sweet potato

red, white, & sweet potato gratin with fennel & sage

I can’t even believe that it’s almost Thanksgiving already.

red, white, & sweet potato gratin with fennel & sage | Brooklyn Homemaker

I swear it really just snuck up on me this year. Last year I had my entire meal planned months in advance, and because I wanted to share my whole menu with everyone here, I’d even tested, modified, written out, and photographed the recipes well before November even started.

red, white, & sweet potato gratin with fennel & sage | Brooklyn Homemaker

This year though, the Maxwell’s build-out and opening occupied most of my attention from summer well into the fall, and everything else in my life had to be put on the back burner. I’ve had some ideas stewing that I wanted to test out for my Thanksgiving spread this year, but I just never really found the time, even once Maxwell’s was open and I was able to re-focus my attention elsewhere.

red, white, & sweet potato gratin with fennel & sage | Brooklyn Homemaker

The funny thing is that I actually first attempted this recipe when I was trying to plan for my Thanksgiving spread last year. I knew that I’d want to make some significant changes to it, and I just had too many other recipes to focus on, so I decided to dog-ear the idea to come back to later.

Well, it’s later now.

red, white, & sweet potato gratin with fennel & sage | Brooklyn Homemaker

So, a couple weeks ago I started playing with it to fine tune my vision and streamline the steps. My first instinct was to caramelize the onions and fennel before mixing them in with the cream, but I actually found that by the time the whole thing baked for an hour an a half, the onions and fennel cooked down way too much and were almost indistinguishable. I also originally planned to peel the potatoes, or maybe just the sweet potatoes, but after trying the recipe both ways, peeling just seemed like an unnecessary extra step.

red, white, & sweet potato gratin with fennel & sage | Brooklyn Homemaker

With everything that goes into making an entire Thanksgiving dinner, I figured that everyone, including myself, would appreciate any unnecessary steps that I could eliminate. Enough effort goes into slicing everything with the mandoline and arranging the slices in tight circles, so as long as it still tastes great, why not make everything else super easy?

Speaking of slicing everything with a mandoline, please be careful when you’re slicing. Those pesky mandolines have bitten me a few times, but if you go slow and use a guard when you get toward the end of the potato, I promise that you can keep your fingertips intact. Another option to keep your fingers super safe would be to invest in a cut resistant glove. Whenever I’ve had any accidents with mandolines though, it’s been because I was going too fast or was distracted by something else in the kitchen. The blades are sharp and deserve your undivided attention, so please use caution! Unfortunately this recipe will be kind of difficult to perfect without one. Sorry friends!
I mean, if you have surgically precise knife skills, by all means please go ahead and just use a knife, but it’s really important that all the slices are the exact same thickness so everything cooks at the same time.

red, white, & sweet potato gratin with fennel & sage | Brooklyn Homemaker

Let me tell you friends, this recipe was worth the wait and the effort. Who could say no to tender, delicate, richly flavored potatoes with crunchy, crispy top edges? The mix of red, white, and sweet potatoes is wonderfully autumnal without being too sweet, and the onions and fennel caramelize in the oven and their flavors go from pungent and intense to rich, mellow, and slightly sweet. The mix of cheeses adds a salty, nutty richness, and the sage, thyme, and garlic make this dish the perfect side to serve with turkey or poultry.
Or maybe I should say turkey would be the perfect side to serve with this gratin, because these potatoes are sure to steal the Thanksgiving spotlight.

It doesn’t have to end at Thanksgiving though! This recipe would be an amazing addition to any fall or winter meal, be it a special occasion, or just a way to up the ante on your sunday dinner.

red, white, & sweet potato gratin with fennel & sage | Brooklyn Homemaker

In the recipe below, I say that this dish should yield 6 to 10 side-sized servings, but I want to mention that if you’re serving this at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, with a wide array of other foods, your yield should actually be higher because your portion sizes will be smaller. Although many of your guests may go back in for seconds, people tend to take smaller portions when there’s a lot on the table because they’re trying to fit 15 different things on one plate.

So, at a normal dinner with a main and a side or two, this should feed about 6 to 10 people, but at Thanksgiving I think this recipe should be enough for about 12 to 15. The more the merrier, right?

red, white, & sweet potato gratin with fennel & sage | Brooklyn Homemaker

Red, White, & Sweet Potato Gratin with Fennel & Sage

  • Servings: 6 to 10 side-size servings
  • Print
Recipe adapted from Serious Eats

1 cup grated comte cheese (or other semi-firm nutty cheese like gruyere or emmental)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt (sounds like a lot, but this is a lot of potatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 lb red potatoes
1 lb white potatoes
1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes
1 large to 2 small fennel bulbs (about 1/2 to 3/4 lb)
2 small to medium onions (about 1/2 lb)
2 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 400F and adjust rack to the middle of the oven.

Toss cheeses together in a medium bowl to combine. Transfer about 1/3 of the mixture to another bowl and set aside for later use. Back in the first bowl, add cream, salt, pepper, garlic, sage, & thyme; and stir or toss to combine. Set aside.

Using a mandoline slicer, slice all the potatoes, unpeeled, into 1/8 inch thick disks and place into a very large bowl.  The larger the bowl, the easier it will be to toss the potatoes with the cream without making a mess. Slice the onion(s) and fennel bulb(s) to the same thickness and add to the potatoes. Pour cream and cheese mixture over the potatoes and toss toss toss to completely coat each slice of potato with cream. Use your fingers to separate any potatoes that may have become stuck together, so that every single slice is coated in the cream mixture.

Butter the inside of a large casserole, or 12″ cast iron skillet *see note. Organize handfuls of potatoes into neat stacks, along with some slices of onions and fennel, and line them up in the casserole with their edges aligned vertically. Continue placing stacks of potatoes into the dish, working around the perimeter and into the center until all potatoes have been added. Potatoes should be tightly packed. If necessary, slice an additional potato, coat with the remaining cream mixture, and add to the casserole. Pour the remaining cream mixture evenly over the potatoes until the mixture comes about half way up the sides of the potato slices. You may not need all the liquid.

Cover dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and transfer to oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid/foil and bake for 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and return to oven to bake until deep golden brown and crisp on top, about 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven, let rest for at least 15 minutes, and serve.

*cooks note:
I used a braising pan that measures about 12″ across, so a 12″ cast iron skillet would perfectly as well. I also think a 9×13″ casserole should work great, but rather than arranging the potatoes in circles, just line them up lengthwise in three rows.

sweet potato and apple dog treats

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now it’s officially December.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

I really can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by. The idea that we’re now in December is completely bewildering to me, but here were are. Early December always puts me in the mood to do two things.

1) Find and decorate the perfect little Christmas Tree

and 2) Bake holiday cookies!!!!

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know Christmas is still a few weeks away yet, but I’ve got cookies on the mind nonetheless. Holiday parties and cookie swaps usually start well before Christmas day, so it seems that the day the calendar flips over to December, holiday cookies are fair game.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m not here today to share a holiday cookie recipe though. I’ve been thinking about my baby dogs a lot lately, and how they deserve to benefit from all my holiday cookie baking too. I make their wet food every month and freeze it, so they’re totally spoiled, and they do get a lot of treats in the way of fresh apples and sweet potatoes, but I’ve actually never gone to the trouble to make any homemade cookies just for them.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

That needed to change.

Given their fondness for apples and sweet potatoes, I decided to combine those flavors with a bit of parsley (for breath freshening) and some oats and brown rice flour for substance.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

I bought this teeny tiny dog bone cookie cutter from work over a year ago so I’m thrilled to finally have a reason to use it!

How freaking cute are these little treats?!?!?!

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve also realized recently that I haven’t been sharing many photos of the pups here lately. If you follow me on instagram, you see plenty of them, but considering what a big part of my world they are, it’s actually pretty weird that you don’t see more of them in my posts. Today I’ll be sharing enough photos of my little girls to make up for leaving them out for so long.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

I mean look at those little faces. Couldn’t you just die?

Doris, the grey one on the left, was our first. She came home with Russell less than a week after we were engaged, and it was love at first sight. He took our engagement as a sign that it was time to start a little family, and I’m so glad that he did. She’s the sweetest, cutest, most calm, loving, & loyal little pup you could ever want. She  also tends to be the stubborn one, but I’m pretty sure she gets that from me.

Betty, on the right above, was actually a wedding gift to us from Russell’s sister and her family. At our wedding she gave us and IOU for a new puppy, and shortly after we came back from our honeymoon she rescued a little puppy that needed a new home. Russell’s family is from California, so his sister fostered her for us for almost a month before we were able to fly out and get her. Betty is the playful, scrappy, protective one in the family. She’s intensely concerned with what’s going on in our backyard and cannot allow even the tiniest bird to land in our yard without letting them know that they’re on her turf. Considering they’re both the same breed, it’s shocking to me how different their personalities are.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

Cute overload.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

Doris and Betty are miniature schnauzers, a breed we fell in love with after doing a lot of dog sitting for friends. They’re both really small for their breed though, and we’re not sure how or why they both worked out to be the same super tiny size. The average miniature schnauzer is usually about 15 or 20 pounds, but Doris is 7 pounds, and Betty is 6. I think that Doris may have been the runt of her litter, and while Betty has AKC papers as a pure bred miniature schnauzer, I am pretty sure she was intentionally bred to be a tea-cup or toy size.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

Despite their tiny size, these girls have BIG personalities, and bring a ton of joy into our lives. I hope that seeing all these pictures of someone else’s dogs, that you’ve never met, hasn’t caused too much eye rolling. They’re a major part of my life, so you’re just going to have to grin and bear it. Hopefully though, you’re enjoying every second of it.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

If you have a dog at home that deserves just as much love and special treatment as my little girls do, these treats are sure to please. I tried them myself, because I’m weird like that, and by people standards they’re a little bland, but Doris and Betty LOVE them. They love sweet potato and apples already though, so if your dogs don’t I can’t guarantee the same results.

If baked until completely dry and crisp, these treats should keep for a month or more in an airtight container. They’ll make perfectly adorable holiday gifts and stocking stuffers, so if you’re as crazy about what you feed your dog(s) as I am, these are a great gift idea! I used a tiny (1 inch) dog bone cutter and got over 150 treats out of the recipe, but I have tiny dogs so a little goes a long way. If you have a bigger dog and use a larger cutter you’ll get a lot less out of your batch.

sweet potato and apple dog treats | Brooklyn Homemaker

Sweet Potato and Apple Dog Treats

  • Servings: depends on size, a 1-inch cutter produced over 150 treats
  • Print
1 large sweet potato (or 1 cup sweet potato puree)
1 large firm apple (I used braeburn)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
1 egg
pinch of salt
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups whole grain brown rice flour

Preheat your oven to 400F. Slice the tips off the ends of your sweet potato, and cut the potato into 4 quarters (leaving the skin on). Wrap the sweet potato in aluminum foil and roast on a baking sheet for about 45 minutes or until cooked through and tender. Let cool a bit before handling. Reduce oven to 350F.

Puree the cooled sweet potato in the bowl of a food processor. You want about 1 cup of puree. Peel and core the apple and process, along with the parsley, until finely chopped and well combined. Pulse in the egg and pinch of salt to combine. Add the brown rice flour a oats and pulse pulse pulse until the dough comes together in a sticky ball.

Roll out to about 1/4″ thickness on a well floured (using more brown rice flour, not wheat flour) surface, with plenty of rice flour on the rolling pin and your hands. The dough will be sticky but workable. You may want to keep a little bowl of the rice flour to the side to dip your cookie cutter in every now and again.

Cut out with desired cookie cutter in any shape or size you like. The smaller the cutter, the more treats you’ll get out of this recipe. Line up the treats on 2 parchment lined baking sheets. They can be spaced pretty close together (but not touching) as they won’t spread much (if at all). Bake at 350F for about 20 or 30 minutes, or until completely dry and crisp. Larger shapes may take longer to bake. If you’re going to try to keep them for more than a few days though, it really is important that they’re completely dried out.

