mother didn't like to cook. When she did cook, it always came out good, but she didn't really like to do it. She had a full time job outside of the home, and she had to go all the way across Indianapolis to get to work (either in a ride share on a bus). It makes sense that she didn’t always come home filled with energy to cook up a big meal.

Everyone agrees she made delicious fried chicken (not too greasy), and cooked up a great cup of coffee. On Fridays the special treat was either cold cuts for dinner. Everyone in my father’s family loves sweets, and my grandmother was known for her sweet potato pie. None of her children were particularly into baking, so my mom (her daughter-in-law) was the one ended up learning the family recipe for sweet potato pie. It's a required item for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Whenever we visit my father's relatives we have to bring one.

This sweet potato pie isn’t sweet like candy, and there are never marshmallows on top.

1 1/2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes (see note at end)
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted
2/3 c. milk

One 10” deep dish pie pan lined with a raw pie crust. If you have smaller pie pans, this may make enough for two pies.

Heat the oven to 400°

Using a hand mixer or a whisk and some muscles, beat the eggs and sugar together in large mixing bowl. Beat in the mashed sweet potatoes. Add the rest of ingredients and beat until thoroughly combined. The contents of the mixing bowl will be quite liquidy, but don’t worry.

Pour into the pie plate. (gluten free pie crust recipe). Bake for 10 minutes at 400°, then lower the oven to 350° and bake for 35 minutes. When you take the pie out of the oven, it will still be a little jiggly. That’s OK. It will coast to solidness out of the oven.

Note Use 4-5 small sweet potatoes or 2-3 medium size ones. The small ones with a reddish tint to the skin are delicious (sometimes they’re labeled garnet sweet potatoes). Big sweet potatoes tend to be woody and less flavorful. My mom boils them whole in the skin, lets them cool and then peels and mashes. Alton Brown suggests peeling and slicing the sweet potatoes and then steaming them. I’ve sometimes baked the sweet potato in the oven. Honestly, the pie is always delicious so cook them whatever way you want

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

THE Cake!

My roommate ran across a recipe for a molten/lava chocolate cake. First she decided to make them as individual cakes in ramekins. Later on she put frozen berries at the bottom of the ramekins for additional numminess. It has a delicious crust, and a moist brownie layer without any excessive egginess/soupiness. Also, this recipe doesn't require a bazillion eggs like most lava cakes.

Because it is easy to make and delicious, this cake happens regularly in my home. It is now known as The Cake.


1/2 c (heaping) chocolate chips or 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 4 ramekins or custard cups. Alternatively, grease 2 ramekins and put the rest of the batter in the fridge for the next night.

Set up a double boiler by bringing about 1 cup of water to the boil in a smallish sauce pan. Put a heat proof bowl on top, add the chocolate and butter. Stir gently until everything is melted together.

Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the sugar. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Then stir in the flour until completely incorporated.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the mixture is set on top and there is a soft, gooey layer at the bottom. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt if you desire. Let cool for a few minutes and devour while sitting on the sofa and watching TV. Holding the ramekin with a hot pad or napkin may be useful.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Delicata Squash Stuffed with Quinoa

I had some delicata squash to cook up from my organic box, but since I rarely cook with them I was feeling stumped. My friend Bonnie came up with a quinoa stuffing idea which, as we bounced ideas off each other, became more fantastic. This came out *amazing*.

One thing that is great about delicata squash is that the skins are thin enough that you can eat them skin and all. I sliced these into thirds and brought them to a pot luck birthday party. The entire platter was demolished and everyone loved them.

Delicata Squash w/ Quinoa Stuffing

This filled two average sized delicatas, and one teeny tiny one.

2-3 delicata squashes
1 cup quinoa
1/2 onion or 1/3 c. caramelized onions
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp 5 spice powder
1/3 cup of dried cranberries (I used craisins)
1/2 cup apple cider (or apple juice or whatever)
1/2 cup pecans
2-4 TB cider vinegar
1 tsp pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar)
1/3-1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Heat oven to 400.

Cut squash in half the long way and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Put in a foil roasting pan or cookie sheet and bake until just tender, about 30-45 mins. Leave the squash in the pan, and set aside when done.

Cook the quinoa. Bring 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to the boil in a sauce pan, add 1 cup of quinoa, cover and simmer for 15 mins until done. Leave covered for 5 minutes.

Chop pecans roughly, and put in the oven to toast (about 10 mins). They'll burn if you're not careful. If you smell the nuts, pull them out immediately.

I happened to have caramelized onions in my fridge, and I reheated about 1/3 c in a frying pan. If you are not so fortunate chop a small onion or 1/2 a regular one, and sautee in oil until translucent. Lower the heat. Add 2-4 cloves of garlic run through a garlic press, cumin and five-spice. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add salt.

Chop up the dried cranberries roughly. Put in a bowl with the cider, and microwave for 30 seconds. This will plump them up. Add the cranberries and liquid to the frying pan, stir gently.

Add about 1 tsp of pomegranate molasses to the pan along with 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar.

Mix in the cooked quinoa, and toasted nuts. Taste the stuffing. Sprinkle on more cider vinegar and pomegranate molasses if needed. It should have some tang, but not taste like you dumped a vinaigrette on it.

Stir in the crumbled goat cheese. Taste again. Is it delicious? Adjust seasoning to make it so.

Spoon the filling into the squash halves. Reduce oven to 350 and bake about 20 minutes or until the stuffing is hot and the squash are completely tender.