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Roasted Parsnip and Potato Hash

6 Feb


An open letter to root vegetables:


Dear Root Vegetables,

Oh, root vegetables, how I love thee. I love the way you sweeten ever-so-slightly when roasted in the oven, with your edges so crisp, but your middles so soft and fluffy. I love the way your flavors can be so different, and yet you always adapt so well to similar preparations. Not all vegetables can accomplish this. I mean, I love broccoli and I love cauliflower, but have you ever tried to swap the two interchangeably within recipes? Let me tell you, a lot can get lost in that translation, so I advise you to steer clear of that experiment. It’s not like you, root vegetables. You’re all so friendly to one another, so perfectly matched.




I mean, I just made this great vegetable hash out of three different types of root vegetables, and the whole time I was making it I was wondering how many other root vegetables I could throw into the mix and still achieve the same comforting, savory bite. The answer to that query is, of course, that I could throw in all the root vegetables and always end up with a fantastic combination. Here I have parsnips, sweet potatoes, and red potatoes, but I could easily throw in a diced carrot, a turnip, or even a golden beet and effortlessly end up with a lovely, delicious platter of food. Maybe next time I will give a new cast of root vegetables a try in this recipe. I am sure it will be delicious. I mean, I am sure you will be delicious. Oh, dear. I am sorry. It just occurred to me that, uh, I am going to have to eat you as soon as you read this. Well. This just got rather uncomfortable. My apologies.


All the best,



Last Year: Gingerbread Waffles and Caramel Cream Sandwich Cookies

Roasted Parsnip and Potato Hash Recipe

1 large parsnip, peeled if the skin is tough

1 medium orange-fleshed sweet potato, peeled if the skin is tough

1 large red potato

3 large cloves of garlic

1 large shallot

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

handful of chopped Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange a rack in the second-lowest position.

Dice the parsnip and potatoes into very small ¼-inch chunks. Very coarsely chop the garlic into rough quarters. Slice the shallot in half lengthwise, then into medium ribs. Combine parsnip, potatoes, garlic, and shallot on a large, heavy baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss everything together to combine.

Roast on second-lowest oven rack for 20 minutes, until the bottoms of the root vegetables are nicely browned. Toss the vegetables around a bit, turning them over as much as possible, then continue to roast them for another 5 minutes, until the edges are crisp and golden.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh Italian parsley, then serve with softly fried or poached eggs.

Serves 2 to 4 people, depending on how generous you make the servings.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

19 Oct

It all may end soon. This run of black and orange foods, strangely enough, does not seem to be propelling the San Francisco Giants into unstoppable greatness. It’s like 1987 all over again. In fact, the run of games so far seem to bear a striking resemblance to the St. Louis/San Francisco pennant race of that year, a development that I cannot claim to find in any way pleasing.

But, at least I got some soup out of it. This is a good thing, because, after a long and lovely bout of unseasonably warm fall weather, we have finally been plunged into the cold, rainy days of Portland autumn. Soup weather is definitely here, and I could not be happier (for the soup, that is—not so much for the rain). What is odd, however, is the fact that no one who happened upon this website would ever guess that I hold such a fondness for soup. In the 18 months or so that I have been pouring myself into this lonely little site, there have, thus far, been only two soup appearances (three, if you count a soup recipe I developed for Portland Farmers Market). Suffice it to say, this oversight is definitely not indicative of my usual tastes (the number of cake recipes featured here, however, is).

This soup, number three in this site’s current arsenal, is a great addition to anyone’s repertoire. It’s hearty, but in a meatless, high fiber sort of way, rather than in a heavy, cream-laden way. The black beans, cooked until soft and tender, are nicely paired with brightly sautéed sweet potatoes, and the small hints of spice provide a gentle background to each bite. This is the type of soup that is perfect to eat on a brisk evening, each steamy bite warming you from the inside out. It may not make your favorite baseball team score any (much, much, much needed) runs, but it will definitely make your lunch or dinner a pleasant meal to remember.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup Recipe

10 ounces dry black beans

3 quarts of water

¼ cup chopped garlic (I got this much garlic from 8 very large cloves)

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into ¼-inch chunks

optional: ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pot, cover the black beans with water and soak overnight. Alternately, you can quick-soak the beans by covering them with water, bringing them to a rapid boil, allowing the beans to boil for 2 minutes, then covering and allowing to soak for 1 hour.

Drain the beans from their soaking liquid, then place beans in a very large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add 3 quarts of water, garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat to a simmer and gently simmer the beans, uncovered, for 1½ hours.

While the beans are simmering, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds. Allow the cumin seeds to sizzle for 15-20 seconds, stirring all the while, then add the diced sweet potatoes. Lower the heat to medium and sauté the sweet potatoes for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. When the sweet potatoes have become fork-tender, borrow about ½ a cup of the liquid from the cooking beans and pour the liquid over the sweet potatoes to deglaze their cooking pan. Stir the steaming, bubbling liquid with the sweet potatoes, scraping any brown bits up from the pan, then pour the sweet potatoes and their deglazing liquid into the simmering beans. Stir to combine every thing, then bring everything back up to a simmer and allow to gently simmer for 30 minutes. Top each serving with a sprinkling of cilantro, if using.

Serves 6-8 people, not all of whom are required to be San Francisco Giants fans.

Crispy Sweet Potato Oven Fries

9 Oct

The game starts in about half an hour. We’re one game away from elimination, so it’s really gotta count from here on out. I mean, it should have been counting from the get go, but, you know, I am willing to start from here if it means good things are ahead.

For today’s game, my black and orange food will consist of these wonderfully crisp sweet potato fries. The last time I shared an oven fry recipe here, a very nice reader asked me if the same recipe and technique could be used to make sweet potato fries. It was a good question. I’d tried making sweet potato oven fries before, but the softer nature of a sweet potato just wasn’t conducive to creating a crisp, non-soggy fry. However, I had recently read about the magic of cornstarch being added to fried or oven-fried foods (cornstarch is often used in Asian cooking to achieve light and crisp results when frying things), so I thought I might apply the technique to making sweet potato oven fries.

To my utter delight, it absolutely worked. Just a light coating of cornstarch on the sticks of sweet potato ensured a crisp bite, and with just a minimal amount of oil added, the fries turned out perfectly french-fry-like without being at all greasy. I’ll definitely be holding onto this technique.

But, what of the black food to pair with this orange food? Today it’s going to be Panda licorice, and those of you who also happen to be San Francisco Giants fans will understand why this licorice is so perfectly fitting in more than one way.

Crispy Sweet Potato Oven Fries Recipe

1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium-thin strips

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

salt and pepper to taste

Place peeled and cut sweet potatoes in a large bowl, then cover with warm water. Swish the potatoes around in the water, then drain the bowl and fill it with cold water. Leave the sweet potatoes in the water to soak for at least 1 hour. After soaking, drain the potatoes and pat completely dry with paper towels or a dishtowel.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest level.

In a large bowl, combine completely dried sweet potatoes with cornstarch. Using your hands, toss to thoroughly coat the potatoes. Pour vegetable oil onto a large, heavy baking sheet. Place cornstarch-coated potatoes on the oiled baking sheet, then toss potatoes in the oil to coat completely. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Bake sweet potatoes for 15 minutes on the lowest rack of the oven. Remove baking sheet, carefully turn over each sweet potato fry, then return to the oven to bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the fries are dark golden brown and crisp.

Remove from oven, place fries on a paper towel-lined plate to drain off any excess oil, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 2 servings, or 1 large serving.

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