sweet potato crostinis

sweet potato crostinis | A Brown Table

I never appreciated the rain when we lived on the East coast but now when it rains here in California, I get excited and I'm game to walk the dog when it's wet. Snoopy doesn't share my enthusiasm. Wet rainy weekends are the best and this past weekend, I took some time to get things a little more organized in our home and to get the ornaments out of the boxes. We hung our stockings and pulled out the lights to decorate with. 

Holiday parties and events started a little earlier than usual this year or so it seems. I attended two before Halloween, then two more just before Thanksgiving. I think I even saw a Bûche de Noël at one of these events. A bit too soon if you ask me and this is coming from someone that would love to celebrate Christmas year round. But it's finally time (at least for me) to start talking about what to cook for holiday parties (and what to eat).

Crostinis make the best appetizers because they're flexible little boats to carry whatever tasty thing you can come up with. These sweet potato crostinis are easy to make and I've included two of my favorite ones, a fresh mozarella and thyme topping and a date wrapped in proscuitto that's topped off with salt flakes. Pair this off with the delicious Pinot Noir from Dark Horse Wine and you will have a tasty appetizer that's a fun take on the usual crostini.

sweet potato crostinis | A Brown Table
sweet potato crostinis | A Brown Table
sweet potato crostinis | A Brown Table
sweet potato crostinis | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing these crostinis,

  • You can bake the sweet potato slices a little longer to make them crispier on the edges.
  • I sometimes like to add a little marinara sauce under the mozarella cheese and even play around with the herbs I use. Oregano and rosemary are two of my favorites that I also add to the cheese topping.
  • Maldon salt flakes - use the smoky variety for an added flair but the regular kind works great too!
sweet potato crostinis | A Brown Table

sweet potato crostinis

servings: 4

ingredients

2 large sweet potatoes (any color is fine but preferably pick ones that are long)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground

1. Place a wire rack at midlevel in the oven and preheat to 350F. Wash the sweet potatoes under running cold tap water and scrub any soil off. Pat dry with a clean paper towel.

2. Using a sharp knife slice the sweet potatoes across their length into 0.5cm thick slices (you should get at least 6 slices depending on the width of your sweet potato). 

3. Brush each slice with a little olive oil on both sides and place them on a wire rack. Season each slice with a little salt and pepper. Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Proceed to the toppings and choose which ever one you want to.

toppings

a. Mozarella and Thyme (for 12 slices)

12 fresh mozarella Ciliegine

12 sprigs of fresh thyme

1. Place a piece of mozarella over a prepared slice of sweet potato. Add the sprig of thyme over the cheese and gently press it down. Prepare the rest of the slices similarly. Bake in the preheated oven for at least 15-20 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender. Serve warm.

b. Salted Date and Proscuitto

12 medjool dates, pitted

12 slices of proscuitto

1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt flakes (smoked or regular) (you might need a little more or less)

1. Wrap each date with a slice of proscuitto and place it over the prepared slice of sweet potato. Sprinkle a little maldon sea salt flakes over the proscuitto wrapped date. Prepare the rest of the slices similarly. Bake in the preheated oven for at least 15-20 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender. Serve warm.

Note: This post was sponsored by Dark Horse Wine. All opinions stated here are purely my own.

sweet potato panini with sriracha mayo

sweet potato panini with sriracha mayo | A Brown Table

This week has been busy, we've been trying to get contractors lined up for all the different projects for our new house. Apparently, all contractors in the Bay are busy until next year so there's that but we finally managed to rope a few people in after a lot of googling, yelp research and asking people. With all the chaos that is to ensue, I'm super excited about the prospect of all the fun aspects of working on a home and making it my own. 

My first cover in print just came out last week. Every issue of the Edible Silicon Valley magazine features the work of one local artist (from the food industry) and this time the lovely folks at Edible SV did a little feature on my work and also asked me to share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. You can find this issue at most stores in the San Francisco Bay Area and also online at their website

Edible Silicon Valley Fall 2015| Cover by Nik Sharma Photography

A lot can be said about a sandwich, in many ways I think of it as a gateway to my heart because a good sandwich can take me to my happy place. I like mine toasted and grilled, stuffed pretty full, yet pressed down and to compact and hold everything inside together. Most of the time, my sandwiches have cheese and if there's cheese, there'd better be some amount of heat involved to melt it.

These sandwiches have two stages of grilling. The first is when big, fat thick slices of garam masala seasoned sweet potatoes go on the grates and the second time it's the panini stuffed with kale leaves,cheese and crispy bacon. And along with this panini there's a hot and spicy Sriracha flavored mayo to dip and enjoy every bite! I also like to top each sandwich off with a fresh fried egg which also works perfect for a weekend brunch item.

To get the recipe and learn how to make this panini, headover to West Elm's blog,Front + Main!


sweet potato panini with sriracha mayo | A Brown Table
sweet potato panini with sriracha mayo | A Brown Table

Disclaimer: Thank you to West Elm for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

rainbow chard rolls with sweet potato and chickpea stuffing

rainbow chard rolls with sweet potato and chickpea stuffing | A Brown Table

I'm off to Disney World to attend the Food Blog Forum, meet fellow bloggers, talk about food related stuff and make new friends. I've never been to either of the Disney spots in the country so this will be definitely be a new experience for me, one that I am looking forward to. On a side note, I kinda want to get Snoopy a lot of Mickey themed swag, I hope they have something for him that could become a halloween costume.

