Sweet Potatoes: Not Just for Casseroles

November 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

I made Sweet Potato Biscuits this weekend and again today (using this recipe) as I had some leftover sweet potato puree.
Look at them all golden and puffy and delicious. I discovered this recipe several months ago and had to try it. Before that I’d never heard of or thought about a sweet potato biscuit. Now, I just think about what to put on them or in them. Maybe thick slices of ham and a slice of cheese? Honey and apple butter are both nice; I’ve tried them already. Or nothing at all.

Fans of flaky, buttermilk biscuits know well the perfection that can exist in the first chewy/crusty bite. It’s an understatement to say that it’s hard to wait for them to cool off before digging in. What could be simpler and at the same time so satisfying? Even the word biscuit sounds as delectable coming out of your mouth as the floury goodness tastes going in. Don’t talk about biscuits, say, on a road trip to another state for a friend’s wedding after you see a billboard for Cracker Barrel, but you have at least 2 more hours in the car. That’s torture.
With these, you can taste the buttermilk and a tang of something unexpected, I guess, the sweet potato, though it doesn’t announce itself boldly. It’s more of a creamy, textural addition that makes these biscuits almost spongy in the middle.
As it is sweet potato season, I expect I’ll be making more of these and soon!


Warming Trend

November 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

The other night I finally got around to cooking with a butternut squash I bought two weeks ago. I had experimented with this oddly formed gourd before, in a disastrous soup recipe with my friend Alison. I don’t blame the butternut; all the flavors just didn’t work together. Plus, it turned out a really unattractive color that one usually associates with illnesses that keep you at home for a few days.
Anyway, this time I was inspired, as I often am, by the Barefoot Contessa and her recipe for Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash. Not having any saffron on hand (and not being sure that I actually like saffron), I went with thyme instead.

My experience with risottos is that they need a little babysitting, but they pay off fantastically in the end.
I got what I was craving: a creamy, slightly sweet, chewy bowl of warmth with a bit of a tang from parmesan cheese.
And, it got me thinking about comfort. Every person probably has different thoughts on what qualifies and what is their personal favorite, but, for me, most comfort foods share warmth in common. Macaroni and cheese, white chili, buttermilk biscuits, steak and potatoes, chicken and orzo soup, gumbo…
Sure, a crisp salad or bowl of ice cream can be just the thing in summer, but when I think of comfort, I crave the coziness that comes from blankets and fires and hot beverages.
Perhaps comfort food is even more comforting this time of year, as the weather cools or downright freezes in some places.
Yet, this is one of my favorite times of year. The smells, the bite in the air that nibbles your nose, the richness of color, the literal closeness to friends and family (who wants to snuggle on the couch at the height of summer?)—all delight me.

So, I’m savoring it. And, while I may miss all the beautiful blueberries and plump tomatoes of summer, I know they’ll be back soon.

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