Showing posts with label sweet potato. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sweet potato. Show all posts

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Sweet potato, maple syrup and bacon puff pastry tart

Mmm. This seems to have most of our favorite foods (except chocolate!) in one recipe.  We felt we couldn't lose and we were right.

You may remember our previous tarts with purchased frozen puff pastry. Many of us here at MLK have recipes for puff pastry treats. But there is always the issue of what to do with the half of the puff pastry that remains.  So you can imagine how pleased I was to see a lovely looking tart in the village tea house and caterer’s display.  Sweet potato, maple syrup and bacon.  Yum! 

Sweet potato, maple syrup and bacon puff pastry tart: it needs no argument in its favor.
1 sheet (½ package) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large sweet potato, cut in chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 slices hickory smoked bacon (or your favorite)
2 – 3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tsp thyme
Sea salt

Toss sweet potato chunks in olive oil and top with thyme, and sea salt. Roast sweet potato in 375 oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until tender.  Short of time? Just boil it up or even make ahead. 
Cool and mash.

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Unroll puff pastry and place on a baking tray and cover the top with parchment paper.  Bake for 15 minutes or until nice and golden.  Remove from oven and discard paper. Leave oven on.

Spread mashed sweet potato over pastry. 

 Don’t go right to the end, leave a half inch or so border.
Trim bacon to fit width of pastry. As you can see, ours was a bit too short - next time (and there will be a next time, we'll take it a bit further to pervent curling.  Lay ten or so slices overlapping until the pastry is covered. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.  

Remove and brush tart (and bacon) with maple syrup.  Return to oven for about 10 minutes, until bacon seems cooked and tart is rich golden color.  Keep an eye: it can burn at this temperature.

Remove and add a bit more maple syrup if that suits you.  Cut in four and serve.  

Confession time: two of us ate the entire thing.  It was delicious and we will certainly do it again.  We’ll do the sweet potatoes ahead of time in future: that was it’s a nice easy way to do brunch or lunch with a green salad.  Or do what we did and treat it as a pizza with pizzazz!

The shadowy body known as VICTORIA ABBOTT is collaboration between artist and photographer Victoria Maffini and her mother Mary Jane, author of three mystery series.  Together they write the book collector mysteries.  

 By the way, we  (THAT'S VICTORIA ABBOTT) are very excited that THE MARSH MADNESS isshortlisted for a Bony Blithe Award, for 'mysteries that make us smile'.

We think THE MARSH MADNESS might make YOU smile. If you haven't read it yet, it's easy to get!  HERE  Or ask your favorite bookseller.  

And if you have read it, then keep in mind that THE HAMMETT HEX is now ready for pre-order.

Or wherever you like to order books!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping - Get the Classic #Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipe and a Lighter Version from author Cleo Coyle

This fabulous side dish recipe of buttery sweet potatoes and crunchy nut topping is a Thanksgiving tradition for many American families. With the countdown now on for the big feast, I'm happy to make it the subject of my post today...

The classic version of this recipe goes way back. You may have memories of your mother making it or your grandmother. One of the earlier places I saw it published was a 40-year-old cookbook celebrating heritage recipes from Georgia--and that recipe likely had its roots in the "sweet potato pudding" published in the first American cookbook, circa 1796.

Pam Fulk, a longtime follower of this blog, happily shared the same recipe with me a few years back. She tells me she gets raves every time she makes it. And if you've been making it for your family, you probably get raves, too. 

To download the classic version 
of this recipe, click here
* * * * *

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here or here.
Cleo Coyle's (Lighter)
Sweet Potato Casserole
with Brown Sugar and Pecans

I started with the classic casserole in the recipe above, cut an entire stick of butter, some of the sugar, and a small amount of flour. The results? I didn't miss them and neither did my husband, who is never coy about his opinion on good eats. 

To quote Marc after his first forkful, "Oh, yeah!"

The recipe is versatile, as well. You can make the casserole with brown sugar alone or with maple syrup. You can make it with dairy products or non-dairy.

Finally, I have a tip for making the process a snap on Thanksgiving day: Instead of following the traditional recipe of peeling, dicing, boiling, and mashing the sweet potatoes, try simply baking them alongside your turkey. 

If you follow my method for baking the sweet potatoes, they'll be just as moist as the boiled version, but with less fuss and cleanup. And (the best reason to do this...) baking the potatoes will help them retain more nutrition and flavor. 

