Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kitchen Therapy

Cooking has always been therapeutic for me and it's one of the first things I turned to when I got home to Victoria last month. There were a few days where I had slept through most of the daylight hours, but would stroll downstairs at 5pm in my pajamas to announce to Wendy (mom-in-law-extraordinaire) that I would be cooking dinner. "Are you sure? I really don't mind." And my response was always, "Thank you, but I'd LOVE to." And I really would. Cooking is relaxing for me, even though I may have five different things going at once and the kitchen looks like a tornado rolled through. I think I especially enjoy it right now because it's something I CAN do. It doesn't involve monitoring my heart rate or emotional state so I can just switch off and cook! I'm also able to create something tasty (usually....) and it's productive as we all need to eat, right?!

Here's a sweet potato salad I made a few weeks ago, and then again recently. I don't often repeat recipes unless they are really good, so this one is worth sharing. It's a variation from Eric Akis' Moroccan potato salad from the Times Colonist.

The original recipe called for a mix of potatoes, but I preferred to use all yams/sweet potatoes as their flavour and nutritional value is much my opinion :) However, when I made this earlier today I had picked up some very cute looking organic purple and regular yams (the "cuteness" factor is key for me when picking ingredients. Ask Adam.. "why would you buy carrots so tiny and pathetic looking?" Me: "Because they are CUTE!") Anyway, the purple yams weren't what I thought they were. They were really just a darker skinned sweet potato, which I think lacks flavour. Anyway, they turned out to compliment each other well in the salad so feel free to mix and match!

~1.5 lbs sweet potatoes/yams (I used about 7-8 small ones)
juice of an orange
juice of a lemon
zest of one lemon
2 tsp honey
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
sea salt and pepper to taste
a few green onions, chopped
fresh mint or basil, chopped

Wash and chop the potatoes (leave the skin on) and cover with water in a large soup pot (the size of the chunks doesn't matter, just try to get them around the same size so they cook evenly). Boil for about 8 minutes until fork tender. Be sure not to overcook as they will fall apart when tossed with the dressing. (I made them perfectly the first time, but got distracted today so they were a little on the mushy side). Drain and set aside to cool.

Whisk all dressing ingredients together in the salad bowl you will be using (lemon zest & juice, orange juice and spices). When the potatoes have cooled from "hot" to "warm", gently toss with the dressing. Mix in the fresh mint/basil and green onions and that's it. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled. I find this salad tastes better after it's settled in the fridge for a bit, especially the following day. Just give it another mix to blend the flavours before serving. Enjoy!

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