Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

I’ve always had a thing for sweet potatoes–the vegetable that doesn’t seem like a vegetable. I also hold pecan pie in high regard (and it always seemed like a rather curious dish–I mean really, what on earth is that filling made of? It just doesn’t seem to resemble anything!). Well, combined, you have a rich and delicious New Orleans style treat (and a remarkably lame transition into this posting): sweet potato pecan pie.

If you’ve never had a sweet potato pecan pie before, I know it sounds weird, but think it over for a moment–doesn’t it just sound awesome? I think that the best way to describe the flavor is as if you made a pumpkin pie and a pecan pie and ate a bite of each at the same time. The flavors mesh really well together–you have those savory spices you’d typically find in a pumpkin pie (e.g. cinammon, nutmeg) combined with that crunchy pecan topping and that mysterious… click to read more…

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Red wine reduction mushroom steak sauce

I wish I had a more elegant sounding name for this sauce since the grocery-list style name seems pretty blah to me.

When it comes to steak, everybody has an opinion about how to prepare, what should go with it, and so on. I tend to appreciate a thoughtfully prepared sauce with my steak (mmm, bernaise) and I think that this one fits the bill. Flavor-wise, this sauce is rich, dark, earthy, and kind of heavy on the mouth, but it really stands up well with a good steak.

  • 1.25-1.5 cups of a full-bodied, dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz is preferable–something nicer than cooking wine, but nothing too fancy/expensive)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 shallots/chives (the greens, not the bulb)
  • a handful of coarsely chopped baby bella (or some other small kind) mushrooms
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
  • a pinch of flour

recommended, but optional:

  • italian flat-leaf parsely
  • basil/tarragon
  • oregano

Finely… click to read more…

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Sweet potato fries (which are ironically, not fried)

Fries are about as common-place a food as can be and not the sort of thing that you’ll get terribly excited about cooking with dinner. You can have them any time from just about any place on the cheap without any of the hassle of a deep fryer and that whole mess. But hey, sweet potato fries–now that’s another story. Something about sweet potato fries always seemed like a real treat to me. Maybe that was because I grew up in the northeast where you don’t really chance upon much sweet potato anything all too often outside of Thanksgiving.

Well anyways, this side dish is really easy to prepare, and despite being called “fries,” there’s no frying. Although given the size, maybe I should just call them wedges. Whatever the case, this is just a nice and easy way to dress up your veggies. So gather:

  • One sweet potato per person/serving
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Creole seasoning
  • flour

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All Butter Pie Crust

Dessert and baking used to be a big omission from my cooking repetoire. Now, I’m all about pie.

Keep your fork, there’s pie!

But a good foundation is key, so behind every good pie is a good pie crust.

I started in working from scratch, but I used a recipe that was all shortening based. I’d never used shortening before. It was weird, gelatanous, and looked remarkably healthy (yes, we’re talking about pies, but even by pie standards)! I was thrilled to have made a crust from scratch, but it seemed to be missing something. I eventually dabbled in the world of making a butter-based crust, and the outcome is noticably different. How you ask? Texture. Big time. You want your pie to stand up to you and you want it to flake and crumble when you cut into it. The shortening-based crust wants to fit in this role, it really does. But in reality, its just kind of smushy and withdrawn. Plus,… click to read more…

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Italian-flavored bread crumbs

I love Italian food and I’m well aware that having “Italian breadcrumbs” is about as authentic and authoritative sounding as calling General Tso’s chicken “Chinese food.” So given that disclaimer, I figured I could get away with calling it “Italian-flavored.” Well I guess I could get away with “Italian-American,” as if I really know. No pretensions here. Just humor me.

Italian-flavored bread crumbs

I like to have this handy for dishes which typically call for dredging something in egg and flour prior to frying. For dishes like chicken parmesan, the breading can really contribute a lot more to the flavor of the dish than plain old flour, and you’d be very surprised how much more dressed up a simple dish can become by paying a little extra attention to the smaller stuff that we usually just ignore.

So without further ado, gather the following:

  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs (you could just as easily substitute plain bread crumbs and/or flour and

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Creole Seasoning

I’ve always been a big fan of Creole flavors–they’re spicy and complicated. However, if you’ve ever bought a pre-made bottle of something that purports being Creole seasoning from the grocery store (save your money and don’t!), you’ve probably been turned off to it (maybe it’s just me). More often than not, the store-bought stuff amounts to nothing more complex than very bland, very salty red stuff–blech.

This is a very simple seasoning to prepare and is something I always have handy in large amounts. Its good for rubbing into meats and also a great way to give some punch to any breading/bread crumbs when you fry foods. I tend to rub it into steaks, drum sticks, chicken breast, and use it in many of my breadings.

Creole seasoning

The paprika gives a great color, the sugar gives a little carmelization, the various peppers provide varying levels of heat and flavor, and the rest just gives those earthy spices that make this… click to read more…

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