Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cheesy Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

Show of hands -- how many of you have eaten hasselback potatoes?

Another show of hands -- how many of you have actually made them? Am I alone in saying that I almost never do?

I feel like hasselbacks are one of those dishes (at least for me) that I love, but that I never bother to make myself. But all of that changed when I discovered hasselback sweet potatoes.

Now, in their original and simplest form, hasselback potatoes are usually drizzled with melted butter, seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with bread crumbs. The rich butter absorbs into the potato during roasting, resulting in a soft, creamy interior and a crispy outside.

So, I guess it's the idea of baked potato meets oven fries that really attracts me. I love how the potato gets a bit crisp on the outside, but it's meltingly tender on the inside. And I love how easy they are to eat.

And, of course, when you add cheese I'm ALL OVER IT.

You could choose any number of cheeses for this dish. Cheddar would be great, especially if you decided to add a sprinkling of bacon. And I could even make the case for Mozzarella or Provolone, maybe with a slight change in the seasonings.

However, smooth nutty Gouda cheese has an affinity for the sugary qualities of the sweet potato, and it melts like a dream, making it the perfect stuffing for these buttery paprika and garlic-infused potatoes. If you like smoked cheeses, try using smoked Gouda for an extra burst of flavor.

I love sitting down with one of these and making it a meal. But, they're also perfect for serving alongside your next roast.
Recipe: Cheesy Hasselback Sweet Potatoes


Monday, October 20, 2014

An Homage to Milwaukee's Honey Pie Cafe: Salted Honey Pie

Ever since we made that Cherries & Cream Slab Pie this summer for the Go Bold with Butter blog, I've been a little obsessed with pie making.

One of the things I've been obsessed about is the crust. I've never been good at crust... in fact, one failed attempt where the dough got so tough it was useless made me think I'd never tackle it again.

But, then I heard Julia Child's words ringing in my ear. 

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

And I thought about the Julie/Julia Challenge we did back in 2009 where we learned to debone a duck.

And I decided to try again. Boy am I glad I did.

These days, when I can find the time, I'm a regular pie-making fiend.  Which brings me to the next recipe.

There’s a little restaurant here in Milwaukee called Honeypie CafĂ© that serves up some of the best pie in the city. I actually wrote an article about them a while back, tracing some of the adventures that co-owner Val Lucks has had while seeking out some of the best pies in the nation for inspiration.

Thanks to all of Val's travels and research, Honeypie has at least 50 flavors of pie in their repertoire, with probably six to eight showing up daily on the menu.

One of our favorites, among their offerings, is their namesake Honeypie which blows us away every time we eat it. It’s sweet and salty and rich, with a smooth custard base and a delicious flaky crust.

Of course, as good as it is, it doesn't show up on the Honeypie menu nearly often enough for my taste. So, I decided to take a whirl at making my own.

This version, an homage to their pie, is really a variation on chess pie, a southern style custard pie which makes use of cornmeal as a thickening and textural agent, as well as vinegar to round out the flavor and prevent the sweetness from becoming cloying. 

The flaky crust owes its flavor and texture to the magic of real butter (Val prefers shortening, but I'm not sure if I agree). And a bit of sea salt added to the finished pie offers up a pleasant crunch, as well as giving the pie an irresistible sweet-salty flavor.

Get the recipe: Salted Honey Pie