Sweet Potato Pancakes (Latkes)

Wow. I must be on a sweet potato kick–hadn’t realized it. These are delicious. I love them. We usually eat them as a main course, although I know they’re more common as a side. This recipe comes from a 2006 Everyday Food.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled
3 scallions, finely chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 c. vegetable oil
sour cream, for serving

1. Coarsely grate sweet potatoes on the large holes of a box grater ) or use a food processor fitted with a shredding blade). Transfer to a large bowl: stir in scallions, eggs, flour, 1 t. coarse salt and 1/2 t. pepper.

2. Using a packed 1/4 c. measure of potato mixture per pancake shape into mounds. With hands, form each into a firm ball; transfer to a baking sheet. With palm, flatten balls into 3/4″ cakes.

3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium until hot.* Using a metal spatula with a thin blade, carefully transfer 6 cakes to skillet; flatten to about 1/2″ thick. Cook until golden brown, 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer pancakes to a paper-towel-lined plate; sprinkle with coarse salt. Repeat with remaining cakes. Serve immediately, with sour cream, if desired.

*Make sure not to get the pan too hot (like on high heat), or the sides will brown too quickly, but the middles won’t be cooked entirely.

Pad Thai (Thai Noodles)

I have recently attended several fabulous Chinese cuisine classes at Orson Gygi in Salt Lake and this recipe will change your life. The instructor is Meiling Dawson who’s mantra is the fresher your ingredients the better your result.

Happy Cooking!

(Almost all these ingredients you can find at your local supermarket. For fresh rice noodles, Fish Sauce (the clearer the better) and the Red Chili Paste, I go to an asian market. And just an FYI, I always double it and have used no meat, shrimp, chicken, and tofu. My own personal comments are in italics. Everything else is Meiling.)

Pad Thai (Thai Noodles)

7 oz. dried rice stick noodles (you can also used fresh), 5 mm wide

4 T. Canola oil (when I double it, I don’t double this)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 LB. raw shrimp, 21/25

2 eggs, beaten

2 green onions, cut into 2″ lengths

1 C. bean sprouts

Sauce

1/4 Cup Fish Sauce

1/4 Cup Sugar

1 T Paprika

2 T Soy Sauce

1 T Vinegar

1/4 Cup Water (1/2 if using dried noodles)

1/2 T Red Chili Paste, optional (I use Sambal Oelek brand)

1/4 Cup Roasted Peanuts, chopped

Soak dry rice noodle in warm water for an hour or until soft. Heat the wok until hot, add the oil, garlic, and shrimp; Cook until shrimp are turning pink about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the drained noodles and beaten eggs to the shrimp mixture. Stir fry until the noodles are soft, then add sauce, bean sprouts, and green onion. (Sometimes I remove the shrimp while I cook the noodles so they are not over done, adding them after the noodles are ready before I add the sauce, bean sprouts, and green onion.) Combine thoroughly, heat through (I find the sauce cools things off dramatically so it needs to be heated back up. I also like to cook off some of the liquid so it isn’t too runny) and transfer to serving plate. Sprinkle top with chopped peanuts.

So Good!!!!

Red Pepper, Chicken and Pesto Pasta

For me, pesto is the ultimate comfort food, and it’s an easy thing to have on hand. If you make more than you can use in one meal, you can freeze the leftover pesto in muffin trays (or ice cube trays), and toss it in with warm pasta the next time you make it. Anyway, I love this pesto, and it’s a simple dinner.

Pesto

3-4 cloves garlic, skins on
1/4 c. pinenuts
2 c. basil leaves, packed
1/4 c. olive oil
1/3 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 t. salt

Warm a small skillet over medium heat, and toast the pinenuts until fragrant and lightly browned (be careful not to scorch–turn the heat down if the nuts are blackening), tossing the pan gently every couple of minutes. Remove nuts to a small bowl to cool, and add the garlic to the pan. Heat garlic until fragrant, and skins have browned as well, about 6-8 minutes. Remove to a cutting board to cool.

After nuts and garlic have cooled enough to touch, peel the skins off of the garlic and place both the garlic and nuts in a food processor (I do this in my mini-prep plus–a very small food processor). Add the basil, olive oil and salt and process until finely chopped. Remove to a bowl, and add the parmesan cheese. Pesto is done.

