Decemner 22, 2004
Sweet potatoes may be used in muffins, pancakes, fritters, cookies and flans. Yes, yes, we know — what we usually call sweet potatoes are actually yams, but we’ll leave the botany lesson for another time.
For the sake of this column, sweet potatoes are those wonderful orange-fleshed vegetables that add color to holiday menus.
Sweet potatoes are willing palettes for whatever seasoning we throw on them, and they are able to be subjected to all kinds of heat and manipulation.
Purists prefer a simple baked sweet potato. If you are aiming for a true baked one, merely scrub the skin, dry it off, rub with a little bit of oil, if you like, and bake it in a 400-degree oven for about an hour. If you microwave your sweet potato or wrap it in aluminum while it’s still wet and cook it in the oven, you will get a steamed sweet potato. This has a great taste, but a different texture. Some restaurants tend to use the steamed-baked method, because it’s fast and yields a moister product.
Sweet potatoes may be boiled or steamed, sliced and tossed with butter and sweet spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, mace, nutmeg and cardamon. Or you can make Boston browned sweet potatoes (boiled sweet potatoes tossed with paprika, salt and pepper and oven browned); Saratoga sweet potatoes (thick homemade sweet potato chips); or scalloped sweet potatoes (sliced, boiled sweet potatoes combined with a white sauce and baked in the oven until bubbly). Layer sweet potatoes and apples into a baking dish, cover with orange juice concentrate, dot with margarine and bake.
Of course, diced boiled sweet potatoes may be used for hot dishes, such as soups, casseroles and cold salads. Sweet potato croquettes and sweet potato pancakes may be made from grated, raw sweet potatoes combined with bread crumbs, eggs, egg substitutes or soft tofu for binding and herbs. Croquettes are formed into three-dimensional triangles and fried or baked. Pancakes are griddled or baked until they are crispy. Serve croquettes with an herbed white sauce, tomato vegetable sauce or mushroom gravy. Serve pancakes with applesauce, sour cream, hot fruit compote or fruit salad.
If you have leftover baked sweet potatoes, mash them with a little milk, butter or margarine, orange juice concentrate, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg for a side dish. This same combination can be thinned with pureed silken tofu or milk and served as sweet potato soup.
Regardless of how you serve sweet potatoes, you are loading your menu with fiber and antioxidants, not to mention beta carotene. Your cardiorespiratory system and your visual centers will thank you.