Occasionally I wish I was American. And not just for the the ability to casually refer to Autumn as ‘fall’. It’s mainly for the holidays.
I’ve only had one Thanksgiving. I was 14 and visiting family friends in Salinas, California with my Dad and sister. I have fond memories of a burnished turkey, cranberry sauce and pies; one pumpkin and one apple. We took long walks beneath the mottled shade of old trees and explored Carmel. It was also a period when I discovered a love for cinnamon raisin bagels (a gateway to many other favoured sweet carbohydrates ).
As much as I love Christmas, the food often feels secondary. There’s too much other distraction; lights on the tree, presents to unwrap, and the crummy songs peppered through the otherwise grand Ally McBeal Christmas CD to skip (though if my mother and I had our way we’d keep Robert Downey Jnr’s version of ‘River‘ on permanent repeat for the entire of December).
But a holiday which focuses on food, family and friends; all the things that we should be thankful for. That’s an event I can get behind.
So next year, I’m going to find some north Americans and colonise them. They’re going to come to our flat. We’re going to make a turkey. I’ll make cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries and a cinnamon quill. I’ll make an apple pie. And for sides; I’ll make a big platter of these.
Small sweet potatoes, roasted in their skins so they become caramel and soft. There’s nothing to it. Put a cross in the top of the Campari hued tubers. Drizzle them with a little olive oil, festoon them with salt and pepper. And then put them in the oven for around an hour.
After that, all they need is something to play against the mushy sweetness. A slick of yogurt (sheep yogurt would be best, but any good natural yogurt is fine). Some toasted nuts and seeds for crunch- I like a combination of black sesame seeds, flaked almonds, sunflower seeds and hazelnuts. And then a gilding of browned butter.
It’s sweetly savoury. It’s a perfect partner to something blonde and big, like a roasted fowl. It’s also plays nicely with a piece of trout, sea bass, or a hunk of steak.
But if you’re yet to find the right clan to split the holiday with, then they’re just fine all on their own.
(Nb, while we’re not officially celebrating Thanksgiving, it’s never a bad thing to list a few things that you’re thankful for. So here are three of mine today.)
1) The man who chose to squeeze his blackheads in front of the mirror at the gym yesterday at 9.30 am was not there today.
2) I have a husband who, after nine years of being together, still can laugh with me. Even when I spill 3000 sesame seeds all over the clean kitchen floor.
3) I have my health. Which is something I never take for granted.
Hoping there are many things in your lives to be thankful for too.
Roasted sweet potatoes with brown butter, yogurt and seeds
Serves 2 as a side dish
1 roasting dish. 1 saucepan.
2 medium sized sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons of sheep yogurt/ natural yogurt
2 tablespoons of mixed nuts and seeds (sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaked almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
30 grams of butter, melted in a saucepan until it turns nut brown
Here’s how we roll
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F
2. Make a cross with a knife in the top of the two sweet potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
3. Roast for 45 minutes – an hour, until they’re soft in the centre and the skin peels back.
4. Toast the nuts and seeds in a fry pan.
5. Remove the seeds and then melt the butter and heat until it has turned a nut brown.
6. Top the roasted sweet potatoes with the yogurt, seeds, browned butter and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper.Eat them skins and all. The skins are good for you, I’m sure.