sweet potato bread

One of the great things about this bag of organic produce we receive each week is that it forces us to use produce that we don’t always buy. Like sweet potatoes. For some reason we rarely ever buy it, even though I really enjoy it. The smell of sweet potatoes roasting in the oven or boiling on the stove- there’s something very right about it.

We received a couple in our first order from Wild and I decided to try something different with it from our usual roasted version. When Monday rolled around I felt like attempting bread and after hopping around online for a bit I found a recipe for sweet potato bread that sounded simple enough for me to manage. I tweaked the ingredients a little bit, using a mix maize meal and blue corn meal, giving it a South African/ New Mexican texture and flavour. The two kinds of meal worked together perfectly and complimented the chunks of sweet potato in the bread beautifully.

For this potato bread you need:

400g sweet potatoes

4 large eggs

1.5 cups plain yogurt

1 cup blue corn meal

1 and 1/3 cups maize meal (in South Africa) or yellow corn meal (elsewhere)

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoons salt

½ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes

The process:

Preheat the oven to 190C and prepare a square baking pan. Scrub the sweet potatoes clean and cook in boiling water until soft, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool and then mash it up, skin and all. Fill 1 cup with the mashed potatoes. If there’s any left you should just eat it like that. It’s delicious! Mix the eggs and yogurt together with the cup of sweet potato in a large mixing bowl.

Set aside, The next step you can do in a food processor if you have one, I did it manually. Whisk together the dry ingredients and cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add it to the sweet potato mixture and mix well until it all just comes together. Pour it into the prepared bowl and bake for about 45 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack and start enjoying.

If you cannot find blue corn meal, use yellow if available or maize meal.

We were going to give some to our neighbors, but enjoyed it so much that we ate most of it ourselves (I did give a big piece to a friend, so I was not entirely selfish!) with my dad’s kiwi preserves, butter and peanut butter.

I was trying to get back into reading blogs after the holidays three days ago and saw a recipe (and sublime pictures) for a tomato and quinoa bread on Cooking Books. Right away I knew I had to make it. Bread intimidates me something awful, but this one looked so good that I just had-had-had to try it.

But it is winter and you cannot go around making bread like this without having a bowl of steaming soup of some kind of vegetable to eat it with.  Tomato soup would be overkill, pea soup sounds too mushy, mushroom soup would be too creamy. I’m picky about soup, you see. My maternal grandfather would have soup for lunch 6 days a week, regardless of the season. During childhood summers on the farm, when it was in the high 30C’s outside, we’d be eating soup at his lunch table and had to keep quiet about it. Today the thought of soup as a meal is hugely off-putting idea to me, but every now and then I get a craving and then it has to be good.

I finally settled on a celery soup. Celery and tomato juice works well in a bloody mary so no doubt it will work well as a bread and soup combination.

I’m not going into the details of making the bread, Andrea did a great job of that, so head over there for the tomato and quinoa bead recipe. One thing I added to the dough was a couple of cubes of tomato flesh, without the seeds and juice, for some extra color and texture in the bread.

For the celery soup you need to collect:

– 500g of celery stalk, cut into about 1 inch pieces

– 1 medium sized potato (peeled and cut into cubes) or a cup of uncooked rice (brown would be a healthier choice)

– 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

– 1 medium onion, chopped

– 2 crushed garlic cloves

– 2 and 1/2 cups vegetable stock

– salt and pepper to taste

Making the soup:

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the celery, onion and garlic. Cook until the the onion is light, then add the stock and the potatoes or rice. Bring everything to a boil, lower the heat and let everything simmer until the ingredients are soft, but not mushy. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the soup to cool. You’re going to blend the ingredients and blending hot soup can have very nasty results. I know from experience.

Once the soup has cooled a bit, blend it in batches until it reaches the consistency you like. I prefer keeping some chunks in my soup, so I blend just a little. Pour the soup back in the saucepan and heat until ready to serve.

Enjoy it with slices of fresh bread, tomato and quinoa in my case, at a sunlit table on a winter afternoon.

We had a friend from work over for lunch last Sunday, and I decided to try these sandwiches I saw in a copy of Real Living I picked up recently. It’s real simple to prepare and a makes for a very satisfying and refreshing lunch.

All you need is some pesto and olive oil, grilled vegetables, some fresh greens or herbs like basil and parsley and cheese. Grill your veggies. Slice the top off the bread and hollow it out, the breadcrumbs can be saved for other cooking (like in burgers). Spread pesto and olive oil along the insides of the bread and then layer veggies, cheese, and greens inside the bread. Put back the top of the bread, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate overnight. Slice and enjoy.

Alexander made a dragon fruit and watermelon salad to accompany the bread. Refreshing!

I made the pesto using fresh basil, garlic, cashew nuts and olive oil. Of course I made too much, so the leftovers found themselves being used up in other dinners throughout the week.

Monday I made mushroom burgers and sweet potato chips. I spread some pesto on the toasted buns. And there was a surprise in the burgers! What you do is make two thin patties and put some sauteed mushrooms on one, cover with another and seal before cooking. I am convinced that you can absolutely have your imagination run wild here.

Thursday night I made oven baked chicken and had pesto and pasta on the side. Marinade some sliced chicken breasts in a mixture of fresh lemon juice, chopped garlic, black pepper, and olive oil. Wrap this and some sliced shallots and fresh green peas in aluminum foil and cook in a preheated oven (250C) until juices run clear. Mmm succulent and flavorful chicken.

And that was pretty much my week in the kitchen.