Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chipotle-Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Nothing beats a good plate of mashed potatoes! Truth be told, growing up, it was probably my favorite dish at Thanksgiving. It might still be my favorite! But as I've gotten older, I've also developed a taste for a different kind of mashed potato: something more textured and flavorful.

This recipe is a riff on the classic dish of mashed potatoes, with some very tasty twists. Instead of white potatoes, it calls for sweet potatoes (or as some supermarkets are wont to label them, yams). Added to that are chipotle peppers for a kick of heat. Then it's just a matter of throwing in some salt and butter to smooth things out. Finished with a sprinkling of chives, the final dish hits all the right notes: sweet, salty, and spicy!

It's not as smooth as whipped potatoes. As the name suggests, it's smashed, so expect hearty chunks of potato in the assembled dish.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Simple Roasted Carrots

Especially with fresh vegetables, it's nice to go back to the basics. And with root vegetables, one of the most basic (and reliable) preparation methods is roasting.

Roasting heightens and highlights the simple sweetness inherent to many root vegetables. The hot oven quickly burns off excess moisture, leaving a more concentrated flavor. The kicker? The high heat preparation gives the carrots a caramelized and crispy skin.

Applying this method to young carrots is especially fantastic. The carrots are soft on the inside, chewy on the outside. The flavor is subdued but assertive: there are hints of garlic, thyme, and red wine vinegar. And they're addictive! Like a tin of a certain kind of potato crisps: "Once you pop, you can't stop!" 

Feel free to play around with different herbs. Dill is wonderful here, as well. The nice thing about roasting is that you can really tinker with the flavor profile. There is only one rule: use herbs, oils, and spices sparingly. Let the vegetable's natural flavor shine! If you can't get small young carrots, you might want to add a little honey to the roasting pan. Large carrots may not be as sweet as fresh young carrots.

Below the jump, it's Simple Roasted Carrots.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies

I'm a big fan of brownies. And these brownies? Fantastic and decadent. It's what a brownie should be!

Unlike my last brownie recipe, which is fairly balanced, these brownies go beyond fudge-like - it's like biting into pure chocolate. The best part? The chocolate is marbled with generous swirls of cheesecake filling. That balances out the otherwise intense notes of chocolate. And to gild the lily, the brownies are studded with chunks of dark chocolate.

A note about serving the brownies: I like to bake these up and then chill them overnight in the fridge. The flavors seem to take on a new depth when chilled. Which makes sense when you think about it. How is cheesecake usually served? Cold. I think the mellow flavors from the cream cheese mixture emerge with a more pronounced "oomph" when served cold.

And as a practical matter, the brownies are much easier to slice and dice when cold.