Now let's get cookin'!

To download this recipe
in a free PDF document
that you can print,
share, or save,
click here.
Click here to get
the recipe PDF.


For the casserole:

3 - 4 medium to large sweet potatoes (You will use these to
        make 3-1/2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes)
1/4 cup light brown sugar*
1/4 cup pure maple syrup*
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup milk (cow’s low-fat milk or dairy-free almond)
4 tablespoons butter melted (or dairy-free margarine, melted)

*To make this recipe without maple syrup, increase the brown sugar to 1/2 cup and reduce the amount of cooked, mashed sweet potatoes by 1/4 cup.

For the topping:

4 Tablespoons butter, melted (or dairy-free margarine, melted)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Generous pinch of table salt
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Step 1 – Easy-bake sweet potatoes (you can either bake these with your turkey or the night before your Thanksgiving meal): Wash the sweet potatoes and leave skins wet. Tap your inner serial killer and stab the taters a few times with a knife to prevent them from exploding in the oven.

Wrap the sweet potatoes tightly in aluminum foil and bake them in a well-preheated 350 degree F. oven for 90 minutes. Remove them from the oven, but do not unwrap! Allow them to cool in their foil cocoons for 30 minutes. This will keep them nice and moist. Now open and slice each potato in half.

As shown above, scoop out the still-warm flesh, 
which is now very close to pre-mashed for you.

A fork will make quick work of the mashing. 
See the photos above and below.
You want a nice, even consistency. 

Step 2 – Assemble the casserole: Measure out 3-1/2 cups of the cooked and mashed sweet potatoes and combine them with the rest of the casserole ingredients. Stir well. Pour into a well-buttered casserole dish (1-1/2 to 2 quarts in size). The dish you see below is 1-1/2 quarts.

Step 3 – Make the casserole topping: Melt the butter (or margarine) in a small saucepan. Remove the pan from heat, add the topping ingredients to the pan, stir well. The mixture should be damp and crumbly. Distribute it evenly over the casserole top. 

Bake at 350° F. for about 40 minutes. Casserole will be bubbling when finished and some liquid will appear to be pooling in the topping. Don’t worry. As the dish cools, the liquid will settle back into the casserole and the top will become crusty, crunchy, and delicious. So you'll be all set to...

Click here to get
the recipe PDF, and...

Eat with Thanksgiving joy!

~ Cleo Coyle
New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Learn about our books here.

Coming December 1st
the NEW Coffeehouse Mystery!

Now a Mystery Guild Selection

And a Baker & Taylor Fall Trends Pick

Includes great 
American recipes!

To learn moreclick here.

*  *  *

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
15 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 

(with mini plot summaries)

* * * 

Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

Get a free title checklist, 
with mini plot summaries, 

Or learn more about the 
books and meet Jack Shepard, 
our PI ghost by clicking here.

The Coffeehouse Mystery Newsletter

Fun Contests, New Recipes, 
Book News, Videos, and more...

To subscribe, click here.

* * * *

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dog Food Duck

by Sheila Connolly

This recipe was inspired by a can of dog food.  Really.

Lila and Dexter

I have two cats, four-year-old siblings. They have been eating canned Friskies since they arrived at our house, as well as dry food.  As cats are wont to do, recently they decided they didn't like Friskies, so we started trying other brands.

Obviously it had been a few years since we looked at pet food, having been accustomed to grabbing the same cans from the same place on the shelf at the market every week.  Things have changed, but I'm not sure it's for the better.  What struck me most was that manufacturers have started putting vegetables in their cat food.  Uh, aren't cats carnivores?  Before you start yelling at me, I know that cats need certain elements in their diet that meat alone will not provide.  But I don't think the cats need peas, carrots, spinach, "garden greens," barley, wild rice, etc.  Can you say "cheap" and "filler"?

Surprise:  the elegant descriptions and pretty pictures on the cans are aimed straight at the pet owners.  But there's the twist:  the descriptions sound darned good. Yes, they made me hungry, never mind the cats. And I must admit, I was particularly drawn to one kind of dog food (okay, the other side of the aisle):  duck with sweet potatoes.

