Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole

sweet potato casserole

 

 

 

Sautéed apples, a crunchy pecan crust, and spicy mashed sweet potatoes make for a sophisticated update.

3 to 3¼ lb. sweet potatoes (about 3 large)
4 T unsalted butter; more for the pan
1 C toasted and very finely chopped pecans
1 1/3 C breadcrumbs
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt
1 C heavy cream
Eight ¼-inch-thick slices fresh ginger, unpeeled and crushed
2 whole star anise
One 2- to 3-inch cinnamon stick
2 T plus 2 t bourbon
1½  t pure vanilla extract
3 large tart-sweet apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced

Bake the sweet potatoes

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400̊F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and bake them on the sheet until completely tender when pierced with a fork, 55 to 60 minutes. Let rest until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, if not working ahead, reduce the oven temperature to 375̊F.

Discard the skins and put the flesh in a medium mixing bowl. With a potato masher, work the sweet potatoes until they’re well mashed (they don’t have to be perfectly smooth).

Make the crumb topping

Melt 2 T of the butter and combine with the pecans, breadcrumbs, parsley, and two big pinches of salt in a small bowl.

Infuse the cream

Combine the heavy cream, ginger, star anise, and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan. Bring to a full boil (watch carefully so that it doesn’t boil over) and remove from the heat immediately. Let steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a liquid measuring cup, pressing down on the solids with a spatula to extract all of the liquid. Stir in 2 T of the bourbon, the vanilla extract, and ¼ t salt.

Cook the apples

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, melt the remaining 2 T butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples, season with ¼ t salt, and toss well. Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and lightly browned, 8 to 9 minutes. Lower the heat if the apples are getting too dark, but not so much that they soften without browning.

Turn off the heat, carefully add the remaining 2 tsp. bourbon and stir until it evaporates, a few seconds. Pour in 1/3 cup of the infused cream and stir until the apples have absorbed most of it, a few more seconds. Set the pan aside and let the apples cool for about 15 minutes, turning them occasionally to release steam.
Assemble the casserole

Butter a shallow 3-quart baking dish (9×13-inch works well). Add the remaining cream to the mashed sweet potatoes and mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt. Arrange the apples across the bottom of the baking dish. Spread the sweet potato mixture over the apples in an even layer. Top with the pecan-crumb mixture.

Bake the casserole at 375̊F until the crumb topping is dark brown (it will be browner around the edges) and the casserole is heated through, about 25 minutes.

Make Ahead Tips

You can bake and mash the sweet potatoes and make the crumb topping a day ahead (cover both and refrigerate). Bring the potatoes and crumb topping to room temperature before assembling the dish. You can also assemble and refrigerate for up to 8 hours before baking. Return to room temperature before baking.


 Wild Rice with Butternut Squash, Cranberries and Pecans

rice

 

You can use all wild rice or a combination of wild with basmati, brown or red Bhutanese. Lundberg mixed rice combinations are an excellent way to go.

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 ½ lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
2 T olive oil
2 C wild rice or a wild rice blend (such as Lundberg), rinsed and cooked according to package directions
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C dried cranberries
¼ C warm water
2 T red wine vinegar
¾ C toasted pecans, chopped
3 T parsley, chopped

Dressing:
3 T extra virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
½ t ground cumin
¼ t ground cardamom
1/8  t cinnamon
¼ C freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ C freshly squeezed orange juice
1 T minced fresh ginger

Heat oven to 400F. Toss the butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the squash on a baking sheet. Roast until tender and starting to brown, about 20 minutes (check earlier if your pieces are very small). While the squash is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet. Sauté the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes.

Cook the rice according to package directions (I like to substitute vegetable broth for water). When the rice is cooked, transfer it to a large serving bowl. Add the sautéed onion and garlic.

Place the dried cranberries in a bowl with the warm water and vinegar. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, then drain and add to the rice bowl. Add the parsley and pecans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, lemon zest, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, orange juice, lemon juice and fresh ginger. Add it to the rice and mix well. Gently mix in the roasted squash. Adjust for salt and pepper. Serve warm if possible, or at room temperature. Serves 8.


