Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

"So let the whole damn world go by
'Cause I just want to testify
From now on it's me and my
Sweet Potato Pie Fries" - with apologies to Ray Charles
Sweet potato fries are a recent addition to my favorite food list. Not too many years ago you wouldn't find sweet potato anything as my favorite, no way! Just mention sweet potatoes and my taste buds would recoil at the thought of another cloyingly sweet Thanksgiving casserole topped with brown sugar and mini marshmallows... but that's history. I have since learned to enjoy baked Hasselback sweet potatoes, nuked sweet potatoes mashed with a bit of butter, sweet potato wedges roasted with a hint of honey and cinnamon, and of course the ubiquitous restaurant-prepared sweet potato french fries. Sigh. if only I could replicate those crisp-on-the-outside fluffy-in-the-middle sweet potato batons, but baked in the oven and not deep fried. Baked seems so much healthier than fried, but the secret to a crisp exterior remains elusive. 

A Food52 recipe offered a promising start with a recipe that won Community Pick status. A spicy Southwest seasoning mix hit all of the right flavor notes, but the fries refused to crisp up enough to suit us me. We cheerfully ate almost the entire batch anyway. A remaining handful of baked fries were a tasty addition to the next morning's breakfast hash.

Hilary's new spiralizer was no match for two largish, unpeeled sweet potatoes so she cut most of the sticks by hand. The few shreds that came off the spiralizer hit a hot, lightly oiled skillet and proceeded to wilt more than crisp and taste too strongly of peel rather than tater. Forget the pan-fried approach for skinny shreds!  

The hand-cut, oven-baked method produced such tasty fries that we voted to give it another kitchen test... soon. Perhaps more time in the oven will do the trick; we'll be more patient in the future. I just can't get enough of those spicy sweet potato fries.

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries with Chili Cilantro Sour Cream Sauce
recipe closely adapted from the Food52 cookbook
serves 3-4

2 large sweet potatoes, unpeeled, cut in large sticks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoky chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, more or less to taste
Chili-Cilantro Sour Cream Sauce (recipe below)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Use your hands and toss the sweet potato sticks and olive oil in a large bowl.
  3. Add the salt, cumin, chile powder, paprika, pepper and cayenne to a small bowl and stir to mix.
  4. Add the spices to the potatoes and toss to coat thoroughly.
  5. Arrange the potatoes in one layer on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake in preheated oven on the lowest rack until the undersides are browned, about 15 minutes. Flip potatoes with a large spatula and bake an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and serve on a warmed platter. Offer Chili-Cilantro Sour Cream as an optional topping.

Chili-Cilantro Sour Cream Sauce
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon  lime juice
lime zest (optional)
2 teaspoons sweet Thai chili sauce
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 heaping tablespoon chopped cilantro

Combine all the ingredients except the cilantro in a medium bowl and whisk together. Stir in cilantro. Chill until ready to serve.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

In My Kitchen; September/October 2015

The kitchen view to the southeast reminds me that no matter how warm the temperature, it is already Fall... ready or not, it's here. Put away the summer shorts and pull out the sweaters. We're back ashore, readjusting to life in town for the next several months. Eagles still fly overhead, Canadian geese still honk away to awaken us in the morning, but I find I miss the gentle rocking of the boat and the ready access to just-caught seafood. The seafood memory is one of the reasons why I love my assorted seafood plates and platters. 

In my kitchen...

... you will find a set of vintage, hand-painted porcelain koi plates discovered at a local shop in Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood. Each plate is unique, crowded with a lively swirl of colorful, schooling fish. The plates are more decorative than functional, but no matter. They bring a smile whenever I set them out for display.

In my kitchen...

...this shrimp platter is a heavy, more durable stoneware favorite. Some days it is displayed on a countertop stand, but more often it's tucked away in a stack of platters. Occasionally, like today, it's useful as a serving piece. Heated in a low-temperature oven, it kept a batch of spicy sweet potato fries warm at the table. (link)

In my kitchen...

...I'm back on crutches again, so niece Hilary and RL have been on kitchen duty. Oh my, we have dined well on their culinary efforts! It would be easy to continue "playing lady", but I miss my usual free-wheeling activity in the kitchen. 

...a spicy Roasted cauliflower sandwich was so incredibly flavorful that we didn't miss the meat. I know, I know, I can't believe I said that, but it's true. 

...we enjoyed yet another version of Okonomiyaki, Japanese Cabbage and Shrimp Pancakes, the product of a friendly kitchen cookoff between two dueling skillets.

...Garlicy Lemon Hummus with Raw Vegetables made a tempting light lunch and anytime snack. This chickpea spread might not be pretty, but hummus is SO delicious as a dip, a sandwich filling or straight off a spoon (shhhh, don't tell). 

...Hil pulled a multilayered, multiflavored, winning recipe from a magazine and produced this amazing dinner plate: grilled chicken, marinated chickpea salad, Greek salad with feta and a zippy tzatziki sauce, all piled high on a warm Greek pita. Flavorful, filling and fabulous! 

In my kitchen...

... I'm finding ways to maneuver with one crutch, often leaning on a counter or carefully slicing and dicing while seated on a stool. Lately I've been in charge of leftovers-for-lunch and finally did some baking. Old Faithful, my trusty sourdough starter, welcomed the opportunity to produce a fine loaf of no knead sourdough bread with walnuts and a beer kick. It's good to be easing, ever so slowly, back into action in my kitchen

What's happening in your kitchen these days? As usual, Celia at figjamandlimecordial is hosting her monthly linkup to kitchens around the world. Stop by and visit, won't you? 

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