Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta

I’m not sure if I’ve ever managed to post a Thanksgiving recipe here BEFORE Thanksgiving. And with Thanksgiving 2016 being, oh, TEN short days away, that doesn’t give me much time… but this year, I’m gonna make it happen. I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut for quite a while, and I decided the other day that a great way to get myself OUT of that rut would be to come up with some new and interesting Thanksgiving dishes. And so, here we are! I’ve got several dishes on tap for this week, and I’m gonna do my best to get them all up here in the next seven days – because, seriously, there is nothing more annoying than having ALL your grocery shopping done, and then stumbling across a recipe you really want to add to your menu the morning of Thanksgiving, and then being forced to go fight the masses at the grocery store, where you lose your will to live and begin to hate the whole of humanity. It’s possible I’m projecting my own personal issues, here.

Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta

Up first is a sweet potato version of the traditional Pommes Anna, which is a delightful potato tart of sorts, made up of layers and layers of very thinly sliced potatoes. It’s a beautiful dish, and such a fun change of pace from the traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato dishes (marshmallow-topped yams, I’m looking at you).

Two disclaimers before we jump in:

1.) While a mandoline is not absolutely essential to make this dish, your life is going to be 1,000 times easier if you use one. It’s a great tool to have on hand anyway, so do yourself a favor and Amazon Prime one to your house immediately.

Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta

2.) This dish is not at all hard, but it does involve quite a few steps and ingredients. The upside is that 2/3 of it can be made ahead of time. Believe me when I say, the work is worth it.

Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta
serves 6-8 as a side

For the tart:
3 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
olive oil
kosher salt
2oz parmesan cheese, finely grated

Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta

For the fire-roasted green chile sauce:
small can of diced fire-roasted green chiles
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 large clove garlic
1 green onion
3 Tbsp plain greek yogurt or sour cream (NOT fat free)
1 tsp dijon mustard
red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 tsp kosher salt
black pepper

For the whipped ricotta:
4oz cream cheese, at room temp
16oz full fat ricotta
kosher salt
black pepper
zest of half a lemon

1.) Preheat your oven to 425°. Grab an 8″ non-stick pan, and add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the bottom of it, ensuring it’s evenly coated.

2.) Grab your mandoline and slice the sweet potatoes on the thinnest setting. Once they’re all sliced, start layering them into the (cold) non-stick pan, overlapping them slightly in concentric circles. This bottom layer will eventually be the top of your tart, so make sure it looks nice!

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3.) Brush the first layer of potatoes with a thin coat of olive oil, and season with kosher salt. Move on to the next layer of potatoes; be sure you brush each layer with olive oil and season it with salt. As for the parmesan cheese, sprinkle an even layer in between every OTHER layer of potatoes.

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4.) When you’ve used all the potatoes, place the pan over medium heat. Once the tart starts to sizzle and the bottom layer of potatoes begins to brown (about 4-5 minutes), move the pan to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.

5.) After 20 minutes, pull the pan out of the oven. Place a plate over the tart, and very carefully press the plate against the tart and tip the pan up over the sink to allow the hot oil to drain out (I prefer to do this with oven mitts on, in case any hot oil leaks out).

Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta

6.) When the oil has drained, flip the tart out onto the plate. Add a bit more oil to the bottom of the pan, and slide the tart back into it (the side that was previously on the bottom of the pan should now be face up). Return the tart to the oven for 10 more minutes.

7.) While the tart is in the oven, you can make the fire-roasted green chile sauce. Simply throw all the ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.

8.) For the whipped ricotta, start by putting the cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the cream cheese until it’s nice and smooth, 2-3 minutes.

9.) Add the ricotta, and continue to whip the cheeses until they’re no longer grainy, about 3-4 minutes. Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. When the cheese is just about done, add in the lemon zest, salt, and pepper, and whip just a bit longer.

10.) Once the tart is out of the oven, let it set for about 5 minutes before cutting into it. Slice it into wedges, and top each wedge with a drizzle of the green chile sauce, and a dollop of the whipped ricotta! You can garnish the tart with some additional green onions cut on an angle, if you want.

Sweet Potato Tart with Fire-Roasted Green Chile Sauce and Whipped Ricotta

While this recipe might not be the most ideal for a huge group of people, it’s perfect for a smaller crowd! It’s beautiful, and delicious, and relatively impressive looking, if you ask me. I also happen to love that it’s sort of visually reminiscent of a slice of pie topped with whipped cream!

One final note: if you’re looking at the crust on the tart in these photos and thinking it looks a little burnt, I want to assure you that it’s not! Sweet potatoes have a really high sugar content, so they’re going to caramelize and brown more than white potatoes. DO NOT be afraid to let your food (sweet, savory, or otherwise) get nice and deep, golden brown. That’s where the deliciousness happens!

