|You can tell it's Southern cooking by the parrot!|
My first attempt at sweet potato casserole falls in the "less successful" category. It was tasty, but it wasn't what my expert taste-tester expected and it needs some work.
But I'm not proud - I'm happy to share the tasty failures, too!
|Mis en place for sweet potato casserole|
The bowl at left is cornmeal for fried cornbread
You know how it is when you watch one of those shows, and they have little dishes of every ingredient already measured and ready in a tiny glass bowl? They never waste camera time measuring, and it's also a great way to determine that you have every ingredient.
In fact as I was setting up for this recipe I discovered that I didn't have miniature marshmallows. Fortunately the grocery store is only three blocks away. On a cooking show there would be an able assistant, ready to run do the chef's bidding at any moment. For me that was the amazing husband/photographer/Official Taster, who ran to the store for marshmallows as I started cooking.
Because the Official Taster prefers yams, that is what I actually used. Most any variety of sweet potato or yam will work, but that may be part of what went wrong with mine. I will need to experiment with either different tubers. But once they were peeled and chopped I put them on to boil until tender.
While the yams simmered, I took a few minutes to clean up the kitchen. I have discovered that this kind of cooking - with new recipes and sometimes unfamiliar ingredients - can create a lot of havoc in my kitchen, and lead to many piles of dirty dishes. Since I have an older house, built at the end of WWII, it doesn't have a dishwasher. Someday, I have promised myself, we will remodel the kitchen. Someday!
Sweet potato trouble!
After a few minutes at a slow boil, the yams were fork-tender and ready to mash. The recipe called for three cups of mashed sweet potato, which seemed like a lot for two people, so I used two small yams and cut the rest of the ingredients in half. It was plenty, and we even had leftovers.
Once the yams were tender, I drained them in a colander and returned them to the pan to mash them. I have an ancient hand masher, which was all I needed to smash the yams without completely destroying the texture.
|An old-fashioned hand masher works just fine!|
However, I think I may have over cooked the yams. The consistency, as you will soon see, was thinner than I would have liked. The Official Taster also said it should have been more like dense mashed potatoes than the dish I produced. Thus the label of Tasty Failure.
But I digress...
Once the yams were mashed, I added the remaining ingredients,
Eggs and vanilla,
and poured the resulting mash into a baking pan.
|Tasty, but way too soupy!|
This is when we realized the mixture wasn't as thick as we thought it should be. There wasn't a lot I could do at this point, so I forged ahead with the topping
|A chef's trick, right in my own kitchen|
I mixed the nuts, brown sugar and flour into the melted butter, and then added the miniature marshmallows.
I spread the topping over the mashed yams in the baking dish, and it was ready for the oven.
After baking, the casserole was a beautiful, bubbly brown on top, with puffs of golden melted marshmallows. It smelled great, and tasted fine, but it wasn't exactly ready for its close-up. Here's hoping I can do a better job next time, and show you a finished product that will make your mouth water!
But for the record, here is a plate of the finished casserole. Too soft to hold its shape, it probably belongs in a small bowl rather than on a plate - it was more like a pudding than a casserole, and it's quite sweet, too.
Stay tuned for more Southern cooking adventures soon!! Maybe I'll get the pictures for that banana pudding ...
Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups boiled and mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Add sugar, milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla to mashed sweet potatoes. Place in an oven-proof casserole and top with a mixture of
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts, pecans preferred, but walnuts also work
1 cup coconut (optional, according to the Official Taster)
1 cup miniature marshmallows
Bake at 350 degrees until brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes