Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Leftover Adventures: Sweet Potatoes

You know how it is. The sweet potatoes, those delicious, golden, delightful treats, have been taken from the Thanksgiving table and are now sitting in your refrigerator, limp, cold, and oozing sticky liquid. What are  you going to do with them?

Pies, cakes, and sweet breads are out. It's after Thanksgiving and before Christmas. No one needs more deserts.  They don't reheat well, and anyway, everyone is glutted on leftovers, so just re-serving them won't do.

Time to turn to the internet for recipes! And then, if you're like me, to adjust the recipes to suit what is actually in the fridge rather than what else you might add to the bounty.

Last night's main course was Jamaican Red Bean Stew, from the Savvy Vegetarian, which gets bonus points for being a crockpot recipe and additional bonus points for being vegetarian and thus something everyone will eat. Crockpot recipes are good. I can make them when I have the time and other people can eat them when they have the time, and it works out well for everyone.

Variations ensue: I discover that I don't have red beans. The cupboard appears to have every other kind of bean, canned and dried, but not red. So, I cook some pinto beans, which turns out well, but means there's more liquid than the recipe strictly calls for.

Because of that, and because I just don't feel like using them, I leave out the canned tomatoes.

I use the whole can of light coconut milk because a partial can of anything is hard to figure out what to do with. That, also, affects the amount of liquid, but since I'm using bouillon, not broth, it's easy to adjust there.

And I used about 1/8 of a teaspoon red pepper flakes and substitute a yellow onion for scallions. Onion, I always have on hand. Scallions take planning. Besides, the goal is to use what is here, not to add to the collection.

Verdict? Yum! This recipe (alterations and all) is a keeper. It's sweet and creamy with just a hint of a bite from the red pepper flakes and a slight tang from the onion.

On to the side dish:

Sweet Potato Biscuits, from Cooking Light. Alterations: None. Biscuits are picky. Result? A very tasty, golden biscuit. They were slightly tough, which mostly means I handled them too much, but also, given the crunchy bottoms, that I should have baked them for maybe two minutes less.

After dinner, with one-and-a-bit sweet potato left, I decided to make Sweet Potato Yeast Bread, which I made last year. I had to think about this one because I used part of one recipe and part of another and did not make notes. I often forget to make notes when I wander away on my own paths. I know I used one of Cooking Light's recipes to get ideas for the flavoring. I'm pretty sure it was Sweet Potato Bread with Flax Seed, though I left the flax seed out because not everyone likes it. Also, I definitely used less sweet stuff, because this is bread, not cake. Then I put it into yeast bread. This time, I took notes:

Sweet Potato Yeast Bread
1 T sugar
1 T dry yeast
1/4 Cup water
1 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 T butter
1 t salt
1/4 C brown sugar

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes and 350 for half an hour. If it sounds sort of hollow when you flick the bottom (Kind of a "thwock" sound), it's done.

The water is going to be really approximate. I thought I'd add 1/4 cup and ended up adding 1/3 because it seemed to dry, and then found I had to add a bit more flour. It might be easier to regulate hand-kneading, but there was a lot else going on, so I let the bread machine take care of that part. The dough was really soft and sticky, even then, so though it worked, I'm back to thinking 1/4 C is a better starting point.

The bread is still good, though, a soft, sweet, golden loaf. It's prone to crumbling, but I don't think it's going to be sitting around very long.

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