Monday, February 23, 2009

A Sweet Potato Salad for a Sweet Weekend


I've already made this salad twice. And I ate 3/4 of it the first time. If that doesn't attest to it's tastiness, then I'm not sure what does. Or, I suppose, you could argue that I ate it out of convenience since it was already made and in the fridge. Which is true, but it wouldn't explain why I made it again for dinner tonight.

It took me three days to make this salad. I bought everything on Wednesday with the intent to make it that night, but it took me until Friday night to make it. It was the first thing I did when I got home, along with a double batch of banana-oatmeal cookies with chocolate-covered espresso beans. Actually, it was the only thing I did at home. After making dinner and eating some, I packaged some up in a container, threw it in a lunchbox with a fork and some cookies, and headed off to pick up my friend to go to a concert. Which would be another highlight of my night. In all of its loud glory (despite my purple earplugs), That Was Something and Go Crash Audio were the highlight of the evening, despite my chronic tardiness causing us to miss half of it.

And along for the joyous occasion on Saturday, my lunch was once again this salad, in between the actual competing at regionals and learning that we placed first. Meaning that the entire math team is going to state for a fourth consecutive year! That's not a bad streak. Though I doubt I have much to do with it.

But that has little to do with the salad. I just think you should give it a try. Even my dad gave it approval. It was much better than last night's not-so-succesful attempt at Saag Paneer. Anyone have a good recipe for that?

Sweet Potato Salad with Apple and Avocado
adapted from Vegetarian Times February 2009 p.67
serves 6 as a side salad, 3-4 as a main course

1 lb sweet potatoes (about 1 big one), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 medium red apple, diced (1 cup)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup lime juice (from about 3 limes)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 avocado, finely diced (mine was a small avocado, so I used the whole one)
4 cups mixed salad greens, baby spinach, or arugula
salt and pepper

Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook about 3 minutes. Add corn and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, or until potatoes are tender. Drain in colander and rinse under cool water.
Meanwhile, toast pumpkin seeds in dry skillet over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes or until seeds begin to pop. Keep and eye on them, they burn easily. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Combine apple, onion, cilantro, lime juice, sweet potatoes, corn, and oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in avocado and toasted pumpkin seeds just before serving.
Divide greens among 4 plates and top with sweet potato salad.

Despite stirring in the avocado and pumpkin seeds just before serving, I think that this salad seems to hold up fairly well for about 2 days. It doesn't age well; the seeds just get soggy and the avocado browns a bit, but it doesn't turn absolutely gross and disgusting either.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pistachio Cookies

When I walked in the house on Tuesday, I knew that even if I went up to my room, I wouldn't do my homework.

So instead I went into the kitchen, sniffed around, found some pistachios and white chocolate, and set to work on a cookie. I remembered a macadamia butter cookie recipe I'd seen a couple years back in a Cooking Light magazine, and with my soon-departing friend in mind, set off to make a cookie she'd like.

The first batch came out burnt. But it had potential. Great potential. I just needed to be more careful with the oven.

The second batch came out a tad bit overbaked. But this time, you could tell they were good crunchy cookies.

And the third batch, while crispy, proved it was the oven, and not the cookie, that was the problem. So last night, between 5:15 and 6pm, the short window of time which I was in the house, I whipped up another batch (after buying more pistachios and white chocolate) and this time, they were exactly what I was looking for: subtle pistachio flavors, slightly overwhelming white chocolate scattered throughout, and the occasional sweet-tart kick from dried cranberries.

Pistachio-White Chocolate Cookies
makes 2-3 dozen cookies

2/3 cup (4 ounces/113g) unsalted pistachios or pistachio nut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
scant 1 cup (3.5 oz/100 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces/170 g white chocolate chips, finely chopped (or chips pulsed in food processor)
1/4 cup (1.5 ounces/40 g) sweetened dried cranberries, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC/Gas Mark 4. Line or grease two baking sheets.

In a food processor, process pistachios for 2 minutes or until ground into a paste, unless using purchased nut butter. In a large mixing bowl, combine pistachio butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat together until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla extract until smooth and evenly combined.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into wet mixture. Mixture will be thick. Stir in white chocolate and dried cranberries until just evenly dispersed.

Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto prepared baking sheet, two inches apart. Flatten with a fork in criss cross patterns or the bottom of a greased glass.
Bake for about 9 minutes, or until edges are golden. Let cool 1 minute.