Sweet Potatoes with Apple Butter

4 pounds sweet potatoes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup apple butter
Salt

Preheat the oven to 350°. Pierce the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and place on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until very tender.

Peel the sweet potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher until creamy, then mash in the butter and apple butter. Season with salt and serve.

Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1/4 cup canola oil
2 1/4 pounds baby brussels sprouts or regular brussels sprouts halved lengthwise
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup Grade A pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup vacuum-packed roasted chestnuts, coarsely chopped (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon walnut oil

Heat the canola oil in a very large skillet until shimmering. Add the brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper, then cook over high heat without stirring until they are browned, about 2 minutes. Add the unsalted butter and brown sugar and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the brown sugar is melted. Add the maple syrup and cook, stirring occasionally, until the brussels sprouts are just crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in the cider vinegar. Add the chestnuts and walnut oil and cook until hot.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the brussels sprouts and chestnuts to a bowl. Boil the cooking liquid over high heat until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over the brussels sprouts and serve.

Baked Gobi Manchurian

4 cups chopped cauliflower
1 cup chopped onions
1 large bell pepper chopped or eight small little ones
2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon turmeric

For the sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce

Line a sheet pan with foil and turn on your broiler.

Sprinkle the veggies with oil, salt, and turmeric.

Mix well and place veggies on foil-lined sheet.

Broil for 30 minutes or so until the veggies are cooked.

Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, mix together all the sauce ingredients and microwave for 30 seconds. Let this sit while the veggies cook.

When the veggies are done, remove from the oven and pour sauce on them, mixing as you go.

Roast Beef with Root Vegetable Salad

1 pound sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 pound celery root, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 pound golden beets, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
4 large unpeeled garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
One 1 1/2-pound eye of round beef roast, trimmed of visible fat
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons brined green peppercorns, chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of brine
1 teaspoon honey
4 cups baby arugula (about 3 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 425° and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, parsnips, celery root, beets and garlic cloves with 3 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt. Spread the vegetables on the baking sheet and roast on the bottom rack of the oven for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until browned and very tender. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a medium ovenproof skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Season the roast with salt. Add it to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer the roast to a plate and pour off the fat in the skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet and cook, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the pan juices into the large bowl.

Return the meat to the skillet and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 115° for medium-rare meat. Transfer the roast to a board; season with black pepper.

Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skins into the meat juices in the bowl and mash with a fork. Whisk in the vinegar, peppercorns, brine and honey. Add the roasted vegetables to the bowl and toss with the dressing. Add the arugula and toss again.

Carve the roast into thin slices and serve warm or at room temperature with the salad.

Grilled Broccoli and Bread Salad with Pickled Shallots

2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
Kosher salt
Grated zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1 pound broccoli, cut into long spears, stems peeled
1/2 pound vegan ciabatta, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Maple-Ginger Roasted Vegetables with Pecans

1 1/2 cups pecans
4 medium carrots (3/4 pound), peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick on the bias
2 large parsnips (1 pound), peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick on the bias
1 medium head cauliflower (2 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch florets
1 small butternut squash (2 pounds)—peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch dice
1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 425. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Let cool.

In a large bowl, toss the carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, squash and brussels sprouts with the olive oil and nutmeg and season generously with salt and black pepper. Spread the vegetables on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and roast for 30 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown. Scatter the pecans and ginger over the vegetables and drizzle with the maple syrup; toss well. Continue to roast the vegetables for 25 minutes longer, until they are tender and golden. Scrape the vegetables into a bowl and serve hot or at room temperature.

MAKE AHEAD
The roasted vegetables can be kept at room temperature for up to two hours before serving.

Warm Winter Vegetable Salad with Feta

1 small red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 small sweet potato (about 8 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 small celery root (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 small beet, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 ounce feta, crumbled (1/4 cup)

Preheat the oven to 425. In a medium roasting pan, toss the onion, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, celery root and beet with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and roast for about 45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender and lightly browned in spots.

Meanwhile, spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast until golden, about 6 minutes. Transfer the walnuts to a work surface and coarsely chop.

