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




Puree of White Beans with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary


On a snowy Sunday, I found Suzen checking out our cookbooks.

“What are you looking for?” I asked. I can be helpful. Sometimes.

“Something interesting,” she said calmly. She’s not six feet tall so her hand was reaching up to manipulate the books on the top row.

“Something chocolate?” I suggested. Suzen likes chocolate.

“Go away.” Her fingers kept moving across the titles.

The Instant Bean was published in 1996 and you can still buy one at Amazon. We had not played with the book in a long time, but now we know that was a mistake.

When we go to an Italian restaurant, I have two ways of knowing if it is going to be authentic and good. First. Caesar Salad. If it’s on the menu, since this salad was created in Tijuana, I know I am in a non-Italian restaurant. Second, the bean dip. If it comes, and if it is wonderful, then I know I can trust that menu, every item.

Bean tip as a deciding factor? Yes. Very yes. If you have ever had great, great bean dip then you know exactly what I mean. Beans, of course, are referred to as beans. In the food family, they always get to sit in the back of the bus. That’s a mistake. Beans can be components for the best in food. Think chili for example, or a bean salad with tuna.

Ah, but in those cases, the beans are not that much on their own. Chili contains spices. Salad has salad dressing. A bean dip is in essence beans. The trick is to get great flavor and texture from the beans alone. And, as an added hurdle, you want something that his balanced. Not too this, not too that.

This recipe is gargantuan. It is full of flavor, yet it has precisely that balance of ingredients so no one note overpowers you. Except, of course, there is this definitive bean flavor that makes you say, “Oh, that’s what beans are all about?”

As the recipe below suggests, this bean puree can be used in many ways: appetizer, first course, spread for sandwiches, or fun topping for radishes or cucumber. Once you’ve made this, you are quite likely to have a bowl around in your fridge, ready to use and enjoy.


Puree of White Beans with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary

Yield: 2 cups serving 4 as first course


  • 1 15-ounce can white beans or cannellini, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 head of oven-roasted garlic [recipe follows], the cloves squeezed from their skins
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper or more to taste


Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend, pulsing several times and scraping down the sides, until smooth. Add more olive oil or borht if you like a creamier consistency.

Serve with toasted pita triangles asa first course, asa dip with raw vegetables, or as a spread on 1/8 inch-thick slickes of daikon radish or slightly thicker slices of cucumber.


Oven-Roasted Garlic

Yield: 1 head


  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Slice off the top quarter of the head of garlic, drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and bake until the cloves are soft eand creamy, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool in the foil or unwrap.

When cool, break the head apart and sqeeze each clove from its skin. Roasted garlic can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept chilled in a tightly closed container.

Source: The Instant Bean by Martin Stone
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS Macro Lens 60mm, F/4.5, 1/50th second, ISO-250