Although normally I avoid most ready-prepared foods at the grocery store like the plague, sometimes a judicious selection, rounded out by a home-made dish or two, is sanity-saving!
Both DC and I had to work today, so by the time, well, ok, well past the time, to think about dinner, I was feeling tired, with no plan and no desire to do any marketing. My mind was a big blank, as the dish I had been thinking of making would require a trip to WF on the other side of town. Then a happy thought struck me: this is the day the Teeter has prepared bbq baby back ribs on sale for half-price! I'm not that crazy about ribs, especially the pork ones, but DC is just in heaven with a big ol' plate of any kind of ribs.
A quick perusal of Sheila Lukins' cookbook All Around the World revealed a dairy-free and wonderful West Indies style sweet potato salad that sounded like a perfect accompaniment to the ribs.
Funny, I haven't looked at that book in literally 5 years, and of all the cookbooks on my shelf it said "Pick me! Pick me!" Sheila's food is always terrific. The recipe required only a few ingredients from the Teeter, some of which I needed anyway. List in hand, I set out for the Teeter.
DC inquired as to what was for dinner, casting a suspicious glance at the Indian cookbook I had rejected and left sitting on the sofa. I just smiled and said, "You're gonna be happy!" I haven't made ribs since last summer sometime. The nice thing about our new house is there is a Teeter within walking distance (though being in a hurry, I took the Juicebox, our hot-lava colored Scion).
While at the Teeter, I picked up what I needed, including a rack of ready-to-heat ribs. Then I thought, we haven't had dessert in several days, since I've been trying to cut down on my sugar consumption. I decided to check out the frozen dessert offerings. AHA! The Teeter carries Purely Decadent, a dairy-free premium-style "ice cream" I've been wanting to try. At $5.50 per pint, I had picked it up and put it back several times at WF. But what the heck, it's the weekend, let's have a little treat!
Of course, this being the Teeter, there was nowhere near the selection of flavors. Turtle Mountain, makers of Purely Decadent, have recently come out with a coconut-milk version of Purely Decadent, in addition to their original soy-based line. The Teeter carried a few flavors of each. I picked up the Chocolate flavor of the coconut-milk variety and looked at the ingredients. In addition to the coconut milk, I noted there was NO SUGAR-- it's sweetened with agave syrup! On the down side, I did not see chocolate or cocoa anywhere on the ingredient list. They used carob instead. Which is fine, if you are in the mood for carob, which I was not.
On the soy-based side, there were 2 kinds of Vanilla, which I thought might be too plain to cover up any soy undertones, Cookie Dough (I'm probably the only person in the world who hates Cookie Dough ice cream), and Almond Mocha Fudge. I do not care much for coffee-flavored things, but the description mostly talked about chocolate flakes and almonds. The ingredient list had lots of things on it I have never heard of, and I noted that the Soy version has 20 calories more per serving than the Coconut milk kind. What to do, what to do.... In the end, the real chocolate in the soy version won me over, so Mocha Almond Fudge it was! Sometime I do want to try the coconut milk stuff, especially since it's sweetened with agave, which my doc had recommended I start using in place of sugar. ChefBliss, if you are reading this, I need some agave tips!
I was all set to pick out some B&J for DC, when I remembered we had 2 pints of B&J vanilla at home, leftover from the 3 pints for $10 sale at the Teeter before I knew I was going to be eating dairy-free. At our house, we mostly tend to eat vanilla ice cream on top of something else, like peach cobbler, rather than by itself. Just as I was wondering if we had any chocolate syrup at home to dress up the vanilla, I caught sight of a new Smucker's topping: Apple Cinnamon!
Apple desserts are DC's favorite-- I'd heat up the topping and it would be kind of like apple pie a la mode, without my having to make the pie!
Feeling triumphant, I headed home. I popped the ribs in the oven to heat,
drizzling them with a little Num Num sauce for good measure, and turned my attention to the sweet potato salad, which was blessedly quick to prepare. We had leftover corn and limas from Cuban porkchop day, which would round out the meal nicely. Lured by the smell of bbq, DC emerged from the study and said "Woo-hoo!! I smell ribs!" I just smiled and said, "I told you you were gonna be happy!"
The sweet potato salad is a real winner, especially if you are addicted to sweet-hot flavors like I am. It does contain curry powder, which I know not everyone enjoys. But we both loved the salad, and it went well with the ribs. Here is the recipe for
Sunny Sweet Potato Salad by Sheila Lukins
Coarse salt to taste
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. cubes
1 lb. Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. cubes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
*2/3 c. mayonnaise
3 T. mango chutney, finely chopped
2-3 T. best-quality curry powder
4 scallions (3 inches green left on), thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 T. chopped Italian parsley
1. Bring 2 medium-size pots of salted water to a boil. Cook the sweet potatoes in one pot until just tender, 5-6 minutes. Do not overcook. Cook the Idaho potatoes in the other pot until tender, 8-10 minutes. When the potatoes are finished cooking, drain them and combine in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste.
Here are the sweet potatoes, waiting for the white potatoes to join them!
2. For the dressing, mix together the mayonnaise, chutney, and curry powder; gently fold it in to the potatoes with a rubber spatula.
Fold in the scallions and parsley.
Serve at room temperature. This potato salad keeps covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Sheila's recipe calls for a whole cup of mayonnaise, which is way too much for the amount of potatoes. I was going to cut it in half, and then decided to try 2/3 c. That seemed about right; even a bit less would have been fine. Also, I chose to use the hot mango chutney, which was perfect for this dish. It gave it a nice kick without adding too much heat. The quality of the curry powder is important here, an indifferent mixture could ruin the dressing. My sister got me some very nice Madras curry powder from the Oliviers & Co. boutique in Paris a few years ago, and that's what I used. In India, of course, curry powder is not used, instead, fresh spice mixtures are created for each dish. I ran out of the Oliviers curry powder, and it was all I had, so I had to wing it for about half of the amount called for. I added some garam masala, ground cumin, and some turmeric to the mixture and it was perfect. 3 T of curry powder is probably too much, so add it in small amounts until you are happy with the taste.
The salad was really delicious. It would be fun to experiment with adding some other ingredients in place of the white potatoes, like jicama. Although jicama throws off quite a bit of moisture. Boniato, the white sweet potato popular in Latin America, would be perfect here.
Here's DC's plate. Not bad for a pick-up meal!
And a closer look at the potato salad!
DC loved his vanilla ice cream with the apple topping. He joked, "This is kind of the opposite of what I usually eat, apple topped with ice cream!"
With haunting memories of frozen Tofutti "dessert" from grad school days floating through my mind (ugh!), I was very pleasantly surprised by the taste and texture of the Purely Decadent Mocha Almond Fudge.
Here's a look inside: MMMMMMMMM!
Despite the coffee flavor, I found this to be absolutely delectable. It was just as rich, creamy, and dense as any Ben & Jerry's or other premium ice cream flavor. The small flakes of chocolate scattered throughout were wonderful-- not too big, so they weren't hard and overwhelming. What I enjoyed the most was the contrast between the silky smooth "ice cream" and the crunchy slivers of toasted almond liberally scattered throughout.
I am a true ice cream connoisseur. I am very picky about quality and taste-- don't even mention the words "soft serve" to me. I scoff at the very idea of "Dairy Queen." I love ice cream so much that when I lived in Chicago, I would run down the block to the homemade ice cream parlor for a small to-go cup most nights after dinner, even in the ice and snow! So I am amazed to tell you that the Purely Decadent was every bit as delicious as dairy ice cream-- I won't be missing real ice cream with this stuff around! In fact, I almost like it better than real ice cream, because it has the creamy texture and wonderful flavor of ice cream without the heaviness. For once, I did not feel like I had just eaten something the roughly the size of Seattle after finishing my bowl. The mocha flavor was definitely there, but it wasn't overwhelming, so I actually enjoyed it! I would have no hesitation to serve this to company.
It's AWESOME!!! 5 stars!! Unfortunately, I can't give you DC's opinion of the soy ice cream. For one thing, he would have complained that it was messing up his perfect balance of flavors between the vanilla and the apple-cinnamon. For another, he detests anything even vaguely coffee-flavored. So I didn't even bother asking him to taste it. Ah well, more for me!!!
Now I can't wait to try the coconut milk version to see how it compares! I think I should do that right away, don't you? No sacrifice too great for the Cause!