I love incorporating roasted sweet potatoes (often called incorrectly 'yam') in my dishes. It must be my Thai tongue that loves some sweetness in my savory dishes (yes, there's sugar in every Thai dish). And all that fiber and minerals are good for you. And, as I discovered, they are not well known among, but agreeable to, these sensitive French tongues.
When we have company over, I like to make something special and different than what they would usually eat, but planning a somewhat interesting meal for company in France is a little more complicated for me than back home. And back home, I mean North America where people are used to sushi and Pad Thai, and quesadillas, etc. etc. Our menu planning for the first dinner party (housewarming) got so complicated and daunting that we cancelled it and didn't contemplate another dinner with company at home for a long long while.
Setting aside all things the least bit spicy and exotic ingredients like seaweed or tofu or fennel that mostly now, I don't even think about including, who would think that cinnamon could be an objectionable ingredient? Cinnamon, people! And fish? And spinach? And cheese? And some other ingredients I had to omit just because: sweet peppers, beans, parmesan. Zucchini cake is bizarre but I have learned that they are okay with it if you forget to tell them ahead of time about the zucchini part.
Last week we had two friends over, who according to Yannick, ate EVERYTHING. Well, everything if you don't count seafood. And still I thought to not get too wild. So for apéritif, I made Thai style deep fried sweet potatoes (now, this is one thing that wouldn't go so well back in the West Coast because people there seem terrified by deep fried food), and avocado sushi which didn't go fabulously with the guests.
One item of the main course was chicken satay (marinated chicken on skewer) with satay sauce (Thai peanut butter sauce) of course. One guest plainly refused to have the sauce because "I don't like sauces, they mask the taste of real food". Perhaps it's true for many things, and for good reasons (think vegetable dip), but in the case of satay, I think chicken is one of the vehicles invented for the sauce. Chicken satay without satay sauce would be like eating a grilled cheese sandwich without the cheese.
So getting back to our sweet potatoes... I have been experimenting them on my French guests via quesadilla, enchilada and lasagna with good success and I want to try them in some new recipes. So yesterday while shopping for today's lunch, I thought about my friend sweet potato again. I was at a supermarket where one had to weigh the produces herself on an electronic scale and get the correct tickets for the items before going through checkout. So I placed my sweet potatos on the scale and searched the potato category and the root vegetable category (sensible, ain't I?) and summer vegetable category and autumn vegetable category. And I started over again down the obvious categories. And just before I was about the give it up, I spotted a man who was working there. So I told him I couldn't find it in the menu and could you please help and tell me in what category this sweet potato could possible be. 'C'est Fruits Exotiques', without failing to roll his eyes at me as though it was the most obvious thing and how could you miss that, mademoiselle.
And yesterday as I was baking my peach and nectarine tart and chocolate chip cookies, I tossed this piece of sweet potato wrapped up in a piece of aluminum paper along in the hot oven without really knowing what I was to do with it just yet.
I could have gone wild today because the lunch guests were a Canadian woman and an American woman whom I just met. But I wasn't in the mood for wild, but rather something new for me to try. And as with experimentation on guests goes, one needs some backup plans if things don't go so swimmingly. If the foccocia doesn't work out, there's the bakery just around the corner. This was the third time making foccocia and it was a bit undercooked but I liked it all the same.
The big project this morning was making ravioli using fresh lasagna sheets and homemade filling with homemade pesto. I bought gnocchi just in case the ravioli didn't work out. And I would have made smoked salmon in crème fraîche sauce if, though not likely, something went horribly wrong with the pesto.
I had trouble sealing the ravioli and ended up baking it instead of boiling in water. I doubled the ricotta in the filling by mistake but it was still ok altogether.
This was leek fritata. One needs something easy and quick to prepare and that has to work out so she can focus her energy on other more risky experimentations.
Peach and nectarine tart. The crust got a tad soggy from too much juice.
It was the first time I made this, so I also needed a backup dessert.
Which was this almond shortbread. I tried a few recipes from this site Joy of Baking, and I have loved all the results. We always have homemade shortbread around since they keep well, are simple and quick to make, easy to eat and transport, and popular with the French crowd.
Today's leftover was a good occasion also for Yannick because he was getting tired of eating light. But I think it undid the 5 day's effort of dieting in 20 minutes.
Sweet Potato Ravioli with Roasted Garlic Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe
1 large sweet potato, approximately 1 pounds, roasted at 350 degrees F for an hour
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup ricotta (I used 1 cup by mistake)
1 lady finger, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
350 grams fresh lasagna sheets
2 bulb garlic, roasted at 350 degrees F for an hour
4 garlic cloves
3/4 cup olive oil
10 large pieces of sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1. Make the pesto by blending the ingredients together in a blender.
2. Sautee the chopped red onion and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes.
3. Blend together the red onion mixture with the rest of the ingredients except for the sheets.
4. Cut the sheets into rectangles about 6 * 3 inches.
5. Take a cut rectangle, wet the edges with water and drop a tablespoonful of the filling in the middle. Fold to make a square and seal the edges.
6. Cook the ravioli in boiling water until they float, about 3 minutes. (That would have been the version if the ravioli had sealed properly, but I baked them instead).
7. Toss together the ravioli and the pesto.