Monday, November 21, 2005

Vanilla Sweet Potato Puree

Vanilla Sweet Potato Puree

From: Artisanal Cooking Page: 227

"Here's what you are in for: plump vanilla beans, cream, orange zest, and butter combined with sweet potatoes that have been roasted in the oven until they develop a beautiful, rich, flavor-concentrated flesh. A quick whirl in the food processor produces a smooth, creamy, subtly sweet puree haunted by the delicious vanilla and citrus undertones."

Vanilla Sweet Potato Puree

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, cleaned and left a bit damp
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/3 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
kosher salt
white pepper in a mill

Preheat the oven to 350F. Put the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until tender to a fork tip, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cook until warm enough to handle, 10 to 15 minutes. Peel and discard the skin. Put the potatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

Meanwhile, pour the cream into a 2-quart pot, add the vanilla bean and orange zest, if using, and set it over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Use tongs to fish out and discard the vanilla bean. Pour the mixture over the potatoes in the processor and add the butter.

Puree the potato mixture until smooth. Season with salt and 4 grinds of pepper, or to taste. Keep covered and warm until ready to serve.

Serves four.

Autumn Spice Oil

4 star anise
1/2 tablespoon juniper berries
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon allspice
1 medium cinnamon stick, crushed, or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/3 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
2 pieces dried orange peel, optional
1 cup oil

Put the star anise, juniper berries, cardamom, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves in an 8-inch saute pan and toast overmedium heat, shaking constantly, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.

Transfer the spices to a spice or coffee grinder and pulse for a few seconds.

Transfer the spices to a bowl, add the vanilla bean and orange peel, if using, and set aside.

Pour the oil into a small pot and heat it over medium-low heat until warm. Pour the oil over the spices and vanilla. Cover and let infuse at room temperature for 24 hours, periodically mixing the bowl. (heidi note: terrance says not to strain, but i strained anyways at this point - I think my spices were a bit on the chunky side of a fine grind).

Cover and keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Makes 1 cup.

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