Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Four-Minute Side Dish, With a "Parasol & A Julep" Variation

For some reason I've been craving sweet potatoes. Odd, because it's not often I crave something that's so healthful.

[Quick sidebar - the hot new thing in professional food is bringing in industrial bio-chem equipment to turn, say, noodles into noodle vapor, spinach into a foam, and tilapia into a cracker. And again I say where, WHERE is the magic that turns brimming-with-health-but-not-calories leafy greens into something chocolatey and fab and diet-friendly??? If only these powers could be used for good....]

Having done the prep work for tonight's dinner before Sweetie and I went out tonight, our entree (a bare-bones Chicken Cordon Bleu, sans stinky cheese) came together quickly. Wanting a decent and FAST side dish, I cut a sweet potato into six or seven chunks, put them in a small bowl with a little chicken broth (water or vegetable broth would work equally well), covered the bowl with Saran wrap and poked a few holes, and threw it in the microwave for 3 - 5 minutes. I left the skins on for reasons of health (more fiber) and laziness, but this works fine if the taters are peeled.

The sweet potatoes were soft, rich, thoroughly cooked, and a terrific accompaniment to chicken stuffed with ham and cheese.

If - like a certain colleague from New Jersey who had her first taste of Southern food this weekend - you want to make a more traditional sweet potato souffle, you can embellish this recipe and get pretty close to the Mary Mac's version with minimal fuss.

Steam the sweet potatoes as described above - use water instead of broth. Nuke for 3 minutes - poke the largest chunk with a sharp knife. If it goes in easily, your potatoes are ready. If not, cook longer, checking every 60 seconds.

Drain the water.

In the cooking bowl add 1 TBSP butter, 2 TBSP milk, 1 TBSP brown sugar or maple syrup (whichever you have handy) and 1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg. Whip potatoes with a hand mixer. This is an adaptable recipe, and you can change any of the seasonings to taste. If it's not soft enough, use a splash more milk and an extra half-dollop of butter. Want a little sharper spice taste? Add 1/8 teaspoon (or less) ground cloves. This should serve 2, using the one largeish sweet potato.

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