Many people prefer the pumpkin over the sweet potato. Perhaps the reason pumpkin doesn’t rate higher on my list of favorites is because my mother never cooked pumpkin when I was growing up, but she served us sweet potatoes in many different dishes.
Mother made some of the best candied yams I have ever eaten. She made them in an iron skillet and they were rather syrupy and almost chewy in texture.
I have learned over the years that a recipe doesn’t have to be “gourmet” or elegant to be good and flavorful. One recipe that I remember from my youth is my mother’s fried sweet potato slices. She would slice the peeled sweet potatoes lengthwise in portions about ¼-inch thick. After cooking in a little oil (or probably lard) until the slices were soft and browned on both sides, she would remove them from the skillet and sprinkle them generously with granulated sugar. Simple but surprisingly good.
I have always liked what we called sweet potato custard. However, when I was writing my baking cookbook, “A Treasury of Southern Baking,” published by HarperCollins, I was told that this dessert is not a custard because it is baked in a crust. Therefore, I would need to call it a “pie.” That was fine with me because changing the name certainly didn’t change the wonderful flavor.
While looking through my collection of Gooseberry Patch cookbooks, I found a couple of new ideas using sweet potatoes. I like sweet potatoes and I like cheesecake, so you can understand why a recipe called Sweet Potato Cheesecake Pie from the “Hometown Harvest” cookbook would catch my attention. This recipe makes three pies so it would make a good addition to your Thanksgiving table if you’re expecting a crowd.
The following Sweet Potatoes in Baskets recipe from another Gooseberry Patch cookbook, “The Harvest Table,” calls for a lot of spices, but you can adjust the amount to suit your palate.
SWEET POTATO CHEESECAKE PIE
1 sweet potato, peeled, cooked and mashed
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 (9-inch) graham cracker crusts
In a bowl, stir together all filling ingredients. Pour into crusts. Bake at 375 F for 55 minutes or until golden. Cool before slicing. Makes 3 pies.
SWEET POTATOES IN BASKETS
3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, beaten
6 navel oranges
Marshmallows and walnut or pecan halves, garnish
In a bowl, combine sweet potatoes, seasonings, brown sugar and eggs. Mix thoroughly and set aside. Cut tops off oranges in zig-zag pattern, leaving shells intact. Scoop out orange pulp with a spoon. Fill scooped-out orange shells with sweet potato mixture, adding some of the orange pulp if mixture is too thick. Place oranges in an ungreased baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes. Top each with a marshmallow and nut half, return to oven for 2 minutes, until golden. Makes 6
Email Prudence Hilburn at firstname.lastname@example.org