Thursday, November 21, 2019

Sweet Potato Latkes

I pick up my winter CSA from Sang Lee Farms, a local Long Island enterprise. The basket is laden is yellow cauliflower, lettuce, hefty spinach leaves, squash and fat sweet potatoes. The idea is to support and buy local. Having done that I must now make a meal plan! Sweet potato is the choice.

With latka time around the corner, I improvise with a new age version. The time-saving food processor is used to grate the peeled potatoes. I add scallions and parsley, a little umami seasoning, salt pepper and flour. Beat the eggs lightly before you add them to the batter. You will not overmix the batter if the eggs are beaten separately. The longest past of this recipe is frying the latkes. Shallow fry them in a wide saucepan. Drop a quarter cup of batter into the oil. If your brave, use your fingers to drop and flatten the latkes. The thinner the latkes the faster they will cook. Though the thick ones have more bite. I like thin ones. It takes three to four minutes on one side with an additional minute or two once you flip them. Don't rush cooking them. Drink some wine, lay the table while the latkes improbably crisp up and soften at the same time. Pile them onto a platter and eat. But if you do make them ahead of time, they reheat perfectly well. 


3 cups grated Sweet Potato from 1 large or 2 medium
3 Scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Parsley, chopped roughly
1/2 teaspoon Umami Paste or Seasoning (homemade or store bought)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Several grinds of fresh Black Pepper
1/3 cup AP Flour
2 Eggs 
Canola Oil

Place the grated sweet potatoes in a bowl. 

Add scallions, parsley, umami seasoning, salt, pepper and flour.

Lightly beat eggs and add to sweet potatoes. Mix gently into a batter.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wide nonstick saucepan.

When oil shimmers drop 1/4 cup or 2 tablespoons of batter onto the oil. Do this carefully so the oil doesn't splash. You can make 4-5 latkes depending on the size of your pan. I use my fingers to gather a portion, place it in the oil and flatten the latkes....Very carefully!

Use the bottom of a spoon or your fingers to flatten each latka. They should be 1/4 to 1/5 inch thick. 

Let latkes cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes till the edges have turned golden brown. Peek at the undersides by lifting the edges with a spatula. Flip them and cook for another 2-3 minutes till they are a similar brown. 

Finish the batter in this fashion, adding dribbles of oil if necessary. 

You could make them ahead of time up to a day ahead and reheat them uncovered in a 300F oven for 10 minutes. 

Serve them warm.

There's something about crispy lacy pancakes that whets our appetites. Dinner is done and the pile diminishes into nothing.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Pork Stew with Black Beans and Salsa Verde

Cool weather and stew go hand in hand. I have a surfeit of pork tenderloin, black beans and tomatillos, which results in a mouth tingling fiery braise.

Instead of broiling or baking tomatillos,halved tomatillos are dry roasted along with garlic, green chiles and red onion. I do this stovetop using a nonstick pan. A cast iron pan would work as well. The charred veggies are blended with cilantro to make a pulpy salve verde. 

Chunks of pork are sauteed in oil till they brown. I flavor the oil with chile pequin, liberally! Once the pork has browned , add the salsa and cooked black beans. Water thins out the sauce and lets the pork braise on the fire. Cover and check the liquid from time to time. Its a slow braise that lets the pork cook till it is soft, so add patience to the recipe as well!

Serves 4

1 Pork Tenderloin

1 teaspoon Tajin seasoning (optional)
5-6 Tomatillos
2 Green Chiles
4 Garlic cloves
1/2 cup Cilantro, leaves and stems
1 small red Onion
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
3 Chile Pequin or any small dried Red Chiles
1 can cooked Black Beans, drained and rinsed 
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
Cooked Rice or Tortillas

Cut the pork into 1 inch pieces. 

Sprinkle with tajin seasoning. 

Remove the papery outer skin of the tomatillos. Cut them in half.

Cut chiles in half.

Chop red onion into thick slices.

Place a flat nonstick saucepan over a high flame. 

Place tomatillos cut side down in saucepan. Add chiles, red onion and unpeeled garlic cloves to pan. Cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. Lift tomatillo up to see if it has charred. Chiles, onions and garlic should have dark brown spots as well. Cool veggies for 5 minutes before making salsa verde.

Place tomatillos, chiles, onion and peeled garlic in a blender. Add cilantro and blend till smooth.

Heat oil in a deep saucepan.

Add dried chiles to oil and let them sizzle for 30 seconds.

Spoon the pork into oil. Stir so pork is coated with oil. Let the pork brown undisturbed for 5-8 minutes, maybe longer. Do not stir the pork as this will allow it to brown quicker. Pork should have a deep brown color and all the liquid should have evaporated.

Pour salsa verde into pork along with black beans. Season with salt and pepper. 

Add 2 cups water to pork and bring the stew up to a boil.

Cover, lower the flame to medium and braise pork for 45-50 minutes till the meat breaks apart easily. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with hot cooked rice or tortillas.

The stew is spiiicy!! Dried red and green chiles give the dish a huge kick. This is a southwestern power punch!!!