Sweet Potato Bisque

My name is Lauren, and I have a problem. That problem is…the sweet potato.

I tell myself, “Self, it’s time to cut back on the SweePot or you’ll turn orange like Arnold on that episode of The Magic School Bus.” Never mind that it’s a cartoon or that he was actually eating some type of processed, carrot-based puff snack—regardless of the facts, Arnie was a warning to us all. But I digress…

Here’s the thing though, when you find that magic ingredient that everyone in your house loves, that is really great with a variety of different flavors, and that you understand the science of how to cook it and what its doing for you nutritionally inside and out… well its hard to make the switch.

I know I’m not alone in this. Do you go through phases with specific ingredients? What ingredient are you on a roll with right now?

Thankfully, we moved to the right state for my sweet potato obsession. North Carolina loves the sweet potato. Our first weekend here, we set out on a journey to find the Farmer’s Market to procure the necessary produce for the week. Approximately 5 minutes later we pulled up to the barn {we’re so close!} and collected our haul. Despite not being on my list, some how a few sweet potatoes ended up in my basket. I didn’t have a plan for potatoes per se, but I knew they’d get used and they were calling to me.

Sure enough, a few nights later after a crazy day of organizing and being on the phone with insurance for, I kid you not, 4 hours, I wanted something easy, something simple for dinner. Having a plan for dinner is great and usually we stick to it, but some days you just have to back up and punt. Anything that required thinking wasn’t happening that night. So with that mindset, this little soup was born. Thank God I had that sweet potato. It took less than 30 minutes, only one pot, and absolutely hit the spot.

Sweet Potato Bisque from Kiwi and Peach

Sweet Potato Bisque

{serves two}

To Boil
1 large {or two small} sweet potatoes
2 cups water

The Add-Ins
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of ginger

Peel and dice your sweet potato into 1/2in cubes. Toss them into a pot along with your water and on medium heat and let it cook away for 20 minutes.

When the potatoes are soft, remove the pot from the heat and mash them. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well, and return to the heat. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes just to combine those flavors and make sure everything in warm.

Last time I made this, in a fit of genius I decided to top it with goat cheese and crumbled bacon. Clearly it’s no longer vegetarian or dairy free at that point, but eh… it was freaking delicious. The earthy goat cheese and salty bacon were the perfect complements to the soup’s sweet and spicy. We’ve also been known to serve it with cornbread or a slice of toasted whole wheat sourdough.

Oliebollen: A New Year Staple

It wouldn’t be New Year’s without Oliebollen!

Lauren has turned the blog over to me {the Kiwi} for the day to tell y’all about this Dutch New Year’s Eve tradition which, alongside the excellent Apple Cake, is one of the many perks of having Dutch grandparents. The name Oliebollen literally means “oil balls”, but don’t let that put you off—they’re essentially a deep-fried fruit dumpling, a bit like a doughnut. When I was young, my grandmother used to make them every New Year’s Eve without fail. When she was no longer able to do so, the mantle passed to my uncle. Despite not being Dutch himself, he threw himself into the task of developing the perfect oliebol with an energy reminiscent of my later {successful} quest to master Southern Biscuits.

Last year at this time we were in New Zealand, and thus able to sample the delicacy for the first time in 3 years. Now we are half a world away again, and after the second or third emailed photograph {sent deliberately, I suspect, to torture me} I decided to just make my own. The results were not up to the level of a practiced master in terms of shape, but they were better than adequate. Not bad for a first effort! This recipe is adapted from my uncle’s—chiefly in reducing it by a factor of four{!}—which was in turn adapted from my grandmother’s.

The term “mixed fruit” will be familiar to fellow Kiwis as a ready-made confection of raisins, sultanas, currants and dried orange peel that is available in any supermarket. {Avoid the ones containing fake cherries though, which is most of them.} You can make your own by just combining those individual ingredients. I just used whatever we had lying around, which happened to be raisins and dried cranberries. Note that this fruit has to be soaked for at least 8 hours before you begin, so start early.

The key to success, I am reliably informed, is to keep the temperature of the oil low enough to cook the oliebollen all the way through before the outside is burned to a crisp.

Oliebollen: A New Year Staple from Kiwi and Peach

Oliebollen

{makes about 8}

250g {½ lb} mixed fruit
½ cup milk
¼ cup warm water
1¾ cups plain flour
1½ tsp sugar
7.5g {¼ oz} butter
15g {½ oz} dry yeast
¼ egg {about a teaspoon once it’s beaten}
squirt of lemon juice
about 1L {1 quart} canola oil or other vegetable oil {I used rice bran oil.}

Wash and then soak the mixed fruit in water overnight {or for at least 8 hours}.

Preheat your oven to around 100°C/220°F.

Pour the milk and water into a large mixing bowl. The resulting liquid needs to be lukewarm—though be sure to keep it below 40°C/100°F, otherwise it will kill the yeast.

Beat the egg and melt the butter. Stirring in one direction only, add the flour, sugar, egg, butter and lemon juice into the milk and water. Drain the water from the fruit and stir that through as well. The resulting mixture should be sloppy, but not runny since you have to form it into balls later. If it’s not quite right, add a little extra milk or flour as required. Finally, stir in the yeast.

Switch the oven off. Cover the bowl with a clean, moist tea-towel and place it in the warm oven for 25-30 minutes, until the mixture has roughly doubled in size. While the dough is rising, begin heating the cooking oil to a moderate heat. {I set the dial exactly halfway on the stove, and it turned out perfect.} You’ll be deep-frying, so try to use a pot with a fairly small base to minimise the amount of oil you need.

When both the dough and the oil are ready, you can begin frying the oliebollen. Scoop the batter into round balls using a large tablespoon and a rubber spatula. Fry them until golden brown {not dark brown}. They will continue cooking for a little while after you remove them from the pot, so it’s OK to take them out when they are still slightly undercooked. Use a kebab skewer or similar implement to check if they are done.

Oliebollen are best served warm and fresh, though if you’re making a double or quadruple batch you can, and we usually do, keep them in the fridge for several days. {They can be reheated in the microwave too, though not without introducing a little bit of sogginess.} Sprinkle them with icing sugar {aka powdered sugar, or confectioners sugar} through a sieve before eating.

Dutch Apple Cake

As a part of my Christmas gift, in addition to some amazingly awesome Wüsthof knives and the fact that he built us a freaking bed {more on that later}, the Kiwi has agreed to share the recipe for one of his family’s Christmas traditions—Dutch Apple Cake. Am I one lucky girl or what? 

But back to the apple cake, this stuff is delicious. You’re going to want to go ahead and make it immediately. It’s Christmas… in your mouth.


My Grandparents were from the Netherlands, and this recipe has always been a staple of my Dad’s baking. When I was young I used to help him make it—a favourite challenge was to try to peel a whole apple in a single continuous spiral. And then eat it likewise. Later on I learned to make it myself, and it became a staple for any occasion requiring a cake in the Autumn or early Winter, when apples are fresh and those delicious cinnamon spices taste just perfect. Dad always makes one of these at Christmas too, though of course that falls in the middle of Summer in New Zealand.

Now that I find myself in the northern hemisphere, Christmas coincides with the perfect season for apple cake, so there’s even more reason to make it. In fact, after serving it to Lauren’s family at Christmas lunch yesterday, I’ve been put on notice that this will be My Job every Christmas for the foreseeable future.

By the way, making whipped cream is trivial as long as you have electric beaters—and you don’t need to add a truckload of sugar. If your whipped cream comes out of a can you’re doing it wrong, and that goes double if the can doesn’t actually contain any cream, in the sense of having come out of a cow.

You might think of this as more of a pie than a cake. I just think of it as delicious.

Dutch Apple Cake from Kiwi and Peach

Dutch Apple Cake

The Crust
¾ cup sugar
225g {8 ounces} butter
2⅔ cups self raising flour

The Filling
5 Granny Smith apples
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp self raising flour
1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg

Whipped Cream
300mL {1/2 pint} cream
1 tsp sugar

Cream the butter and the sugar. {Melting the butter in the microwave makes this easy.} Then mix in the flour until it forms a dough. Expect to use your hands. Form the dough into a blob, wrap it in Glad wrap and put it in the fridge to chill while you prepare the filling.

Peel the apples, remove the cores. Over a large mixing bowl, cut them into cubes of about 1cm. Add the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Beat the egg and add half of it to the filling to bind the dry ingredients. Reserve the other half of the egg for glazing at the end.

Start preheating your oven to 180°C/355°F.

Butter a 9 inch expandable cake pan, or something of roughly equivalent size {ideally with a removable bottom}. Take around ⅝ of the dough from the fridge and press it out to cover the bottom of the tin and about an inch up the sides. Pour the filling in and pat it down with a fork until it is roughly level.

It’s at this point that Dad would let me eat whatever filling mixture was left over that wouldn’t fit in the cake. {I’m pretty sure he adds an extra apple to ensure overflow.} Don’t try this at home, kids! Remember, we’re not at home to Mr. Salmonella. {Though the risk is not high, it’s pretty unpleasant if you win the lottery.}

Roll or press out the remaining dough into a layer of about the same thickness as the sides/bottom of the cake. Cut it into strips about 1½ cm wide and lay them on top of the cake in a latticework arrangement. It’s fine to join together shorter strips, and at some point you’ll probably have to recombine the remnants and roll them out again—just beware, once it warms up the dough becomes very difficult to work with. Bonus: you get to eat any leftovers.

Sprinkle the top of the cake lightly with a little more cinnamon, then brush the remaining egg over the top with a pastry brush.

Bake at 180°C {355°F} for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Serve warm {outstanding} or cold {still very good} with freshly-whipped cream.

Dutch Apple Cake from Kiwi and Peach

No-Bake Date Ball Cookies

Every Christmas since I can remember my mom has made two special treats. One, so simple and straight forward that it hardly needs a recipe, is her white chocolate covered pretzels with peanuts. Those we would make multiple batches of, wrap them up, and give as gifts. The other special treat we kept for ourselves.

Each year as we were preparing to bake, my mom would get her recipe box down from above the fridge and extract the stained index card that held the recipe. Neither of us know where it came from, but we are thankful for it none-the-less. She would make the candy bit, I would mix in the krispies, she would roll the piping hot mixture into balls, and I would roll them in powdered sugar.

No-Bake Date Ball Cookies from Kiwi and Peach

Is it healthy? Certainly not, but it’s Christmas and it’s tradition.

No-Bake Date Ball Cookies from Kiwi and Peach

What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? 

Besides the baking, my other favorite tradition is having breakfast for dinner on Christmas Eve. This year the Kiwi is making his famous buttermilk biscuits, I’m making my goat cheese grits, and we’re having scramblers with bacon and the left over goat cheese. It is going to be so good!

No-Bake Date Ball Cookies from Kiwi and Peach

No-Bake Date Ball Cookies

{makes about 35-40 balls}

The Candy
1/2 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
8 ounces of dates, pitted and chopped
1 tsp vanilla
a pinch of salt

The Krispy
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup coconut, shredded
2 cups of rice krispies cereal

about 1/4 cup powdered sugar for rolling

In a medium sized pot on low heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, and dates. Stir it around to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar. Let it simmer until it begins to be frothy and bubbly. Stir in the vanilla and salt then take the pot off the heat.

{The original recipe says to simmer for 5 minutes, but you don’t want to burn it. If its really frothy and bubbling before 5 minutes go ahead and take it off the heat or your end product will be rock hard.}

Mix in the pecans, coconut, and rice krispies and let it cool for about 5 minutes or until you can stand to touch it.

Pour your powdered sugar into a bowl you can roll the cookies around in.

Once it doesn’t feel like you’re holding a handful of hot coal, roll bits of the mixture into 1 inch balls and drop them into the bowl of powdered sugar. Roll them around a bit until they are lightly covered then, being sure to knock off the extra sugar, transfer them to your Christmas cookie tin and you’re finished!

Merry Christmas y’all!

Orange Honey Glühwein

As November becomes December, a wonderful thing starts to happen in Munich. Little stalls adorned with branches of pine and probably a few deer antlers start to pop up in squares, fields, and courtyards all over the city and really, the country. Selling everything from Christmas kitsch to handmade treasures, lebkuchen, and stollen, these stalls always seem to be buzzing with people enjoying the season and getting a bit of Christmas shopping done.

After wandering about in the freezing cold for a bit, folks naturally make their way to the most important stand at the market—the ever-present Glühwein stall. Nothing warms your hands, tummy, and heart like a nice long chat with friends over a piping cup of this hot mulled wine which, as Casey says, is the nectar of the gods. Though there are some variations like Nürnburg’s famous blueberry version or the white wine version, the standard is the red with a slight orange taste thanks to the fresh squeezed OJ and mulled peel.

Moving to Germany made me a much better Southern cook, so it stands to reason that the move back to the States will motivate me to learn the German treats we are going to miss so dearly. When brainstorming ideas for our family Christmas party, the thought of sharing this tasty part of German culture with my family gave me the kick in the tush I needed to make it. It’s not even hard, y’all.

Orange Honey Glühwein from Kiwi and Peach

Orange Honey Glühwein

serves 8

juice from 3 oranges {1 1/2 cups}
1 cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
20 cloves
1 bottle {750 mL} of a slightly dry red wine, room temperature

Let’s get started by juicing your oranges. Wash them thoroughly. Roll the oranges on the counter to start breaking the membranes inside there. Then cut them in half and squeeze all of the juice into a bowl.

Heat a pot on medium heat. Pour the orange juice through a sieve into the pot and add the honey. Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to low.

While that’s coming to a boil, go back to your orange peels. Take two of the halves and scrape the insides out. Stick the cloves through the peel. {This just makes it easier to fish them out later.}

Add the clove studded orange peel and cinnamon sticks to the pot and let it simmer on low for 30-40 minutes. {Some folks add star anise too, but I cannot abide that licorice flavor so clearly, I don’t. Up to you, just throwing it out there.}

Once it’s looking like a syrup, add your wine. Keep it on low and simmer until its steaming. You don’t want to boil it because then you’ll start losing alcohol content, and obviously, we want the alcohol content. Remove the the orange peel and the cinnamon sticks. Once it’s steaming, serve it up as is or, depending on the occasion, add a shot of rum.

Orange Honey Glühwein from Kiwi and Peach
Orange Honey Glühwein from Kiwi and Peach

Meet Dooley + Sweet Potato, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Pizza

We have a little addition to the Kiwi+Peach family. Meet Dooley.

She is five years old and likes long runs, chasing tennis balls, staring at you while you eat, cuddling and popcorn.

Kiwi and Peach | Meet Dooley

While she certainly isn’t a new addition, she hasn’t been living with us for about two years. For lots of logistical reasons, Dooley living in Germany was not going to work out. My sweet, sweet parents volunteered to look after her while we were away, but now that we are back, she will obviously be coming with us to Asheville.

I mean, I’ll try not to turn into a crazy dog lady, but seriously, look at that face. No promises.

Kiwi and Peach | Meet Dooley

So, so lucky to get to be her human. It’s safe to say she’s going to be a regular around here.

You know what else is going to be a regular around here, this pizza. {see what I did there}

A couple weeks ago I was trying to use up the last of food and clean out the pantry when inspiration hit in the form of pizza. As soon as it starts getting the least bit cold, I put sweet potatoes on just about everything. Why not pizza?

Sweet Potato, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Pizza from Kiwi and Peach

Sweet Potato, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Pizza + Roasted Red Pepper, Hazelnut, and Fig Pesto

The Potatoes
1 sweet potato
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper

The Basics
1 batch of whole wheat pizza dough
1 batch of pesto {recipe below}

The Toppings
1 cup of spinach, packed
5 oz goat cheese
drizzle of maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

Wash your potato and dry it well. Slice it into rounds about the width of you pinky finger, about a 1/4 of an inch think. Lay them flat on a baking sheet, brush both sides with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and a bit of pepper. Pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes. When they are finished transfer them to a bowl and set them to the side.

Once you put the potatoes in, proof the yeast for your pizza dough and set it to the side. When the proof is done, go ahead and finish the dough. By the time you’re finished mixing that up the potatoes will be finished. Take them out of the oven and turn the heat off. Leave the door of the oven open so the oven can cool down a bit.

Put the pizza dough in a well greased skillet and pop it in the oven to rise for about 15 minutes.

While the dough is rising, whip up that pesto.


Roasted Red Pepper Pesto with Hazelnut and Figs from Kiwi and Peach

Roasted Red Pepper, Hazelnut, and Fig Pesto

makes about 1 cup

1/2 of a roasted red pepper
2 tsp tomato paste
1/4 cup hazelnuts
1 clove of garlic
3 dried figs, stems cut and quartered
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil

In a food processor, combine all of your pesto ingredients except the olive oil. Give it a whirl and then start slowly adding the olive oil as the machine is running. When you get it to a consistency you like, you’re done!