Meet you back here in a couple days,
Tina

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Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

If you’ve never experienced the wonder that is a Whatchamacallit candy bar, I am sorry to tell you that you are SERIOUSLY missing out. Sure, the Whatchamacallit doesn’t get the glory of a Snickers, or a Milky Way, or a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup… but there is a boatload of deliciousness to be had in this unassuming candy bar. (You guys, you can’t even find a bag of mini Whatchamacallits at Halloween… awfully RUDE, candy overlords!) It’s crunchy, it’s caramel-y, it’s subtly peanut butter-y – all without being overly sweet or overwhelmed by chocolate.

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

As an ardent lover of rice krispie treats (I can easily take down an entire pan on my own), I occasionally sit around and daydream about how I could make a standard rice krispie treat more delicious. Clearly, my life is more exciting than you can possibly comprehend. Anyways, one day I was hit with a stroke of genius – that I could make a rice krispie treat that would taste like a Whatchamacallit! It took me several months to actually decide to do it (let’s be honest, I don’t particularly need a gigantic pan of rice krispie treats staring me down all week)… but over the weekend, the urge struck, and I just decided to go with it. I had all the ingredients, I was in the mood for a kind of salty/sweet dessert… and now I’m doing that thing where I keep walking by the plate of treats, cutting off a sliver here or there, just eating a little bit at a time. I fully expect all of them to be gone by this evening.

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats
makes one 9×13 pan of treats

5 T salted butter
8oz marshmallows
3 T peanut butter
generous 1/4 cup salted caramel sauce
approx. 7 cups rice krispies
2oz milk chocolate, chopped
1 tsp coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

1.) Start by melting your butter in a large pot, over medium low heat. Once the butter is melted, add your peanut butter and caramel sauce and stir, so the warm butter starts to melt the peanut butter.

2.) Add in your marshmallows, and stir continuously so the sugars don’t burn, until everything is melted and smooth.

3.) Remove the pan from the heat, pour in your rice krispies, and use a rubber spatula to gently fold them into the marshmallow mixture. I like to start with maybe 6 cups of rice krispies, and add more as needed – you want to be sure they’re not too dry!

4.) Spray a 9×13 pan with baking spray, and press the rice krispie mixture into the pan (lightly wet your hands to keep everything from sticking).

5.) Add the chocolate and coconut oil into a small bowl, and microwave in 20 second increments until it melts and can be stirred until smooth.

Whatchamacallit Rice Krispie Treats

6.) Scoop the chocolate into a small sandwich bag, and snip off a tiny bit of one corner. Drizzle the chocolate over the treats in whatever pattern you like! Let the treats cool and the chocolate harden (you can stick them in the fridge for 20 minutes or so, if you’re impatient like me), and then cut into squares. Enjoy!

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YESSSSSSSSSS. These Whatchamacallit treats were EXACTLY what I had in mind. A little salty, a little sweet… nutty, buttery, and juuuust enough chocolate. And, because they consist primarily of puffed rice, they don’t taste heavy or too rich (all the better to eat 18 of them in one sitting). Keep in mind, you can mess with the proportion of caramel to peanut butter, too – I wanted the peanut butter to be present, but not overwhelming (as it is in a Whatchamacallit), but if you’re a peanut butter fanatic, feel free to use more PB. I am not sure why I’m admitting this, but I added my peanut butter and caramel sauce to the pan, and kept tweaking until the mixture smelled like a Whatchamacallit. Evidently, I am intimately familiar with the exact scent produced by the Whatchamacallit-specific ratio of peanut butter and caramel. Please feel free to be embarrassed on my behalf.

The nose knows,
Tina

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

As I have admitted here before, I am not big into sweets. Sure, I enjoy a freshly baked cookie (or 5), or a big slice of key lime pie – but most of my dessert preferences trend toward things that are tart, or set off with a touch of salt. If I am going strictly sweet, I’m usually content to keep it to a smaller portion (the key word there being “usually”… I will not pretend I’ve never made quick work of a pan of brownies). It can be hard to come up with a dessert that doesn’t lend itself to huge portions, isn’t terrifyingly rich, or doesn’t require 3,000 steps. That’s where truffles come in.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

They’re simple to make, they require few ingredients, and they’re customizable in any way you wish. Now, be forewarned, making truffles can get a little messy… but as long as you’re not afraid of getting a little chocolate on your hands, you’ll be just fine.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles
makes about 24 truffles
modified from here

1 scant cup granulated sugar
1 T light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
1.25 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips*
1 tablespoon salted butter
assorted toppings: cocoa powder, toasted coconut, toasted and chopped nuts, sprinkles, etc

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

*Use higher quality chocolate chips, if at all possible. The cheaper ones tend to have more junk on them, to keep them from sticking together, and they won’t melt as smoothly. I like the ghirardelli chips, myself!

BEFORE you start: please remember that molten sugar will burn the daylights out of your skin. Be very cautious not to splatter yourself, and resist the urge to grab those caramel-y drips with your fingertip. You will regret it.

