Suzi’s Blog

Sweet Potatoes with Garlic, Ginger, and Cilantro



When Suzen tells a group that has come to do a group event at Cooking by the Book that they will be preparing a sweet potato side dish, you can see the frowns on many faces.

“Trust me. You haven’t had anything like this,” she reassures her audience.

We never have leftovers. Guests, who come here to make a meal in our kitchen and then go into our dining room to consume their creativity, keep coming back for seconds. Not of the chicken or the salmon or the steak. Of these marvelous sweet potatoes.

I know. It does seem a bit of an oxymoron to call them sweet. Unless you are recalling that catastrophic recipe where they are baked with marshmallows.

No, here you go the other way: spice and heat. Okay, there is just a glimmer of sweetness from the apple juice, and yes the 20 cloves of garlic do tend to sweeten a tad when sautéed. All that aside, this dish has a little fire to it. Definitely serve it warm to accentuate that sensation of heat.

This is fine accompaniment to chicken, steak, or even fish. The flavor is deliciously distinctive without being overwhelming. It pairs well with a strong wine, either red or white.

And, yes, you’ll be asking for seconds yourself.

Sweet Potatoes with Garlic, Ginger, and Cilantro

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


  • 4 medium sweet potatoes cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 6 tablespoons onion powder, divided
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika, divided
  • 20 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger minced
  • 3 tablespoons apple juice
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 small punch of fresh cilantro roughly chopped
  • Seat salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the sweet potatoes with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, then add 3 tablespoons onion powder, salt and pepper. Roast the potatoes for about 35 minutes until cooked through and starting to brown.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan on low heat, add the ginger and garlic. Sauté gently for about 5 minutes, stirring to blend and to keep from sticking to the pan bottom.

When ginger and garlic are tender, add 3 tablespoons of onion powder and 2 tablespoon of smoky paprika, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cook scraping up all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Distribute those flavor bits through the potatoes by stirring to mix well.

Raise the heat to medium high. Deglaze the pan with the apple juice and sherry vinegar until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the warm potatoes to a large bowl. Gently toss with the garlic ginger mixture. Toss in and mix in the cilantro at the end. Serve warm.

Source: Chef Mariya Yufest at Cooking by the Book

Photo Information [top picture]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5.6 for 1/20th second at ISO-3200



Eggplant Pate from Olives, Lemons & Za’tar


No, it’s not pate like you’ll find in Paris. But it surely has the vibrant quality of a signature dish. This Eggplant Pate, from Olives, Lemons, and Za’atar by Rawia Bishara, seeks to inundate you with layers of texture and flavor. This can be an appetizer with wine before your meal, the salad, a side dish. Or you load up the plate and enjoy this as the main course.

Raiwa suggests this dish, served in falafel, as wonderful vegetarian sandwich. You can introduce variety in texture, flavor, color and size by simply changing the type of eggplant you employ.

While the recipe suggests hot or jalapeno peppers, you are free to substitute what you prefer, perhaps fiery hot or perhaps just a comfortable bell pepper.

Eggplant Pate

Yield: 8 servings


  • 3 medium eggplants [2 ½ to 3 pounds total], cut into ½-inch rounds
  • Sea salt for sprinkling
  • Corn oil for frying
  • ⅓ to ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil for tomato topping plus more for roasting
  • 4 long hot or jalapeno peppers
  • 8 plum tomatoes or 3 beefsteak tomatoes, peeled and dice
  • 6 garlic cloves, mince
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Feta cheese for garnish, optional but pictured


Arrange the eggplant slices on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and set aside for 30 minutes or until the eggplants begin to sweat. Pat dry.

Add ¼ inch corn oil to large skillet and heat over high until hot. Working in batches, use a spatula to slide the eggplant slices into the skillet and fry, turning once, until they are medium brown on both sides, about 4 minutes total. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, adding more corn oil to the skillet if necessary.

Alternatively, brush the eggplant slices with olive oil on both sides and roast in a 500°F oven until golden, turning once, about 15 minutes.

Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, finely dice 2 chile peppers, removing the seeds if desired. Finely slice the other 2 chile peppers. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, chopped chiles, garlic, ⅓ cup of the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, stirring to incorporate. Gradually add as much of the remaining olive oil to achieve you desired consistency. Spoon enough of the tomato mixture onto each eggplant slice to leave a narrow border around the rim. Garnish with the sliced chiles and serve.


Source: Olives, Lemons, & Za’atar by Rawia Bishara

Photo Information [top picture]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/50th second at ISO-1250