by Danica Waters / image courtesy of www.unwinnable.com
Traditionally, any yam served in my childhood home during the month of November was baked, mashed with butter, cream, a wee bit of salt and brown sugar, and covered with mounds of fluffy marshmallows that were subsequently broiled until nearly black and gooey on top. Come to think of it, the only time we actually ate yams back then was during the month of November.
Upon having children of my own and deciding early on there was no way I was going to feed my babies processed baby nasty-food, I did some research into the nutritional merits of these terrific tubers. It seems they have a far lower glycemic index than regular potatoes. They also happen to be packed with potassium, manganese, vitamin C and vitamin B3 while registering low on the sodium counter. Best of all, kids actually like to eat them with little or no negotiation, marshmallows or no marshmallows. I started serving them regularly to the whole family as a tasty side that could double as homemade baby food. Two birds with one stone? That’s how I roll! Baked in their skins with a dash of butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, or cut up and oven-roasted, yams are delicious and appear on my household menus at least once a week.
However tasty the good old fashioned yam might happen to be all by itself, the holidays call for something a bit more elegant, more celebratory. This is it. From the Heritage of Southern Cooking, author (and southern cooking guru) Camille Glenn has this to say:
” This is the Deep South way with yams or sweet potatoes. It seems to always show up with the Thanksgiving turkey, but it is just as compatible with a good ham or chicken. Do not peel either the potatoes or the orange. If you don’t have a luscious rich sauce, you have been too cautious with the butter.”
Amen. Be sure to slice the oranges as thin as possible – if you have a mandoline slicer, use it, but if not, just be sure to cut the slices super-thin. Use real butter, and for heaven’s sake, listen to Ms. Glenn! Don’t be shy! It’s the holidays, after all. This dish is excellent served with Green Beans Sauteed With Olive Oil; the citrus overtones keep the palate fresh and thoroughly entertained.
Alabama Yams With Oranges
(Heritage of Southern Cooking, by Camille Glenn)
6 yams or sweet potatoes, fully cooked and cooled (I bake mine for approximately 30 minutes at 400 degrees – the yam shouldn’t be too mushy, but it should be cooked to the point that it can be easily sliced)
3 navel oranges, thinly sliced
1/2 to 3/4 C (1 to –1/2 sticks) butter
3/4 C sugar
1 C fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel and slice the cooked sweet potatoes very thin and place one layer in a shallow buttered baking dish. Top with a layer of orange slices. Dot generously with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Continue layering. You should have 3 layers, ending with a layer of potatoes, butter, and topping it off with sugar.
Mix the orange juice with the lemon juice and pour it over the potatoes.
Bake until a pleasant syrup has formed and the top is tinged with brown.
Serves 6 – 8
Posted November 9th, 2011. Add a comment
by Danica Waters
This is one of the most fantastic and truly unusual cakes I’ve ever made. Having contemplated this recipe again and again over the last five years or so, I finally decided that an occasion such as my daughter’s 23rd birthday would warrant the labor involved. Honestly, the cake turned out to be surprisingly easy to make; it was just very different from anything I’d done before.
The recipe was created by the late Camille Glenn (Queen of Southern Cuisine) when she catered debutante parties and weddings in Louisville. The passage that hooked me can be found in her cookbook The Heritage of Southern Cooking, where she writes:
“This cake holds a secret all to itself – a magical formula that will fool you. The texture is unusually moist, tender, and diaphanous. This delicacy in contrast to the elusive, rich frosting sets the cake apart. It is a gala occasion cake. In fact, if the occasion is not gala, the cake will make it so. You’ll see.”
She was right. It’s almost like an ethereal combination of an angel food cake and a pound cake; it’s light as a feather but incredibly moist like a sponge cake.
With this recipe, Camille provides two options for frosting the cake; one is a bit heavier on the Cointreau, and the other is more a classic buttercream. I chose the first option and it was wonderful. I must advise, however, that the frosting is very strong, and is actually better when allowed to rest overnight in the refrigerator. The resting time not only allowed the sharpness of the Cointreau to mellow a bit, it also seemed to enhance the overall texture of the cake.
Camille Glenn’s Golden Cointreau Cake
(from the Heritage of Southern Cooking)
8 large eggs
1-1/2 C sugar
1/3 C fresh orange juice
1 C all purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp Cointreau
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cream of tartar
Cointreau Frosting or Classic Buttercream with Cointreau (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Separate the eggs. Put the yolks in one large mixing bowl and the whites in another large mixing bowl.
Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until they have thickened and are smooth. Beat in the sugar slowly, then continue beating until the mixture turns a lighter shade of yellow and is smooth. Add the orange juice and blend thoroughly.
Measure the flour, then sift it twice. Sprinkle the sifted flour over the egg yolk mixture and gently fold it in by hand with a whisk or a rubber spatula, or with the electric mixer on a very low speed. Fold in the Cointreau and vanilla.
Add the salt to the egg whites and beat until they begin to turn white and foamy. Add the cream of tartar, and continue to beat until the egg whites hold a stiff peak but are not dry and grainy, about 4 minutes more.
Fold a few spoonfuls of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Then add the remaining egg whites to the batter, gently folding them in.
Spoon the batter into a 10 x 4-1/2 inch angel food cake pan (a tube pan with a removable bottom) The pan should be no more than three quarters full.
Place the cake pan on the middle shelf of the oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, or until the cake springs back at once when lightly touched, about 1-1/4 hours.
Remove the cake from the oven, turn it upside down on the tube pan legs, and allow it to rest overnight before frosting.
Loosen the cake with a thin sharp knife, and unmold it. Put the cake on a plate or on a flat surface covered with wax paper or foil. Spread the frosting over the cake.
Cointreau Frosting (*** I used this frosting***)
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2-3/4 C confectioner’s sugar sifted
1/8 tsp salt
1 large egg yolk
6-8 Tbsp Cointreau or more as needed
Put the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt. Beat well with an electric mixer. Add the egg yolk, then slowly add 6 Tbsp of the Cointreau. Continue to beat the frosting until it is smooth, thick, and pliable, 3 minutes. Add more Cointreau as needed; it usually takes 8 Tbsp. This frosting must be thick.
Frost the cake generously in a swirl design. Allow the frosting to firm for 30 minutes, then lift the cake to a serving platter. Keep cake refrigerated.
Classic Buttercream with Cointreau
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
5 large egg yolks
2/3 C sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
5 Tbsp cold water
3 Tbsp Cointreau
Cream the butter until it is light and smooth; set aside.
Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until they have doubled in bulk, 3 minutes.
Combine the sugar, cream of tartar, salt, and water ini a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat until the syrup spins a thread when it falls from a wooden spoon or until a candy thermometer registers 235-236 degrees F. (If the syrup is not cooked to this point, the frosting will never firm up.)
Immediately pour the hot syrup in a steady stream into the egg yolks, beating constantly. Continue to beat until the mixture has cooled, 15 – 20 minutes.
Add the butter to the yolk mixture a tablespoonful at a time. If the frosting should look curdled while you are adding the butter, place the frosting over hot (not boiling) water and beat vigorously until it is smooth again. Add the Cointreau and mix thoroughly. If necessary, chill the frosting until it has a good spreading consistency, 35-45 minutes.
Frost the cake generously in a beautiful swirling design, and then keep the cake refrigerated.
by Danica Waters
June gloom is fully upon us here in Southern California. While the rest of you are enjoying the sun during your first days of summer break, here in L.A. all is gray-gray-gray, and a thick, chunky mist permeates the air. But I’m not complaining. The garden loves it… I love it, because it gives me a mid-season opportunity to occupy my kitchen without wilting in the summer heat. And I can make soup.
This is one of my favorite springtime soups. It’s not a heavy winter-weight soup; the ingredients are simple and very calming. The recipe comes from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks by the late Southern chef and author Camille Glen. Here’s what she has to say: “This is one of the best of family soups. Flavorful, nourishing, and easy for a nervous day. Parsley is essential to delicious potato soup. Don’t change the proportions. They are perfect.” Indeed they are.
Old Fashioned Potato Soup
The Heritage of Southern Cooking
4 C diced peeled potatoes
½ C chopped celery
½ C chopped onion
1 quart water
3 C milk
2 Tbsp butter
8 sprigs parsley, leaves chopped from stems, stems crushed and set aside
1-1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
Place the potatoes, celery, onion, and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are soft but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Drain, or allow the water to reduce until almost gone.
Add the milk, butter, parsley stems, salt and white pepper to taste.
Allow the soup to simmer, uncovered, for the flavors to blend, 8 – 10 minutes. Remove the parsley stems; taste for salt. Stir in the chopped parsley leaves.
NOTE: Potato soup should not be allowed to boil hard after the milk is added or it will curdle. Also, Camille Glenn recommends using whole milk instead of low-fat milk. I use low-fat and the results are still outstanding, though not as rich.
This is wonderful served with Spinach, Red Pepper, and Feta Quiche!
Posted June 9th, 2011. 1 comment