No, I did not bring home a can and sample it, but I thought that it sounded like a great pairing.  I like duck, and since my market stocks frozen duck parts (the back end is about half the price of the front end), I try to keep some in the freezer for quick but elegant meals.  So I went looking for a recipe—and found that there aren't many for duck and sweet potatoes.  I found all of two, both from the UK.  What I present here is a conflation of those, but it's quick, easy and tasty. 


The Duck:


2 duck legs
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped (or at least stripped from the stems)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat an oven-proof cast iron frying pan and sear the duck legs, skin side down, over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until the fat starts to run. 

Turn the duck pieces over and sear the other side, then remove from the pan.  Pour off and save the fat, if any.  (I happened to have some cipollini onions on hand, so I browned them a bit before the next step.) Add the soy sauce and honey and deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits.  Return the duck pieces  (and the onions, if you have them) to the pan and sprinkle with pepper and coat with the soy sauce-honey mix.  Place the pan in the oven and roast for about 20-30 minutes.

When the duck is cooked, remove it from the pan and keep warm.  Put the pan on the stovetop and add the red wine, once again scraping the pan.  Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half (and all the alcohol has boiled off--you can tell by smelling the steam rising).  Add the thyme and stir.

The Sweet Potatoes:


1 large sweet potato, peeled and coarsely grated
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Duck fat (either from the cooking above, or additional)

Place the grated sweet potato in a bowl and mix well with the fresh thyme, then season with salt and pepper.

In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the duck fat, then add the grated potato mixture and press down to flatten.  Fry for 5-7 minutes on each side, until the potato is cooked and the outside is crisp. (If this sounds like too much work, just mash the potatoes, but don't forget the thyme. No need to add butter--the sauce will provide richness.)

When you are ready to serve, place the duck pieces and potatoes on a plate and pour the sauce over them. And to think it all started with dog food.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spoonbread Recipes for Thanksgiving: Sweet Corn and Candied Yam by Cleo Coyle

Our new Coffeehouse
Mystery: Holiday Buzz

Click here to learn more.
If you have roots in the South or enjoy soul food, I don’t have to describe spoonbread to you. For everyone else, I’m happy to explain.

I didn’t discover spoonbread until I moved to New York City. An acquaintance who grew up in Louisiana first mentioned the dish to me. 

"What is spoonbread?" I asked her. 

"It's a kind of cornmeal casserole that’s baked," she replied. "I know it sounds odd." 

I laughed and told her it didn't sound odd at all because I’d grown up on the Italian version: polenta.

Now I realize polenta is not a traditional Thanksgiving food, was at our house, along with gnocchi, wedding soup, and other favorite dishes that were served each year by my Italian-born mom and aunt, right alongside the turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. And so the US melting pot continues with new immigrants serving their own culture’s favorites along with those enjoyed by us native Americans. Hmm...sounds suspiciously like the first Thanksgiving...

Cleo Coyle, cornmeal eater,
is author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries
And that leads me right back to spoonbread because its roots are in a native American dish called subpawn, a type of cornmeal porridge. Apparently, English colonists were the ones who added eggs and milk, making the dish richer. 

Basic spoonbread, however, is pretty bland. Like grits or mashed potatoes, plain old cornmeal spoonbread gets its flavor boost from a generous pour of gravy or maple syrup (depending on whether you'd like it savory or sweet). 

Taking more liberties than the English colonists, I adapted the basic recipe even further, layering flavors into the spoonbread itself so it can be eaten as a delicious dish without adding gravy or syrup. 

For example, the Sweet Corn & Cheddar Spoonbread is a tasty side dish for a roasted meat dinner. And the Candied Yam (Sweet Potato) Spoonbread gives a sweet spin to the traditional turkey day casserole. Let's start with...

Cleo's Sweet Corn
& Cheddar Spoonbread

(A Tasty Corn Casserole)

This recipe is perfect for a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. In a pinch, however, you can use an 8-inch square pan. Whatever you use, be sure it is well greased with butter or cooking spray to prevent sticking. For a larger batch, double the amount of ingredients and use a 2-1/2 quart casserole dish or a 9 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Cooking time may be a bit longer for a larger casserole, check for doneness as indicated in the recipe.


