The kitchen is a weird place. Sometimes, things get a little crazy. For example, when the parents flee for a couple days, and only the children remain, the kitchen can turn from a place of spotless surfaces and a well-stocked fridge into a cityscape built out of dirty dishes and empty cracker and cookie boxes. Stacked high around the sink, eventually the dishes move out and colonize the other countertops, making their way from wall to wall to island until eventually, there are no dishes left to be used. Talk about a limiting resource.
In the absence of parental supervision, the food that’s been turned out of our kitchen has been a little off kilter too. No vegetable dinners. Solely vegetable dinners. Sandwich meals, of five different sandwiches. Pie meals. All have been odd, it’s true, but they’ve been glorious as well. After all, it’s pie for dinner.
The one substantial meal-that-most-resembled-a-meal included sweet potato cakes a la Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook, an early holiday gift. (A gift that doubled as an ‘eat less baked goods, for Pete’s sake’ message from my mother. But since the book is so pretty, and offers up so many delectable options, I’ve forgiven it for the lack of pastry.) Coupled with a bit of kielbasa, onions, and peppers, the sweet potato cakes rounded out a full meal. Remarkable, considering we had no clean dishes to start cooking with. The experience was somewhat of a MacGyver cooking endevour.
These cakes take what you love about sweet potatoes—the color, the taste, the natural sugars, the starchy goodness—and add in a few simple seasonings—hints of smoke and chipotle peppers, a blast of fresh green onions. Then, of course, it’s all fried in butter. Voila, sweet potato cakes. If you follow the recipe and use tablespoon portions of the potato mixture—as I did after creating massive potato cake anomalies with handfuls of the stuff—the result is something wonderfully crispy, starchy, and heartening. The perfect appetizer or accompaniment to any variety of sauces and dips. Warmed up the next day, it’s practically a potato party for lunch. At that point, since they’re leftovers, if you eat with you’re hands, there are no dirty dishes accrued. Win.
Recipe on the following page.