Folks, I have a guest post up and recipe for these stuffed rainbow stuffed chard rolls up at Whitney's lovely site, Jew Hungry. Whitney is one of the nicest bloggers form the West coast and her food is equally tasty. Ever since I saw these rainbow chards pop up at the market, I've been wanting to create a more winter inspired chard roll with Indian flavors. Plus sweet potatoes and green chickpeas are delicious to stuff things up with. So do head over to her site and give her some love.

rainbow chard rolls with sweet potato and chickpea stuffing | A Brown Table
rainbow chard rolls with sweet potato and chickpea stuffing | A Brown Table

sweet potato pie babka

Sweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown Table

It's no secret that I LOVE sweet potatoes (I even affectionally refer to Snoopy as one)! Every year at this time, I look forward to sweet potato pie. I eat one before the week of Thanksgiving, one during the week of and another one after. This is my holiday ritual which should have begun last week but we hit a snag when I went to the bakery at our local grocery store to look for one. (Now, I would have made myself one but it was midweek and I was too tired from work to whip one up). So there I was at the store hunting among a thousand pumpkin and pecan pies for the glorious sight of one that would have the words "sweet potato pie" inscribed. Nothing, seriously nothing except for one miserable and overly sugary, frozen pie! I got the pie and picked up several pounds of sweet potatoes so this wouldn't happen again. I made a pie and then some babka!

Sweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown Table

There was a lot of inspiration for this babka. It started with Michelle's gorgeous salted chocolate and pumpkin babka that in turn was inspired by Yottam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem. My version is adapted from the basic recipe in The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book which I modified. This is another great book to learn to bake from, there's science and technique which make it one of my favorites.

Sweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown Table

If you're looking for a fun holiday breakfast treat or for that matter an anytime breakfast bread, this babka does it! Not only does it encase swirls of sweet potato and nutmeg but it also has sweet potato infused into the dough which gives it a lovely bright yellow color. Plus, now I can eat sweet potato pie for breakfast and dessert, so it's a win all the way. 

Sweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this babka;

  • I make my own sweet potato purée by oven roasting about 1 lb of sweet potatoes (with the skin) at 350F on a baking sheet for about 35-40 minutes until it is completely tender in the center and a knife can pass through easily. I then let them cool completely, this will allow the skin to shrink and it will peel off easily. I think chop the pulp and blend it using an immersion blender or food processor until silky smooth. 
  • When using an immersion blender or weighing ingredients, I love to use those plastic containers that you get with takeout meals. Save them the next time, it's a great way to reuse.
  • Use fresh nutmeg, it makes a huge difference. Add a little more if you like more flavor.
  • Instead of adding all the flour at once, I found that adding a little bit towards the short kneading stage helps to bring the dough together and gets rid of the stickiness.
  • You can use any dry mix of spices that you like to flavor your sweet potato pie with. I like to add ginger or 5-spice mix.
  • With regards to the folding and getting those layers in the babka. Roll the dough out as thin as possible. I used the method used to make Krantz by cutting through the cylinder of dough and then braiding, it like Michelle suggested. 
  • Egg white and almond flour help to bind and stick the sweet potato filling to the dough. And I didn't get any almond taste that took away from the sweet potato pie filling. 
Sweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown TableSweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown Table
Sweet Potato Pie Babka | A Brown Table

sweet potato pie babka

yields: enough for two 9X5 inch loafs

ingredients 

2 cups sweet potato purée (see tips above on how to prepare)

1 large egg yolk + 2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) brown sugar + 1/4 (1 3/4 ounces) cup brown sugar + 2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

3 1/2 cups (15 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour + a little extra for dusting

1/2 cup whole milk, warmed to 110 degrees

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cubed 

1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

a little neutral vegetable oil (an oil spray will work well here)

1 tablespoon water

1. Take one cup of the sweet potato purée in a medium bowl. Add the white of one egg, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, almond flour and salt. Blend all the ingredients together using an immersion blender (alternatively, transfer all of this into a blender and purée until silky smooth). Keep refrigerated until ready to use. 

2. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk 2 egg yolks, the remaining 1 cup of sweet potato purée, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and milk, until completely combined. Keep aside.

3. Add 3 cups of the flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, salt, and yeast to the bowl of stand mixer. Dry whisk until mixed. Attach the dough blade to the mix and set the mixer to low speed. Pour the milk-sweet potato liquid into the dry ingredients and mix for about 3-4 minutes until almost combined. Stop and add the cubed butter, a little bit at a time until completely incorporated. The dough will start to come off from the sides and will be sticky. Transfer the dough onto a clean lightly dusted surface. 

