Sweet Potato Rice Bowl with Watercress

  We’ve been enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers morning, noon, and night in our house and I’m ready to start thinking about tempering that with some lighter meals. This rice bowl fits the bill: it’s healthy and flavorful, but still comfort food. Perfect for a chilly evening in. The watercress adds a nice sharp bite to the dish with its peppery finish, so be sure to include plenty in your topping.

A side note in case you find yourself in a round of food trivia: did you know that what we often refer to as yams in the United States are actually sweet potatoes? Yams and sweet potatoes aren’t even related! The beautiful sweet potatoes included in this week’s CSA box are members of the morning glory family, while yams (native to Africa and Asia) are in the lily family and can only be found in specialty Caribbean and west African markets. Hope that little tidbit gives you enough points to win a round of Trivial Pursuit!

Sweet Potato Rice Bowl with Watercress

1 large sweet potato, cut into bite sized pieces 
1 small shallot, sliced
1 clove of garlic, chopped 
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon white miso
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon mirin
1 tablespoon sake (optional)
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 soft boiled eggs
Handful of watercress
2 cups cooked rice

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Toss sweet potato pieces and shallot with 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Place on baking sheet and roast until the sweet potato is fork tender, 12-20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile in a blender or mortar and pestle, combine garlic, ginger, miso, rice vinegar, mirin, sake, and remaining sesame oil. Blend until smooth and set aside.
3. Place rice in the bottom of two bowls, top with sweet potatoes, soft boiled egg, and watercress. Drizzle sauce over everything and sprinkle with sesame seeds. 

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Butternut Squash Bread with Candied Ginger

 
 

It’s hard to believe the holiday season is already upon us! This week’s recipes are ones that I hope can help you take time to pause and reflect on the simple things- a candlelit dinner with those you love or a quiet breakfast with a warm cuppa. This squash bread is moist and well-spiced. The flavor of the butternut itself is quite mild but lends an earthy backbone to this bake. I’ll be making it the day of Thanksgiving so we have a treat for the next morning.

Butternut Squash Bread with Candied Ginger

1 cup cooked and mashed butternut squash (I simply roasted mine and scooped it out of the skin- the rest went into this soup)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup non-gmo canola oil
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons candied ginger cut into small bits

1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients: sugar, brown sugar, flour, baking soda, spices, and ginger. Whisk to mix well.
3. In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients: squash, eggs, oil, water. Whisk to mix well.
4. Fold the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients until well incorporated. Pour into a loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
5. Allow the loaf to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

Lavender-Orange Glazed Turnips

Lavender Turnips Ah, turnips. A humble root vegetable that more often than not is scooted to the back of the crisper and ignored. Luckily, I have discovered the secret to coaxing out the subtle flavors of this member of the brassica family and reducing its bitterness. Did you know that in Ireland and Scotland, turnips were carved into lanterns at Halloween (an ancestor of our modern jack-o-lanterns)? Turnips were a staple crop in Northern Europe before potatoes were introduced from the New World. Rightfully so, as they are a good source of fiber and vitamin C while their greens are full of Vitamins A and K as well as calcium. And so, without further ado, a turnip recipe for your CSA repertoire:

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3-4 medium turnips, peeled and cut into eighths
1 tablespoon local honey
1/2 teaspoon powdered lavender
Juice from half and orange
salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook for 2 minutes. Add the turnip wedges and cook until they can easily be pierced with a fork.
  2. Add lavender, honey and orange juice to the pan and turn the heat up to high. Continuously stir the turnips in the pan until the liquid has reduced and glazed the turnips.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Shrub

Shrubs are a beverage that go back to colonial times as a way of saving the season to enjoy throughout the year. Shrub refers to a sweet and sour syrup that can be enjoyed as a sipping vinegar or diluted with club soda. Historically, these beverages were related to the medicinal cordials of medieval England. Today, they are used as aperitifs or ingredients in cocktails. They involve fruit and herbs or spices that steep in vinegar and are later sweetened with honey or sugar. Throughout the year, I make several batches to enjoy diluted as a carbonated treat. Here are a couple of recipes to try out. Feel free to play with the amount of sugar you add or the type of fruit. In summer I make batches with different types of berries, but fall and winter are great with apples, pears, quince, or persimmons. I recommend using Bragg’s apple cider vinegar as it is unfiltered and not too acidic to be enjoyable. There are also some sources that claim apple cider vinegar may aid digestion, adding to its allure as an aperitif.

Apple-Cinnamon Shrub

Ingredients:
2 apples, cored and cut into small pieces
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup or 2/3 sugar

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a quart sized mason jar or other comparable container. Give it a good shake and stick it in the fridge. After a week or two, strain the mixture, pressing on the apples to extract as much juice as possible. Give it a taste and add sugar if you’d like. Keep in mind it should be pretty tangy. Enjoy about 2 oz of shrub diluted with 6-8 oz of club soda according to your own tastes.

 

Pear-Allspice Shrub

Ingredients:
3 pears, cored and cut into small pieces
6-8 allspice berries, whole
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup or 2/3 cup sugar

Method:
Same as above.

Spiced Apple-Pear Sauce

spiced sauceApple-pear sauce is a wonderful treat as we begin to segue from fall into winter. It makes a great snack by itself, though I like to stir some into my morning oatmeal or yoghurt. I’ve also used it in various baking recipes to make moist muffins and cakes. This recipe is easily adaptable to your personal tastes. I prefer my applesauce smooth, so I use an immersion blender, but if you like a chunkier version, a potato masher or fork works perfectly. I also don’t peel my fruit because I think it adds more body to a smooth sauce. Feel free to peel everything, if you like. Play around with the spices too – a pinch of clove or cardamom would be nice or some ground fennel seed and chili flakes would make this great with pork chops, if you want to try something more savory.

apple pear sauceIngredients:

3-4 apples, cored and cut into cubes
2-3 pears, cored and cut into cubes
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon allspice
juice from half a lemon
pinch of salt
Optional: Honey to taste

Method:

  1. Combine apples, pears, water, vanilla, spices, and lemon juice in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Keeping your heat low, cook covered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once the fruit is soft and there isn’t much liquid in the pot, remove from the heat.
  4. Use a potato masher or fork if you like chunkier sauce or an immersion blender for a smoother sauce to break down all the fruit. Give it a taste… If you want more sweetness, add a bit of honey. Add a pinch of salt now to give the flavor a little boost. If the sauce is still a bit too liquidy for your taste, return the pot to low heat and cook off some of that liquid.