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.

Sweet Potato Pie

2 cups sweet potato puree* (about 3 medium sweet potatoes)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp lemon extract
1 unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine sweet potato puree, sugar, evaporated milk, eggs, flour, and lemon extract in a large bowl. Whisk until combined and smooth.

Pour into pie shell and bake for around 50 minutes, until crust is golden brown and the filling doesn’t jiggle.

Remove from oven to cool to room temperature before serving. Or refrigerate for a chilled pie.

* To make the sweet potato puree: Pierce sweet potateso in a few spots with a fork and microwave at high power for about 10 minutes or roast at 350° for about 1 hour, until tender. Let cool slightly, then peel and puree in a food processor.

Source: Mrs. JoSue

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

Oyster Stuffing

Oyster stuffing. I don’t know that you’ll find a dish more unanimously found on Thanksgiving tables here on the Eastern Shore. After a quick web search, it turns out it’s common in many other parts of the country as well – but especially down south around the Gulf, and up north around New England.

It’s basically a homemade stuffing – composed of dry bread cubes, sauteed onions and herbs, chicken stock, and fresh oysters. Some people used canned or smoked oysters – but, I can’t justify using those. Ever. Ain’t nobody got time for that! The oysters plump up in the stuffing, and release their delicious briny juices – adding a ton of flavor to the stuffing, and the bread just soaks it all right up! I loved the addition of nutmeg and clove too, it really made it taste like Thanksgiving.

This was actually my first time making this dish (hey, I am a “come here” after all!) and as I mixed it up before putting it in the casserole dish, I thought it wasn’t going to be something I enjoyed…as it wasn’t much to look at. But when it came out of the oven, and the top was nice and brown – I couldn’t wait to dig in! If you’re looking for something special to add to your Thanksgiving Day table, which is a cut above the standard cornbread stuffing (or my favorite, even though I’m ashamed to admit it – Stove Top!) get yourself a pint of oysters from the seafood market and make this stuffing. Maybe it will become a tradition for your family, as it has for so many others here on the Eastern Shore and elsewhere, on Turkey Day!

Oysters with Mignonette Sauce

There are two things that our little island of Chincoteague, off the coast of Virginia is known for…Pony Penning, and oysters. Since we are a barrier island next to Atlantic Ocean we have extremely high salinity (salt content) in our water, making for some extra-salty and delicious oysters. They ship them all over, to the fanciest restaurants and oyster bars in the country – and people pay top dollar for them. Chesapeake Bay oysters are also world-renowned, but for their sweetness from the brackish waters (part salt, part fresh) as opposed to the briny saltiness. I find it so interesting that they can taste so different, but still be so delicious in their own way…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’m so thankful to call this little stretch of land between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean my home. While we have things like clams and blue crabs to look forward to in the summer months, the cooler months is the time for oysters. The rule of thumb is any month that ends in “ember” is the best time to enjoy them.

My best friends aunt has an oyster bed, and dredged up a half a bushel for me on Saturday morning. They are always covered in marsh mud, and require plenty of scrubbing – but they smell of the sea, and to me that’s one of the best smells in the world.

Now, it’s pretty much blasphemy for anything to be served with “Chincoteague Salts” – as they contain so much flavor from the salty brine found inside. But for any other oysters you’ll commonly find a mignonette sauce served with them. It’s a simple vinegar based sauce that usually includes minced shallots, black peppercorns, and fresh herbs.

It’s an extra special appetizer during the Holidays, something that’s easy (provided you have a good fishmonger or husband who is prone to shucking!) and so impressive. If you have access to fresh oysters, even if they aren’t from my neck of the woods, pick up a dozen and give them a try. And if you are lucky to have access to them in abundance (or you are more into cooked renditions of oysters), make sure you check back here in the next week – I have two other oyster recipes coming up that will knock your socks off!