Monthly Archives: March 2009

Salade de Patates Douces

This recipe comes from Chad—or République du Tchad—a country in west central Africa that was an important cultural and trading crossroads for many centuries. Notice that the word used for sweet potato is fairly close to the original batatas, and is a completely different word from the French for white potato (pomme de terre).

This dish is infinitely better than you can probably imagine from simply reading the ingredients. I love the intensity of the flavors. It makes a good side dish with something from the grill, or works nicely alone as a light lunch. Enjoy.

Salade de Patates Douces
(Sweet Potato Salad)

4 large sweet potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

Boil sweet potatoes in their skins until tender (takes about 25 minutes). When done, run potatoes under cold water to cool, then peel and slice. Place in a large bowl, add onion, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper, and stir, making sure the potato slices get separated and everything gets coated with oil and lemon juice. Add chopped tomatoes and stir. Serves 6-8.

Note: For this recipe, you will probably want to use a nice, flavorful Extra Virgin olive oil, if you have it.

©2009 Cynthia Clampitt


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The Original Potato

Sweet potatoes, popular street food in China, roast on a make-shift roaster.

Sweet potatoes, popular street food in China, roast on a make-shift roaster.

“What’s in a name?” Well, sometimes a good bit of confusion—take yams and sweet potatoes, for example. If you’re in the United States and you’re calling something a yam, odds are you’re talking about a sweet potato, in which case, you’re wrong. Sweet potatoes are members of the morning glory family. Yams, on the other hand, are the tuberous roots of climbing plants of the genus Dioscorea. The two are entirely unrelated. Yet in parts of the U.S., the habit persists of calling sweet potatoes yams. Continue reading

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Tortilla Española

Back in April of last year (April 23, to be exact), I wrote a bit about tapas and offered a recipe for datiles con tocino, a very popular tapa. There have been so many searches for this recipe that I thought perhaps another classic tapa might be in order—just in case you’re all throwing tapas parties.

Actually, Spain’s wonderful tortilla española can be served as a tapa or as a main course, with nothing more than a variation in portion size. The ingredients are simple and inexpensive, but for all its simplicity, this recipe is remarkably delicious.

A true tortilla española always includes potatoes, but there are many variations. I recommend trying it “straight” first, so you know how good it is plain, then go ahead and improvise. Roasted red pepper, ham strips, sautéed asparagus—almost anything could be added to the basic recipe. But the original is so tasty, you may never want to change it. Be sure to use a skillet, which has sloping sides, not a frying pan, which has straight sides. Nonstick pans make this recipe a lot easier. Continue reading

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Tagen Bamya

Tagen Bamya/Okra Casserole

Tagen Bamya/Okra Casserole

Last year, while traveling in southern Egypt, we visited an area largely occupied by Nubians. Nubia used to exist between Aswan (the first cataract in the Nile) and Khartoum (the fifth cataract), but Nubia has been absorbed by Egypt in the north and Sudan in the south. The Nubians were further displaced when the Aswan High Dam flooded their traditional lands. But they rebuilt their distinctive villages inland from where they originally lived. While in the area, at most meals, we had okra casserole (bamya is Egyptian Arabic for “okra,” and tagen, which morphs into tagine by the time you reach Morocco, means “casserole”). Continue reading


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