2017- The Dinner Resolutions

Some eating out highlights of 2016, from Mexican to Michelin and many manhattans in between.


Believe it or not, I really don’t eat out very much and I’m horrible at choosing restaurants. One bad review in amoungst the three hundred full-star reports on trip advisor will cancel a booking and send me back to my tried and tested just eat menu or to the co op for some chillies and a pack of tortillas. Because I love eating out so much, I really am rather terrified of getting it wrong because it sucks to waste a meal. Really.

It also sucks to keep hearing myself say ‘Oh, I keep meaning to go there’ then in related follow ups, being disappointed to hear of smaller venues closing down before I have had a chance to bite the bullet, take the plunge and spend my weight watchers points with them.
So no more dreaming of that interesting night out, no more fear of the unknown menu, no more missed belly aches and instagram opportunities, I pledge now to get out there and try these places and spend my money with smaller, weirder and localerer calorie salesmen. 2017 WILL be the year of the end of meaning to do dinner related stuff I never get around to. So far I’ve come up with a fantasy short list, the bare minimum, The Risks to Take, and they go a little something like this:

Where: Albatta, Sir Isaacs Walk, Colchester:
What: Lebanese, mezze
How overdue? About 2 years.
Albatta is a Lebanese restaurant and takeaway in central Colchester, which to be honest looks a bit pokey and uninviting from the street but sooooooo many people have raved about their dinners there that it must be investigated. Mezze,  or any small plates dinner, is potentially one of my favourite kinds of meal- sampling across a range of unusual or new menu tasters rather than blowing it all on one thing. And here, they have fattoush, which I (usually) love for it’s simple, crisp flavours and the foresight of putting the bread in the salad so you don’t have to order it separately! Albatta is top of the list in all respects. 

Where: Bonedaddies
https://www.bonedaddies.com/

What: Ramen
How Overdue? 2-3 Years



I am so sick of hearing about how good it is at Bonedaddies and how much everyone likes Bonedaddies and oh look, everyone is at Bonedaddies again! A curse on all you fly London types and your cock scratchings. One day I will be in town without the kind of schedule that prohibits a no reservations dinner venue and all the lovely noodles will be mine.

Where: Harkstead Farmers Market
http://www.harksteadfarmersmarket.org.uk/
What: The clue is in the title
How Overdue? Not yet!
In truth, I’m resolving to visit more farm shops and farmers markets in general in 2017 and this seems as good a place to start as any. Suffolk is a lovely drive from us and home to many, many foodie and pretty places to visit. Plus, this will be easily aligned with an Adnams visit and obligatory freezing cold stroll up Aldeburgh beach.

Where: Il Padrino Pizzeria, Church St, Colchester
What: Traditional Italian pizzeria
How Overdue? Barely 2 months

This is the sister venue to the big daddy Italian eating destination that is Il Padrino, again in Colchester, which opened quietly in winter 2016. I am yet to find anyone who didn’t have a good/great meal with Il Padrino, I look forwards to seeing what they can do with a large Hawaiian. Who doesn’t like Pizza? No one I know, and certainly no one I care to.

Where: Kovalam, Waterside, Brightlingsea
What: South Indian Cuisine
How Overdue? 11 months and one week
Followers of my rantings will notice that I moved last January to the Essex estuary outcrop that is sunny Brightlingsea. This was exciting for many reasons such as having a garden, a spare bedroom and a living room big enough for me and the Mr to comfortably ignore eachother in whilst still technically engaging in couples time. Oh, and living within staggering distance of that amazing curry house near the harbour- The Kovalam.
I visited there for dinner more times in my 15 years as a grown up living 10 miles away than I have in the last year when i could walk there in ten minutes. By which I mean we haven’t been down there yet. Why?!?!? Well, to be honest being in mortgage land has realigned financial priorities which means we get takeaways more often than we eat out and Kovalam don’t have an online menu. The Raj Palace does. The Raj Palace also does an amazing pickle curry thing and a green masala thing which I adore so they have won on the recent Ruby opportunities. But we will get there this year. Hopefully in February with the council tax money we don’t have to spend.

