In between all the reality cooking shows on Food Network TV lies the ‘real’ cooking shows, my favourites of my past. I know that food preparation competitions are obviously more popular today but I still enjoy having a cup of coffee and just watch a chef show me a step-by-step how-to-make a recipe. Sometimes I get so intrigued by a recipe that I search for it on the computer as I watch it. This recipe is one of those times. I was watching Ina Garten, a.k.a. The Barefoot Contessa prepare a meal. One of the components of the meal were Baked Sweet Potato Fries coated with a spice blend created just for her (oh, I wait for the days when there is a spice blend named after me) from La Boite Spice Store in New York City.
The spice blend is emulated below. A combination of turmeric, basil, Aleppo chili flakes, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and caraway seeds. Beautiful colour and textures, of powders, flakes and seeds.
Sometimes I peel the sweet potatoes, sometimes not. Today I decided to follow the recipe and peel and cut lengthwise into long spears. In the original recipe, Ina substituted one tablespoon of the spice blend with salt and pepper and one tablespoon of brown sugar. Once roasted, sweet potatoes get even sweeter and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to add the sugar. So, I split the batch in two and used brown sugar in one mixture and doubled up the spice blend in the other.So here we go. Left side roasted with the added brown sugar, right side without. I must admit that the additional brown sugar did enhance these baked fries but I was quite thrilled with the results without. It will be a personal preference, but either way, the spice blend gives an added oomph.
Baked Sweet Potato Fries with La Boite Spice Mix
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon La Boite Spice Mix (see separate recipe)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar (optional, or omit sugar and use 2 tablespoons Spice Mix)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
La Boite Spice Mix – Recipe courtesy La Boite
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon Aleppo chili (or other chili flake)
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
3 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- Into a bowl add the turmeric, basil, chili, and mustard seed. Grind together with mortar and pestle or a clean coffee grinder the black pepper and coriander seed and add to the other spices.Grind together the cumin and caraway seed as above and add to the spices and mix everything together.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into 3 long spears. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil. Spread the potatoes in one layer. Combine the spice mix, brown sugar, if using, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn with a spatula. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve right away.