Winter has arrived in full force, but that doens't mean your meals have to be one-dimensional. Alexandra Stafford of Alexandra Cooks shows us how to use the contents of our CSA to make comforting meals that still excite on the table.
Today: A cure for sweet potato ennui in the form of an elegant hors d'oeuvre.
With dark, dirt-covered roots dominating every square inch, a winter farm share box can look bleak at first glance. Only the most charitable of souls could guess that brilliant hues and crisp, sweet flesh lie beneath those weathered, gnarly surfaces. But few vegetables clean up as nicely as roots, and all it takes is a little grooming.
From watermelon radishes, whose magenta, kaleidoscopic cross-sections are as stunning as a summer's heirloom tomato, to slivers of raw, buttermilk-dressed celery root, this winter's bounty has been a surprise -- and it's disappearing much faster than anticipated. Pounds of sweet potatoes remain, but after discovering this recipe in The New Moosewood Cookbook, I have no fear of feeling overrun when the next box arrives.
Here, shredded sweet potato and onion, fresh lemon, a little flour, and eggs fry into the most irresistible pancakes, crispy on the edges and creamy in the center. They can be made large or small, and topped with anything from a hearty fried egg doused with hot sauce to a delicate spoonful of caviar sprinkled with chives. No matter the adornment, a dollop of crème fraîche (or sour cream or yogurt) is essential to balance the sweetness and cut the grease. And if you make tablespoon-sized pancakes, as I've done here, you have the makings of a perfect hors d'oeuvre to serve at a New Year's Eve gathering.
With the holiday season nearing its end, the time has just about come to liberate the sweet potato from those warm spices, brown sugars, and candied toppings. In just a few days we'll be roasting cubes with coconut oil for dinner or juicing wedges with kale for breakfast. But not before we pop open the Champagne and resolve to be better humans. Till then, fry away. Happy New Year, everyone.
Choosing and storing your sweet potatoes:
Prepping your sweet potatoes:
Cooking your sweet potatoes:
More ways to cook your sweet potatoes:
Sweet Potato Pancakes with Caviar and Crème Fraîche
From The New Moosewood Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 2000)
Makes 25 to 30 hors d'oeuvre-sized fritters
4 cups coarsely grated sweet potatoes
1/2 cup grated onion
3 to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup flour
Neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed, for frying
Crème fraîche, sour cream, yogurt, or apple sauce for serving
Caviar, for serving (optional)
Fresh chives, minced, for serving
How do you put sweet potatoes to good use, all winter long? Tell us in the comments!
Photos by Alexandra Stafford