In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the lemon juice, mustard and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and fold in the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetables and walnuts to the dressing and toss. Top the salad with the feta and serve warm or at room temperature.

MAKE AHEAD
The roasted winter vegetables and dressing can be refrigerated separately overnight. Rewarm the roasted vegetables before serving.

Pan-Seared Butternut Squash

2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
5 fresh sage leaves, sliced into a very thin chiffonade
Leaves of 4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 medium (2 pound) butternut squash, peeled and cut into uniform 3/4-inch cubes, about 5 cups worth (if buying pre-cut squash, you’ll need about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses (See Recipe Note)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Handful of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shavings, to serve

Heat the vegetable oil in a 12-inch cast iron pan, or a large sauté pan or skillet, over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the thyme and sage and fry them for 30 seconds. Add the squash, immediately toss to coat with the oil, and spread the squash out into as much of a single layer as possible. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or longer, stirring occasionally, until the sides of the cubes vary from light to dark brown and the squash is tender all the way through when poked with a fork. Pay attention to the heat under the pan, taking care not to burn the outsides before the middles are soft, but don’t fear failure if a few of the cubes darken to near black here and there. As the squash cooks, stir and scrape often with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula that can do the work of getting the tasty bits up off the bottom of the pan without scraping it silly.

While the squash cooks, briskly whisk together the molasses, balsamic and olive oil and set it aside.

As soon as squash is tender throughout, sprinkle with salt and pepper, adding more to taste. Transfer the butternut to a platter and drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette. Scatter the shards of cheese over top and serve immediately.

Leftovers, if any, can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days and reheated in a hot pan until warm. They are also excellent in an arugula salad with red onions and more of the same balsamic dressing.

Roasted Cauliflower with Ras al Hanout

1 head cauliflower, washed, with leaves intact
1 teaspoon salt, more for seasoning
1/2 gallon whole milk or water
1/3 cup clarified butter (see note)
4 teaspoons ras el hanout (see note)
Salt, to taste

Place the cauliflower in a large pot and add the salt and milk (or water) until it’s covered. Top up with water if necessary to completely cover the cauliflower. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to simmer gently until the cauliflower is very tender, about 45 minutes. When the pot is cool, transfer it to the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, heat oven to 450 degrees. Drain the cauliflower well and dry the surface with paper towels. (If you used milk, discard or save for use in another recipe.) Place it on a large sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan and drizzle the clarified butter all over the cauliflower, using your hands to make sure the surface is covered. Sprinkle the ras el hanout evenly over the surface and season generously with salt.
Wrap the parchment paper around the base of the cauliflower, leaving only the white part exposed. Roast in the paper for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the surface is a deep golden brown. Serve hot.

Roast Chicken and Rice Salad with Shiso

1 organic or free-range chicken, weighing about 3 1/4 pounds (or about 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken meat, and about 4 1/2 cups cooked and shredded)
4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaping cup basmati rice
1/3 cup wild rice
1/3 scant cup brown rice
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
4 mild red chiles, seeded and cut into thin strips
3 cups cilantro, chopped
4 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped
20 shiso leaves, shredded (or arugula)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing:
4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Rub the chicken with a scant 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan and put in the oven for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375°F and continue to roast for 50 to 60 minutes, basting with the juices occasionally, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature. Reserve the cooking juices.

While the chicken is roasting, cook the rice. Place the basmati in a saucepan with 1 2/3 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to minimum, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover and cool completely.

Place the wild and brown rices in a saucepan and pour in enough cold water to cover the rice by at least 3 times its volume. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes, until the rice is tender but still retains a little firmness. If the water runs low, top up with extra boiling water. Drain through a sieve and run under plenty of cold water to stop the cooking. Leave there to drain.

Carve the meat from the chicken or simply tear it off in largish chunks. Put it in a bowl large enough to hold the whole salad.

