Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sweet Potato and Summer Squash Tacos

The climate and growing season is very interesting in Georgia.  Currently, it is October.  To this Jersey girl, that means cool weather, brisk nights and crisp air.  However, in Georgia, it is still averaging 80 and muggy with heavy air.  But, what we give up in comfort, we gain in available fresh veggies.  Summer squash is still in season while cool weather crops, like sweet potatoes, are popping up.  It occurred to me to unite these unlikely companions and make tacos, a perfect excuse to open a jar of the salsa I put up over the summer.  The husband and I were both thrilled with the results.  The toddler ate beans and tortillas and, therefore, was also thrilled.   

I forgot to take a picture of the sweet potato before I diced and cooked it. 

Sweet Potato and Summer Squash Tacos
Makes 12 Tacos

1 Large Sweet Potato, 14 ounces
2 Medium Summer Squash, 12 ounces
1 Small Yellow Onion, 5 ounces
2 Small Sweet Peppers, 3 ounces
2 teaspoons Taco Seasoning
1 ½ Cups of Cooked Cranberry or Pinto Beans
Your choice of guacamole, salsa and shredded cheddar cheese for topping.  

1. Peel and dice the sweet potato into a ½ inch dice.  Add to a 3 quart pot filled with cool water with 1 teaspoon of salt.  Bring potatoes to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium high and continue to gently boil for about 5-8 minutes, until potatoes are just tender.  You don’t want the potatoes to become a mushy mess once you add to the other vegetables.  Drain potatoes and return to the hot pot.  Set aside.
2. Thinly slice the squash, onion and peppers.  A mandoline slicer works nicely here, or just use a nice sharp knife.   
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Saute the onion until it is translucent and just beginning to brown.  Add the pepper and squash and continue to saute until the vegetable are tender-crisp.  Add seasoning and salt to taste.
4. Add drained potatoes and mix well to incorporate with other vegetables and seasoning.  
5. To assemble, place about 2 tablespoons of beans in the corn tortilla.  Top with about 2 tablespoons of vegetable mixture and your choice of cheese, salsa or guacamole.  We used all three, because that's just the kind of family we are.  

If you can get away with any leftovers, the filling makes a really nice sandwich spread.  

Fresh Corn Tortillas

This recipe is straight from the bag of Bob's Red Mill Masa Harina Flour with some editorializing. It makes a delicious tortilla and also an interesting cornbread.  

My tortilla cooking setup
As cornbread

2 Cups Masa Harina Corn Flour
½ teaspoon Sea Salt
1 ½ -2 Cups Hot Water

1. Mix the salt into the masa harina corn flour.  Slowly pour the water onto the dough to get a good consistency.  The dough should be firm and springy when touched, not dry or sticky, like playdough. 
2. Let the dough rest for 1 hour, covered.  
3. A few minutes before your hour is up, preheat a grill or flat cooking surface to medium heat.  
4. Divide the dough into 12, 2 inch balls.  Press using a tortilla press or roll between two sheets of wax paper until you have an approximately 6 inch circle.  
5. Place dough on hot grill and cook until you can start to see little air bubbles rising to the top of tortilla, about 1 minute.  Flip and continue to cook for a few seconds.    
6. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 175 degree oven.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sweet Potato Carrot Fritters

The word fritter has entered our dinner menu frequently in recent months.  Almost any vegetable does well with a quick shred, salt, drain, form and fry to form a delectable patty.  You can even mix up the seasonings depending on your mood.  Think potato pancake with more veggies.  I decided to post this recipe because my husband could not stop talking about how good these were.

My daughter was less impressed.  While she did not throw her food on the floor, she did sit at the table in silent protest, refusing to eat until I reminded her that she had bread on her plate.  We ate these on homemade whole wheat buns with cumin squash pickles, pea tendril and sorrel mix, and salsa spread.

Sweet Potato Carrot Fritters

Makes 9 Fritters

4 Large Carrots, 10 ounces
1 Large Sweet Potato, 11 ounces
1 Medium Red Potato, 6 ounces
2 Small Sweet Peppers, 4 ounces
1 Medium Yellow Onion, 6 ounces
 ½ Tablespoon Kosher Salt
⅛-¼ Cup White Whole Wheat Flour
1 Egg
½ Teaspoon Taco Seasoning
¼ Teaspoon Chili Powder

olive oil to pan fry

1. Grate the carrots, sweet potato, red potato, peppers and onion using a food processor or the large holes of a box grater.
2. Transfer the grated veggies to a large bowl, layering while you go with the salt.  Toss the veggies until salt is well incorporated.  If this sounds like a lot of salt, don’t worry, much of it will drain out along with the veggie juices.  Transfer to a colander placed over your large bowl and let sit for a minimum of 30 minutes, maximum of a few hours in the refrigerator to allow the vegetables to release their juices.

 3. Using your hands, squeeze out as much juice as you can.  One nice trick is to transfer the mix to a cloth napkin or dish towel, pull up the corners to make a neat bundle and twist and squeeze to get out all that water.  The more water you extract, the less greasy your fritters will be.                                            
Squeezed Veg
All the extracted juice

4. Coat a deep frying pan with enough oil to completely cover the bottom.  Heat the pan and oil over medium low heat until the oil begins to shimmer. 

5. Mix your drained veggies with the flour until you have a nice, dry mix.  Add egg and seasonings and mix thoroughly.

6. Using a ¼ cup measure, scoop out the mixture and form into patties about 3 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick.  As your form patties, place into the hot oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Remove fritters to a wire cooling rack placed over a cookie sheet to cool and drain.  

7. Continue forming and frying patties until you have used all the mix.  You may keep the patties warm in a 200 degree F oven, if desired.
8. Serve as a topping for a dinner salad, on a bun or bread, or eat as is for a simple approach.  For a nice accompanying sandwich spread, mix equal parts prepared salsa and strained yogurt, spread on your bread, add a patty and some greens and you have a rad sandwich.  These are nice the eat the next morning on the side of some eggs, hash brown style.

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Taco Seasoning

I love blending my own spice mixes at home.  You can adjust the seasonings to your liking, use less salt than store mixes and buy many whole spices in bulk, grinding just before you need them to increase shelf life and freshness.  

Taco Seasoning

1 tablespoon whole cumin
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons chili powder 
1 teaspoon paprika 
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/2 teaspoon onion powder 
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 

1. Grind cumin and peppercorns in a spice or coffee grinder until you form a fine powder.
2. Add remaining ingredients and process until mixture is well blended.  
3. Transfer to an airtight container.  Label and store in a cool, dark cabinet.