Where: Lily Vanilli- The Bakery, Columbia Rd, London E2
http://lilyvanilli.com/the-bakery/
What: CAKE!!!
And pastry and cookies and personal hero worship.
How Overdue? Since the second I saw her twitter feed

lv back

Sweet Tooth back cover, the front is too splattered from constant use to photograph now.


I love Lily. Love her. Love her cakes. Love her books. Love her style. Wish to squee ridiculously at her and ask how the hell it is that I can’t make my Hackney buns look the way they do in Sweet Tooth, my favouritest cake book of all time. So for her sake, I hope she isn’t around when I finally manage to fit in a Sunday visit to her bakery.

 

Where: The Man Behind The Curtain, Vicar Lane, Leeds
http://www.themanbehindthecurtain.co.uk/

What: Good question.
How Overdue? Missing from my life like world peace, an interest free Tiffany’s account and a smaller butt.
For the most part I’m too poor and too far away to go for dinner here and it destroys me with intrigue and Tweet Rage when I see others who have managed to get a table there. Frankly, I think Michael O Hare is wonderful for omitting all menu information other than the cruellest of teasers and just saying: I’m going to feed you amazing food in a funky place. A set menu is one thing, not knowing what that menu is is quite another. One might argue that the Hair Metal Chef persona is equally as pretentious as any well oiled French sounding bloke charging £230 a head plus service in the M25 outskirts, but hooray for something a bit different and not as outrageously expensive as many of his home counties peers. Maybe I can round up a 40th birthday expedition there by 2020.

 

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Adventures in Slow Cooking: Broccoli Cheese Soup

 

It’s that time of year when Christmas is over and you’ve had too much booze, brie and baked goods so it’s time to switch immediately to cayenne tea and rocket salads, right? Maybe best throw in a side of diazepam and hide all the sharp kitchen utensils while you’re at it.

So many January eating fads are exactly that- fads. Apart from the fact that any extreme eating plan is never going to be sustainable or good for you in the long term, there are so many more battles facing your will power at this time of year: It’s dark. It’s cold. You’ve driven 400 miles in 3 days to visit a plethora of germ-heavy relations in a centrally heated room full of dusty tinsel. Your sleep patterns are all screwy from combined late night brandy sessions and revised office opening hours. You are more than likely poorer than usual and you are more likely to succumb to the double dip of stress and depression what with all that cold and dark and sleep wobbles. Why on earth do you think you can cope with starving yourself now when you’re already tired and cold with a stretched immune system? Now, maybe even more than through the rest of the year, you need to feed your body with actual nutrition and sensible calories to keep you warm, energised and with the will to continue living. Believe it or not you can do this without a 3000 calorie galaxy and stilton based eating plan. If you want to.

I love my slow cooker in the winter. I’m pretty fond of it all year but it really comes into its own in the post Christmas slide into January. It is so easy to throw something on in the morning, veg out for the day and have a hot, comforting dinner ready with very little input or supervision and although yes you can go all out with some kind of beef fat and cream based fantasy casserole, you can also keep it pretty clean. Your slow cooker loves seasonal root veg and calorie free spices and fat free, protein high beans and pulses and it can make them really delicious too. As I’ve documented previously, not every attempt of mine has been a glorious success but the last couple of years have given me the bad experience enough to come up with my own set of rules to successfully blagging an edible slow cooker tea:

  • The ‘low setting’ is bullshit. Cook it all on high if you want it to cook at all.
  • Do not ever think about putting leeks, ultra lean meat, fish or shellfish in there. Just don’t.
  • Season it well then season it again. I’m not sure if it is the deceptively large pot or something in the process but I always find that I don’t get the kind of flavour intensity as I would if I followed the same recipe set up in a stove top pan in an hour. So use good, strong stock and an extra pinch on your spices.
  • Cruddy produce will be made worse by a slow cooker. Don’t think you’re enhancing those bruised spuds or liquefying courgettes with a five hour cook.
  • Don’t scrimp on your prep time, and prep small. Root veg in particular should be chopped reasonably finely and always crush rather than chop garlic.
  • Sear meat well before adding and if you have time, sweat off onions before going into the pot as they produce an odd aftertaste if they go in from raw.
  • Add creamy stuff at the end. If dairy sticks on to that pot surface it never comes off again.
  • Add booze at your peril, it doesn’t cook out properly.