{Quick note about the pesto. The freshness of the hazelnuts you use have a huge effect on the taste. Some hazelnuts, usually ones meant for baking tend to taste slightly stale when eaten fresh. Once baked, that stale aftertaste disappears and it is delicious, so using not-so-fresh hazelnuts is okay for the pizza since you’ll be baking it. However, if you wanted to use this same pesto on say a crostini, or as a pasta sauce, you’re going to want to use fresher hazelnuts to avoid that unpleasant, stale aftertaste.}


When the dough is finished rising, transfer it to the baking sheet. Crank the oven back up to 400°F/200°C.

Roll the dough out to the size you’d like your pizza. Leaving space around the edge for a crust, slather the dough with an even layer of pesto then layer up the spinach, sweet potatoes, and finally the goat cheese. Drizzle a bit of maple syrup over the whole thing and pop it back in the oven for 20 minutes to bake the crust and melt that delicious, delicious cheese. Enjoy y’all!

Sweet Potato, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Pizza from Kiwi and Peach

Sweet Potato, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Pizza from Kiwi and Peach

Roasted Fall Veggie Salad with Cornbread Croutons

In his book, Thanksgiving, Sam Sifton makes the case that salads have no business being a part of the Thanksgiving spread.

“A salad is a perfect accompaniment to many meals, a hit of astringency that can improve some dinners hugely. Not this one. You can have your salad tomorrow.” {Sam Sifton, via Cup of Jo}

Well folks, it’s tomorrow.

I hope that each and every one of you had the happiest of Thanksgivings full of family, football, and most importantly, lots of good food. Am I right or am I right that you kind of never want to look at food again?

I’m also wagering that you have lots of leftovers hanging out in your fridge.

I’ve been making this little salad at least once a week all fall, and I’ve been dying to share it with y’all. It dawned on me a couple days ago that many of these veggies were probably on your thanksgiving tables, so in the spirit of Thanksgiving, be grateful for those leftovers. They’re about to be a truly great salad.

In the directions, I walk you through roasting the veggies, but really you can throw your already cooked leftovers in there and it will be a winner. It’s completely adaptable, so go wild!

Roasted sweet potatoes or yams with candied pecans? Add it.

The always present brussels that the kids wouldn’t touch? Add them.

Cranberry sauce? Why not?

How are you using up your Thanksgiving leftovers?

Roasted Fall Veggie Salad with Cornbread Croutons

Roasted Fall Veggie Salad with Cornbread Croutons

serves 2-4 depending on how hungry they are

{This genius recipe is from the lovely lady behind Naturally Ella, Erin. Very, very rarely do I follow recipes exactly. There are usually things I add or take away in order to improve or adapt the recipe to our tastes. I didn’t have to do any of that for this ingredient list. It’s pretty much perfection. I do have a few procedural short cuts to add though, so I thought I’d share it.}

1 loaf of Erin’s cornbread

To Roast
1 small sweet potato, cubed
about 15 brussels sprouts, quartered

To Toss
about 2 cups of spinach, {this is your salad base so adjust accordingly for how much you think you’ll eat}
6 oz blue cheese, crumbled

The Dressing
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp sweet whole grain mustard {we use Handelmeier}

Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C.

Whip up a loaf of Erin’s cornbread and pop it in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. {To keep dirty bowls to a minimum, I always combine my wet ingredients in a mixing bowl first and then place a sieve over the bowl and measure my dry ingredients into it.}

While the cornbread is cooking, wash and chop your veggies. Leaving the skin on, because there are tons of nutrients in that stuff, chop your sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. Cut off the base and quarter the brussels. Put them in your roasting pan and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Give them a toss and put them in the oven to roast for around 45 minutes.

about 15 minutes before the veggies are done roasting, chop your cornbread into little squares, toss with olive oil and rosemary and add them to the roasting pan to toast them up.

While those finish, put your spinach in a large mixing bowl and crumble the cheese over it. Also go ahead and shake up your dressing. {I put all of the ingredients in a mason jar and give it a shake. Super easy and beats the heck out of the store bought stuff in terms of flavor.}

When the veggies and croutons come out of the oven, transfer them to the big bowl and pour the dressing over the whole thing. Give it a toss and serve.

Roasted Fall Veggie Salad with Cornbread Croutons