Tag Archives: yam

Of all the pie joints in the world, she walks into mine

7 Mar

Tonight’s theme was Moroccan! As usual, I took a recipe and altered it: this time, it was a veg tagine from my Africa & The Middle East cookbook, but of course I had to throw in a few extra vegetables.

I was super excited because last night in Camden I found a shop selling yams! I lifted one up – it weighed probably four pounds – and asked the guy what it was just to be sure. I didn’t want to carry it around the whole night, so I promised to return later; unfortunately I forgot on my way home and Laura J had to go back and buy it. The man at the store was even nice enough to pull out his machete and chop it into pieces for her. Oddly, it was white inside, sort of coconut-textured – I was expecting it to be orange. The sweet potatoes she bought at that shop were also white inside! According to wikipedia, yams (Dioscorea spp.) can vary in color from white to orange to purple. However, sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are apparently referred to as yams in some parts of the US. Although I’ve never heard anyone refer to sweet potatoes as yams, I guess it’s percolated into my mind enough to make me think they could be orange. Confusingly, the page on sweet potatoes says that they come in soft, orange varieties and firm, white varieties, but that the orange one is called a yam to distinguish it from the white one. Sweet potatoes and yams are in the same family (Dioscoreacae), but note that this is not the same family as the common potato (Solanaceae, specifically Solanum tuberosum). (If any of you can make some sort of infographic to sort this out, that would be greatly appreciated.)

In addition, “yam” apparently is Brummie dialect for “I am”.

Leaving the matter of nomenclature to rest, suffice it to say that I was very excited to have white sweet potatoes and also a giant yam. On to the pie!

The veg: 2 sweet potatoes, yam, 2 carrots, cauliflower, 2 onions, 2 zucchini, 1 can of chopped tomatoes

The spice: s+p, cinnamon, honey, ras el hanout, oregano, fresh coriander, 3 saffron threads, veg stock

The rest: filo dough

The method: There are a lot of vegetables! Mis en place is important! Cube the peeled sweet potatoes and yam, which you’ll have to peel with a knife. Parboil these together.

Slice the onions into strips or rings, whichever suits your fancy. I chose strips, and apparently also chose to slice a large slit into my thumb. Caramelize them in olive oil; when they’re about half-done, toss in the thin-sliced zucchini rounds. When this mix is nearly done, transfer into a bowl or other storage container. (I mean, you don’t need to do this, but I only have one pan.)

Put the parboiled mixture into the pan with chopped cauliflower, sliced carrots, and the canned tomatoes. Add in veg stock and water to about 3/4 the level of the potatoes with the saffron threads. Cover and let simmer. When the potatoes start to feel done, add in the onions and zucchini and season. I used a whole bunch of cinnamon (it was an accidental pouring), two squirts of honey from a bear, about 2 T ras el hanout, and a little bit of oregano. Leave until it’s a big mass of delicious-looking mush. Add in the coriander at the end.

Butter a square pan and layer filo and pie mixture. (Alternately, mix with couscous or put in a wrap.)

This was a really good pie. I think I would use orange sweet potatoes next time as I think they’re sweeter than the white variety, but this was a good shot; I’d also use butternut because I love it so much. The ras el hanout (Arabic for “top of the shop”) and cinnamon balanced really well, a savory-sweet blend I’d definitely repeat. The yam was really interesting – quite sweet, but with sort of a bitter aftertaste. There was so much of it we made yam chips as well, just roasted. The bitter aftertaste might have been my lack of skill at making chips, though; I originally tried to fry them. It tasted great in the pie though.

Only three people showed up (!) so I have lots of leftovers. Laura took home the rest of the yam to cook with. We decided a yam is about equal to eight potatoes, and you only have to peel one big rind.

Thanks to Laura J for buying some veg and helping cook! Thanks to Laura T for the oatmeal cookies and Shimam for the choco biscuits! And thanks to mom for the idea.

Advertisements