I came up with the below soup yesterday, my one home-day of holiday this festive season during which I spent a manic morning washing, tidying, stripping beds, stashing presents and filling up my slow cooker before descending into a Netflix and chill sofa shame spiral of some eight and a half hours. Bliss. In related news- Hemlock Grove is some seriously weird but compelling watching for grown up BTVS fans. Weeeird.

Anyway we were in need of some dietary fibre after all that cheese based Boxing Day shiz, and by a random twist of events I was in possession of a lot broccoli so I came up with this soup. It was incredibly tasty and restorative, with a nice punch of slow-carby vitamins from the peas and broccoli plus a gentle homage to the yuletide dairy binge with the addition of soft cheese at the end. Lovely, nourishing, and not too high on calories or weight watchers points. It was even better today as I had the left overs for a self righteous office lunch when others are still having mostly short bread based meals. Give it a bash, it’s proper good.

 

Boomboom Broccoli Cheese Soup

My broccoli slow cooker soup with soft cheese and too much bread on the side. A luxurious winter warmer.

Serves 3-4 as a main meal

All times and quantities assume 3L slow cooker

1 ½ heads broccoli
2 white onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups frozen peas
200g soft cheese
Butter
1 tspn dried dill
1tsp ground coriander
1tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

Stock see below

Start off at the proper cooker with a frying panand soften  the finely chopped onions in butter until they become translucent then add these to the slow cooker. Throw in the well chopped broccoli, garlic and herbs. I then put in one vegetable and one chicken stock cube then cover the contents of the pot with freshly boiled water from the kettle. You could use made up stock either veg or chicken but make sure you heat it before adding. Put the lid on and leave on high for 4-5 hours until the broccoli stem pieces are tender. Add the peas and soft cheese, stirring very well to combine then wait for the pot to come to temperature again before adjusting seasoning then serving with crusty bread.

 

Variations: Add a handful of chopped ham to each bowl before serving or top with toasted almonds as a treat addition for the vegetarians. As with many slowcooker efforts, this isn’t the most photogenic brew as the green from the veg fades over the long cooking period so if you wanted to serve as a show stopper you can do the whole thing in about half an hour on the stove and maintain a brighter green. 

Broccoli Salad. It’s so much better than it sounds.


I first came across a broccoli salad as a side for possibly the best chicken wings I’ve ever eaten in Mighty Quinn’s East Village incarnation. How it took me 13 months to reproduce I’m not exactly sure, but I did in the end. My attempt came out for a soul food inspired family dinner recently and was a 100% hit with all involved. I’d even say it’s a bit better than the MQ version, but that might just be because there was so much of it- guys that tiny pot isn’t a taster, it’s a tease!

But don’t you cook broccoli and isn’t it gross? Yes and no, we can all cook broccoli but I have always enjoyed the stalks raw to crunch up a salad or smother in blue cheese dip to pretend it’s a healthy crudité. This salad is in a similar style, adorned with a creamy, sharp dressing which compliments the peppery crunch of the broccoli, sexed up further with toasted almonds and cranberries, cos they’re pretty.

I can (and do) just eat an entire bowl of this for lunch but it probably works best as a substantial side with most meats, hot or cold. If you don’t believe me, ask the Mr who is still asking me how I do that thing to make broccoli nice.

