Friday, October 25, 2013

Roasted Witch Finger-ling Salad with Greeeeen Pesto Sauce

It's officially the week before Halloween and I had to share something soooo crazy-fun!  This is a fingerling potato salad...that looks like something totally morbid. Witch fingers. Mmm. I don't know which witch had to give up her flanges to give me this idea, but it has been fun seeing the various reactions from around my house.  Both boys, age 14 and 11 asked me if they could eat them right away.  Ace, my husband, wouldn't eat them at all. He said they looked too evil to eat...and really sick. Yup. That's the point darling. Though I do have to say that I had a really hard time not eating them!  Plus. They're greeeeeeeen!
 Just to set the record straight, they really are just potatoes...

So today when I got some fingerling potatoes from the market, I decided to do a Halloween theme.

You'll need:
One pound of fingerling potatoes, steamed or roasted until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with 1-2 Tablespoons of your favorite oil.  

I'm partial to this Ahuacatlan Avocado Oil infused with chipotle. It just gives this awesome kick to the potatoes...and has a really great high smoke-point so it won't add free funky-radicals to my body. I'm radical enough, thank you very much. 
 Cooking the potatoesPersonally, I like to either pressure cook the potatoes 5-6 minutes on high pressure (natural release) or roast them in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooling, make the sauce.

 Chef Tess Wicked Witch Low-fat Pesto Dressing
1 cup parsley
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
2T dry basil or Chef Tess Romantic Italian Seasoning
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (instead of oil)
1/4 cup basil infused olive oil
juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Puree in a blender until smooth...and Greeeeeen....

 Seriously. The squash puree not only makes it low fat, but also makes it a nice bright green. Using the fresh parsley and dry herbs, lowers the cost dramatically without skimping on the flavor. is greeeeeeeeen. 
 Drizzle the sauce over the potatoes. You can use as much or as little as you'd like.

Arrange decoratively on a tray and garnish with blanched almond halves for "fingernails" if desired.
Serve warm or cold. Though, cold is more authentic...for a witch finger. Right? Plus, they're greeeeeen! Happy Halloweeeeeeeeen!

Have fun this week!
Always My Very Best,
Chef Stephanie Petersen

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Guest Post: Pressure Cooker New York Style Cheesecake in 20 Minutes

 Today I shared a really cool way to bake a cheesecake as a guest post on the Here. It cooks in 20 minutes in the pressure cooker, and the texture is remarkable!
I also shared a chocolate raspberry cheesecake variation using the same recipe!
Go check it out darlings! They also did a PrintPrint Friendly version.
Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Monday, October 21, 2013

Are My Yams Really Sweet Potatoes? Does Anybody Really Care?

 Recently someone asked me why we called sweet potatoes "yams" and why they were different colors?  I thought they were just different varieties of yams.   I really didn't have a definitive answer. I really don't like not being a smarty-pants.  So I thought I'd look into it.  I, Chef Tess, learned something new! Come to find out...what I had called "sweet potatoes" were just one variety of sweet potato (the white ones)...and there were many in the USA in fact really dopey as I felt, I had been calling  sweet potato varieties "yams" that were well...not real yams. 

Sweet Potatoes VS Yams...What's the Diff'?
general information source
Yams Yams are related to lilies and grasses.They're native to Africa and Asia and yams vary in size from that of a small potato to a record 130 pounds (as of 1999). Remarkably there are over 600 varieties of yams. 95% of these crops are grown in their native Africa. Yams are starchy and dry compared to sweet potatoes. 

A few years ago my whole garden was filled with this gorgeous vine...and under the ground were soon to be released...some "Yams". Well. Most people I knew called them yams. Daddy called them sweet potatoes and since he's the master gardener, I never questioned it.

Sweet Potatoes 
The many varieties of sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are members of the morning glory family, Convolvulacea.  This explains the vines. 
The skin color can range from white to yellow, red, purple or brown. The flesh also ranges in color from white to yellow, orange, or orange-red. Sweet potato varieties are classified as either ‘firm’ or ‘soft’. 
 When cooked, those in the ‘firm’ category remain firm, while ‘soft’ varieties become soft and moist. It is the ‘soft’ varieties that are often labeled as yams in the United States.  When I got these ones from the market,  the one on the left (white in color) was labeled "sweet potato" while the middle one was labeled "red yam" and the far right was labeled Bouregard yam...and guess what. They're all sweet potatoes. 

Why Are We Confused In America?
In the United States, firm varieties of sweet potatoes were produced before soft varieties. When soft varieties were first grown commercially, there was a need to differentiate between the two. African slaves had already been calling the ‘soft’ sweet potatoes ‘yams’ because they resembled the yams in Africa. 

When we pulled our Sweet Potatoes out of the ground...we called them sweet potatoes. Thanks to my dad.

The ‘soft’ sweet potatoes were referred to as ‘yams’ to distinguish them from the ‘firm’ varieties. Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Unless you specifically search for yams, which are usually found in an international market, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!  

Last I checked, my neighborhood market didn't carry the international variety. So there you go. Smarty pants.
The real truth is, that though many may say that they are having candied yams for the holidays, I betcha that most of y'all are really only eating sweet potatoes.  Why do I even care to set the record straight? I don't really.  I just thought it was a really cool random fact.  So. Eat that sweet potato caramel sticky bun.
 I'm still eating the sweet potato pie...even if someone calls it a yam pie. It's not really going to change the taste...right?

There you go. 
Random Facts are now in your giant brain too.  

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess