Sweet Potato Meringue Pie with Salted Pecan Crème Fraîche + a dessert shoot with Betty Liu!

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie with Salted Pecan Crème Fraîche & Burnt Miso Butterscotch

Facts I have learned in the past week:
— Marshmallow meringue is way too delicious and easy to make.
— Crème brûlée torches are FUN.
— Burnt miso butterscotch is a gift from the gods.
— Co-dessert shoots are the best!

A couple weeks back, Betty and I were chatting about our upcoming Vermont Creamery recipes, when it dawned on us that “ummm, actually wouldn’t it be amazing if we did a dessert shoot together??!” So I whipped up my pie crust and filling on Saturday, along with some salted pecan crème fraîche and the burnt miso butterscotch from Power Vegetables! (YUM). I left Burlington early Sunday morning, arrived at my Boston airbnb, and then ubered over to Betty’s place with an absurd amount of things in tow (camera, pie, bag full of meringue ingredients + props and linens). I quickly inhaled a delicious honeynut squash + burrata lunch she’d made for me, then whipped up the meringue topping for my pie so we could get all of our shots in before the 4:30 sunset. We did it, had a blast, and then “sampled” our work (while trying to keep in mind that we were eating dinner in two hours). It was the best.

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Vegan Sweet Potato, Coconut Milk, & Roasted Chili Ravioli

That’s right—ravioli without cheese! You’re skeptical, aren’t you? I understand. (I ♥ cheese too.)

When it comes to vegan cooking and baking, cheese substitution is one of those things that gives me a headache. I’m a bit wary of soy-based alternatives, as they seem over-processed and unnatural in comparison. There are, of course, equally over-processed varieties of “cheese” that freak me out too! (Full disclosure: I did have a bizarre addiction to Tofutti cream cheese a year or so ago, and have been rather reluctant to group it into the Weird Fake Cheese category. But the editor in me demands consistency above all else!) Another interesting alternative that I’ve come across online is blending together nuts, nutritional yeast, and other stuff to make a creamy, cheese-like substitute. This usually involves soaking the nuts overnight, which is far more than I care to go through to make fake cheese. (Also, the vegan community seems to invariably refer to this substance as “nut cheese”—a phrase that is so hilariously gross, I have trouble taking it seriously. Yes, deep down, I’m a 13-year-old boy. :P) So, my very simple solution: make a filling so tasty, it doesn’t need cheese. No headaches here!

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Sweet Potato, Roasted Chili, & Chevre Ravioli

Ah Fall, my favorite season—it’s almost here! Can you feel it too? The days are still warm, but there’s already a few leaves crunching beneath my feet and a chill in the air at night. I’m dusting off my boots, unearthing sweaters, and craving wonderful fall things: roasted brussel sprouts, pumpkin cake, cider donuts . . . mmm mmm mmmmmm. And these ravioli!

The combination of sweet potato and goat cheese is almost dessert-like. When I first made these last year, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. Before I’d gotten my first sheet of pasta dough rolled out, I’d already eaten a ridiculous amount of the filling (and was no longer hungry at all). This time, to offset the sweetness (and the urge to consume spoonful after spoonful of filling), I decided to throw in a couple of roasted chili peppers. A good idea! The occasional spicy kick is a great complement to the sweet potato. I love them. I’m house sitting alone until next Wednesday, and these things are begging me to eat them all before I return to Vermont. Willpower . . . fading . . .

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Sweet Potato Pancakes

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the first recipe I ever created. (Not exactly a big deal now, but four years ago I was amazed that my intuition could yield something so tasty.) This is based on the latkes that my mother used to make when I was young (which I actually didn’t like, because they were made with onions). I’d sit there, pull apart the entire thing, and try to pick out all the onions until my parents would give me a “finish your dinner by this time or no television” deadline. To this day, I still taste phantom onions in shredded potatoes. So when I set out to create my own latke, I knew I didn’t want to use white potatoes. Enter the sweet potato!

I’ve received a lot of praise for my sweet potato pancakes. It was even suggested that I might have a chance at besting my mother in a latke cook-off. (Apparently people who don’t harbor an intense hatred of onions think hers are quite delicious.) Back when my boyfriend Johnny was just a romantic interest, I decided to impress him by cooking these. I ended up burning the crap out of the first batch and leaving some serious burn marks on one of his nice stainless steel pans. (Eep.) Freaking out, I tossed the partially charred latkes on a plate and started on the second round. While I was concentrating on not burning things, Johnny decided to take a sample from the reject plate. He then said, “I don’t know what you did to those, but do it again. They’re delicious.”

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