Cooking with Lady Smokey: Sweet Potatoes

♬Honky-tonkin’… all night long! ♫♪ Honky-tonkin’ is one of our favorite things to do in Nashville. All the bars down on Lower Broadway have bands that play country music all day and all night. There are some amazing musicians hard at work down there and many tourists who travel far and wide to get a taste of Nashville’s country music history. One of our favorites of the honky-tonks is Robert’s Western World, the “Home of Traditional Country Music.” And not only are they one of the funnest honky-tonks in Nashville but they also serve up the best sweet potato fries in Nashville. And this brings me to the topic of this Country Picnic post, sweet potatoes…

crispy sweet potato fries at Robert’s Western World

We’ve been trying to eat more locally grown food and support our local economy. I was looking at a recent chart of what vegetables are currently in season in Tennessee and saw that sweet potatoes are one of the few. We love sweet potatoes so it is easy to add more into our diet.

Most of us, at least in the South, grew up seeing candied sweet potatoes with a marshmallow topping in every meat & three restaurant and on every family holiday table. Thankfully my Mom wasn’t a big fan but she did like baked sweet potatoes so we often ate them growing up. It wasn’t until I was much older, though, that I realized all the fun things one can cook with sweet potatoes! Not only are sweet potatoes delicious, they also have many health benefits. Apparently sweet potatoes are so nutritious that we could actually live on them. Not only do they have huge antioxidant properties, they also are easily digestible and can be good for treating ulcers, inflamed colons, and poor blood circulation. They are also detoxifying since they contain substances called phytochelatins that are able to bind heavy metals like cadmium, copper, mercury, and lead.

Sweet Potatoes can really spice up your meals. Here are a few of our favorite ways to eat them…

A simple baked sweet potato makes a perfect lunch and it is easy to easy to pack. You can bake ahead and then just reheat. I usually add a pat of butter and a little salt and pepper.

I like to either add a few sweet potatoes to my mashed potatoes or just boil them all up and mash them together. The sweet potatoes add a hint of sweetness and give regular creamy white potatoes a beautiful orange tint. Or for a totally different taste, use all sweet potatoes and then mash with a little milk, some butter, and your favorite blue cheese! I like to use Rogue River Smoky Blue from Oregon. This dish goes perfectly with Southern BBQ chicken!

Sweet potatoes are so yummy roasted, too. I like to mix them with other root veggies such as beets and carrots with a little olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Another favorite way to roast them is with Yukon Gold potatoes and turnips and sprinkled with crushed fennel seeds and orange zest.

Sometimes we eat sweet potatoes for breakfast. One favorite (and slightly naughty) way Grant came up with is sauteing cubed sweet potatoes with onion and Mexican chorizo and then adding in eggs to create a scramble or you can keep the sweet potatoes and chorizo separate and have as a side dish to the eggs as we did below.

Breakfast served with my favorite Ed Brownlee coffee mug.

I also recently created this healthy, yet tasty, sweet potato curry soup which I decided to give a more exciting name…

Sexy Weekend Winter Soup

Serves 4-6

  • 5 carrots
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 6-8 cloves garlic
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cups stock (I used homemade chicken, veggie would also work)
  • 1” piece fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp (or more, if desired) sea salt (I used homemade orange fennel salt)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place 3 Tbsp olive oil in large baking dish. Wash, peel, and slice carrots and sweet potatoes and place in dish. Cut butternut squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place both halves flesh side down in baking dish with carrots and sweet potatoes. Roast veggies for 40-45 minutes. About 20 minutes in, pull dish out and place peeled garlic cloves under the squash, in the hollow part, and place dish back in the oven.

Saute the onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add spices and stir. Add roasted veggies in. Stir together. Remove from stove. In a blender, add the mixture and the stock stock, adding one cup at a time until you have enough liquid to successfully puree the veggies. Add pureed veggies back to the pan and place back on the stove on medium heat. Add remaining stock and stir to thoroughly combine flavors and then reduce to simmer. Add coconut milk in. Stir and simmer a few minutes.

In a separate small pan on the stove, heat 1 Tbsp cumin seeds until very lightly toasted. Add 2 Tbsp unsalted butter. Watch carefully so seeds do not burn. Add a dash of salt.

Ladle the soup into a bowl and drizzle a tiny bit of the cumin butter over soup. (A healthier option would be to, instead, place a small dollop of Greek style yogurt on top!)

And, for a meaty soup, I made this one with sausage and chard. The colors were amazing!

Sweet Potato & Sausage Soup

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 chicken Italian sausages
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bunch Swiss or rainbow chard, cleaned and torn into small pieces
  • 1 tsp (or more) sea salt (I used homemade orange fennel salt)
  • freshly ground black pepper

Saute the onion in olive oil a soup pot for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add celery and saute a couple more minutes. Add garlic and sweet potatoes. Next add the sausage. I removed the casing which gave the sausage more of a ground Italian sausage feel but you can also leave it in the casing and slice the sausage for a different texture. Once the sausage starts to brown and the potatoes soften, add spices and the stock. Bring soup to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the chard. Salt and pepper to taste.

And… finally, what blog post isn’t complete without a pie?!

Sweet Potato Pie

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, baked in the skin until soft
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 4 tbsp melted unsalted butter, cooled
  • 1 unbaked homemade pie shell

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Skin the roasted sweet potatoes and mash them together in a large bowl. Set aside. Mix eggs, sugar, spices, and cream in another bowl. Add to sweet potato mixture and thoroughly mix. Add butter. Pour into the pie crust and bake for 45 minutes or until set. Let cool completely before slicing.

Happy eating!!!

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