Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

It all comes down to a few essentials.  I don’t think many people are waiting for the roasted Brussel sprouts (even when they are beautifully presented on the stalk) or the cranberry chutney, and some people don’t really like turkey.  For me it is the dressing (we don’t stuff), the sweet potatoes and the corn bread.  Like most things in my life, you can eliminate the extras and find that there are just a few things that really count.  Family, friends and food.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes for Thanksgiving.  Also some photos taken last year in and around Blue Hill at Stone Barns to  help you get in the mood.

Almost any type of sweet potato dish works, I don’t think I have ever tried a recipe that I didn’t like.

I often boil the sweet potatoes in their jackets till soft, mash with some brown sugar and a little bit of margarine and then place in a baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.  Today I tried oven baked sweet potato fries.  Good for a small crowd.

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

5 Sweet Potatoes, cut into thin long slices

3-4 Tbsp olive oil

Salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste.

Toss together and bake on a parchment covered cookie sheet at 450 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.  Serves 4-5

Shira’s Corn Pone

We bought a bread cookbook in Amish country when Shira was a little girl.  She makes this recipe for Thanksgiving dinner every year.  It’s great for dinner and cut in half, toasted and served with butter the next morning!!!!

1 c. sugar

1/2 cup butter or  pareve margarine

2 eggs

1  1/2 cup stone ground cornmeal

1  1/2 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups milk or non-dairy creamer

Cream together margarine and sugar.  Add beaten eggs and mix well.  In a bowl, sift cornmeal with flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour and milk alternately to batter.  Pour into greased and floured 9x 13 baking dish.  Bake at 450″ for 30-35 minutes.  I  think the texture is better if made the day before.  Serves 8-10

Pumpkin Bread, a yearly traditional dessert.  This recipe has spread far and wide and I love that!  Click on the link for the recipe.

Manya’s Mushroom Stuffing

1 1/2 lbs. brown mushrooms or a combination of mushrooms
2 large onions
2 large carrots
2 stalks celery
4 eggs, beaten
1 large Challah,  crust removed.
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

Dice onions and sauté in olive oil over low flame until a rich golden color, this can take up to 30 minutes.
Dice carrots and celery and add to onions and sauté for about ten minutes until tender.  Raise heat slightly, add sliced mushrooms and cook an extra 15 minutes.  Allow to cool and place in large mixing bowl.
Remove crust and run challah under warm water until soft.  Then squeeze challah and add to mushroom mixture.  Add beaten eggs, salt and pepper.
Prepare 9×13 pan by adding 2-3 Tbsp oil, make sure bottom and sides are well-greased and place in 350 degree oven for several minutes.  Take out and immediately pour in stuffing  mixture.  Brush with olive oil.

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Serves 6-8

Please send in your family favorites to share!

Enjoy,

Irene

Vegetable Tagine

Not in my wildest imagination did I ever think I would fall in love with Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Feeling somewhat disloyal to my Bronx roots I tried to hold back, and although it wasn’t love at first sight, there is something special going on in the “other B Borough.”  The combination of old buildings and store fronts, converted into cozy bakeries and restaurants, run and patronized by hipsters (no idea what they stand for but they do have a certain look) all converge to create a sum that is better than the parts.  Brooklynites eat local and are proud of it.  Everywhere you look, there are food products that are baked, cultured, grown and created in Brooklyn and the labels clearly state that.

We started the morning with coffee and a buttery, raspberry pistachio muffin at Bakeri, a small bakery that has paid as much attention to the decor as it has to the baked goods.  You feel as if  you have been transported to another time and place, with a staff of young women looking freshly scrubbed and who enthusiastically describe every baked good in their display case.  Off to the side one employee is kneading bread dough on a large wooden board, old style, not one piece of marble in sight.   The next day we stopped at the small local farmers market.  There was an interesting combination of older immigrants (this used to be a Polish neighborhood)  and young New Yorkers, all coming out despite the cold weather to buy milk, cheese, eggs and poultry from New York State farms.  My daughter informed me that you had to ” know” that the dairy stand sold eggs, there was no sign indicating it.

The next day we had brunch at Diner, an old dining car that has not been renovated, but has been lovingly allowed to remain in its  glorious original state.

Here is what we ate.

Lemon poppy-seed scone to start.

Market salad of mustard greens, black olives, cranberry beans, croutons, creamy garlic dressing w/shaved parmesan.

Country breakfast: two scrambled eggs, biscuit w/ honey butter and grilled escarole and dandelion greens.

