Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Yesterday evening, before dashing off to my weekly poker game, I put together a dinner that was worthy of a magazine cover.

A science fiction magazine cover.

I have a thing, you see, for Weird Food. The exotic always appeals to me... provided, of course, that it tastes good.

We had a couple of flatiron steaks. The Mistress of Sarcasm and I had taken a spin by Harry’s Farmers Market to pick up a few odds and ends, and among those I had hoped to score a hanger steak. Alas, none were to be had, and so I went with an acceptably beefy-flavored substitute. A little kosher salt, a little black pepper, and a sprinkle of ground thyme (on my steak only - the Missus is not a fan of Herby Flavors), and these babies were ready for a quick turn on the grill. (A hot skillet is a perfectly good alternative.)

For the veg, I steamed some asparagus and garnished it with a few slices of Australian blood orange. Unusual, maybe, but not outright weird. I saved “outright weird” for the starch: Mashed purple sweet potatoes.

Yes - purple sweet potatoes.

These are locally grown and have a dark purple flesh in lieu of the familiar yellow-orange of your everyday sweet spud. But the taste isn’t too different. We’ve had ’em before, chopped up and roasted... and the idea of mashing them up to make a pile of purple paste somehow appealed to the Bizarro-Child within me.

It was a simple matter of peeling the tubers, hacking them into chunks, boiling them until tender - about twenty minutes - and then running them through a ricer. Whisk in some milk, salt, and butter, and Bob’s yer uncle: mashed sweet potatoes, but with a truly oddball appearance. Delicious. (A dash of cinnamon and nutmeg would be welcome additions next time.)

What? You don’t have a ricer? If you like mashed potatoes, a ricer is an indispensable tool. It forces the food through a perforated plate, creating the perfect airy texture in mashed potatoes... and it works brilliantly with other root vegetables like carrots and parsnips. A food mill does the trick nicely as well.

Bottom line: a tasty repast, prepared from scratch in less than 45 minutes. Pleasing to the eye, pleasing to the palate. (Well, one out of two ain’t bad, Mister Science Fiction.)

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