Cathie Campbell

Love those sweet taters

Make your own sweet potato fries that taste as good as the ones you order at a restaurant.
Make your own sweet potato fries that taste as good as the ones you order at a restaurant. Wikimedia Commons

February is National Sweet Potato Month and I am happy about the recognition sweet potatoes and yams receive. They are both tasty and full of healthful nutrition. If you ever wondered what the difference is between a sweet potato and a yam, in this country at least, they are both technically sweet potatoes.

A true yam, unless found somewhere at a specialty market, in unlikely to be found in most grocery stores. A true yam is a starchy edible root of the Dioscorea genus, and is generally imported to America from the Caribbean. It is rough and scaly and very low in beta carotene.

I have always loved sweet potatoes and as a diabetic I was thrilled to discover that I am allowed to eat them, unlike regular potatoes. I usually just bake them in the oven and add a little butter and salt, but when I feel a bit more adventurous I hunt for recipes. There is a lot more information available if you care to do some research, but for now, let’s get to some of those recipes.

Sweet potato bars

I wish I could eat the marshmallow topping but for now, I must leave it out.

For crust:

2 sleeves graham crackers

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For filling:

2 cups pureed sweet potato (from cooked and peeled ones)

3 tablespoons sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

For topping:

Mini marshmallows

1. To make crust: Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking pan with parchment paper. In a food processor, pulse graham crackers, sugar and salt until the mixture turns into fine crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until the crumbs have a texture similar to wet sand. Press into pan and bake in preheated oven about 10 minutes or until the crust is golden.

2. To make filling: In large mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients until they are well mixed.

3. Pour filling into the crust and bake until the mixture is set and no longer jiggles in the middle, about 45 to 50 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

4. Heat broiler, add enough mini marshmallows to evenly cover the top of the sweet potato mixture, then broil 1 to 2 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure the marshmallows do not burn; they should be golden and toasted. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Makes 16 small pieces or 8 or 9 larger ones, depending on how you decide to slice them.

Sweet potato chips

A mandolin slicer works just great to get the chips very thin.

2 medium sweet potatoes, thinly sliced (You don't have to peel them unless you want to)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon mustard powder

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 green onions, finely sliced

2/3 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350. Place 2 wire racks in 2 large baking sheets with rims.

2. Place the sweet potato slices in a mixing bowl and toss with the oil until they are evenly coated.

3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, mustard powder, salt,pepper and cornstarch. Add sweet potatoes and toss until evenly coated in spice mixture.

4. Arrange the seasoned sweet potato slices on the wire racks in a single layer. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the sweet potatoes look crispy and dry to touch. As the sweet potato chips cool, they will continue to crisp up.

5. While allowing the chips to cool, prepare the dip by mixing the sliced green onion into the sour cream. Serve dip with cooled chips. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Spicy sweet potato fries

Well, they are baked rather than fried, but I didn’t want to call them bakies.

8 large sweet potatoes, sliced into skinny fries

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chipotle seasoning (there are several brands, such as McCormick)

Kosher salt

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons ranch seasoning (such as from a Hidden Valley Ranch packet)

Juice of one lime

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425. On 2 large rimmed baking sheets, place sweet potato fries and olive oil and chipotle seasoning and mix well. Sprinkle with salt, to taste.

2. Bake the fries about 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy.

3. In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, ranch seasoning, lime juice and the amount of pepper you prefer. Serve the fries along with the dip.

Sweet potato snacks

1 large sweet potato, peeled

1 large egg

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3 cups canola oil, for deep frying

1. Boil the sweet potato in water, long enough for it to be slightly softened but not soft enough to mash (you will want a texture you can grate). Allow to cool enough to handle, then grate the sweet potato. A cheese grater works well.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the grated sweet potato and egg and mix with a fork until well combined. In another bowl, combine flour, salt, paprika and garlic powder. Add flour mixture to the sweet potato mixture and mix well.

3. In a deep fryer or deep pot, heat the oil to 375. Line a large platter with a few layers of paper towels for draining the sweet potato snacks. When the oil is hot, drop the snack mixture, shaped into 1-inch balls, into the oil. You will be working in batches; do not overcrowd. Fry for about 3 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to drain on the paper towels. Repeat with remaining mixture, allowing the oil to reheat to 375 in between each batch. Makes 24 to 36 snacks.