Saturday, April 19, 2008

S is for Sweet Potato

When I was a child I spent a year living in the American city of Philadelphia. We arrived in 1976, a pale-faced English family with exemplary bad timing. Everyone was celebrating the bicentennial year of the American Declaration of Independence from the British Empire. Wherever we went there were renactments of battles. And to cap it all, my brother’s name was Benedict. In school he learnt with some unease that Benedict Arnold was an infamous traitor of the American revolution. We spent our first week at a university in Washington DC, undergoing “acclimatisation”. My parents sat through lectures on how to use the telephone, drive on the right-hand side of the road and dial 911 (preferably not all at once). I discovered the canteen. I drank coke, ate hot dogs and embraced hyperactivity. I chased round with all the other British children, high on sugar.
My own acclimatisation was rapid. Within a few months I stood on stage at my American school, belting out songs of the American revolution whilst trussed up in a Betsy Ross outfit. (She was said to have sewed the first American flag.) I tasted sweet potato mash for the first time and learnt how America’s first president George Washington grew them on his farm in Virginia. I hadn’t come across sweet potatoes before.
Nowadays they are in most supermarkets. Despite its name, sweet potato is not a type of potato and they are only distantly related. It is a sweet-tasting root vegetable with the cooked texture of a potato crossed with a carrot. Freddie’s first taste of sweet potato was a success. I baked them in their skins, in the same way as you might a potato, served with a little butter and black pepper. He scored this simple meal 8 out of 10.

Alex has cooked our next sweet potato meal - making spicy sweet potato wedges. Many of you have said how delicious these are. Alex created a paprika, chilli and curry powder spice mix. Freddie's score hit the jackpot, with 10 out of 10. "I think I want to do some of the cooking now with sweet potatoes..." Watch this space!

Sweet Potato Wedges
Serves 4 as a starter

500g sweet potatoes
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Half a tsp ground paprika
Half a tsp curry powder
Half a tsp mild chilli powder

Serve with a bowl of yoghurt or sour cream for dipping.

Preheat the oven to 220C.
Scrub the sweet potatoes clean but don’t peel. Cut them in half lengthways and then cut each half into four. In a bowl, add the oil and spices and mix together well. Lay the sweet potato wedges out on a non-stick baking tray and brush them well with the spiced oil. Make sure all sides are coated. Put them in the preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes. Serve them with a bowl of soured cream or yoghurt.

How do you like your sweet potatoes?
Posted by Picasa


  1. We love sweet potatoes baked in foil, then topped with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Yum, yum!

  2. I've noticed that Freddie's getting very generous with his scoring!!!

    Those sweet potato wedges look divine

    Celia :)

  3. Mashed sweet potatoes are wonderful. Another favorite: grated sweet potatoes. But my very favorite way is those sweet potato fries just like the ones you have made. Your picture is gorgeous!

  4. Spicy Sweet Potato wedges are one of favourites too, so I can fully inderstand the 10 out of 10!

  5. You've already hit the jackpot. This is my favourite way with sweet potatoes. In the restaurants thet seem to make them into skinnny fries and serve them with a dip...oh so good too:D

  6. Oh, as pie, of course! Seriously, we like em mashed up with ginger, and sauteed pears, bananas, and apples with cinnamon. MMmmmmmmmm.... Also, many, many Americans make this sweet potato dish around Thanksgiving that has marshmallows baked on top. Cause you know, they're not, er, sweet enough? Also think they pair nicely with maple syrup.

  7. I like sweet potatoes as far away from me as possible! It's one of those vegetables I can't bear (along with parsnips). It could be because they're so sweet, but I guess that's why so many kids love it!

    Good to see Freddie's also taking an interest in cooking as well as eating!

  8. Hi Charlotte,
    Cute story. My daughter loves sweet potatoes, so I'm going to print this recipe! I do one that I just came across on my site this morning and mailed off to a friend. Here is the link:

    Funny how we are all eating the same foods at the same time. :-)

  9. Sweet potatoes--almost perfect food. And I make a terrific sweet potato salad with toasted pecans and an orange-maple syrup dressing.

  10. Baked sweet potatoes with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Yummy just yummy. I am also a very big fan of sweet potato and sweet corn soup with a squeeze of lime juice. Have to try those wedges. Your at my favourite veg, Yay!

  11. Little Missy5:45 PM

    Sweet potatoes are excellent in a curry- I make one with a coconut milk base, garlic, ginger, chickpeas, tomatoes, peas, onions and sweet potatoes. Very yummy. As mamabird said, most Americans tend to eat sweet potatoes (or "yams," as many people incorrectly call them) "candied," with sugar and marshmallows at Thanksgiving, which is the only time of year I think most Americans even think of them. As an alternative, I made this recipe last Thanksgiving and it was delicious!

    Gratin of Yams

    6- 9 Yams
    ½ cup apple cider
    ¼ cup maple syrup
    ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
    1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    ½ tsp ground ginger or nutmeg
    ½ tbsp unsalted butter
    toasted hazelnuts, peeled and chopped

    Preheat oven to 375 F (or 190 C). Butter a large rectangular baking dish or two 9 inch square baking dishes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the yams and boil, uncovered, until they can be pierced but are still quite firm, about 30 minutes. Drain, immerse in cold water to stop the cooking and drain again. Peel the yams and slice crosswise ½ inch thick. Arrange the slices in a single layer, overlapping them, in the prepared baking dish. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the apple cider, maple syrup, brown sugar, lemon juice, ginger or nutmeg and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and boil 10 minutes. Swirl in the butter, then pour the mixture over the yams. Sprinkle lightly with salt and toasted hazelnuts over the top. Bake uncovered, basting occasionally with the pan juices until the yams are tender, 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately.


  12. Little Missy - I am printing this off now and we will try it out!

    Squishy - The brown sugar is a great addition - not sure that I could try the marshmallow addition that some others have mentioned though!

    Ed Bruske - Is that on your Slow Cook site - if so I will try it out. Sounds delicious.

    Meg Woolf - I know - its as if the veg phobic boy is in the process of disappearing - its wonderful. I am still nervous - you never know when he might revert!!

    Lizzie - They are so sweet - I think you are right - children inevitably enjoy that. ( as do I !)

    Mamabird - Tell me more - with pears and apples? How do you do that?

    Bellini - I know they are fanatastic this way - I havent had the skinny fries though...are they good?

    Sylvie - Its an easy dish and very tempting. Great for kids to make as well which is a bonus.

    Nupur - Love the recipe link - thank you so much!

    Amyr - This is a suggestion made by a few of you - thanks for this idea. The comment inspired us to try that method out - it was delicious!

    Magic Cochin - I know as I said To Meg - the scores are getting consistently high. I am feeling nervous. Pleased - but nervous...

  13. Anonymous6:42 PM

    Oh, sweet potato chips are my favorite. One we do every Thanksgiving is very sweet and can almost be eaten as a dessert.

    No specific recipe, but you need sweet potatos, apples as in season, dried cranberries, butter and brown sugar.

    Slice the sweet potatos and apples thinly. Place a flat layer of sweet potatos in a buttered dish. Place a layer of apples on top. Sprinkle dried cranberries on. Place two nobs of butter and sprinkle just enough brown sugar to cover the two layers. Repeat until dish is fool. Cook until fork tender at 350 degrees.

    Very sweet but better than the traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato dishes.

  14. Sweet potato pie!

    (We use substitutions to make it dairy free for us.)

  15. you are possibly the best mother on earth!


We always love to read your comments - thank you