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Mary-Frances Heck

Summer Fruit Cobbler with Sweetpotato Cake Topping

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Summer Fruit Cobbler with Sweetpotato Cake Topping

Reprinted from “Sweet Potatoes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried, and Made into Pie,” by Mary-Frances Heck (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2017)

This sweetpotato cake batter is enriched with almond flour, which offers a nutty flavor and a pleasant texture. Using several types of fruit for a cobbler lends nuance to the wholesome dessert.

Summer Fruit Cobbler with Sweetpotato Cake Topping

Summer Fruit Cobbler with Sweetpotato Cake Topping

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
2 cups hulled and halved strawberries
2 cups raspberries
2 cups blackberries
2 cups chopped ripe peaches, apricots, or nectarines
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
3/4 cup cooked, pureed orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes (from about 9 ounces raw)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Instructions:

  1. Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 350°F.

  2. Toss the strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and stone fruit in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch until the mixture is well blended. This simple act will ensure that the cornstarch is distributed evenly and gently thickens the fruit juices. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the fruit, then toss it again to coat the fruit evenly. Let sit while you make the batter.

  3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat to combine it fully; then beat in the sweetpotato puree and lemon zest. Add the dry ingredients, beating just to incorporate and form a stiff batter. Drop 6 to 8 heaping tablespoonfuls of the batter evenly over the fruit. Sprinkle the batter with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Set the cobbler on a rimmed baking sheet.

  4. Bake the cobbler until the center is bubbly and the cake is risen and golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Tip: You can also make small tea cakes with this batter and a couple cups of whatever fresh berries are in season. Divide the batter among 12 greased standard muffin cups and top each with a few berries. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes.

Copyright © 2017 by Mary-Frances Heck. Photograph by Kristin Teig. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

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Sweetpotato “Big Macs”

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Sweetpotato “Big Macs”

Reprinted from “Sweet Potatoes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried, and Made into Pie,” by Mary-Frances Heck (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2017)

As a kid, I loved the classic Big Mac, and I still occasionally get a taste-memory craving for it. But, as an adult, I really don’t like the low-quality meat that’s part of the original package, so I recreated the sandwich at home, replacing the meat with crispy sweetpotato patties which go remarkably well with the tangy sauce, crunchy pickles, onions, iceberg lettuce, and American cheese, all on a sesame seed bun.

Sweet Potato Big Macs

Sweetpotato “Big Macs”

Makes 4 burgers

Ingredients:
2 large sweetpotatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
4 sesame seed burger buns, plus 4 additional bottom buns
Burger Sauce (recipe follows)
1/4 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
24 dill pickle chips
4 slices American cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion or shallot

Instructions:

  1. Grate the sweetpotatoes on a box grater into a larger bowl. Season with the salt and pepper.

  2. Heat the oil to a depth of 1/4 inch in a large, nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Line a plate with brown paper or paper towels. When the oil shimmers, add 2 or 3 handfuls (about 1/2 cup each) of sweetpotato to the skillet in compact mounds. Let the sweetpotatoes fry into a patty, like a hash brown or latke, for about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until the patties are crispy, 2 more minutes. Drain the patties on the brown paper. Replenish the oil as needed to maintain a depth of 1/4 inch. Repeat with the remaining sweetpotatoes until you have 8 patties.

  3. Toast the buns. Line up the 8 bottom buns on a work surface. Spread 1 tablespoon of burger sauce on each and then top with shredded lettuce and pickle chips. Place a slice of cheese on half (4) of the bottom buns and add a patty on all of them. Top the patties with the onions, stack the burgers, and add the top buns.

Tip: The patties can be made up to 1 hour ahead; reheat them in a 400°F oven until hot and crispy, about 5 minutes.

Burger Sauce

Makes 1/2 cup (enough for 4 burgers)

1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 teaspoon pickle juice
1/2 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons chopped dill pickles
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 teaspoon paprika

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, pickle juice, honey, pickles, garlic, and paprika until smooth. The sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Copyright © 2017 by Mary-Frances Heck. Photograph by Kristin Teig. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

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Braised Sausage, Lentils, and White Sweetpotatoes

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Braised Sausage, Lentils, and White Sweetpotatoes

Reprinted from “Sweet Potatoes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried, and Made into Pie,” by Mary-Frances Heck (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2017)

This soulful one-pot meal can be pulled together in less than an hour, but it eats like a braise that cooked all day. The sausages plump and become tender as they cook slowly along with the creamy sweetpotatoes and lentils. Pair with a Pinot Gris, and you have a meal fit for company.

