Simple sweet potato fries

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Try, try again — and then keep trying until you finally figure it out. That’s what I did with this recipe for sweet potato fries.

Over the past few months I tried making sweet potato fries that were somewhat soft on the inside and a bit crisp on the outside. My first couple attempts were failures due to too much oil that left the fries soggy. When I reduced the amount of oil, the fries still didn’t get crisp, so I started lining the baking sheet with parchment paper. That helped a great deal, but there was still too much oil. I needed something to soak it up. I read someone else’s recipe for sweet potato fries, and they said they added cornstarch, so I did the same. The fries were almost there, they just needed more seasoning. I’m glad to say that, on about my seventh attempt, I got a recipe I can use again for sweet potato fries.

This recipe makes a single serving, but can easily be multiplied to make as much as you want. Enjoy.

Ingredients
1 sweet potato
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Meanwhile, peel potato and cut into 1/4-inch strips, or as uniformly as possible so they fries cook evenly.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill a one-gallon sealable plastic bag with the arrowroot, ginger, salt and cayenne pepper.

On either a cutting board, in a bowl, or in another bag, drizzle the olive oil over the cut potato. Mix until fries are evenly coated. Put the potato pieces in the bag with the dry mixture. Seal the bag and shake until fries are evenly coated.

Place fries on the parchment paper in a single layer. Be sure to avoid crowing so they don’t stick together and keep from getting crisp. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, turn fries over, and bake for about 15 minutes more, or until slightly crispy. Serve hot.

A sweeter spin on scalloped potatoes

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Some vegetables stump me when it comes to figuring out new ways to prepare them. Sweet potatoes are one I struggle with. Outside of baking them or cutting them up into small pieces and frying them, I didn’t really know what else to do with them — that is, until I saw a recipe for Pumpkin Scalloped Potatoes on Pinterest.

The sauce for this recipe is sweet, and the thyme lends a really nice flavor to it. The first time I made this, I used both Yukon Gold potatoes and yams, but the combination of the sweeter sauce and the Yukon Gold potatoes didn’t taste quite right to me. I liked the idea of making a pumpkin cream sauce with herbs for the potatoes, so I made the dish a second time only using yams. It was much better.

I used a mandolin slicer to cut the potatoes, and it was really nice to have all the pieces cut uniformly. I used cheddar and Parmesan, since that’s what I had in the fridge. The cheese added a much-needed savory flavor to the dish, which helps balance the overall taste.

This dish is a great way to make the most of fall flavors. It’s a nice comfort food for cold days, too. I may consider making it for Thanksgiving this year.

1scallopedsweetpotatoes111013Ingredients
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/3 teaspoon dried thyme)
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated is best!)
2 large yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces Fontina, Havarti or cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick spray.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, pumpkin, thyme, garlic and nutmeg and heat over medium-low heat. While the cream sauce is warming, prepare the potatoes.

Create three rows of potatoes along the bottom of the dish, overlapping slightly and alternating the two types of potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove the cream from heat (fishing out the thyme and garlic and discarding those) and spoon 1/3 of the cream sauce over the potatoes. Combine the two cheeses in a medium bowl. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheeses over the potatoes too. Create a second layer of potatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1/3 more of the sauce and 1/3 more of the cheese. Create a third layer of potatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remainder of the sauce.

Bake the potatoes, uncovered, for 50 minutes. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is slightly browned and bubbly.