Omelette w/ kale and ricotta pesto and served w/ potatoes.

We forced ourselves to stop there but it wasn’t easy.

Of course, no weekend in New York would be complete without pizza so that same night we ordered in from Best Pizza. Even 40 minutes after it came out of the oven, the crust charred and crisp, the pizza thin, and the garlic knots chewy on the outside and tender on the inside.

So the next time you take a trip to NYC, do something different and take a trip to Brooklyn.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the transformation. From garden to table, this generation of “foodies” have put their stamp on fresh ingredients lovingly offered up to those who are lucky enough to visit.

After having numerous vegetable dishes in New York, I was inspired to try this Vegetable Tagine.

Vegetable Tagine

1 large brown onion, diced

3 Tbs olive oil

2 small fingerling potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks

3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks

3 oz. dried cherries

1 can garbanzo beans

2 Tbs pomegranate molasses

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup water

Saute onion in olive oil till golden.  Add both sweet and white potatoes, stir and allow to cook for several more minutes.  Add drained garbanzo beans, and dried cherries to pot. Mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and add water and pomegranate molasses and stir. Gently pour into Tagine and add one cinnamon stick.  Cover and place in 275 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours.

Enjoy,

Irene

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges with Black Sesame Seeds

When I was growing up, the sense of community among apartment dwellers was clear.  The building that I lived in on the Grand Concourse functioned as a vertical village, with neighbors pitching in and helping one another.  People watched over each other’s children, helped out with errands, and some even divided their poultry order, as my mother and her closest friend Fanny did (the Pruzans took the dark meat while the Graf family preferred the white) for many years.

Last week I took my first trip to Houston, Texas, and felt that same sense of community.  Although the trip was short, the impressions were long-lasting.

As for the food, I had dinner at a Tex-Mex restaurant where I was introduced to queso, a warm, slightly spicy, cheese dip.  I tasted a pecan pie that may have been the best I have ever eaten, and a jalapeño cheese bread that was equally good.  Other Texas treats included candied pecans tossed in a salad, roasted sweet potato wedges topped with black sesame seeds, a warm pasta dish served in a poblano sauce, a King’s Cake, and an amazing version of strawberry shortcake served on a biscuit and smothered in Creme Anglaise.

In New York the feeling of community went along with a desire to be a “good neighbor.”  In Texas, there is the tradition of Southern hospitality.  My future daughter-in-law, along with her sister and parents, as well as their family friends, made us feel at home in a BIG way, Texas style.

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

4 medium sweet potatoes

2 Tbs water
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs sesame oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a cup combine the olive oil, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and water.  Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cut off ends of sweet potatoes.  Slice sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half on the diagonal into slices about an inch thick.

Pour brown sugar mixture over sweet potatoes, stirring so that they are all coated.  Place sweet potatoes on cookie sheet and roast till tender, about one hour.

Garnish with black sesame seeds.

Enjoy,

Irene

Tzimmis

Transitions are hard. Be it a new site for my Blog, or trying to get ready for Passover. My younger son has been a tremendous help and I so appreciate all of the work, effort, and hours that he has devoted to this. Thanks Mich!

It is Sunday morning and we are nine days away from the first Seder. I must say that motivation has been in short supply but yesterday my friend Fredda assured me that it will kick in. One can only hope. I am looking at cookbooks and food blogs for inspiration. I am recalling menus of past seders, trying to think of the dishes that were most successful. Right now what I have in mind is fairly traditional. Marinated eggplant, chicken soup and matzoh balls, mushroom kugel, chicken with forty cloves of garlic, tzimmis, salad, roasted artichokes and fresh asparagus. My husband likes to have lots of greens on the table, a reminder that this festival is Spring based. Desserts will include brownie meringues, chocolate chip Mandelbrot (Tali’s favorite), and a platter of fresh fruit.

Maybe during these difficult and stressful times, traditional foods are appropriate. They are connected to the past, to memories of others, to distant lands and stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Much like the story that we will retell at the Seder.

Tzimmis

3 lbs. short ribs

20 pitted prunes

3 carrots

4 sweet potatoes

2 tart apples

1/2 cup honey

1 large onion

salt and pepper to taste

3/4/ cup orange juice

Cut carrots and sweet potatoes in large chunks and place in large mixing bowl.  Add diced onions and apples along with remaining ingredients and mix well.

Bake covered at 350 degrees for two hours. Liquid should evaporate but dish should be moist.

Enjoy,

Irene