Sweet potato chips are so much tastier than boring old potato chips. And much better looking!
There’s no secret to the recipe here – just sweet potatoes and some sea salt. However, there are several tricks to getting them to turn out right:
- The oil has to be very hot, around 375 degrees. (I use canola oil, both for its health benefits and because it has a higher smoke point than other oils)
- The sweet potatoes have to be cut very thinly, with consistent thickness. The best way to do this is with a good mandolin, set to the thinnest setting (on the one I use, it’s 1/32 inch).
- After slicing, rinse the potatoes in cold water, then dry them thoroughly. It’s very important to make sure they’re dry before frying them. I use a good salad spinner, but paper towels would work too.
- Small batches. I fry about 20 chips at a time. Too many at once, and it lowers the oil temperature and the chips come out chewy.
After frying, place them on paper towels and sprinkle them with sea salt right away. Optionally, garnish with some chopped chives, chervil or parsley for a little added color and flavor.
Hummus is another delicious vegetarian recipe that’s super-easy to make. Just mix the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy (about 3 minutes). I have to give credit to my mom for this recipe. She’s been making this for me since I was a small child, and now offers this as one of many delicious vegetarian dishes in her cafe in Woodstock, IL – Expressly Leslie Vegetarian Specialties. This is a modified version of her recipe. If you happen to live in the Woodstock area, stop into her cafe for this and other delicious vegetarian cuisine!
- 1 large can (29 ounces) Ziyad Chick Peas (or roughly 3 cups)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 Cup Tahina (recommend the Ziyad brand again here)
- 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 rounded teaspoon Cumin
- 1/4 Cup bean liquid
- Drain the chick peas, setting the liquid aside
- Place cloves of garlic in a food processor and pulse to mince (scrape from sides of bowl as needed)
- Add all other ingredients except the bean liquid (drained from the can of chick peas)
- Turn on food processor, then slowly add the bean liquid through the food processor’s tube while it’s running (you may choose to use more or less bean liquid to get your desired consistency)
- Blend until smooth and creamy (about 3-5 minutes)
- Place hummus in a bowl, then drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sprinkle some paprika on top
- Serve with fresh, warmed pita bread
Fresh guacamole is one of my favorite dishes. It’s easy, it takes just minutes to prepare, and it tastes great!
- 3 medium avocados, chopped finely, but not mashed
- 1 medium tomato (or 2 Roma tomatoes), peeled, seeded and chopped
- About 1/3 to 1/2 of a medium onion (I use yellow Vidalia onions, but red or white would be fine)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped Serrano or jalapeño pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- A small amount of chopped tomato, onion and cilantro for garnish (optional)
Personally, I prefer my guacamole to have a chunkier texture, rather than being mashed as is commonly done. The key difference is that I chop the avocado finely and then stir it gently with the other ingredients, but I don’t mash it all together.
- Cut avocados in half, peel them, remove the seeds, then chop them into small bits. Place in a bowl.
- Dip the tomato into boiling water for about 10 seconds. After this, the skin can be peeled off easily. Remove seeds and dice (chop into small pieces). Add to the bowl.
- Dice the onion, then add to the bowl.
- Mince the Serrano pepper (make sure it’s minced very finely so nobody bites into a big piece of hot pepper). Measure about 1 1/2 teaspoons (more or less, depending on how spicy you want your guacamole to be), and add to the bowl.
- Add the chopped cilantro, lemon juice, and salt.
- Stir everything together gently. Try not to mash it too much – just mix the ingredients.
- Sprinkle some chopped tomato, onion and cilantro on top as garnish (optional).
- Serve with tortilla chips.
I suggest serving this right away, when it’s fresh. However, if you need to prepare it ahead of time, cover it with plastic wrap and press down gently so the plastic wrap is in contact with the guacamole. This minimizes the amount of air coming into contact with the guacamole, which will help prevent it from turning brown. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Good food inspires me. Preparing a nice meal, with loving attention to detail, gives a sense of joy and fulfillment that is difficult to match. These days, too many people never come to know this simple pleasure because they rely on fast food or frozen, processed, or otherwise unwholesome sources of sustenance. What I hope to share through this blog is the understanding that you don’t need to have any special skills to prepare wonderful meals in your own kitchen. I’ve had no special education or training, other than spending time in the kitchen with my mother when I was a child, and occasionally watching cooking shows to learn basic techniques. I’m not a vegan or vegetarian, and I’m not particularly concerned with watching calories or fat intake. I just try to stick to whole, natural, organic ingredients whenever possible, buying the best quality I can afford, and I prepare the food with great care. The result, when all goes well, is a collection of fine impressions in the form of taste, smells, textures, and colors. When all of these come together in balance, it creates very special moments that can be shared with family and friends, and a great sense of satisfaction. I hope you will be inspired to spend some time in the kitchen yourself to see what you can create!