Break out the champagne and the party whistles. Cue the birthday music. Blue Cayenne is five!
Who knew! I certainly didn’t.
When I clicked “post” that first time five years ago, it was with no small amount of trepidation. Would anyone read my posts? Would everyone snicker and nudge me not to give up my day job? Would my culinary support pup, Juliet, become an Internet sensation and forget her roots–the next Grumpy Cat?
But click I did. That was three hundred and eighty-seven posts ago.
My first Blue Cayenne recipe was a favorite comfort food that I’ve enjoyed forever–a cheesy and piquant Cream of Poblano Soup. You always lead with something you know and that soup recipe, I knew, was sterling. If you haven’t tried it yet, I hope you will give it a go. Here is the link: Cream of Poblano Soup.
Five years later, I am pretty happy with Blue Cayenne. Blue Cayenne has a loyal readership. The blog averages about four hundred human views each day–a modest number compared to the big blogs but an amazing number to me.
None of this would be possible, of course, without the help of friends. I am especially grateful to my talented (and supremely patient) photography teacher Al Nomura and to my neighbors Sarah and Gene Allen who give me honest reviews on many of Blue Cayenne’s recipes. I also owe a huge debt to Nami Aoyagi, my Digital Media Arts teacher at the Huntington Beach Adult School, who taught me so much about computers and digital media.
Today’s five-year birthday post is for a brilliant Roasted Sweet Potato and Fresh Fig dish adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Jerusalem. The unexpected paring of flavors in this dish will knock your socks off. If you have never really understood all the fuss about balsamic reductions, the use of a reduction in this recipe will clear things up for you. I promise. As a bonus, this dish will light up your table; it is that beautiful.
Jerusalem, by the way, is an excellent cookbook far beyond this one glorious recipe. It is available in many libraries and can be purchased on Amazon (here) and at many bookstores.
Thank you thank you thank you for reading this blog. I’m learning a lot and I’m enjoying every minute of the experience. Sweet Juliet, on the other hand, is still hoping for her big break. Here is a glam shot.
- 4 small sweet potatoes (about 2 1/4 pounds)
- 5 T. olive oil
- 3 T. balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 T. superfine sugar
- 12 green onions (halved lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2 inch segments)
- 1 red chile (thinly sliced)
- 6 ripe figs (quartered)
- 5 ounces soft goat's milk cheese (optional)
- Large-flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (Maldon salt would be perfect!)
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Halve sweet potatoes length-wise and then cut each half into three long wedges. Toss cut sweet potatoes in 3 T. olive oil, 2 t. salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Arrange the sweet potatoes (skin side down) on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 25 minutes. You want the baked sweet potatoes to be soft but not mushy. Remove from your oven and let the sweet potatoes cool.
- Prepare the balsamic reduction by combining the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. It is good to use superfine sugar (I gave granulated a blitz in my blender.), but regular granulated sugar will work here. Heat the balsamic mixture until it boils and the sugar is dissolved and then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer the balsamic for 2 to 4 minutes. You want it to thicken but still be about the consistency of honey. Keep in mind that the balsamic reduction will thicken as it cools; you want it to be pourable. If your reduction becomes too thick as it cools, you can add a bit of water to thin it.
- Arrange the sweet potato slices on a platter. Use a large serving platter for this dish. I used a large white platter to make the colors in this dish pop.
- Heat the remaining 2 T. olive oil in a pan and fry the green onions and chile in the hot oil for 4 or 5 minutes. Stir this mixture while you are frying to be sure the onions and the chile do not burn. Spoon the oil and the fried onions and chile over the sweet potatoes. Arrange the halved fresh figs on top of the sweet potatoes. Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the sweet potatoes and figs. Crumbled goat cheese is an optional topping for this dish. I omitted the cheese but think it would be a great addition.
- Serve this dish at room temperature.