Baked sweet potato fries

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Pressping sweet potatoes Sweet potatoes are not very well known in Germany. I remember my first American Thanksgiving, eating a sweet and heavily marsh-mellowed sweet potato puree. My skilled tongue could still identify, underneath all that sugary stuff, the true flavor of the sweet potato. That something-something between potato and carrot, I thought, is one worthy of a more prominent role. A one-man show, even. This recipe brings us back to the true flavor of the sweet potato, a simple and healthy celebration that I love: Roasted Sweet Potato Fries. It’s become the perfect partner for a popular oops-I-forgot-to-plan-dinner dish in my house, pan-roasted chicken thighs. Add a fresh green salad and we are in weeknight dinner heaven.

Baked sweet potato fries
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Enjoy this healthy and easy preparation as part of a standard weeknight dinner. Baked at a high temperature, these fries come out of the oven just the way I like them: crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 sweet potato per person, peeled
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. The high temperature is the key here. If not, the potatoes will cook on the inside before they brown on the outside, and the fries will turn out soggy.
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes into fries (a precision slicer like me doesn't use a french fry cutter, but you can)
  3. In a bowl coat the fries with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Even coating is important, as it will help the fries brown more evenly
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Aim for 30 min in the oven. The fries will be done when you like the browning you see on them.

Pan-roasted chicken thighs with sweet potato fries

Brussels Sprouts Recipe—the German Way

The perfect winter cabbage

The perfect winter cabbage

The last days of winter inspire me to cook one my favorite winter vegetables one last time before the big thaw. Brussels sprouts are healthy, tasty, and affordable—a nice combo, right? I like Brussles sprouts (or, in the singular, Brussels sprout) in almost any configuration, but the German way is one of my favorites. Kudos go to my mom on this one; she cooked them for me during my last visit home. That great dinner, which included roasted duck breast, is what had me working this recipe as soon as I got back to New York. This recipe is yet another one that’s in the “easy” category, so it finds a nice spot on my weeknight dinner roster.

Brussels Sprouts cleaning A basket full of Brussels Sprouts goodness

To start: I clean the outer leaves and cut a thin slice off the bottom of each sprout, making sure the whole thing still stays together. Then I drop these tasty little morsels in a single layer into a sauté pan, fill the pan so as to cover the sprouts half way, add a couple tablespoons of butter, and salt and pepper.

So what is the ‘German’ part of this recipe? Good question. It’s in the last little secret ingredient so often used in German cooking (shhh!): a tablespoon of sugar. Together with the butter, it gives the little cabbage heads an unbelievably soft, buttery, I-want-more taste. Try this one—I think you will be favorably surprised.

Brussels Sprouts, Butter, Sugar, Salt and Peper

Almost done

Almost done

Cook the sprouts on a medium flame. If you got the water level right at the beginning, all the extra water is now evaporating, leaving the butter-sugar mixture to glaze the Brussels sprouts perfectly. The photo above shows the sprouts almost done. If you think the water is completely evaporated before the sprouts are done, just add a little more water. The reverse situation does not work so well (obviously 😉 ), so don’t overdue it. Just another minute of cooking should be adequate. When done, they should not fall apart, but they will be soft inside.

Brussels Sprouts Recipe: the German way Weeknight dinner Recipe: Brussels Sprouts and pan-roasted chicken tighs

I enjoy these Brussels sprouts with simple pan-roasted chicken thighs (our go-to protein during the week: must. build. muscles).

I hope you will try this Brussels sprout recipe, doing it the German way.

Guten Appetit!

Pan-roasted Red Snapper with Lemongrass-Shallot Sauce and Peas—the Healthy Way

 

Here’s a perfect—and healthy—weeknight dinner. The sauce will take about 20 minutes (so long as you are a good chopper). You’ll need 5 to 8 minutes to pan-roast the fish. In parallel you’ll anglaise the peas. So in under 30 minutes you’ll be sitting at the dinner table.

The sauce is what makes this meal a true winner. The lemongrass adds a wonderful perfume, nicely balanced by the acidity of the wine and sour cream. The original recipe called for some heavy cream, but at the last minute I substituted the cream with non-fat sour cream and the results worked beautifully. The resulting reduced calorie count puts this dinner in the healthy category (although the Speedo test is still far off). Here is want you need to make snapper for two:

3 to 4 oz of red snapper fillet per person (I bought a single big fillet)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

Sauce:
1 clove of garlic, finely diced (about a tablespoon)
2 stems of lemon grass, core finely diced (about a tablespoon)
1 small shallot, finely diced (about two tablespoons)
2 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup of non-fat sour cream
1/2 cup clam juice
2/3 cup of dry wine (I love Gruener Veltiner for this)

1.5 to 2 cups of frozen peas
5 stems of mint, leaves cut into a chiffonade (roll like a cigar and then cut in thin strips)
Salt and pepper

Boil the peas in a salted pot of water for 3 minutes. Cool in ice water to set the green color; drain in collander.

For the sauce: in the butter and at medium heat, sauté the diced garlic, lemon grass, and shallots, being careful not to brown them. This should only take a few minutes. Add the wine and the clam juice and, at high heat, reduce until you have about 1/3 cup of liquid. Puree this in a blender with the non-fat sour cream and then return to the cleanly-wiped sauce pan. Salt and pepper to taste and keep warm.

Pan-sear the seasoned red snapper fillets in a hot pan with the grapeseed oil. I really like to sauté fish with this oil, because it is tasteless and has a high smoke point. This means you’ll be tasting the nicely browned delicious fish and not burned oil.

While sautéing the fish, I reheat the peas with a tiny bit of butter.

Assemble your plates using the sliced mint leaves. See pictures above for a suggested presentation.

Enjoy your light and healthy spring dinner!

p.s. The February 2014 Food and Wine featured the fat- and calorie-rich version of this recipe which also looks really good. And hey, Speedo season’s still a long way off.

Cheesy Parmesan Polenta Recipe

Polenta Day: it couldn’t be easier to cook it. Cornmeal and water, add cream (yes, I know…) and a few handful of grated Parmesan. Put under the broiler and a few minutes later yummy, crusty, cheesy polenta.