This is a guest post by Madison Cowan, a chef, author, restaurateur, husband, and hands-on dad to his daughter. In 2010, Madison become the first ever Chopped Grand Champion on Food Network. Visit Madison's website at www.madisoncowan.com. Madison is regular guest contributor to The Father Factor and he shares this post and one of his delicious recipes as part of The Thankful Campaign.
I constantly give thought over to what I’m most thankful for, which may suggest I have massive amounts of time on my hands. To say the least I am quite grateful for many things in my life, most notably time spent round the supper table with family and friends. This time-honoured tradition seems a bit of a lost art nowadays, with working households and the continual reliance on convenience. During my days on the streets, thoughts of proper and ample food to eat, along with daily survival, was a definite source of motivation. Simply sharing a meal not only promotes gratitude but encourages a sense of community as well. Moreover, while it’s fashionable to engage in the spirit of charity with others less fortunate during the holiday season, it is imperative to be mindful throughout the year.
Whilst commemorating this Thanksgiving, I remain cognizant of numerous ways and opportunities to give. Enjoy the following recipe for an easy alternative to traditional sweet potato pie and let’s all keep in perspective the true expression of gratitude.
For the panna cotta:
Sweet potato 1 medium, alternatively use 1 cup Libby’s pure pumpkin & ¼ tsp each ground cloves & ginger
Gelatine 3 sheets or 1 tbsp powdered
Half & half 2 cups
Raw cane sugar 4 heaped tbsp
Vanilla pod 1, split in half & seeds scraped out
Cinnamon stick 1
Fresh nutmeg generous dusting or ¼ tsp ground
For the sauce:
Raw cane sugar 1 cup
Water 2 tbsp
Butter 2 tbsp
Heavy cream ¼ cup
Orange liqueur ¼ cup
Macadamias 1 handful (optional)
1) Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash and score the sweet potato and bake on the center oven rack over a baking sheet until soft, about 45 – 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Soften the gelatine sheets in a bowl with 1 cup of cold water for 3 minutes (sprinkle 2 tbsp water over powder and stir to dissolve. The gelatine will become spongy).
2) Place the half and half, sugar, vanilla pod and cinnamon stick in a heavy based saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
3) Next, slice the sweet potato lengthwise and scoop out the flesh. Stir well into the hot cream mixture to combine.
Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl or jug, discard the vanilla pod and cinnamon stick.
4) Squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves (leave the powdered gelatine sponge as is) and add to the mixture along with the nutmeg. Whisk until the gelatine has dissolved and check the seasoning.
Pour the mixture into small ramekins or dessert cups and leave to cool. Refrigerate to set at least 3 hours or overnight.
5) To make the sauce, bring the sugar and water to boil in a small saucepan over medium high heat until it just begins to caramelize (the key here is to bring the sugar to a light golden brown. Caramel continues to cook when removed from the heat and is bitter the darker it becomes).
Remove the caramel from the heat and add the butter, one at a time, stirring to melt. Pour in the cream and liqueur, stirring after each until smooth. Set aside.
6) Toast the macadamias, if using, in a dry sauté pan over medium heat, cool slightly and crush or roughly chop with a large knife.
Remove the panna cotta from the fridge, slightly warm the sauce over low heat, if needed, and spoon over the pudding. Garnish with macadamias and a light dusting of nutmeg. Serves 6
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