Sweet potatoes yield kid-friendly dishes
BY CHEF VALARIE CARTER The Busy Kitchen
Monday, October 15, 2012
10/15/12 at 10:55 AM
Find more recipes from chefs Tiffany Poe and Valarie Carter.
Editor's note: The Busy Kitchen is a new Monday column written by two area chefs - Tiffany Poe and Valarie Carter - who also happen to be mothers of young children. They'll explore nutrition, cooking for kids and more.
Some research indicates that food's flavors pass from mom to amniotic fluid and then later, breast milk. In theory, this could lead to children who are more adventurous eaters if mom ate a varied and nutritious diet while pregnant and breastfeeding.
But judging from my kids' appetites, you'd think I made a steady diet of Cheetos and Dr Pepper!
If you, too, are faced with picky eaters, here's an idea for nutritious but kid-friendly food. Sweet potatoes. Don't save them for the winter holidays. Bake up some delicious sweet potato fries right now. Serve these with a chicken and pork burger on a wheat bun and a side of fresh fruit for a complete meal. (See my last article at tulsaworld.com/thebusykitchen.)
Sweet potato fries are a popular food trend at the moment. Experiment with different toppings for your fries. Try garlic, Parmesan cheese and parsley, Greek seasoning, seasoned salts, fresh herbs and butter, barbecue spice rub, curried yogurt, Sriracha mayonnaise, or cumin with a squeeze of lime.
And how about a Southern staple that so many "Northerners" just don't seem to understand? Sweet potato pie.
While it is a dessert, this fantastic pie gets high marks for nutrition compared to your average sweet treat. Sweet potatoes are a complex-carbohydrate, high in fiber, and beta-carotene, as well as Vitamins C and B6. With a pecan, oat and coconut topping, this pie is practically health food. Well, not really. But it is delicious.
A couple of notes: Sweet potatoes are not to be confused with yams. Though you may find cans of "yams" at the grocery store, they are most likely sweet potatoes. Yams are tubers and indigenous to Africa and Asia while sweet potatoes are root vegetables and native to South or Central America. Both are sweet and starchy but botanically, they are very different.
And, the next time you make baked sweet potatoes, prepare a little extra so you'll have it for the pie. Peel and mash them and store in a freezer bag until needed.
CRISPY BAKED SWEET POTATO FRIES
Serves about 6
4 large sweet potatoes, well scrubbed with any roots removed
Cornstarch for dusting, 2-3 tablespoons in a gallon size, zip-top bag
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper for seasoning
1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Slice sweet potatoes into approximately 4-inch long and 1/4-inch thick fries. (Leaving the skin on is OK.) The length isn't important, but you'll want the thicknesses to be about the same for uniform cooking.
2. Working in batches, place fries in bag of cornstarch. Coat very lightly, shake off any excess and place on a non-stick baking sheet. Leave plenty of space between the fries or they'll just steam and turn out soggy. You'll probably need 2-3 baking sheets.
3. Liberally drizzle olive oil over sweet potatoes, coating well. Use a spatula to turn them as needed to ensure complete coverage. More fat will yield a crispier fry.
4. Bake for 15 minutes and then give them a good shake or flip with a spatula. Continue baking for another 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. The fries should be golden and crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
MAPLE SWEET POTATO CRUNCH PIE
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if you have it
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 large eggs
12 ounces mashed sweet potatoes
12 ounces heavy whipping cream
1 unbaked pie shell - your favorite recipe
1 recipe crunch topping (left)
Whipped cream for serving (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, combine all pie ingredients and whisk well. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake for 30 minutes.
3. With the pie still in the oven, gently crumble the crunch topping onto the pie. Continue to bake 20-25 minutes or until the sides are set but the center of the pie is still slightly jiggly.
4. Cool at least 2 hours before serving with freshly whipped cream.
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup coconut
6 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1. For the crunch topping, combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas.
Tip: If you are out of brown sugar, you can make your own at home by blending one cup of white, granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon molasses and blend in food processor or with a fork.
Note: The addition of 1/4 cup dried cranberries would also be fantastic in the crunch topping.
Original Print Headline: Sweet potato yields kid-friendly dish
A native Oklahoman, Valarie Carter earned a bachelor's degree in English from Oklahoma State University and an associate of arts in culinary arts from the Art Institute of Atlanta. She, her husband and their children live in Muskogee.