bits and pieces

Monday, August 22, 2011

Soft, Southern, Sweet Potato Biscuits

I ate 3. And wish I had more. Good for BBQs, good for
breakfast, good for all the time.
This week, rebel chef Anthony Bourdain gave an interview calling out my sweet Paula Deen...
“The worst, most dangerous person to America is clearly Paula Deen. She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations and she’s proud of the fact that her food is f–king bad for you [...] plus, her food sucks.”
BLASPHEMY! SAY IT AIN'T SO! For those diehards, some might remember this blog used to be adorned with a photo of Ms. Paula Deen. I love Paula Deen. Could I eat her food every day/week? No absolutely not. But does it warm the cockles of my heart that she tops deep fried cheesecake with chocolate and sugar? Of course. (Thank you to Tamara for bringing that little gem to my attention). She has a dog named Bo Deen, how can I not love her?

That said - francophile and all around badboy Bourdain has a point. Paula's food generally IS terrible for you. A breakfast sandwich between 2 donughts instead of an english muffin? COME ON. Plus I agree with everything he has ever said about Rachel Ray.
"Complain all you want. It’s like railing against the pounding surf. She only grows stronger and more powerful. Her ear-shattering tones louder and louder. We KNOW she can’t cook. She shrewdly tells us so. So…what is she selling us? Really? She’s selling us satisfaction, the smug reassurance that mediocrity is quite enough. She’s a friendly, familiar face who appears regularly on our screens to tell us that “Even your dumb, lazy ass can cook this!” Wallowing in your own crapulence on your Cheeto-littered couch you watch her and think, “Hell…I could do that. I ain’t gonna…but I could–if I wanted! Now where’s my damn jug a Diet Pepsi?” Where the saintly Julia Child sought to raise expectations, to enlighten us, make us better–teach us–and in fact, did, Rachael uses her strange and terrible powers to narcotize her public with her hypnotic mantra of Yummo and Evoo and Sammys. “You’re doing just fine. You don’t even have to chop an onion–you can buy it already chopped. Aspire to nothing…Just sit there. Have another Triscuit..Sleep…sleep…”
Rachel Ray however, is fucking obnoxious, and shills for Dunkin Donuts. (says Bourdain, “I don't have a lot of principles. But somehow that seems to me over the line. Juvenile diabetes has exploded. Half of Americans don't have necks. And (Rachael’s) up there saying, ‘Eat some [bleeping] Dunkin' Donuts. You look great in that swimsuit — eat another doughnut!’ That's evil.”). And I agree. She can't cook. Chicken on spaghetti with soy sauce and peanuts? That does not a stir fry make.

Rachel Ray cooking is pretty much everything I'm against as a home chef. I'd never tell anyone to live on lentils, swiss chard and quinoa, however, if you have the resources, and you have the time - take the extra 10 minutes and make your own pasta sauce! Self-sufficiency people! It's part of growing up.

Smiley Captain Turtlebeard and Crazy Eyes
That said, I still love Paula Deen. And there's nothing particularly subtle about her commitment to comfort food and southern cooking. Her husband also looks like an adorable smiley turtle. So she's got that going for her too.

I took to Paula's recipes to see if I could find something healthy-ish to cook in tribute and defense, and to go along with our BBQ last night (beerbutt chicken, homemade chips, tomato salad with tomatoes from our garden!). I found these Sweet Potato Biscuits which I made because a) I have sweet potatoes, and b) there wasn't too much butter in them. I adapted them slightly so they have more sweet potato, less butter, and less sugar.
The result? Light, tasty, sweet potato-y and delicious. I would eat a breakfast sandwich on these. SO good. SO easy. And shockingly not that messy. A lot of things that require dough require mess. Not so with these. So assemble your sweet potatoes and get ready to bake! 
3/4 cup cooked and mashed sweet patates. You can boil them or roast them. I boiled mine and it was easy and fine but I might roast them next time as I think it would keep even MORE sweet potato flavour in.
1/8 of a cup of butter, room temperature
1 big tablespoon of sugar 
half a cup of flour plus 1-2 tbsp more
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt 
a tbsp - 2 tbsp of milk
1 tbsp melted butter

other things you will need:
a mixing bowl
a pot to cook your sweet potatoes/tray to roast them
a potato masher (note: do not use a blender/anything with a blade. this will break down your potatoes and leave you with runny gross dead potatoes)
some sort of cookie cutter/mason jar ring/empty can of soup
a greased baking tray/parchment lined baking tray

  1. Preheat your oven to 450. 
  2. Cook your sweet potatoes. As I said, I boiled mine. Peeled them, chopped them into inch sized pieces, boiled them in water with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes. Drain your sweet potatoes and run them under cold water to stop the cooking process (if you roasted them, whatever, just don't burn yourself!). 
  3. As your sweet potatoes are cooking, sift together/stir together your flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and sugar. You want to sift your ingredients to ensure the salt, sugar and baking powder are evenly distributed through this dry mixture AND it makes sure you don't have any flour lumps. 
  4. Mash your sweet potatoes with your butter. Mash them to your desired consistency. Mine still had some lumps in them.
  5. Blend your flour into your sweet potatoes, and add your splash of milk. Mix until it's blended. It should be a slightly sticky dough. 
  6. Roll/pat it down until it's about 1 inch thick. Take your cookie cutter/alternatively purposed mason jar ring and cut yourself some biscuits.
  7. Place them on the greased baking tray and brush the tops with a little bit of butter. I also sprinkled a little bit of brown sugar on top because, well, what could it hurt. 
  8. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, lower the oven to 400 and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven, cool, eat. Thanks Paula.

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