Being born and raised in the South, sweet potatoes for me came in the form of two recipes: sweet potato pie and candied yams. I never looked beyond the sugary goodness that sweet potatoes would turn into around the holidays, until I got my hands on Sweet Potatoes by Mary-Frances Heck.
Heck explores the variations of the sweet potato beyond the traditional uses, and provides a culinary experience which gives you a new outlook in the kitchen when cooking with sweet potatoes. The most interesting fact about the sweet potato is all of its parts—stems, roots, leaves—are edible, and the different flesh colors tells you how much moisture the sweet potato has.
Besides coming in a variety of colors and sizes, the sweet potato is high in nutritional value, and is complementary with many ingredients including, but not limited to nuts, proteins, fruits, herbs and spices, etc.
The book slowly drives you through basic recipes such as sweet potato puree, sweet potato fries and chips, and gradually builds to more hearty recipes such as Thai style curry noodles, bakes potatoes, rolls and breads, etc. All the recipes are short in terms of the list of ingredients for each recipe which makes it easy for the novice cook or anyone just starting to cook with sweet potatoes.
My favorite recipe of all to prepare from the book was the Huevos Rotos. It put a new spin on late night dining, and is the perfect hangover meal for the heavy partygoers. I don’t eat hot peppers; therefore, I decided to substitute the padron peppers for bell peppers instead: A lighter pepper, but with the same quality taste.
Sweet Potatoes is a delightful surprise which I wasn’t expecting at all. Not only does Heck shine a new light on sweet potatoes and cooking methods for them, she provides basic recipes that are easy to prepare at home with a professional finish.