Boomboom Broccoli Salad


Serves 6-8 as a side

2 heads broccoli
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/8 cup (awkward) or 6 Tbspns mayonnaise
2tbspn cider vinegar
3/4 tspn sugar
Good pinch of sea salt
1 red onion, very finely diced
75g flaked almonds
100g dried cranberries

Start off by toasting the almonds in a dry, non stick pan until they start to colour then remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Some 2 hours before serving make the dressing by combining the buttermilk, mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt and onion. Refrigerate to let the mingling flavour magic work.

Closer to dinner time wash the broccoli and pat dry. Please use a fresh, good quality broccoli that is firm and very green. If you can go organic all the better. Slice them down into bite sized bits with a good sharp knife, stir in the cranberries then toss in the dressing. Keep in the fridge until you are ready to eat then scatter the toasted almonds over the top just before serving.

Absolutely delicious.

Variations: I’ve found a lot of recipes call for some lemon juice in a buttermilk dressing, I avoid this for allergy reasons in the Mr to be honest I really don’t think it needs it. You could add some bacon bits or cubed gammon if you are a devil; try a crumbling of blue cheese instead of /as well as the cranberries; you can swap in natural or non fat Greek yoghurt if you don’t have buttermilk but add a tablespoon of milk to loosen the consistency if you do. If you want a sweeter finish on the dressing up the mayo to equal quantities to the buttermilk but I have to say I think it works better with plenty of bite.

The X-mas Files: Why I Hate Christmas Food

xmas pudLast night, for reasons un-discussable, my Step Father sent me a video of three lovely middle aged, tinsel adorned ladies singing a comically sweary festive ditty urging one not to be unpleasant over the Christmas Period. It’s never a bed of roses for any one over the age of 12, is it?

I think I’ve been the boss of Christmas  twice in my life*. If you are like me, with masses of family and step family and now out in-laws to boot there is always somewhere to be at Christmas which puts you on guest duty at the mercy of the locally recognised Lord of the Roast. It is generally socially accepted that said Lord of the Roast makes the decisions, selects the bird and reserves the right to sob in the kitchen after too many sherrys if so much as a single sprout is not cooked according to the desperately optimistic post-it schedule stuck to the fridge door. There is always a boss of Christmas my friends, and it can’t always be you and as much as we all offer to chip in and help out what we really mean is “How can I fix something so it is how I like it whilst under the guise of doing the washing up?”
*perhaps only one and a half times if you count the year that the older male sibling went on so much about the Nigella method of turkey (which I wasn’t doing) that I could feel her booby judgement hanging over me all day.

In many households we are all conditioned to expect the same festive traumas until we begin to crave them without logical reason. It might start with midnight mass, then smoked salmon for breakfast. Watching the Queen’s Speech. Having the lights on all day, watching a James Bond film even if it is that crap one with the Chinese bloke in it and going for a drudgey, muddy walk whilst weighed down with a week’s worth of calories and having nothing to say other than notes on the dinner and how unseasonably warm it has been.  It is a Stockholm Syndrome of the soul that makes us unnecessarily precious about the most ridiculous peccadilloes of a single day in the year and leaves us genuinely traumatised if they are not either performed correctly or removed with a democratically justified excuse.

It may not shock you to hear that my immediate concern and association for Christmas is presents dinner. The all day kind of dinner that starts with something posh on toast and ends shivering through your meat sweats at half eleven with a final G&T to wash down that stubborn lump of chocolate orange that you can’t quite swallow. Yes, I’m greedy, but I was also raised in a family where dinner is important. Where you make the effort to turn out a nice spread for the people you love because that’s what you all agree on and one of the things you can be confident that you are good at. I love my parents for teaching me how to cook and letting me get in the way in their kitchens- then and now. I grudgingly idolise the older male sibling for being a constant challenge in the life long pursuit of dessert and teaching me to turn the other cheek when my other half goes on about how much nicer everything is when my brother does it. I cherish the memory of the younger male sibling being found with a tomato smeared face after being left for roughly 2 minutes alone in the kitchen to sieve the soup, which he absolutely had not been taste testing. In the dire times when we need solace and companionship in a dark room watching bad horror films to blot out reality, my bestie puts hot dogs on the pizza. Food is not love, but it is often found in the same places.

