Sweet Potato Pie

Have you guys ever had sweet potato pie? It’s pumpkin pie’s “Black Sheep” cousin. It sounds kind of weird in theroy, but upon first bite you discover it’s absolute deliciousness. A little bit lighter and less filling than pumpkin pie, but still just as festive for Fall.

We grow lots of sweet potatoes here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore – most notable, a white-fleshed sweet potato variety called Haymans. You rarely find them off of the Eastern Shore because they’re in such high demand with the locals. I still haven’t been able to get my hands on any this year…I’m hoping to track some down before next week for Thanksgiving, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

If you’re worried it might take more time and effort than a pumpkin pie, don’t be – it’s just as easy, with an even shorter ingredient list. It’s one of those recipes that the little ones like to help make too! Plenty of stirring and whisking involved. It may seem strange that there’s no brown sugar or nutmeg – but just go with the lemon extract. It adds such a bright note to the sweet potato, and really makes it sing.

So, if you’re looking for a new dessert that’s still traditional – you’ve found it. The perfect addition to your holiday Thanksgiving table that everyone is sure to enjoy! Have a great weekend, everyone.

Source: Mrs. JoSue

Baklava

Happy National Baklava Day! If there ever was a dessert worthy of it’s own day, I’d say baklava was it. I’d never had the pleasure of trying it before moving here to the Eastern Shore. I’ve made mention before how our little island has quite a few Greek families that live and operate restaurants here. Jon worked in one of them growing up  (Famous Pizza for you locals), so baklava was a favorite for him at a young age. He introduced it to me, and it quickly became one of my favorite as well!

Tender, crunchy, golden brown layers of phyllo dough encasing layers of finely chopped spiced nuts and brown sugar, all enrobed in honey. It’s pretty much as close as one can get to perfection in a baking dish. I can’t believe it took me this long to get around to making it in my kitchen. I was afraid it would be super time consuming or tedious, neither of which it was. Took all of about 15 minutes to assemble, and the results were in-sane…

I used a mixture of the traditional walnuts and pistachios for a little depth of flavor. I also added a few slices of lemon to the honey syrup. Jon said he remembered Rula (the owner) putting lemon in her syrup when she made baklava at the pizza shop, and thought that sounded like a great touch.

I actually need to make another batch soon, the poor folks at Jon’s work didn’t even get to enjoy any! That’s how we know something is really good, when leftovers don’t make it into the office. If you’ve never made baklava, or worse – never even tried it, do yourself a favor and make this soon!

Source: adapted from TheKitchn and Famous Pizza on Chincoteague Island, VA.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Did you guys know that such a wonderful thing even existed? They do indeed, and they’re as wonderful as you’d imagine. They are pretty much a food group here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and it is where I was first introduced to them. After years of enjoying them, I thought it was high time I passed the recipe along to you guys!

It’s your basic biscuit dough with the usual suspects – flour, buttermilk, flour. But then you invite some pureed, roasted sweet potatoes to the party. It adds great flavor and color, and also some additional moisture. Which is always welcome in a biscuit!

They aren’t quite as fluffy as your standard buttermilk biscuit, just because the addition of the sweet potato adds some density too… but, what they lack for in fluffiness they more than make up for in deliciousness.

I like to serve them with a bowl of soup, or just plain with some jam or pumpkin butter. But, our favorite way to enjoy them is sandwiching a few pieces of ham. Very thinly sliced country ham is a treat, but more often than not it’s just plain deli ham. It makes for one delicious and easy meal – for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Source: adapted from The Lee Bros Southern Cookbook and Food & Wine, Nov 2013

Homemade Oyster Crackers

Oyster crackers. They are probably something you don’t even think about, unless you’re ordering a bowl of clam chowder or crab soup. Usually, we’ll just use broken-up pieces of saltines for a crunchy bite to top our soup with – but yesterday I was feeling particularly ambitious!

Turns out they were super easy to make, requiring only a few ingredients. The hardest part was cutting and transferring all the little squares to the baking sheet. And that little amount of work totally paid off, the taste and texture was about a million times better than you’d find in the store-bought crackers.

In fact, we loved them so much, it’s got me thinking about what other crackers I can make here at home!  I know these would be great with additions thrown in as well, like fresh (or dried!) herbs. Or even just a little bit of black pepper. Will definitely be making these again!

Source: adapted from Serious Eats