Sauteed Curried Sweet Potato

from: Daniel Larkin
to: Jamey Bennett

This is really easy, and I think you need to know.  I stumbled across the greatest method of making potatoes ever.  You can use regular potatoes with any savory spices you want, but I’ll used curried sweet potatoes as my example.

Cut two large sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch cubes — approximately.

Mix (and these are guesses on the measurements)

  •     1tbs red curry powder
  •     1/2 tsp cinnamon
  •     1tbs brown sugar
  •     Salt and pepper to taste

Toss the potato cubes in a bowl with oil (safflower is a good option) and all of the dry spices.  Bake in oven at 400º until almost done — maybe about 15 or 20 minutes.

Pull these suckers out the oven and sauté in butter until golden brown.

The baking cooks the potatoes and melds the flavors, but the sautéing really gives each cube a solid outside that you don’t get any other way.  Use them as a side, or add them to other dishes.

These go GREAT in stir-fry, or you can use Mexican themed spices and put them in tacos!  Or use this method with regular potatoes, but sub in some garlic and rosemary!  Just do it!  Whatever you do!

That is all.

West African Peanut Soup

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin


I’ve only just discovered African food in the last year or so, and I am a huge fan of what I’ve had. My exposure is still pretty much limited to Ethopian food and Harissa sauce. The nearby Whole Foods carries a couple of kinds of Harissa, and I’m in love with the one from a DC area company, Cava. Soon, I’m going to try my hand at making my own Harissa.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying a bowl of this delicious peanut soup. I got the idea from the Eating Well website, but I made a few modifications that I think made a big difference.

Here it is. I took two sizable sweet potatoes, poked a few holes in them with a fork, and microwaved them for 8-1/2 minutes. While that was happening, I sauteed the equivalent of a small red onion (diced) in my cast iron skillet with oil. As the onions were browning, I threw in two large garlic cloves, diced.

After everything looked and smelled the way I wanted, I added 1-1/2 cups of ketchup and 1-1/2 cups of water. The recipe actually called for tomato juice, but I didn’t have any, and I thought it might be reminiscent of barbecue sauce if I used ketchup. Not very West African, I know, but I think it was actually a good choice.

After a minute or so, I added a handful of jarred sliced jalapenos, 1 teaspoon of ginger powder, and 1 teaspoon of all spice.

While I let all that boil for about 10 minutes, I peeled the sweet potatoes, dicing one to small bite-sized pieces and putting the other in my food processor. I added 1/2 cup of all natural chunky peanut butter to the food processor, and 2 cups of broth. I didn’t have vegetable broth on hand, so I did the next best thing and used a tomato-chicken buillion cube, dissolved in two cups of hot water. Once blended, I put that mixture, and the chunky sweet potato into the skillet. Stirred. Lots of stirring.

Now, this is where things get a little less precise and a little more creative. I thought it was too thick, so I added another cup of water. I didn’t think it was spicy enough, so I added paprika, cayenne, and crushed red pepper to taste, along with a fairly generous amount of fresh ground black pepper.

Once everything tasted about right, I spooned it into a bowl, and garnished with cilantro.

Okay, now I’m going to go eat a second bowl.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

from Daniel Larkin
to jamey w. bennett 

As you obviously saw from my Instagram photo yesterday, I made sweet potato gnocchi last night.  It was my first attempt at any kind of gnocchi, and it was WAY easier than the online reviews made it sound.  These were actually a kind of trial run for something I’ve wanted to take camping for a while, but they turned out so well, I think I’ll bring them into the regular rotation at home.

The gnocchi was simple.

  • 2 one pound sweet potatoes
  • Approximately 1-1/2 cups (maybe more) of all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Shredded parmesan

I peeled two large sweet potatoes (peel deep, because there’s a thicker layer than you think)

Then I sliced the naked spuds into 1/2 disks and baked them at 400º until done – flipping once.  (I suppose you could just bake the potatoes and then scoop the meat out)

I let the potatoes cool before mashing them, and then I tossed in one egg, a tablespoon of salt, a few shakes of cinnamon and a large pinch of grated parmesan.  Then I mixed in about 1-1/2 cups of flour until I had a good doughy consistency.  (Start with a good heaping cup of flour and add the rest slowly until you can work the dough ball without too much sticky mess on your fingers.)

When the dough was ready, I quartered the ball. I split each quarter again and rolled these smaller dough balls into 1/2-inch dowels on the counter (I was constantly flouring the counter to prevent stickage).  From there I just cut the dough-dowels into 1-inch pieces.  (Most posts told me to accent the gnocchi by pressing it with the prongs of a fork, but I couldn’t do that without mashing them)

With the dough split into such small batches, I was able to boil the gnocchi in rounds as I cut.  I dropped the gnocchi into the boiling water and let them go for a minute or two after they start to float.  When I took them out of the water they were done and ready to eat, but I wasn’t finished yet!

Since I didn’t sweeten the gnocchi dough, I wanted to toss it in something sweet.  And what I came up with was perfect.

  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • Approximately one ounce of pure maple syrup
  • Approximately 3 ounces of apple juice

I just mixed and reduced all of these ingredients until it was a good gooey syrup.  Then I pan fried the cooked gnocchi in this mix until they were golden brown.  I didn’t end up using all of the syrup, but it’s good to have some extra in case we needed it.

The last, and most perfect, detail, was to garnish with a generous sprinkling of toasted almonds. (I kept extra almonds on the side, and people added them as they wanted)

Dude, this was awesome.  We ate it with snap peas sauteed with garlic and soy sauce, and grilled duck breast that had been marinating in John’s secret sauce.  (It’s a secret because even he doesn’t know the recipe; he just adds stuff until it tastes good.  I do know that it uses olive oil, sherry, lemon juice, rosemary, corse ground mustard, shallots and soy sauce.)

Anyway, I ate well last night and it made me think of you.

How’s Lent going?