So with all this companionship and all this love and days off work for feasting, I must be awash with all the joys of the traditional Christmas food, right?

No.

Not bloody right.

Christmas is not just about eating and whether you are rejoicing in the birth of Christ or enjoying a free day off work getting brandy-drunk with your Nan that is no bloody reason to put orange peel in everything.

Here opens the rant.

Peel

clems

Use your citrus responsibly this christmas, please.

Why I hate it: You know how you eat oranges, yeah? You extract the plump little juicy segments from the inner sanctum and you DISCARD THE PEEL! WTF it’s December all of a sudden it’s ok to put waxy strips of bitter ming in EVERYTHING??? Do you chuck the onion skins into your soup over advent? No.  Enjoy chowing down on walnut shells with your Christmas Eve brandy? No. So keep peel in its proper place please. As in, the bin.
Exceptions: Some zest in the cranberry sauce. Just zest. Not peel.

Marzipan
Why I hate it: It sticks to your teeth and tastes like one of the most effective lethal poisons known to man.
Who wants that in their life?
See also: Anything involving amaretto.

pickle‘Christmas’ Special Edition Anything
Why I hate them: See previous peel or marzipan rants and chuck in cloves on top. If your hot apple chutney doesn’t need to be full of peel to well compliment an April cheeseboard, why does it now? Shortbread biscuits are quite excellent without being studded with raisins and if you can taste cloves, you can taste the dentist. Horrors.
Exceptions: M&S christmas coffee, Tiptree Christmas Jam.

 

Turkey Crown
Why I hate it:

m575_1_poultry-boneless-turkey-crown

It is turkey without the good bits, you just can’t dress it up. Image from Ian Chatfields, a fine Tonbridge butchers.

Seriously, a crown? Just the dry bit in the middle that you have to put the least thought into? Shame on you turkey crown buyers!!! FFS, it is bloody Christmas, just make the effort and buy a bloody turkey. Preferably from your real life butcher. Grease it, season it, and chuck it in the oven on Christmas morning and get over yourself! I’ll even let you stuff an orange in it if means you will cook a proper one. Or if you really don’t need a whole bird, get a smaller one. A goose, a duck, a really expensive corn fed chicken that had aromatherapy massages before being painlessly euthanised in an organic relaxation spa. It is a feast, and you put a bird on the table. You do not have beef for Christmas Dinner.

Bread Sauce
Why I hate it: Wet. Bread. Sometimes with cloves in it.

Nut Roast
Why I hate it: It is undeniable now, the vegans are amoung us and they must be accounted for. Hey, why not give them a pile of thoughtlessly seasoned and over dried nuts?? Mmmm. Believe it or not as a sensitive child I didn’t eat meat for some years and suffered many an ‘orrible nut cutlet or sicky fake cheese based breaded non-burger thing. Some people’s brains are inexplicably flushed of all the delicious and meat free foods there are in this world the second you suggest that dead flesh aint your thing. The times they are a changing and you can make the effort for your meat shunners without spending all year on your own organic cashew crop- there is so much good meat free food out there. Don’t buy some cruddy supermarket nut roast, no matter how extra special they tell you it is. If you are blessed with a pescetarian try a salmon coubillac or some stupidly easy to cook sea bass. Make a turbo potato dauphinoise or mousakka; stuff some mushrooms with spinach and pine nuts and breadcrumbs; get serious with a fat dish of truffled cauliflower cheese. Or if your guest is fully loaded on the animal produce shunning get to google or a decent book shop and find a nice, well rounded recipe that wont give the general impression that you hate that guest almost as much as you hate the oil soaked cardboard shreddings you are feeding them. Come up with your own take on the failsafe roasted butternut with plenty of spices if nothing else, it’s ridiculously easy.
Exceptions: Raw eaters. Make them sit outside with a spoon and a jar of coconut oil. They don’t want to be happy.