To make the dressing, in a separate bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together with the cooking juices from the chicken. Pour the dressing over the chicken and set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan, add the onion and a pinch of salt, and fry over medium heat until golden. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Add the 3 rices, fried onion and green onions, chiles, and chopped herbs to the chicken. Mix well, then taste and adjust the seasoning.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

1.5 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes, about 4 heaping cups
1 large red onion, diced to yield about 2 cups
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 hot chile, seeded if you are sensitive to heat
2 limes, juiced to yield about 6 tablespoons
2 cups cooked black (or other) beans
1 bell pepper (any color), seeded and diced, about 1.25 cups
1 cup (heaping) chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic Heat oven to 400° F.

Put sweet potatoes on one half of a rimmed sheet pan and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place onions on other half of pan and toss with another tablespoon of olive oil. Spread vegetables out in a single layer. Season all over with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, checking after 15 to ensure everything is browning properly. If after the 30 minutes the onions are done, transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Otherwise, return pan to the oven and cook until potatoes begin to brown on corners and are just tender inside. Remove pan from oven.

Put chilies in a blender or mini food processor along with garlic, lime juice, remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended. Mixture will taste super tart. Before you adjust the seasoning, proceed to next step.

Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell pepper; toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. (If mixture is too tart, add olive oil by the tablespoon and sugar by the 1/2 teaspoon).

Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day.

This salad is satisfying enough on its own, but, to make it into a meal, you could blister some small tortillas, broil them with cheese, then spoon this spicy, creamy salad inside. Sprinkle the tacos with more cilantro, raw diced onion, and a squeeze of lime.

Cauliflower Parmesan Fritters

1 pound cauliflower florets
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 large egg
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 400?F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with olive oil; set aside.

While the oven is pre-heating, steam the cauliflower until tender, and cool to room temperature.

Place the cauliflower on a clean dishtowel or piece of cheesecloth, roll up and wring to extract as much moisture from the cauliflower as you can.

Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl and break florets apart with your hands. Add the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, egg, parsley, garlic powder and pepper, and, using your hands, mix until mixture holds together.

Using a tablespoon, scoop the cauliflower mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Use your hands to roll each scoop into an oval-shaped tot.

Brush the tots with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven, turn the tots over and brush with olive oil, and bake for another 15 minutes to crisp the other side. Serve warm.

Smoky Spiced Pecan Roasted Sweet Potatoes

3 pounds (1.4kg) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
5 tablespoons (75ml) vegetable or canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon (2g) ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon (2g) ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon (2g) chipotle powder
1 cup crushed pecans (6 ounces; 170g)
1 tablespoon (15g) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced sage leaves (about 5 leaves)

Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Heat water to 160°F (70°C) as registered on an instant-read thermometer. Cover and set aside for 1 hour.

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Drain sweet potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with 3 tablespoons (45ml) oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread sweet potatoes on 2 rimmed baking sheets and roast until bottom sides are browned, about 30 minutes. Carefully flip potatoes with a thin spatula and roast until second side is browned and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, combine remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) oil with cumin, coriander, and chipotle powder and cook over medium-high heat, stirring and swirling, until spices are fragrant and toasty, 1 minute. Add pecans and toss to coat with spiced oil. Continue cooking until pecans are lightly toasted, 1 minute. Sprinkle brown sugar on top and stir until well combined and melted, about 1 minute. Season with salt.

In a large mixing bowl, combine potatoes, spiced pecans and their oil, and minced sage and toss to combine. Serve right away, or set aside until ready to serve and reheat before serving.

Miso Scallion Roasted Sweet Potatoes

3 pounds (1.4kg) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
4 tablespoons (60ml) vegetable or canola oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (30ml) miso (we used white miso during testing, but you can use any type)
1 tablespoon (15ml) mirin
1/2 tablespoon (8g) sugar
2 tablespoons (30ml) water
2 scallions, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced
Shichimi togarashi, for garnish (optional; see note above)

Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Heat water to 160°F (70°C) as registered on an instant-read thermometer. Cover and set aside for 1 hour.

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Drain sweet potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with 3 tablespoons (45ml) oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread sweet potatoes on 2 rimmed baking sheets and roast until bottom sides are browned, about 30 minutes. Carefully flip potatoes with a thin spatula and roast until second side is browned and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes longer. Keep potatoes warm.