4. Using the remaining 1/2 cup of flour bring the dough together to form one large ball. Place the dough in a large clean bowl that is lightly greased with a little neutral tasting vegetable oil. Brush the dough with a little oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a cling film and allow to rise and double in volume for 1 hour in pre-warmed oven (preheat the oven to 200F for 5 minutes, then switch it off). After 1 hour remove the bowl from the oven and allow to rise at room temperature for another hour. 

3. Transfer the dough back onto a clean surface. Divide the dough in half and work with one half at a timeShape one half of the dough into a rectangle with your hands and then using very little extra flour roll it out into a thin rectangle that is approximately 14 X 20 inches in area.  

4. Take 1/2 of the sweet potato filling and reserve the second half for the second loaf. Spread 3/4 of this filling prepared in step 1 in a smooth layer with a spatula. Sprinkle half of the nutmeg over the sweet potato layer. Then starting from the shorter side of the rectangle, roll the dough into a cylinder. Pinch to seal the ends and shape the cylinder with your hands. Spread the remaining amount of filling over the top surface of the cylinder. Then fold it over in half and seal the ends again by pinching the seams. With a sharp serrated knife cut through the length of the cylinder and divide in half. Then braid the two strips of dough with each other to form a double figure 8 shape. Place it in a well greased loaf 9X5 loaf tin. Wrap the tin loosely with cling film and allow it to rise in a pre-warmed oven for 2 hours or until doubled in size. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the second half of the dough to prepare the second loaf. 

3. Prepare the egg wash by lightly whisking the whole egg with the water.  Brush the surface of each loaf with the egg wash and then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar over each loaf. 

4. Bake each loaf in the center of an oven preheated to 350F for about 45 minutes or until the surface is golden brown (the sugar will caramelize and give a lovely crust) and the internal temperature reaches 190F. Remove from oven and allow the loaves to cool in the pan placed on a wire rack completely before serving. 

savory sweet potato quinoa muffins

Savory Sweet Potato Quinoa Muffins | A Brown Table | @abrowntable

With only a few days left to the start of the holiday weekend, I should have the usual dishes that  are the staple of the Thanksgiving dinner but oddly enough, I have breakfast on my mind. But why not, breakfast needs a little love too during this special time and I have it all sorted out for you. 

I'm more of a savory breakfast type of guy and a huge fan of any baked good or pastry that might have some savory component to it. These quinoa flour muffins are easy to make, they're loaded with sweet potatoes and cheese packed with a hint of bright turmeric and seasoned with a little dash of garam masala. Slap a warm muffin with a little salted butter and I'd say you're good to go this week. I was tempted to add a little onion or garlic to these guys but that could be tricky way to start the day with all those potential fiery breath issues! 

Happy weekend!

Savory Sweet Potato Quinoa Muffins | A Brown Table @abrowntable
Savory Sweet Potato Quinoa Muffins | A Brown Table | @abrowntableSavory Sweet Potato Quinoa Muffins | A Brown Table | @abrowntable

 Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find helpful when preparing these muffins,

  • You can make you own muffin cup holders using regular parchment paper. Cut out twelve 6 inch squares of parchment paper (for a standard 12 cup muffin pan) and place each square in the center of the muffin pan. Using your hands, press the paper down in the center of the muffin well to create a cup. When you fill the cups with the batter make sure the paper cup sinks and touches the metal pan
  • You could play around with the type of cheese, parmesan or gruyere might also work here.
  • Once the batter is completely mixed, move quickly and get the muffin pan filled up and in the oven. 
  • You can bump the heat up in these muffins by adding a little more freshly chopped green or red thai chili peppers. 
Savory Sweet Potato Quinoa Muffins | A Brown Table | @abrowntable

Here are some fun links that, I've been thinking about all week. Some Thanksgiving themed and others just simply delicious!

Savory Sweet Potato Quinoa Muffins | A Brown Table | @abrowntable

savory sweet potato quinoa muffins

yields: one dozen standard muffins

ingredients 

3 large eggs

1 packed cup (4 ounces) of shredded sweet potato, raw

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup (4 5/8 ounces) quinoa flour 

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup plain unsweetened greek yogurt, lightly whipped

2 tablespoons melted butter, unsalted

1. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F.  Line a standard 12 cup muffin pan with parchment paper or muffin cups. 

2. Place the eggs in a large mixing bowl and whisk for about 4-5 minutes using an electric mixer on high speed until they have almost doubled in volume. 

3. In a small bowl, mix the sweet potatoes and cheddar together and keep aside.

4. In a medium sized bowl add all the ingredients from the quinoa flour to the baking soda and dry whisk until combined. 

5. Add half of the flour mix to the eggs and whisk by hand, until almost combined. Add the yogurt and the melted butter and whisk by hand for one minute, then add the rest of the flour mix and whisk until completely combined. Fold in the sweet potato and half of the cheddar with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. 

6. Divide the batter equally between the 12 muffin cup holders in the prepared pan. Top each of the muffins with the rest of the cheddar (divide the cheddar up equally between the 12 muffins) Bake at 350F for about 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through during baking. The muffins are cooked when the tops are golden brown and the centers have risen and firm and spongy to touch. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool in the pan. Serve warm with butter.