Mince Pies
Why I hate them: Pastry is something of a false idol in my wicked heart and there is little you can do to spoil it more than adorning it in the age old evil that is Mincemeat. I mean festive mincemeat, that weird sticky mass of suety yuk that leaks its insipid brown trails over everything rather than actual minced meat. Which in my mind is exactly what you want in a pie. Mince pies can sod off with their over soaked raisins and their gritty seeds and random gelatinous finds that could be fruit or nuts or steeped spiders, who knows! Plus, more peel. No.

Christmas Cake
Why I hate it: Christmas cake is a massive jip. Because it looks beautiful, all white and virginal with the big red ribbon and the rotund sugar snowman. Yet when you get your slice and bite in through that crunchy layer of heavenly icing you realise that the cake was made weeks ago and said icing tastes of dust and firesmoke and potpourri and everything else that lives on the sideboard or, if you’re really lucky, nothing.
Next up after the icing, see above marzipan rant.
Then when you get to the actual cake, it’s a fruit cake. Which is hardly a cake at all. It is more gritty raisins and nondescript dark sticky stuff and in most cases, peel. Pass the chocolate log please.

Roses
Why I hate them:
cadbury-rosesIt is not the 80s any more people. For the last thirty years Cadbury’s have been systematically stripping the Roses phenomenon down to a low cocoa-solid barrel of shiny wrapped bullshit. The Strawberry Dream (gag). The Orange Cream (heave). The Golden Barrel which we all know is a bloody caramel keg and the only thing we like in the whole stupid box and there’s only ever three of them that you have to share with your stupid brother and you can’t even get the name right any more!!!! Roses. We all open the lid in naive hope against hope for our favourite big purple one then realise in the ultimate betrayal of our own minds that we thought they were Quality Street.
Just get Quality Street.

Christmas Pudding
Why I hate it: Because it is in no way like the accepted graphic representation of a jolly, perfectly round pudding with spiffing white sauce crest and jaunty holly ornaments. I think you are up to speed with my thoughts on peel, raisins and nondescript sticky brown substances that taste like clovey darkness but in addition to this, add in the fact that somewhere, somehow, I am always sitting at a table where The Boss of Christmas has made or provided the hallowed and expected Christmas pudding and I have to sit there and squeak my non compliance from the shame shrouded end of the table. Because I really, really don’t like it. And no one gets it. Because it’s Christmas and they are offering me Christmas pudding and I will not take it. What is wrong with me? Arguably, the same thing that is wrong with those people who don’t have a turkey.

Baileys
Why I hate it:
Does anyone have Baileys in July? Maybe. But it is another substance I feel is cruelly marketed with all the luscious creamy waves and open fires and suspiciously attractive and thin people imbibing to make us buy it in for Christmas then remember we hate it. It is the cocktail additive for the teenage girl. It is kid’s booze, designed to taste nothing like booze until about two seconds after you swallow it then shudder through the bitter after-sting in the throat. It is a layer of sugary dairy on top of all those roast potatoes that we really don’t need. Or worse, it gets added to all kind of other evil stuff like amaretto to make glaringly vile festive cocktails that you will still be tasting at breakfast. Your stomach hates it, and so should you.
Exceptions: It is there for Uncle Jes alone, and we all openly judge him for it.