When ready to serve, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together miso, mirin, sugar, water, and remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil until smooth. Add potatoes and gently toss to coat. Fold in scallions and transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with shichimi togarashi, if using, and serve.

Brown Butter Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes

3 pounds (1.4kg) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 tablespoons (45ml) vegetable or canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 packet unflavored gelatin (about 1 1/4 teaspoons; 4g)
1/4 cup (60ml) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons; 115g)
3 rosemary sprigs
1 teaspoon (5ml) fresh juice from 1 lemon

Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Heat water to 160°F (70°C) as registered on an instant-read thermometer. Cover and set aside for 1 hour.

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Drain sweet potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread sweet potatoes on 2 rimmed baking sheets and roast until bottom sides are browned, about 30 minutes. Carefully flip potatoes with a thin spatula and roast until second side is browned and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, in a small container, sprinkle gelatin over chicken stock and let bloom for 5 minutes. Microwave until gelatin is dissolved, stopping and stirring as needed to help it dissolve, about 2 minutes.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat until foamy. Continue to cook, swirling pan, until milk solids in butter turn a deep hazelnut brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add rosemary (don’t be alarmed; butter will foam and fizzle when rosemary is added), swirling to coat.

Add chicken stock to butter, return to medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Cook, swirling, until stock reduces slightly and sauce becomes rich and silky, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, discard rosemary, and add lemon juice. Season with salt.

In a mixing bowl, toss potatoes with butter sauce and serve. Potatoes can be made in advance, tossed with sauce, and set aside until ready to serve; rewarm in the oven before serving.

Apple Salad

hard, aged cheese is welcome here as well – shave of thin strips and add toward the end.

1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
12 rosemary leaves, minced (the spiky needles)
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup /120 ml crème fraîche (or sour cream)
2 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 large celery stalks, sliced see-though thin (reserve any celery leaves)

2 crisp, flavorful heirloom apples, cut into sixths, and then thinly sliced*

4 handfuls arugula, baby gems, or baby romaine

1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts

Make the dressing first. Crush the sea salt, rosemary, garlic, and sugar into a paste with a mortar and pestle (or smash it all together with a knife). Work in the creme fraiche and vinegar, taste and adjust with a bit of pepper and more salt if needed.

When you’re ready to serve, combine the celery, apples, salad greens, and most of the nuts with a few half of the dressing. Toss well, adding more dressing until it is to your liking. Finish with the remaining nuts, and any torn celery leaves.

Serves 4-6.

* If you’re not going to use the apples immediately keep them in a bowl of water spiked with a bit of lemon juice (or the white wine vinegar you’re using for the dressing). Drain and pat dry before using.

Ideas for Pak (Isaan Vegetable Plate)

Fall and spring:

lightly steamed cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots (with a light drizzle of oyster sauce on the cauliflower and broccoli)
washed and trimmed green onions
cabbage
cucumbers
hard-boiled egg
kale, steam in the same way as the broccoli and drizzled lightly with oyster sauce
small peeled shallots
peeled and thinly sliced daikon
Late lettuces, arugula, endive, spinach, radicchio and chard

Early spring:

fresh asparagus, very lightly steamed
Dandelion greens
garlic tops
chives
perennial onion flowers
sorrel
Fennel
Pea tendrils

Spring and summer:

fresh baby okras and zucchini, steamed ever so lightly
squash flowers
cosmos leaves
daylily buds and flowers
nasturtium leaves and flowers
parsley
dill
snap peas
green, yellow and purple beans (perhaps lightly steamed)
tendrils from squash and pumpkin

Sweet Potato Flans

The Flan

1 cup mashed sweet potato
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or yogurt)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Sea salt

Caramel Pecans and Maple Yogurt

1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup pecans, broken or whole
1 teaspoon sugar
Sea salt
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Heat the oven to 325 F.

In a blender, combine the sweet potato, spices, maple syrup, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and purée until smooth.

Divide the purée among six custard dishes. Put the custard dishes in a large baking pan and pour hot water into the pan until it reaches at least an inch up the sides of the dishes.

Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes. The flans should be set and barely quiver when shaken. Let cool.

While the flan is cooling, melt the butter in a small pan over low heat. Then add the pecans, sprinkle with sugar, and turn to coat evenly. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar coats and caramelizes the nuts.

Remove to a plate and sprinkle with salt. Chop as finely or coarsely as you want.

In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup and the yogurt. Taste, and add more maple syrup if you want.

Serve the flan topped with a spoonful of maple yogurt, garnished with chopped caramel pecans.

Spiced Sweet Potato Pudding

3 pounds sweet potatoes
3 eggs
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or to taste
Salt to taste
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lime rind
4 tablespoons regular or low-fat sour cream
Creme fraiche for topping, optional

Peel sweet potatoes and slice 1/8 inch thick. Cook in water to cover; bring to boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes.

In food processor, process the potatoes slightly; add remaining ingredients (except crème fraîche) and process until smooth. (If processor is small, work in batches.)

Place mixture in greased baking dish and refrigerate for 2 or 3 days or freeze for longer.

To serve, bring to room temperature and bake in 350-degree preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Dot with creme fraiche, if desired.

Perfect Apple Pie (and Several Variations)

4 to 4 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious, Braeburn, or other baking apples, peeled cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
3 quarts boiling water (or cider, see note)
10 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling over crust
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (or more, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch (see note)
1 recipe Easy Double Pie Dough (see related)
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Notes:
–For a looser, juicy pie, use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. For a firmer filling that holds its shape more when sliced, use up to 4 tablespoons cornstarch.
–You can use hot cider in place of water to soak the apples. The cider can be saved for drinking.
–For better texture, sous vide apples before baking. Seal apples with their sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch, bag ’em up, and cook ’em at around 155° for an hour or so before baking them as usual.

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and place a heavy rimmed baking sheet on it. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place apple slices in a large bowl or pot. Pour boiling water or cider directly over top. Cover and set aside at room temperature for ten minutes. Drain apples well and let sit in a colander in the sink, tossing occasionally until completely dry, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and add 10 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch, and toss until apples are evenly coated. Set mixture aside.

Roll one disk of pie dough into a circle roughly 12-inches in diameter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Add filling, discarding any excessive juices in the bottom of the bowl. Roll remaining disk of pie dough into a circle roughly 12-inches in diameter. Transfer to top of pie. Using a pair of kitchen shears, trim the edges of both pie crusts until they overhang the edge of the pie plate by 1/2 an inch all the way around. Fold edges of both pie crusts down together, tucking them in between the bottom crust and the pie plate and working your way all the way around the pie plate until everything is well tucked. Use the forefinger on your left hand and the thumb and forefinger on your right hand to crimp the edges. Cut 5 slits in the top with a sharp knife for ventilation.

Use a pastry brush to brush an even coat of lightly beaten egg white all over the top surface of the pie. Sprinkle evenly with a tablespoon of sugar. Transfer pie to sheet tray in the oven and bake until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F and continue baking until deep golden brown, about 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

Variations:

For skillet apple pie, place prepared apples in a cast iron skillet and cover with one pie crust. Bake just like a regular pie.

If you want to get extra special, try adding a layer of nice nutty aged cheese, like good cheddar, or perhaps some Comté, to the top of the apples. You’d be amazed by how well cheese and apples go together.

Or, turn your skillet pie into a perfectly fine pandowdy by breaking up the crust half way through baking and pushing the edges directly into the filling to soften up a bit as it finishes baking.

Apple crisps and apple crumbles are perhaps the easiest variations to make. Just make your apple filling, then combine 3/4 cup all-purpose flour with 3/4 cup old fashioned oats, 3/4 cups chopped or slivered nuts (I like almonds or pecans), 3/4 cup brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 a cup of butter. Work the mixture together with your fingers, spread if over your apple filling, and bake at around 375°F until nicely browned.

If you’ve got a thing for biscuits, then a cobbler is your dessert of choice. All you’ve got to do is make your apple filling, drop it into a deep sided pot (I use my enameled cast iron Dutch oven), drop a few balls of biscuit dough on top, and bake.