Red Pepper, Chicken, and Pesto Pasta
So, for a meal, I heat some olive oil, saute a diced onion and red pepper until softened (about 8 minutes), and turn off the heat. Meanwhile, I either reheat or cook chicken sausages until done (I like Sweet Italian or Apple Sausage), and then slice them and add the it to the onion and red pepper mixture. I then toss the onion/sausage mixture with cooked pasta (I like either penne or spaghetti) and the pesto in one bowl. It’s a whole meal in one :).

Note: I’ve learned this year that there are a lot of different combinations for pesto that work out well. A few that I’ve tried are substituting 1 c. parsley and 1 c. spinach for the basil, and substituting walnuts for pinenuts. You can also add spinach or parsley to the basic pesto–it keeps the pesto greener and gives it a few more nutrients as well.

Veggie Burgers with Bulgur Wheat and Tahini

I’m not an expert of veggie burgers, but I think this is a good one. If you’re expecting it to taste like beef, it doesn’t, but it has a nice flavor and texture and is another way to use beans (if you happen to have lots of them on hand, like me). Plus, they’re a great alternative to the sometimes unending amount of hamburgers and hotdogs we seem to eat in the summertime . . .

Veggie Burgers with Bulgur Wheat and Tahini
Makes about 4 large patties

1 15 oz. can pinto beans or 1 1/2 c. cooked pinto beans, drained
1/2 c. bulgur wheat
1/4 c. dried bread crumbs, panko, or saltines, crumbled, (whatever you have on hand)
1 egg
1 carrot, grated coarsely
4 spring onions (scallions), sliced thinly
2 T. tahini (sesame seed butter–found by the peanut butter in most markets. Not necessary, but has a great flavor and can be used in hummus, if you need another use for it)
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
2-3 T. vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put the bulgur wheat in a heat-resistant bowl, pour 1 c. boiling water on top, and then cover with a plate. Let sit for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mash the beans, and then add bread crumbs, egg, carrot, spring onions, tahini, and cayenne pepper. Add the bulgur, once it has cooked, and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Shape the mixture into patties, or simply drop the mixture into the hot oil and flatten and shape them to look like patties. Cook on each side for approximately 5-6 minutes.

Serve on buns. You can make a tahini mayonnaise (1/2 c. mayo, 1 T. tahini, and juice from one lemon, with a little salt) to accompany. I serve these with a salad and roasted sweet potatoes.

Restaurant-Style Quesadillas

The first time I made these, I was amazed at how something so simple could taste complicated and felt satisfied that this quesadilla recipe had reached perfection. These are easy enough to be a go-to recipe, and yet extremely wonderful. Enjoy!

Quesadillas

8 flour tortillas
1 8-oz. bottle roasted red peppers, liquid drained and chopped, or 1/2 c. favorite bottled salsa
1 chipotle chile from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. cilantro, sprigs removed and roughly chopped
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 c. shredded chicken (optional)
2 c. monterey jack cheese, shredded
2 T. vegetable oil

Combine chile, garlic, cilantro, and red peppers (or salsa) in a small bowl. Heat a skillet to medium heat. Brush one side of a tortilla with vegetable oil, place oil-side down in the skillet, then spread 1/4 of the chile mixture on the top of the tortilla, place a few rings of onion on top, then top with chicken and cheese. Place another tortilla on top, then place a heavy-bottomed pan or skillet on top of the quesadilla (to flatten it down and even it out during cooking). Cook for 3-4 minutes, take the pan off the quesadilla, brush the top tortilla with oil, and flip with a large spatula. Place the large skillet/pan on top of the quesadilla again and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and using a pizza cutter, slice into six pie pieces. Repeat process 3 more times to make 4 quesadillas.

Top with sour cream, quacamole, etc.

Note: These are absolutely terrific with homemade tortillas!

Curried Lentils in Tomato Sauce

For Cambria and anyone else up for an easy Indian dish: This is a great recipe, especially for using stuff on hand. But even for not using stuff on hand, it’s still a winner (almost surprisingly, I know, but try it).

Curried Lentils in Tomato Sauce

I hope this doesn't look like dog food to anyone . . .

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (2 inches long), peeled and finely grated
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (page 64; optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 jar (26 ounces) best-quality store-bought tomato sauce
  • 2 cans (20 ounces each) cooked lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • Cooked basmati (or other long-grain white) rice, for serving

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onion and ginger; season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add spices; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.
  3. Add tomato sauce, lentils, and 1 cup water. Simmer until slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice and cilantro; season with salt.
  4. Serve lentil mixture with rice; garnish with more cilantro, if desired.