1.) In a small saucepan, heat your heavy cream over low heat. Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl, and set them aside.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

2.) In a medium saucepan, combine your sugar, corn syrup, and water. Gently stir everything together, and then set the pan over medium heat. Heat the sugar mixture without stirring (feel free to gently swirl the pan occasionally), until it’s a medium gold/amber in color.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

3.) Carefully pour the warm cream into the sugar and water mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula as you do. Be very careful, as the mixture will bubble up pretty aggressively.

4.) When the cream and sugar mixture are totally combined, pour it over the chocolate chips. Let it sit for a minute or two, then gently whisk the caramel and chocolate together, until it is smooth and uniform in consistency. Add the butter to the chocolate mixture, and whisk that in.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

5.) Pour the chocolate mixture into a shallow dish, and set it in the fridge for a couple hours to firm up. Once the mixture is firm to the touch, use a small metal scoop (or spoon) to scoop out small portions of chocolate (about the size of a large marble). Use your hands to roll each portion into a ball, and set aside (on a plate, or parchment-lined baking sheet).

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

6.) Place your toppings in small bowls, and toll the truffles in them to coat. Set the finished truffles on a plate or in a dish, and store them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them! (You’ll likely want to cover the plate or dish with plastic wrap, so the truffles don’t pick up any strong smells in your fridge!)

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

My preferred coatings are unsweetened cocoa (for those that want a super-rich chocolate taste), toasted coconut (because coconut is sent straight from heaven), and toasted, chopped hazelnuts (because it tastes like a gourmet ball of nutella, clearly). There are TONS of options, though – powdered sugar, colored sprinkles, chopped pecans… the world is your oyster, my friend.

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Truffles

I find these truffles to be preferable to just straight chocolate truffles. The caramel adds an extra bit of sweetness to cut through the dark, rich chocolate – but without being cloyingly sweet, or overtly caramel tasting. These little guys are the perfect sweet treat to end dinner with, whether you enjoy one, or a dozen!

It’s amazing how many truffles you can down as you just sneak ONE MORE out of the fridge, over and over and over again,
Tina

Salsa di Parmigiana

I hate to be overly dramatic so early on a Monday morning, but… it must be said that this recipe will change your life. It’s not just delicious (and sweet baby Moses, is it delicious), but it goes on EVERYTHING. It’s the universal condiment! You’ll make it, and then you’ll spend the next week of your life spooning a little bit on to every. damn. thing. you eat. It’s that good. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Salsa di Parmigiana with Dutch Oven Bread

Salsa di Parmigiana
recipe very slightly adapted from here

8 oz parmigiano reggiano*
8 oz asiago cheese
3-4 cloves garlic, grated
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 to 1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil

*This is the time to pony up the cash for the real deal. Don’t buy the weird, rubbery domestic chunk of parm that comes vacuum-sealed in plastic from Kraft – find the legit, pay-by-the-pound stuff that’s in the fancy cheese case. Yes, it’s like $18 a pound, but it’s SO WORTH IT. Your taste buds will thank you. (And don’t you dare toss that rind when you cut it off the parmesan! Put it in a ziploc bag, throw it in your freezer, and add it to your next pot of soup.)

Salsa di Parmigiana

1.) Cut the parmesan and asiago into large chunks (roughly 1″ or so). Add all the cheese to your food processor, and pulse until the cheese is broken down to pea-sized chunks. Transfer the cheese to a large mixing bowl.

Salsa di Parmigiana

2.) Add the garlic, scallions, red pepper flakes, oregano, and pepper, and give everything a good stir with a rubber spatula. Grated garlic temps to clump up, so be sure to get those clumps broken up as best you can.

Salsa di Parmigiana

3.) Pour one cup of olive oil over the cheese mixture, and stir to combine everything. Add more olive oil as needed – you want the salsa to be a bit looser than a paste, but not soupy or overly wet.

Salsa di Parmigiana

4.) Spoon the salsa into an airtight container of your choice. It’s best to let it sit for a few hours before using it to let all the flavors marry, but it will certainly be delicious right out of the gate, too. The salsa will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge.

And now, what to do with this gigantic container of cheesy salsa goodness?? Let’s see…

– spoon it on to some crostini or nice, crusty italian bread
– mix it into some scrambled eggs, right at the end
– use it as your “sauce” for a white pizza
– spoon over the top of sauteed green beans
– spread it on top of a burger
– pour it directly into your mouth

Salsa di Parmigiana Burger with Arugula

I am dead serious when I say that my husband added this to every single meal he ate for three or four days straight. You’ll think that the recipe makes a ton, and you’re right… but it will disappear before your very eyes. Next thing you know, you will be fighting with your spouse over who gets the last spoonful, and running to the grocery store in a panic, desperate to buy another million dollar chunk of parmesan.

ALERT: if you are looking to impress the hell out of someone(s), may I recommend bringing this salsa to a gathering along with a loaf of this embarrassingly easy bread? Combined, the two will take a grand total of like, 12 minutes of active time in the kitchen – and whomever you serve them to will become convinced that you are Ina Garten’s long-lost child. You’re welcome.

Why NOT replace all the fresh, healthful vegetables in a salsa with dairy products?!
Tina