Sweet Potato Pie

After ending up with a sizable amount of sweet potatoes in our veggie share boxes (from Cooper's CSA), I decided to take matters in a different direction. I always think of sweet potato pie as a southern specialty, but there is no reason why the deep south should be the only ones enjoying this pie. For those of you that know my obsession with pumpkin pie, you won't be surprised that this is close to that recipe. Predictable, yes. But still delicious!

Sweet Potato Pie
2 or 3 large sweet potatoes
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 eggs
1 cup whipping cream

1 - 9-inch deep dish pie crust - for one of my favourite crusts, go to http://moira-thegoodegg.blogspot.com/2008/06/rhubarb-custard-pie.html

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Wash and prick the sweet potatoes with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until they are soft. Let cool to room temperature (or burn the tips of your fingers like I did...) and scoop the flesh from the peel. Mash with a potato masher and use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

2. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Mix the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg thoroughly. Whisk in the eggs. Add the mashed sweet potato, making sure that the mixture is well blended. Stir in the whipping cream. Pour into the prepared pastry shell.

3. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 F and continue baking 30 minutes longer, or until the filling is slightly firm and the crust is well browned. Cool completely and serve with freshly whipped cream.


Creme Brulee

Sunday afternoon was my "French Lesson 1" cooking class and this was dessert. There is a certain mystique about creme brulee that keeps people from making it themselves. It probably has something to do with the blow torch portion of the recipe, but don't let that stop you.

This creme brulee is very rich and very delicious. It is easily doubled, depending on your needs (or wants). For the blow torch, we happen to have a small butane model that is probably sold for home cooks. However, a regular handy-man's torch works even better and I would not recommend going out to get anything special.

Before I let you loose on this recipe, I also want to mention that a vanilla bean is sublime in this. I didn't include it in the recipe because I didn't want that to be another deterrent from making it. But use the best-quality pure vanilla extract that you can find, and if you are feeling particularly indulgent, scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean and add them to the cream.

Creme Brulee
Serves 6.

2 cups whipping cream
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar + more for the tops
Pinch fine sea salt
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 300 F. Line a 9x13 baking dish with a small dish towel. Place six - 4 oz. ramekins on the towel. Put a full kettle on to boil.

2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and a pinch of salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Warm the cream over medium heat in a large saucepan. When the cream is starting to steam and bubbles are forming around the edges, slowly add a half cup of cream to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Add another half cup of cream and eventually add all of the warm cream.

3. Add the vanilla extract. Pour the custard mixture into the ramekins, filling each one evenly.

4. Place the baking dish on the rack of the oven and carefully add the boiled water until it comes up to at least halfway on the ramekins. Bake for 30 minutes.

5. Remove the ramekins from the hot water. Allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least a few hours.

6. When ready to serve, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar and using a blow torch, melt the sugar until it caramelizes to a nice golden brown. Allow to cool for a minute or two and enjoy!