Triple Squash Soup

squash

 

The back story on this post, which pulls out a recipe from the archives (Danielle demoed this at Brookside and USBG this year ago) is that Adrienne discovered a (new) squash: Butterkin. Daughter Evangeline, coming in from Boston, wanted to try a pumpkin galette as a hardy vegetarian main course for our family gathering yesterday around Danielle’s table in her Washington DC home. The recipe (stay tuned) called for pumpkins but Evangeline wanted to make it with butternut. The shape wasn’t working however, so off we went to find small pumpkins that would work better. And there, in the hard-squash bins, was a Butterkin — butterkina cross between pumpkin and butternut! So lovely to look at — the skin the nut-color of butternut, the inside flesh like a persimmon — and the perfect size.

So how do we get to the soup? Well, there was quite a bit left over after the galette was executed.  But that wasn’t all. At the farmer’s market earlier in the week, Adrienne fell under the spell of some gorgeous striped squash, which she mistook for Delicata — the vendor concurred as to its pedigree, so her mistake was not entirely without reason. After battling mightily with the squash in an unsuccessful attempt to slice it, she realized the squash was actually an acorn, albeit pale gold with lovely multi-hued stripes, not unlike the skin of Delicata. Well, the two are not interchangeable, especially in the Sweet and Sour Delicata recipe Adrienne was making for the T’G table, so the hard-shelled acorn squash ended up in the crisper, along with the leftover Butterkin. Lo, we have the ingredients for Triple Squash Soup (counting Butterkin as two squashes in one).  This soup is a nice extension of the glories of the Thursday feast, but light enough to merit space on the Friday or Saturday table — or any time during the winter, for that matter.

1 (about 3 lbs.) small pie pumpkin
1 (about 1½ – 1¾ lbs.) acorn squash
1 (about 1½ – 2 lbs.) butternut squash
1 medium onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons honey
2½ teaspoon curry powder
¼ t cayenne
1 can lite coconut milk
4-6 cups vegetable broth
Salt to taste

Roast the squash: cut each squash in half, put face down on a cookie sheet, add about 1 cup of water to the pan. Roast in 375̊ oven for 40-50 minutes, until soft. Cool, remove seeds, scrape flesh from half of each squash into a bowl and set aside. You want to yield about 2½- 3 lbs. of flesh. (This step can be done up to three days in advance)

Make the soup: heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large stock pot, sauté the onions until soft. Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder, cayenne and apple, stir well and let cook two or three minutes. Add the squash and broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Add coconut milk, honey and continue simmering for another 30-45 minutes, until all ingredients are very soft. Puree the soup, with a hand-help machine, a blender, or pureeing in batches with a food processor. Adjust taste for salt. Garnish with paprika.  Serves 6-8.


Revenge of the Pear Crisp

dessert_pear_ginger_finale

The name of this dish comes from where we found it — on the blog Food52. The old saying goes “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” but this luscious dish is actually best served warm or at room temperature — though it’ll be good cold too. With the crystalized ginger and Meyer lemon — sweeter and calmer than conventional lemons — and a topping that includes almonds and cinnamon, this is like getting two desserts in one. It’s sublime with pears, but probably would work pretty nicely with apples too. Demoed at Brookside in September 2014. Read More


Curried Parsnip and Apple Soup

ParsnipSoup (7)This rich, tasty pureed soup comes from the archives of Fine Cooking, with some of our own adaptations. Adrienne has made this using sweet potatoes instead of Yukons, with splendid results and if you are avoiding carbs on general principle, you can leave out the potato altogether. You may find that you have to add more broth or water at the end, after pureeing, in order to get the consistency just right. That’s because all these vegetables vary widely in how much juice they each contain — the fresher and younger the fruit or veggie, the juicier it will be and vice versa. Regardless, the meld of flavors here is just terrific and this will most certainly become a favorite winter soup. Demoed at Brookside and USBG in September 2014. Read More