Monday, November 21, 2011

Hutcherson Family Sweet Potato Pie

Thanksgiving is almost here! Do you know what that means??? SWEET POTATO PIE! It's been a staple at every Hutcherson family turkey day dinner for as long as I can remember. My dad usually is tasked with making the pies for dinner and growing up I always would be there right alongside him elbow deep in pie filling. It is very much a part of my Thanksgiving tradition. In addition to getting to spend some time with my dad, I also was lucky enough to learn the recipe - if you can really call it that - by heart. What I mean by this is that the measurements aren't very exact - there's a lot of tasting and adjusting that goes on with the sugar/cinnamon/nutmeg amounts, but I've tried to measure how much I added in order to give you a pretty good starting point. I may actually be breaking some sort of unspoken family code by sharing this with you, but here it goes...

Ingredients (yields 1 pie):
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 frozen pie shell
Procedure: Place the whole sweet potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water, bring to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are done all the way through. You can poke them with a fork or knife every now and then to check if they're ready. Next you'll want to let the potatoes cool slightly, and while they're still warm you can easily remove the skin. Add the butter, egg, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt to the potatoes and blend together with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer. At this point you can give it a taste to see if you need a little extra sugar or maybe a dash more cinnamon. Be sure to blend the filling very well to get a smooth mixture. Fill the pie shell and bake. Now this is where my memory of the recipe gets a little fuzzy, so I called my dad. He said to bake it at 325 degrees for 20 minutes and then 375 until done, but he wasn't 100% sure. So of course I couldn't do exactly what my father said, so I decided to tweak the time and temperatures a bit. I baked the pie for 45 minutes at 350 degrees and then another 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

Here comes the hard part: you need to let it cool for a few hours (and preferably overnight) before consumption. I'm not sure why this is the case, but take my word for it. I cut myself a sliver shortly after it came out of the oven because I was anxious to see how my first solo sweet potato pie excursion turned out - it didn't taste like I remembered and thought that I messed up. "Darn!" (among many other expletives) ran through my head. Oh well, it was going with me to the Thanksgiving potluck at work later than week anyway. Luckily, when I took a taste the next day, all of the wonderful memories of sitting around the Thanksgiving table with my family came rushing back upon that first bite. Success!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Soba Noodle Vegetable Stir-Fry

A meal with no meat? I know, I was a little surprised with myself too. But as much of a carnivore as I am, I like to experiment with vegetarian dishes every now and again in order to make sure that I have options in my repertoire. Whenever I do have a meatless meal, I am not satisfied unless there is something of substance on the plate that will fill me up such as beans, potatoes, pasta, or some grain. Then I (almost) don't even miss the meat...almost.

  • buckwheat soba noodles
  • sesame oil
  • grated ginger
  • carrots
  • chili flakes
  • snow peas
  • enoki mushrooms
  • black bean garlic paste
  • soy sauce
  • sriracha sauce
  • black sesame seeds

Procedure: Cook the soba noodles according the instructions on the package, and I also threw a few chunks of ginger in the water to add a little extra flavor. Start by sauteing the carrots in the sesame oil with chili flakes and grated ginger. Add the snow peas after a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and add the mushrooms at the very last minuted or else they will essentially disintegrate. Add in a couple spoonfuls of the black bean garlic paste, a few dashes each of soy sauce and sriracha, and toss in your freshly cooked pasta. As always, taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds as a garnish.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Huevos Rancheros v2.0

Ever since I discovered my love of the egg yolk, I also stumbled upon a great liking for huevos rancheros (you can find a previous iteration here). Something about combining beans with eggs together in one bowl makes a delicious combo - the saltiness and earthiness of the beans combined with the rich creaminess of the yolk is a match made in heaven. It's somewhat akin to those celebrity couples that are sort of too good to be true, i.e. Will and Jada, Angelina and Brad, Barack and Michelle, Bert and Ernie, etc.

This new and improved version now includes bacon! (Obviously bacon makes everything better.) One of the beautiful byproducts of this salty seducer is bacon fat, and what can you do with bacon fat? Fry stuff. So in this case I took my cut up pieces of tortilla and crisped them up in the rendered bacon goodness. Be sure to drain them on a paper towel and sprinkle with a little salt as soon as you take them out of the pan.

I think the picture above kind of looks like the face of a cyclops - agree or disagree?

A little guacamole or salsa on the side would put this bowl over the top.