Braised Sausage Lentils and White Sweet Potatoes

Braised Sausage, Lentils, and White Sweetpotatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound pork or chicken Italian sausage (4 or 5 links), preferably a mix of spicy and sweet
1 large onion, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
6 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Pinch of dried red chile flakes (optional)
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 large white-fleshed sweetpotato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken broth
Kosher or fine sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook, turning with tongs to color evenly, until browned all over, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the sausages to a plate and add the onion and garlic to the pot. Stir to coat in the fat and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook the onion and garlic until they are limp and pick up a bit of color, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and chile flakes, if using, working the paste into the onions and garlic until the oil in the pan is terra-cotta colored, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the white wine into the pot and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

  3. Add the lentils, sweetpotato, rosemary, and bay leaf. Snuggle the sausages into the pot. Pour the broth over everything and season lightly with salt. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Cover and slide the pot into the oven. Braise until the sausages are tender, the lentils and sweetpotatoes are cooked through, and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Tip: You can cook this dish a day ahead, let it cool, and store it in the refrigerator overnight. When you’re ready to eat, rewarm it gently on the stove.

Copyright © 2017 by Mary-Frances Heck. Photograph by Kristin Teig. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

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Ultimate Sweetpotato and Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

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Ultimate Sweetpotato and Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Reprinted from “Sweet Potatoes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried, and Made into Pie,” by Mary-Frances Heck (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2017)

Make a batch of Sweet Potato Milk Bread Dough (see below) on the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving or any big celebratory weekend. Shape half of the dough into the Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls for a dinner centerpiece, and use the other half to prep these cinnamon rolls to serve for breakfast the next morning. No hangover can resist the power of cream cheese frosting, I promise.

Ultimate Sweetpotato and Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls - for web site.jpg

Ultimate Sweetpotato and Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 9 rolls

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) very soft unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1/2 recipe Sweet Potato Milk Bread Dough (recipe follows), room temperature
Neutral oil or butter, for the work surface
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the icing

6 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Butter a 9-inch square cake pan. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Put the dough on a lightly oiled work surface and pat it into a rectangle with a long side near you. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle that is about 18 × 12 inches and 1/4 inch thick; it is more important that the dough be 1/4 inch thick than an exact-size rectangle.

  3. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the soft butter in a thin, even layer over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the brown sugar– cinnamon mixture over the butter.

  4. Beginning with the long side nearest you, lift up the edge of the dough and roll it away from you into a tight coil. Pinch the edge to seal, and then place the roll on the prepared baking sheet. Pop it into the freezer for 10 minutes.

  5. Using a long serrated knife, cut the chilled log of dough into 2-inch-thick rounds. Arrange the rounds, cut-side up, in the prepared cake pan, snuggling them together as needed. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap. Proof the dough at room temperature until puffy, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Alternatively, let it proof slowly in the refrigerator overnight. Let the dough come to room temperature before baking.)

  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  7. Make the icing: In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, and beat again until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Icing can be kept at room temperature for up to 1 hour; cover and chill for up to 3 days.

  8. Bake the rolls until golden and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately spread the rolls with the icing. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before eating. Serve warm or at room temperature.

  9. Note: Make extra and freeze them: Shape the cinnamon rolls and arrange them 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until frozen solid, then transfer to a gallon-size plastic zip-top bag. The day before baking, arrange them in a buttered 9-inch square cake pan, cover with plastic wrap, and defrost in the fridge. Let stand at room temperature until puffy, about 2 hours, before baking as instructed.

Sweetpotato Milk Bread Dough

This versatile dough is endlessly adaptable. Use it in the many variations in the following pages.

Makes 3 1/2 pounds dough, enough for two loaves, 32 rolls, or 24 hot dog buns

1 cup whole milk, warmed, plus more for brushing
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1/4-ounce envelope)
1 1/2 cups sweetpotato puree (from 1 pound orange-fleshed sweet potatoes)
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the bowl and the pans
1 tablespoon kosher salt
6 cups (27 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, gently stir together the 1 cup warm milk, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and the yeast. Let stand until the mixture becomes foamy, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add the sweet potato puree, the remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, the eggs, butter, and salt to the yeast mixture. Fit the machine with the hook attachment and mix the ingredients on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. With the machine running, add the flour, 1 cup at a time. When all of the flour has been added, increase the speed to medium and knead the dough until it is silky smooth, about 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth, soft, and a little sticky. (Alternatively, to make the dough by hand, whisk the sweet potato, the remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, the eggs, butter, and salt into the yeast mixture until smooth. Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the well and begin incorporating the flour with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring until the dough is too stiff to mix with the spoon. Lightly butter your hands and knead the dough in the bowl until it is smooth, about 10 minutes.)

  3. Brush a large, clean bowl with some melted butter. Shape the dough into a ball and set it in the bowl, seam-side down. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down and use immediately or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Note: You’ll notice that the flour amounts are given in both volume and weight. Measuring either way is fine, but I find that, when baking, knowing the weight of flour is helpful, since it is a more accurate measurement.

Copyright © 2017 by Mary-Frances Heck. Photograph by Kristin Teig. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

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