Entries in Delicious Dish (66)


Sweet Potato Casserole

It's almost Thanksgiving!  Tonight is our church's annual Thanksgiving Dinner; we usually have about 200 people in attendance for turkey, gravy, and all the fixings galore.  In addition to the turkey and stuffing I'm contributing tonight, I'm bringing a sweet potato casserole.

I'm not a marshmallow fan (unless we're talking s'mores or homemade marshmallows).  So when I make sweet potatoes, fluffy white goo is not an option.  Here's what I do instead. 

Choose Garnet variety sweet potatoes, if you have an option, because they have the most beautiful deep orange flesh.  Don't pick the skinny ones; go for the fatter, turnip-shaped tubers. 

4 sweet potatoes (about 3-4 pounds)

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple in its own juice

1 large apple (Ida Red or Empire)

1 cup pecan halves

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Scrub the sweet potatoes and prick them several times each with a fork.  Put them on a cookie sheet and bake them for 1 hour. 

Drain the pineapple very well and give the juice to your favorite child to drink.  Peel and chop the apple into half-inch chunks.  Chop the pecans roughly.  When the sweet potatoes are baked, cut them in quarters and let them cool for about ten minutes.  Scoop the flesh out of the skins and save the skins for the compost pile.

Put the sweet potato flesh, pineapple, apple chunks, and pecans in the mixer and mix well.  Stir the salt and sugar into the cream, then add the cream to the sweet potatoes and mix well.  Taste the mixture and add more salt and/or sugar if you feel the need.  Spread the sweet potatoes in a 9x13" pan and bake for a half hour.  Serves 12.


The Tastemakers


My friend Adriana turned us on to the Kettle Chips Create-A-Chip Challenge.  When I read about it on her blog, it seemed to me to be a contest custom-tailored for our family.  We sent away for the Create-A-Chip Kit (on James's lap, above).  When it came, we quickly ate the "inspirational flavors" (included are three big bags of some of Kettle's more interesting flavors), but saved the plain salted chips and the flavor packets (Cheddar, Sweet Chili, Lemon Butter, Vinegar, Sour Cream & Chive, Tomato, and Caramelized Onion) for our Flavor Creation Lab.

When our friends the Fabulous D Family came over to play last Saturday, we got to work.  We did use all the flavor packets provided, but also opened up the cupboards and tried to think "outside the box" a bit.  Here are the potato chip flavors we invented and "field tested":

Cowboy Crunch (Caramelized onion and crumbled bacon)

Forest Mushroom (Caramelized onion and dried ground porcini and chanterelle mushrooms)

Sam's Hot & Sour (Vinegar, lemon butter, and sweet chili)

Bowl o' Chili (Sour cream and chive, tomato, cheddar, and sweet chili)

Scarborough Fair (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme)

And our fantastic "dessert chip" flavors:

Mexican Chocolate (cocoa, superfine sugar, and cinnamon)

Lemon Squash (Lemon butter, citric acid, and superfine sugar)

All the flavors were eminently munchable.  If you have a free moment, go to the Chip Challenge website and browse the Recipe Gallery.  You might find a need to order a kit of your own.

On the subject of taste, we leave for France on Sunday night, but I'm running weekly "Win a Taste of France" contests while I'm away, so check back here every Monday in August and enter to win a delicious package from me!


Bibbity Bobbity Bacon!

(Jeff Gaffigan gets full credit for this post's title.  Go to YouTube and watch his hilarious bacon "bit" (pun intended); you won't be sorry.)

I believe it was my coauthor and fabulous fellow foodie Adriana Velez who told me about the Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies featured on the now-defunct blog Experiments in Deliciousness.  I looked it up and was intrigued.  I decided I must make some, but planned to devise my own recipe, since the EiD recipe seemed a little over the top to me. 

Yes, it's true: Luisa Perkins, enthusiastic consumer of all things rich and porky, the woman who once ate a roasted pig's head, found the recipe excessive.  I think it was the Maple Glaze and Bacon Garnish; that seemed a bit like gilding the lily to me.  I decided to go for something slightly more restrained.

I mentioned my plan to my dear pal Deb Barshafsky, a food writer who lives in Augusta, Georgia.  Deb promptly requested that I make her a batch.  I readily agreed, since I adore Deb and her partner, Marian. 

The Fates immediately began conspiring against me.  First I ran out of slave-free, fair-trade chocolate chips.  After those arrived, I found I was out of pastured bacon.  Once the freezer was restocked, the vacuum broke, the cat needed surgery, and I had to re-teach myself trigonometry.  Then I went and had that sweet baby, and a year went by.

Today, I finally made good on that long-ago promise.  Deb was one of my cookbook-naming contest winners, so I owed her a copy of Comfortably Yum, and I absolutely could not send it off without an accompanying tin of cookies.  Assuming Federal Express does its job, Deb and Marian should be opening up a box of deliciousness sometime tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

And delicious these babies are.  I searched high and low for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, one that produces rich, chewy, simple, not-overly-sweet cookies.  How providential to find that recipe practically next door, when my friend and Visiting Teacher, Melinda Higbee, brought such a batch over.  The following basic recipe is hers, and if you leave the bacon out, you'll still have a demmed fine cookie.

But try the bacon at least once.  It does not overpower at all; its presence in the cookie contributes subtle, slightly salty richness, a perfect backdrop to the dark chocolate.  Some of my children didn't even realize that today's batch had an extra ingredient in it.  So here's what I did, without further ado:

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 pound bacon

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 egg

1 tablespoon vanilla (yes, a tablespoon, not a teaspoon)

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chocolate chips

Fry the bacon in a hot skillet until crisp and brown.  Drain it on layers of paper towels.  Once it is cool, blot it with more paper towels.  Cut any white, flabby ends off the rashers and save them for another use (or just give them to your children, who will snap them out of the air like hungry sea lions).  Eat a whole rasher or two yourself; it's been a long time since lunch.  You'll end up with about half the original lot.  Using a very sharp knife, chop the bacon into very fine bits.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Cream the butter and the sugars together on your mixer's highest speed for a minimum of five minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.  Add the egg and the vanilla and beat for another two minutes.  Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Finally, add the bacon bits and the chocolate chips and stir just until mixed.

Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets (use Silpat liners if you have them).  Bake for 12 minutes, or until cookies are a light golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets, then transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.  Put the bowl of remaining dough in the fridge between batches.  Makes about 3 dozen.

Cold milk is an indispensable accompaniment to these decadent, chewy wonders.  If the entire batch weren't already all gone, I wouldn't hesitate to eat these for breakfast.  Try them and see what you think.




Stay on Target...Almost There...

How patient you have been! My cookbook Comfortably Yum should be available on Amazon any day now. Check back here in a day or two, and I'll give you all the details. (Click on the image above for a larger view of the adorable cover designed by Gary Brown, my uber-talented brother-in-law.)


The Answer is No

James got a subscription to Gourmet magazine for Christmas; every month, he pores over each glossy, fabulous issue and decides what to make. Last month, he chose Butterscotch Pudding; this month, he decided to try what was featured on the cover: Strawberry Mascarpone Tart.

Fueled by tonight's success, he's decided to make a Lemon Curd Pavlova with Mixed Berries for Easter. Don't think I'm limiting him to one recipe trial per month; he's just getting going.

Here he is with his masterpiece; we cut it and had a slice about 30 seconds after this photo was taken, and it was delicious. So no, the fruit hasn't fallen far from the tree. And this tree couldn't be prouder.