Yams or Sweet Potatoes?

sweetpotatoesyam
In most national US markets, so-called yams are often sweet potatoes. True yams, which are commonly grown in parts of Africa, are a totally different vegetable. While they resemble sweet potatoes and can be used interchangeably, yams are thicker skinned and more pale, and have more starchy flesh. The confusion dates back to the when enslaved Africans referred to native American sweet potatoes as nyami, a West African word for yam. The term stuck and most people do not usually know what they are actually buying.

There are thousands of varieties of sweet potatoes. They come in different sizes and color, both outside and inside and are mostly grown in the southern United States. I like the darker flesh and skinned sweet potatoes often found in 3 pound bags. Sweet potatoes in my opinion have a sweeter, lighter taste than yams. They can be used interchangeably but next time you are in the market, check and see where they are from or if they are actually a sweet potato or a yam.

Try sweet potatoes in these delicious dishes:

Coconut and Sweet Potato Bisque
Terrific Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet Potato Casserole with Granola Crumble
Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Salad
Sweet Potato Muffins

Winter Soups

I traveled to Chicago this week to teach and WOW, winter is on. Across the nation, cold weather has arrived. The west coast has more snow in the mountains and Los Angeles temperatures in the 50’s? In NY we have been spared a bit until now. My soup pots are out! It’s time for hearty, meal-in-a-bowl, delicious warm soups. Here are a few options that fit the bill.

Smoky Spanish Meatball Soup
Red Pepper, Corn and Black Bean Chowder
Alphabet Soup with Meatballs
Chicken Udon Soup

Perfectly Browned and Caramelized Onions

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Caramelized onions are a great “secret” ingredient to have on hand. They lend their deep flavor to so many dishes, like roasted chicken or mashed potatoes or pizza. But also to stews, sandwiches, burgers and more. The secret to making them is patience. It can take awhile for the onions to become deeply browned. Covering the skillet at the beginning helps the onions to soften and release their liquid, then slowly cooking them uncovered makes them meltingly soft and sweet. Since caramelized onions stay well covered in the refrigerator for a week, and can even be frozen, you may want to make a double batch to keep some for an instant source of flavor to enhance weekday meals. If you do that, use a 12-inch skillet to accommodate the extra volume.

Caramelized Onions

Good to Know

goodtoknow

Common problems and solutions that I think are "Good to Know"…. Let me know if you have others, I love to answer reader questions, email me at ekurtz@gourmetkoshercooking.com

Soup too salty?
Add two peeleded potatoes, cut in four or five large pieces. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes in soup. Remove potatoes, add more water to soup if necessary. Reserve potato for mashed potatoes or as a snack. The potatoes will draw out the saltiness.

Dish too spicy?
Add sour cream, non-dairy sour cream, any dairy product or product that acts like a dairy product, like soymilk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, cook and stir into dish. Or add a bit of honey or sugar.

Burned your soup?
Submerge pot of soup into a larger bowl filled with cold water. Don’t mix! Let it sit for about 10 minutes and do not stir the soup. Leave the scorched part on the bottom and ladle out the soup from the middle of the pot. Rewarm and serve.

Bread is stale?
Make bread crumbs, croutons, or bread pudding. Or wrap it in damp towel and bake in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes. It will be ready to eat.

Preserved Lemons and Recipes

Preserved lemons add a salty zing to any dish, especially in tagines or soups. They are available in some markets, but its also easy to make your own. The only hard part is waiting 4 weeks for them to be ready to use.

Preserved Lemons

Use them in these recipes. They add zesty, salty, freshness.
Roast Chicken with Shallot and Meyer Lemon Sauce
Baby Lamb Chops with Minted Meyer Lemon Spread
Add them to this tagine:
Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine

Four Steps to the Crispiest Cutlets

Hanukah is a time for frying everything, so why not give you some tips on classic cutlets for Hanukah too.

Fried meat just tastes good. But to unlock the wonders of breading and frying, I’m talking a seriously crispy crust, you have got to use the right technique.

1. Pound: Put meat between two pieces of plastic wrap, then use a meat mallet or the bottom of a skillet to pound to a ¼” thickness. This ensures quick cooking and plenty of surface area for big-time crunch. Or buy them pounded evenly.
2. Season: Liberally seasoning the pounded-out cutlet with salt and pepper before the breading process adds another layer of flavor.
3. Bread: The key to great schnitzel: Coat the meat in flour, then dunk it in beaten egg and let the excess drip off; firmly press cutlet into finely ground crumbs, turning to coat both sides and making sure there are no gaps. I use seasoned crumbs or season my own crumbs with garlic and onion powder, kosher salt and pepper, dried parsley, or whatever extra seasoning I’m in the mood for.
4. Fry: Heat ½” oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Test if it’s hot enough by adding a pinch of crumbs to the pan. If the oil immediately bubbles rapidly, it’s ready. Cook chicken in batches. Drain on paper towels; season with salt.

Try this recipe: Pretzel Crusted Chicken Cutlets

Hanukah Marshmallow Dreidels

From ToriAvey.com

What you need
Jumbo marshmallows
Stick pretzels
Nutella hazelnut spread or Pareve hazelnut chocolate spread
Chocolate candy kisses

Optional Toppings
Cake decorating gel
Chocolate or vanilla candy coating
Vegetable shortening
Candy sprinkles

Extra Equipment
Parchment paper, cookie sheet (for candy coated dreidels)

First, push a pretzel into the flat side of the marshmallow, sticking it in as far as you can without puncturing the opposite side. Next, spread a small amount of Nutella onto the base of a chocolate kiss. Use the Nutella as “glue” to attach the kiss to the flat end of the marshmallow. At this point, you can use cake decorating gel to write one of the four Hebrew dreidel letters onto the surface of the marshmallow… Nun, Hey, Gimel, Shin Here are the Hebrew letters if you need a guide: These letters stand for the Hebrew phrase, Nes Gadol Haya Sham– which means “A great miracle happened there.” Cake decorating gel takes a long time to dry, so give your letters a few hours to set… if your kids can wait that long! If you want to add a candy coating to your dreidel instead of the letters, make sure your marshmallow dreidels are prepped and ready to go before you start working with the chocolate. You will need to work quickly while the chocolate is soft. Place the dreidels on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, with at least an inch or two in between each dreidel. Melt your chocolate or vanilla candy coating according to the package directions at the lowest temperature setting possible. Ideally the consistency of the melted coating should be like chocolate syrup—not overly thick. If your candy coating seems too thick after melting it, you can thin it out using a tablespoon or two of vegetable shortening. Once it’s melted, transfer the melted candy coating to a cool bowl. Working quickly, dip your dreidels one-at-a-time into the coating and roll them until the surface is evenly covered. As you dip the dreidels, make sure you don’t leave them in the hot candy coating for longer than a few seconds at a time. If you leave it longer, the Hershey kiss will melt and you’ll have a flat-bottomed dreidel. Pull the dreidel out of the coating and hold it over the bowl, point side facing downward, for a few seconds to get rid of excess drips. Place it on the parchment-lined cookie sheet and coat immediately with sprinkles. Once all of your dreidels are coated, let them dry for 15-20 minutes until the candy coating has set. A slight “puddle” will form underneath each dreidel, so it won’t look perfect—but that’s not the point. It will still look dreidel-ish, and it will taste yummy! Have fun!