Autumn weather has finally arrived in Waterford (and the first snow has arrived in Cape Breton, incidentally). Some folk may argue that autumn arrived much earlier than now, but up until a few days ago the temperature still felt balmy and mild. Now there’s a definite chill in the air and the rain and wind we’ve had over the past few days have given us lots of indoor time to get into the Halloween spirit.
Jack O’Lanterns have been carved, candy is in bowls ready to hand out and a little pink bunny costume has been purchased for Maeve (will she let us put it on her? only time will tell). We are all set for trick-or-treaters to come knockin’.
With the change in climate, we’ve been indulging in heartier fare these past few days (even the baby seems to be bulking up for winter – she is a serious little milk guzzler). Hearty, hot meals are so very satisfying and there are some excellent root veggies in season right now. Stews, soups, curries and casseroles have been occupying my mind. And sweet potato. I love sweet potato.
When I lived in Korea, my friends would often buy me a sweet potato cake for my October birthday. It tasted exactly the opposite of what you might think. Instead of being heavy and full of texture, it was light – lighter even than a sponge cake – masked in cream and topped with glazed fruit. Absolutely delicious. I relish in the fact that sweet potatoes give you the best of both worlds – they’re a superfood packed with essential vitamins and fiber on one hand, and an indulgent treat on the other.
One of my favourite savoury recipes is a smokey sweet potato hash. Made with boiled sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, peppers and mushrooms, it’s the perfect accompaniment to seared steak or chicken. My favourite way to have it, though, is in griddle-cake form for brunch, topped with poached eggs and drizzled with some good quality olive oil. I always make extra at supper so I can have some for brunch the next day (it’s much easier to fry when it’s been in the fridge overnight).
Happy Halloween to you all – and enjoy the autumn weather while you still can!
Smokey Sweet Potato Hash Cakes
2 large sweet potatoes
1 onion, finely sliced
1 red pepper, finely sliced
6-8 large chestnut or button mushrooms, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp hot chili paste
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
Scallions, thinly sliced (garnish)
- Peel and chop sweet potato into 1-2′ cubes. In a pot, cover the sweet potato with water and boil until soft, about 15-20 minutes.
- In a large frying pan (I used a wok), fry the onion, peppers, mushrooms and garlic in the butter and olive oil until soft and lightly browned. Add the chili paste and smoked paprika.Cook for another minute.
- Add the softened sweet potato to the mixture (no need to mash it). As you fry the ingredients together the sweet potato will break down until it’s mostly a mash. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Allow the mixture to cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. Heat some olive oil in a non-stick or cast iron pan and drop the sweet potato hash in by the spoonful. Do not touch it! Let it form a crust on the bottom.
- When a golden brown crust has formed, carefully flip the sweet potato cake to brown on the other side. While the cakes are cooking, poach two eggs and slice your scallion garnish.
- To plate, top the sweet potato hash cake with a poached eggs, sprinkle with freshly ground salt & pepper, drizzle some olive oil over the top and garnish with scallion. Eat while it’s hot.