 

Of course it isn’t all bad and the annual 25/12 feast is far from painful for me due to the salvation of the baby Jesus, whole turkeys, chestnuts, stuffing, brussels sprouts, bacon wrapped everything, chocolate orange, brandy, cinnamon, brazil nuts, clementines and chocolate coins. Do I speak in jest? Only partially. I love Christmas as a chance to hang out in the warm with the people I like most and genuinely reflect on the areas of life where I am fortunate: there are many of these. Sometimes I am at a table that says grace, sometimes not and I am not one to debate the religious vs pagan origins of Christmas when there is so much more to argue about with the whole family slightly pissed and in the same house. Here comes the philosophical bit: Christmas is an evolving beast, much like life, and it can’t always be exactly the same and under your complete control (if it is, everyone hates you). So I wish you a Merry Christmas, and a happy new year and all that sentimental crap. I wish you a fine dinner of stuff you enjoy, either on the day or after work or next week when you can all be together at the same time. I hope you enjoy your gifts, however decadent or home made and crappy they are. I hope you enjoy a brief moment of drum banging and whistle blowing before all the toys are assembled and you have to hand them over to the kids who don’t really appreciate how much you had to drink last night. I hope you find five minutes to donate time or money to a charitable cause because if you are reading this on your personal media device of choice, then you clearly have a little bit of both to spare.

I really, really hope that you have have a turkey.

Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Casserole

img_1886-1

my sweet potato casserole, possibly the heftiest ‘light’ version of a dish I have ever done

I’ve always been one to romanticise the American South, mainly due to various drawly, tanned and laid back Hollywood incarnations of the mid nineties. Oh and Poppy Z Brite books. As well as loving a good vampire fight in the French Quarter, I  have long salivated over the Soul Food phenomenon from gumbo to BBQ and back again and a glut of thanksgiving instagrams encouraged me to attempt a southern states inspired family feast this weekend. A solid, lazy spread of slow cooked comforts awaited: brisket, BBQ sauce, corn on the cob and casserole. US termed Casserole that is, which I mostly understand to be anything cooked in an oven proof dish with too much butter. Sweet potatoes were a must, so I went to Google to find some authentic instructions for them.

Well.

I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I found the recipes. I get that they have some funny culinary concepts across the pond but I wasn’t ready for what I found. Even if I wasn’t trying to shed some weight at the moment I would still be horrified at the construct of some of these ‘casseroles’. Sweet potatoes, sure. Then eggs, ok. Butter. Obviously. Cream. Ooh, alright then. Sugar. What? Sugar? For mains? I don’t know about that. Oh a thick layer of marshmallows on top? What the effin eff is wrong with some people?

America: you are sacked.

So I found these recipes and decided I was going to ignore them all due to there being enough diabetes in this world already and came up with my own take to accompany our soul food feast. I kept the accepted method of potato prep and borrowed the egg inclusion also. Natural yoghurt went in to loosen the spuds and take off the potentially sickly edge. Rather than go with a crumble style topping I voted for some toasted oats with cinnamon to compliment the sweet tones without just piling on sugar plus pecans for some crunch. No bloody marshmallows. It was  triumphant and didn’t feel like a ‘light’ option in any way though technically I guess this could be a ‘diet’ version.

 

Boomboom Sweet Potato Casserole 

Serves 5-6 as a side

1250g sweet potatoes
300ml natural yoghurt
2 eggs
4 tbspns rolled oats
1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
Pecan halves

You need to start this well in advance of your table time by baking the sweet potatoes (whole in their skins) until they are very soft, generally about 45 minutes at about 180.

While this is going on put the oats into a dry frying pan and heat gently, moving them around the pan until they just start to change colour to a golden brown at the edges. Allow them to cool then transfer to an air tight pot, stir in the cinnamon then leave until needed.

When the spuds are cooked allow them to cool for 20 minutes then skin them- this should be easy to do with your fingers as the flesh will have shrunk away.  If you’re too posh to peel by hand cut them in half then spoon out the flesh. Discard the skins. The potatoes should break down easily with a fork or potato masher. Once they are well mashed add the yoghurt and beat through until you have a smooth mix. Then add the eggs and stir further to combine (make sure the mix has cooled or they will scramble!).

Transfer to oven proof dish, top with the oats and pecan halves  then bake at 160 for 25 minutes, serve immediately. Without any marshmallows.


I served this with brisket, a broccoli salad and corn on the cob but it would go really well with a chicken or turkey roast dinner also.