Thursday, September 8, 2011

RECIPE: Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle (WCN 09/2011)

We had some beautiful sweet potatoes in our mystery basket. We really just wanted to stare at them, but that would have made for some lousy radio. Fortunately I had made chili a few days earlier and thought to bring along the leftover chipotles so I could deploy one of my favorite flavor combinations.

Sweet potatoes
Chipotles in adobo sauce
Cream (milk, heavy cream, 1/2 and 1/2, even plain yogurt would be good)

Trim sweet potatoes, slice thick, and boil until soft. Drain and mash gently. Stir in some honey and a couple of chipotles, chopped, with plenty of the adobo hanging on them. Add a little cream, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust.

1.) Chipotles are pantry magic! The secret is that ridiculously tasty adobo sauce that they pack them in--far tastier than anything from a can should be. If you puree the peppers and the sauce up in a blender or food processor you can keep it covered in the fridge pretty much forever (hat tip to Bobby Flay). Start with a little of the chipotle and taste as you go; you're going for more smoky than hot.
2.) As with all potatoes, you want to mash them gently so you don't activate the gluten in them. Mash them just until they're mashed and then stir in the other ingredients.
3.) Despite the "sweet" moniker, sweet potatoes usually benefit from a little sweetening up. Honey worked well here; maple syrup would also be spectacular.
4.) You need very little cream here. If you just left it out it would probably be OK, but it will help take the hot edge off the chipotles (leaving more tangy and smoky flavor).

RECIPE: Quick Pickled Green Tomato Caprese (WCN 09/11)

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed last night's show with the folks from Grow Appalachia and their stunning mystery basket of produce. Seriously, it was so beautiful that we didn't even want to cut it up and cook it. If anything the bounty of produce led us to overreach and try to do far too much, but it wouldn't be WCN! if we didn't overdo something.

Maggie brought some lovely green tomatoes; she wasn't sure of the variety, but they apparently stay green. They were tart and delicious, so Jenny suggested pickling them. Recipes from this show are VERY rough since we were cooking on the fly, but I'll do my best.

Green tomatoes
Rice wine vinegar
Black pepper
Fresh mozzarella
Herbs, assorted (parsley worked well)

Slice green tomatoes as thinly as possible. (A mandoline is excellent for this.) Make a brine with rice vinegar and salt--you want about a 5% brine for pickles, and a cup of liquid to a tablespoon of salt will get you pretty close. Add a big dollop of honey--more than you think, since you have a lot of sour to counteract. Add a little black pepper. Taste and make sure it's tasty.

Submerge the tomatoes in the brine. Toss them around occasionally. In 30-45 minutes they should be nice and pickly. Arrange them on a plate with chunks of fresh mozzarella and sprinkle some herbs on top.

1.) This would be excellent with a fresh goat cheese, feta, cojita, or any sort of young cheese.
2.) A little red pepper flake might be nice in the pickle brine as well.
3.) DO NOT use quick pickle recipes for canning! Always use tested recipes for preserving.

Back from the dead!

So the WCN! staff has really let the blog go recently, but it's time to ride again! I will be working on redesigning it, but in the meantime I'll be posting recipes from last night's show later today.