As you know from my recent posts, Jim and I had a wonderful vacation in Singapore. But sometimes as we sweltered in the island’s always-hot, sticky air, I longed for Brooklyn. To be more specific, I longed for Brooklyn in the fall.
I wanted to walk through the rust-hued leaves littering the sidewalks and feel their satisfying crunch beneath my feet. I missed my green wool coat and hefty, comforting scarf, both patiently waiting for me in the closet. I was ready to hide under my grandmother’s pink hand knit blanket while the wind whistled outside.
But perhaps most of all, I missed some of my favorite seasonal foods: butternut squash soup, sweet potato fries, pumpkin pie. Hearty, healthy, and brilliantly orange, the vegetables in these dishes embody cozy fall cooking at its best.
I have already told you about my recent pumpkin pie experience. Two weeks earlier during a grey Sunday afternoon I roasted two butternut squashes and puréed them into a spicy soup from Patricia Wells’ Vegetable Harvest. I even threw in half a rutabaga, because I had received one from my CSA and was thrilled to find a purpose for it. I spent the next three days happily sipping the sunny, silky soup until every drop was gone.
Later that week I moved on to the sweet potato fries. When I made them last year using this recipe from Giada De Laurentis of the Food Network, they tasted fine, but were much too soggy. I decided to abandon Giada (please, it had to happen) and go my own way to unleash the crispiness I knew lurked within those potatoes.
Sweet potato fries are easy to make, and what I have written below barely qualifies as a recipe. Whatever you’d like to call it, it resulted in some meaty, crispy fries, the best I’ve ever made. This elemental dish celebrates more than simple flavors. It announces the arrival of Autumn and the joy it brings me every year.
And now I’ll go back to eating my clementines. Because, you see, I like orange fruit almost as much as orange vegetables.
Recipe for Sweet Potato Fries
- 5-6 sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch strips
- olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil. Spread the sweet potato slices in a single layer. If you have an olive oil sprayer, spray a bit of oil onto the fries. Stir them so that all are very slightly coated with the oil. Do not add too much olive oil; this is very important. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt, and stir again. Bake the fries for about 45 minutes, stirring them very carefully after the first 15 minutes and then every 10 minutes. Serve with ketchup or mayonnaise. I made Giada’s garlic mayonnaise, and it was quite wonderful. Enjoy!