Archive for March, 2012

Sweet Potatoes with Basil Pesto and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

March 30, 2012

This is my recipe for the 2012 NC Sweet Potato “No More ‘Mallows” Blogger Recipe Contest!  Every year I try to create a sweet potato recipe that will WOW my friends and the NC Sweet Potato Commission.  This could be it!   It all started with picking basil for pesto this morning and thinking about a sweet potato sformato seasoned with basil and garlic.  The pesto actually provided all the seasoning needed to enrich the sweet potatoes.  My neighbors tasted the resulting dish and all I heard was yums so lets hope the rest of my fans think so too.  My bumper crop of cherry tomatoes provided the topping and gave it a lovely fresh tweak.

This is a super easy recipe so I hope you’ll give this a try and tell me what you think.


  • 1-1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and boiled until tender
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp basil pesto
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Italian bread crumbs to line ramekins
  • 1 cup roasted cherry tomatoes (recipe below)


  1. To make basil pesto:  rinse 2 cups of fresh basil in cold water and towel dry.  Add basil to a food processor with 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup grated parmigiano cheese and 1 tsp salt. (Nuts, 1/4 cup of roasted pinenuts, almonds or walnuts is optional).  Pulse to chop fine and add 1/2 cup olive oil and process until well combined…do not over process.  You want a bit of texture.  Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.
  2. To roast cherry tomatoes:   wash and slice tomatoes in half and place in a bowl.  Drizzle 2 Tbsp olive oil over tomatoes and add 1 heaping tsp sea salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste and 1 tsp finely minced garlic (1 clove).  Toss until the tomatoes are covered.  Place on a baking sheet and roast in 375° F. oven for 25-30 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool slightly.  Cover with olive oil and refrigerate up to 2 weeks or freeze leftovers for pasta, bruschetta or pizza.
  3. Butter 6 ramekins and sprinkle with Italian bread crumbs.  Place in the freezer until ready to fill.
  4. Drain the boiled sweet potatoes and return to the pot to dry out a bit.  Mash potatoes with the butter, brown sugar and pesto.
  5. Whisk the eggs and milk together and add a pinch of nutmeg.   Stir into the seasoned sweet potatoes.
  6. Remove ramekins from freezer and fill.  Bake in 350° F. oven for 20-30 minutes or until knife tests clean.
  7. Run a knife around sides of ramekins and invert onto a platter or individual plates.  Top with roasted cherry tomatoes and chopped basil or parsley.


Vinegar Peppers from a Soprano Fan

March 26, 2012

It seems nearly all of America was in love with the T.V. series “The Sopranos” so much so that they wrote a cookbook filled with old world Italian recipes.  Vinegar peppers or Pickled Peppers, if you will, are a traditional condiment in several Italian meat dishes.   They really put a zing in the deliciousness of sauteed sausages, grilled pork and flank steak.  In fact I would proudly add them to an antipasto platter and bruschetta toppings…they are so flavorful.

Personally, sugar in pickles is not my thing unless its supposed to be sweet like bread ‘n’ butter pickles or cornichons but in this recipe I’ve added a little sugar to cut the abrasive vinegar and the taste is still decidedly savory more than sweet so I’m a happy camper.

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Dad’s Spaghetti Sauce

March 26, 2012

ImageDad learned to cook in the Navy during WWII aboard a ship in the Virgin Islands.  After the war he was a chef at the Top Hat Cafe in Bremerton, Washington, a naval port and my birthplace.  The words Bolognese and Ragu were not common in the 1940s so it was called Italian Spaghetti Sauce and  the star of the dish was Meatballs.  In fact, I can’t remember ever eating pasta as a child except for spaghetti and meatballs and macaroni and cheese.  Anyway, I inherited this recipe in the 1970s and tweaked the ingredients as our culinary world advanced into the 21st century.  My Italian friends from Milan and Naples love this sauce…and that’s quite an endorsement.  I think fresh herbs is the secret.

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