The Rising Spoon: Twice-Baked Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Chopped Walnuts & Dates

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Twice-Baked Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Chopped Walnuts & Dates

Twice-Baked Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Chopped Walnuts & Dates
Hey, all. I haven't posted much this week since I've been hobbling around my apartment with a dirty kitchen. 

Last  weekend I traveled to a beautiful resort in Palm Coast, Florida for a wedding. My boyfriend's brother's wedding to be exact. The rehearsal dinner and wedding were both gorgeous, as was the ocean-front resort. Unfortunately, directly after the wedding I had a slight mishap.

While the wedding party was whisked away to snap group photographs, the rest of the guests advanced to an outdoor area to mingle, nosh on hors d'oeuvres and sip on wine or beer. Fast forward 20-30 minutes. 

My boyfriend and I are in conversation with his aunt and uncle. I'm explaining the premise of the film American Psycho. I'm holding a glass of pinot grigio as I motion with my hands. Naturally, it's uber humid, so my glass is perspiring heavily. My boyfriend interrupts my explanation with a bad joke. I giggle and swish my hands emphatically. 

That's when my wine glass goes rogue, sails to the ground, crashes, ricochets and slices my lower left calf. I look down at the broken glass and happen to notice that my leg is cut. So does everyone else around me. I limp my way to a nearby lounge chair and press the wound with cocktail napkins. Several relatives and guests inform me I need stitches. 
Inside my head, I start to freak out. I've never had stitches, never once been to the emergency room. I imagine pain—lots of it. I look a bit nervous, but remain calm. There are five or six people hovering around me. Luckily, my leg doesn't hurt one bit. My boyfriend's mother has her hand pressed on the wound. The security guard shows up with a first aid kit that looks like a tackle box. They bandage and wrap my leg. 

Jon's aunt & uncle graciously drive me to the emergency room where I wait a ridiculously long time, Eventually the doctor gives me a shot to numb the area (this part stings and slightly burns) and the rest is painless. 

In the end, we missed the dinner and reception, having arrived back at the resort several hours later. Kindly, the resort staff boxed up to-go dinners and had them sent upstairs to our room! :) Fortunately, there was still 45 minutes left before everyone had to clear out of the ballroom. So, my boyfriend and I nabbed a few drinks (I had beer of course), chatted with the newlyweds and watched as the guests boogied on the dance floor. 

All and all, couldn't have asked for an easier trip to the ER! 

* * *

Even better, when we returned to Dallas this past Monday, the temps were in the mid 50s! Yay! 

I love, love, love autumn.

The cooler weather immediately set in cravings for chicken pot pie, soup, baked goods and slow-cooked meat. Comfort food! 

Hence today's recipe for twice baked japanese sweet potatoes. I've been eating a lot of japanese sweet potatoes lately, but completely plain. Yes, PLAIN! Before I discovered these gems, I never ate potatoes plain. But these spuds have a subtly sweet flavor (and are way better than yams or regular sweet potatoes), so extra toppings are not necessary. 

Still, after a few weeks eating them plain, I wanted to switch it up a tad bit. 

My first thought was to add walnuts, but then I decided that was too simple. That's when I remembered eating medjool dates with walnuts baked in them, which are FABULOUS!! I knew the caramel and nut combo would compliment the potato's delicate sweetness. 

Never had a date before? Here's a great article from about medjool dates. You must, must, must try them. They're nature's version of candy. A delicacy, for sure. I usually buy a few at a time from the bulk section at Whole Foods market. 

Back to the recipe. 

Verdict? I snarfed up my boat before I'd even taken a bite of my bratwurst or salad. 

The flavors are glorious together. 

I'd probably add more goat cheese next time, since the turbinado, honey and toppings overpowered the cheese's slight tang. 

Man, oh, man. I'm considering making these for my family on Thanksgiving day. :)

Twice-Baked Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Chopped Walnuts & Dates
Subtly sweet roasted japanese sweet potatoes are halved, scooped out, then the sweet potato is mixed with butter, goat cheese, turbinado, cinnamon and nutmeg. The shells are refilled with the mixture, topped with a chopped medjool date and walnuts, baked again, then drizzled with raw honey. Can easily be altered for vegan diets.
Serves: 1-2

Ingredients
1 small Japanese sweet potato, rinsed thoroughly
1 teaspoon organic grass-fed butter, room temperature or melted
1 tablespoon goat cheese
1 teaspoon + a pinch, organic turbinado (raw sugar)
1/2 teaspoon + a pinch, cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon + a pinch, nutmeg
1 Medjool date, chopped
1/2 a palmful of walnuts, chopped
2 teaspoons of local, raw honey

Recommended Equipment
Large baking sheet (these are the work horses in my kitchen)

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the potato thoroughly, dry off, then poke the skin a few times with a fork. When oven is heated, bake the sweet potato for an hour. 

Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes. Slice in half lengthwise and scoop the filling of each potato half into a small bowl, making sure to keep the shell (sweet potato skin) intact. Mash the sweet potato, then mix in butter, goat cheese, turbinado, cinnamon and nutmeg. Using a spoon, fill each sweet potato shell (or boat/skin) with half the mixture. Pit and chop one medjool date and a 1/2 palmful of walnuts (about 4-6). Sprinkle the date and walnut bits evenly on both sweet potato boat. 

Place on a large baking sheet and back into the oven for another 15-25 minutes, or until the filling is adequately re-heated. Remove from oven and drizzle each sweet potato boat with one teaspoon of raw honey. 

VEGAN OPTION
Omit the goat cheese, butter and honey. Use more turbinado in place of the honey or drizzle with real maple syrup. 

Real Food Resources

Real Food Survival Guide For Busy Moms

"This e-book is perfect for busy folks who need help maximizing their time in the kitchen so they can fix nutritious, real food snacks and meals to eat at home and on the go. In addition to realistic advice, this book provides recipes for real food staples you can make in bulk ahead of time, which ensures you always have nutrient dense foods at hand. And it’s especially helpful if you’re interested in implementing homemade fermented foods into your diet."

From Scratch: Easy Recipes for Traditionally Prepared Whole-Food Dishes 

"If you're looking for a cookbook that is as entertaining as it is delicious, then look no further. From Scratch is a breath of fresh air when it comes to learning how to traditionally prepare and cook nutritious food. Shaye does not disappoint in her recipes and this cookbook reads like a letter from a close friend. These meals are easily prepared and yes, easily devoured."  
Question for Discussion: What's your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes? Answer in the comments section below.

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About Elaina Newton
Elaina is the creator, writer, and foodie behind the blog, The Rising Spoon. She's a self-taught cook and passionate about spreading basic cooking skills and information about real foods. She loves reading fiction, crafting, video games, dark roast coffee, cats, and rainy days. Connect with her on Pinterest, Facebook, Google +, and Twitter.

2 comments:

  1. Love the sweet/savory combo of this--sounds fabulous! I had no idea wine could be so dangerous...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! It was so good that I wanted to eat both halves instead of sharing with my boyfriend! :) I am still baffled at how the wine glass managed to cut my leg. I've handled every wine glass and bottle I've touched since then very gingerly.

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