Store for up to a month in a cool, dry place, in an air-tight container.  

warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts

I know. It’s been a while since I posted last. I’m really sorry folks.
I had a pretty nasty cold last week and then I went upstate to visit family for a few days.
warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts | Brooklyn Homemaker

My mother is in the midst of renovating an old house, so I was pretty busy when I was home and didn’t bring my computer with me to distract me from the task at hand. The house needed to be completely gutted and redone because there were plumbing issues, a leaky roof, cracked plaster, and non-existent insulation. She opted for a beautiful metal roof, which is almost finished, but the interior of the home is still stripped down to the studs. Luckily the original moldings and hardwood floors are still in place, but there’s little else intact. I’m not entirely sure how (or if) I’ll do it, but I might end up sharing the progress with you, because I’m a crazy person and I love home renovations and big old houses. While I was home we were driving all over the world choosing flooring and finishes for the upstairs bathroom. I’m sure you’re fascinated. I hope you’re fascinated.

warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts | Brooklyn Homemaker

Anyways, like I said, I had a cold just before I left. I’m a total whiney little baby when I’m sick, and I also tend to get ravenously hungry. I made this salad when I was feeling well enough to spend some time in the kitchen, because I was looking for something healthy and filling, and packed with flavor since I couldn’t taste much. It really didn’t disappoint.

warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts | Brooklyn Homemaker

Russell has been completely obsessed with farro lately, and it’s starting to rub off on me. If you’re not familiar with farro, it’s a whole grain that’s often used in salads, soups, sides, and breakfasts dishes, or cooked like risotto. Most people think of and refer to farro as one variety of grain, but there are actually three different types composed of the grains of three ancient species of wheat. The most common found in the US, and the one you might already be familiar with, comes from Emmer wheat. It’s earthy, nutty, chewy and really satisfying. It’s also packed with fiber, vitamin B3, and zinc. Zinc is my favorite things to overload on to help cure a cold, so that was a great bonus!

If you’ve not had a chance to try farro yet, I’d really recommend it. Not only is it good for you, it’s also great tasting and versatile. It maintains its chewy texture better than rice or pasta in liquid, so it’s especially ideal for soups and dishes with a bit of moisture. I used semi-pearled farro which is probably the easiest kind to find. It has some (but not all) of its bran removed so it cooks up in about 30 minutes and doesn’t require overnight soaking like the whole-grain variety. It is not gluten-free, but it does have a significantly lower gluten content than most modern varieties of wheat.

warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts | Brooklyn Homemaker

This salad was just what the doctor ordered. It’s filling and savory with just a hint sweetness and tang. It also has a wonderful mix of textures and flavors. The chewy farro, crunchy cashews, creamy goat cheese, and tender brussels sprouts with a bit of bite inside made for such an interesting and satisfying combination. The sweet and tangy dressing, sweet tart cherries, nutty farro, and toasty roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes all pair really well together and made every bite super flavorful and delicious.

warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts | Brooklyn Homemaker

I would say that this salad is best when its first tossed together and still warm, but it was pretty tasty served cold with lunch the next day too. It somehow tasted sweeter cold so if you’d prefer to serve it chilled you might want to cut back on the cherries or tone down the honey in the dressing. Also, if you plan to make this ahead, I’d suggest that you wait to add the cashews until just before serving, as they can absorb moisture and oils from the dressing and lose their crunch.
When you’re mixing in the goat cheese, be careful not to squish it. It’s so soft and creamy and so mildly flavored that it could get lost in the salad if it’s completely incorporated. I think it’s best if there are some separate gobs of it interspersed throughout the salad.

warm farro salad with roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts | Brooklyn Homemaker

Warm Farro Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

2 cups semi-pearled farro
3 cups small brussels sprouts, washed and halved
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes (about 3 cups of cubes)
1 red onion, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 cup cashews, roughly chopped
1/3 dried cherries, roughly chopped
2-3 oz goat cheese

dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Combine farro, 6 cups of water, and 1 tsp of salt in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, place sweet potato cubes into a heat proof bowl, and cover with enough boiling water to cover completely. Let soak for 10 minutes. Carefully drain and pat dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels. Toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly over a parchment lined sheet pan. Set aside.
In the same bowl, toss halved brussels sprouts and onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly over another parchment lined sheet pan and roast for 20 minutes along with the sweet potatoes.
Add roasted sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, & onions, as well as the chopped cherries and cashews to the bowl with the farro while everything is still warm.
In a large measuring cup combine all ingredients for the dressing and whisk until well combined. Pour over salad and mix until incorporated. Crumble goat cheese over the salad and lightly toss to combine.