2 cups sweet corn kernels (I use frozen, no need to thaw)
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon white, granulated sugar
1 teaspoon regular table salt or finely ground sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper (white will look better, but you
      may substitute ground black pepper)
Pinch of cayenne pepper 
1-1/2 cups milk whole or low fat (1% or 2%, not skim)
½ cup water
¾ cup cornmeal (yellow or white)
2 eggs
2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese, yellow or white (*See my end note on reheating)
2 teaspoons baking powder

(Optional flavor additions: ¼ cup crumbled bacon; ¼ cup chopped roasted red and/or green peppers; ¼ cup finely chopped, lightly grilled sweet onions**)

Directions: First preheat your oven to 350° F. Into a medium size saucepan, place the corn kernels (still frozen is fine) and butter, warm over medium heat, stirring while butter melts. Add the sugar, salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper and stir to blend the flavors. Add the milk, water, and 3/4 cup of cornmeal. Cook and stir this mixture over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until mixture thickens and resembles porridge. 

IMPORTANT: Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool off for at least ten minutes before whisking in the eggs, cheese, and baking powder. Transfer immediately to a well-greased 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes (depending on oven). When spoonbread is set on top (no longer liquid and jiggling) and slightly browned, it’s finished cooking. As the name implies, spoon the bread pudding onto plates right from the baking dish and…eat with joy!

*NOTE: When I reheat this casserole, I sprinkle extra shredded cheddar cheese over the top. It's delicious!

**If you’d like to add more vegetable flavors, such as chopped sweet onions and/or peppers, begin by sautéing them in the saucepan. Once they’ve cooked up, use the same pan to begin building the recipe, adding the corn, butter, milk, and so on.

* * * * * *

Next up is...

Cleo's Sweet Potato 
(Candied Yam) Spoonbread

This is absolutely delicious, like a cross between a pumpkin pie and a brown sugar coffee cake. I can't rave enough. If you like sweet potatoes, I think you'll flip for this.

If you don’t care for sweet potatoes, however, try substituting pumpkin puree or cooked and mashed winter squash (acorn or butternut). Although this recipe is perfect for a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish (or 8-inch square pan), you can easily double the amount of ingredients and use a 2-1/2 quart casserole dish or a 9 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Cooking time may be a bit longer for a larger casserole, check for doneness as indicated in the recipe and be sure to grease your pans well to prevent sticking.


2 packed cups of cooked and mashed sweet potatoes, directions are given for cooking
   (You'll need 1-1/2 pounds of sweet potatoes, about 2 large or 3 small.)
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups milk whole or low fat (1% or 2%, not skim)
½ cup apple juice (or apple cider)
¾ cup cornmeal (yellow or white)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions: Peel your sweet potatoes, cut into quarters, place in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium, cover with a lid, and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until very tender. Drain, mash, and measure out 2 cups. (*Or see Thanksgiving Day baked potato option at the end of this recipe.)

Preheat your oven to 350° F. 
Into a medium size saucepan, 
place the 2 cups of your cooked, mashed sweet potatoes and the butter. Warm both over medium heat, stirring while butter melts. Add the dark brown sugar and salt and stir to blend the flavors. Add the milk, apple juice, and 3/4 cup of cornmeal. Cook and stir this mixture over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until mixture thickens and resembles porridge.

IMPORTANT: Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool off for at least ten minutes before whisking in the eggs, vanilla, and baking powder. Transfer immediately to a well-greased 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes (depending on oven). When spoonbread is set on top (no longer liquid and jiggling) and slightly browned, it’s finished cooking. As the name implies, spoon the bread pudding onto plates right from the baking dish and…eat with joy!

*Thanksgiving Day option: While your turkey is roasting, prick sweet potatoes with fork and wrap in aluminum foil. If potatoes are extremely large, cut in two before wrapping. Bake about 90 minutes on a rack below or above the turkey. Remove potatoes from oven, scoop out and mash up the cooked potato flesh, and continue with the recipe. You can always slip the casserole into the oven on a rack above or below the turkey to cook along with it.

Cook with
Thanksgiving joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

Yes, this is me - Cleo Coyle
Learn about my books here.

Friend me on Facebook here.
Follow me on Twitter here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 


December 4th!

Win a signed 
ARC of
Holiday Buzz!

Cozy Mystery Book Reviews is holding
the giveaway. Click here to jump there,
leave a comment there, and you'll be entered
to win it. The contest is open until
Tuesday, November 20th.

Happy Holidays, everyone,
and Happy Reading!

~ Cleo