Sweet Potatoes: Mashed or Fried


I didn’t taste my first sweet potato until I was 19, when I met my Azorean family. They had been  baked in the oven with skin on and they tasted so good that I thought they were dessert.


I have enjoyed them simply prepared ever since, often just boiled and mashed with a dab of butter or olive oil. Sweet Potatoes are a simple, no-nonsense, decadent vegetable. They’re also a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; a good source of vitamins A, B5, B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and carotenoids. Since I discovered their nutritional value, I’ve been trying to fit sweet potatoes into my family’s  diet as much as I can.


Sweet potatoes come in orange, white and purple skinned variety. The orange potatoes contain more beta-carotene, but they are all good and you can’t go wrong. Store them in a cool, dark pantry or a refrigerator, away from light exposure, and eat them within two weeks of purchasing and before they become starchy.

You can prepare them mashed or fried, and I’ve listed recipe options for both below. I hope I’ve inspired you to begin including sweet potatoes into your diet.


Orange-Infused Mashed Sweet Potatoes

On a recent trip to the island of Pico, I was inspired by a memorable sweet potato side dish. The juice and peel of an orange provide a simple flavour-enhancing boost to the much-loved sweet-potato mash.


  • 2 1/2 lb (1.25 kG) sweet potatoes (about 3), peeled and cut into 2-inch (5 cm) chunks
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL)  orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) fine salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) whole milk
  • Fine salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped fresh parsley



  1. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat ans simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain.
  2. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the butter, orange zest, salt and half of the orange juice and milk. Using a potato masher, mash until smooth.  If necessary to reach the desired consistency, stir in the remaining orange juice and milk. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve with parsley sprinkled overtop.



Here’s another tasty spin on sweet potatoes that I learned in the professional kitchen: Sprinkle ground cinnamon onto thick slices of unpeeled, cooked sweet potatoes. Fry them in a hot oiled saucepan until the end are browned and crispy. Serve warm.



Sardines and Parsley Salsa

I know it’s been a mild winter, but I miss summer. Barbeques and patio dinners are still months away, but together we can fake it. It’s February outside? Throw some sardines in the oven, whip up a summery parsley salsa, uncork a Vinho Verde and you’ll swear you heard the ocean swell and seagulls calling.

I still remember the first time I watched my future mother-in-law make this salsa in her mortar and pestle. It’s a recipe straight from her home in the Azores, where they serve it on everything from barbequed meats and fish to omelettes, boiled potatoes and more.

I’ve separated the salsa and sardines into two recipes in case you want to mix and match them with other sauces or meals.


Parsley Salsa/ Molho de Salsa

It may be tempting to use a food processor, but it makes the sauce too runny. Use an old fashioned mortar and pestle or a small bowl and the back of spoon to get a nice, thick consistency. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even add a teaspoon of finely minced lemon zest for extra kick. This dressing is best made fresh just before using.


Parsley Salsa


  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) fine salt
  • Pinch coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) olive oil
  • Dash piri-piri or Tabasco sauce


  1. Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic with the salt and pepper until smooth. Add the onion and parsley and mash until paste-like.
  2. Transfer the paste to a small bowl, scraping any bits from the mortar, and whisk in the vinegar, oil, and piri-piri sauce.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary. Serve. Stir before using.


Barbecued sardines are great in the summer, but pan frying or grilling in the oven are just as tasty. Sardines are rich in omega-3 and great as an appetizer. Stack them on thick slice of Portuguese cornbread and dribble your parsley salsa overtop.




  • About 25 sardines, cleaned, gutted, heads and tails on, ends trimmed
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) flour
  • Salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) olive oil
  • Lemon wedges


  1. Add flour to shallow dish and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Dredge 5 or 6 sardines in the flour, coating completely; shake off the excess flour. Discard the remaining flour.
  3. In a large skillet, heat about 1/4 up of the oil over medium-high heat. Fry the sardines in small batches (4 to 6 at a time) for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side, just until the sardines are no longer opaque and the edges turn golden brown.
  4. Gently turn the sardines over with a spatula and fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until cooked through. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.
  5. Repeat with the remaining sardines, adding oil, if necessary. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and a hearty helping of parsley dressing.



Nutella Crumble

Sbriciolata alla nutella

I’ve got a sweet tooth, I’ll admit. It started when I was young (don’t all things?) when my mom gave me Marie biscuits and milk, the perfect combination. Soon I craved more sugar, and my love affair with Nutella was born.


On occasion, I was allowed to lightly spread Nutella on thick slices of bread. A simple, no fuss snack that appeared nutritious to my parents. Hey, it’s got Vitamin E, iron and calcium delivered in the hazelnuts, milk and cocoa.

The world’s love for Nutella has exploded and I’ve discovered countless desserts laced  with this hazelnut chocolate spread. With valentine’s day approaching, what better time to try a Nutella dessert?


The combination of hazelnut and chocolate in this crumble serves up a decadent and delicious treat you can serve for your valentine. Try it with a glass of Hazelnut liqueur, Frangelico (or sparkling wine).

You can make this crumble a few days before the big day and store in the refrigerator, serve to your loved ones with a dollop of whip cream and hazelnuts.


Nutella Crumble

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Print


  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) ground hazelnuts (you can buy toasted, or follow my steps bellow to toast them)
  • 1 3/4 cup (435 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps (10 mL) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, cold
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (250 mL) Nutella (or to taste)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) whipped cream (optional)



  1. TO TOAST THE NUTS: Spread about 1 cup of whole hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350F(180C) oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until golden, shaking the baking sheet occasionally.  Set aside to cool. Briefly puree in  food processor or blender to make 3/4 cup ground hazelnuts.  Leave about 10 hazelnuts aside for decorating.
  2. TO MAKE THE PASTRY BASE: Combine the ground hazelnuts, flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Gradually add the flour mixture.  Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  The dough will have a sticky consistency.  Wrap the dough in waxed paper and refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until cold.
  3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and set aside about 1 1/2 cups to the refrigerator. Shape the remaining dough into a disc. Place the dough into a fully greased and parchment paper-lined 9-inch pie plate or tart dish with removable sides. Using your fingertips pat the dough evenly into the bottom and sides. Using a fork, prick the pastry all over.
  4. Bake in preheated 350F (175C) oven for 15 minutes.  The tart will rise slightly and also have a golden-brown edge.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
    In a small saucepan or in a microwavable bowl, heat/microwave the Nutella until spreadable.
  5. TO ASSEMBLE THE TART: Spread the Nutella evenly onto the pastry base.  Remove reserved dough from the refrigerator and loosely crumble over the filling, gently press down.  Return the tart to the oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and Nutella is set.  Let the tart cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan. Turn the tart out onto a serving dish.  To serve at a later date, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerator for up to 2 days.


Fresh Spring Rolls

My sister is the Queen of Spring rolls (not to mention stir fry, tempura, teriyaki… but that’s for another day, if we’re lucky). With Chinese New Year around the corner, it seemed like a good time to share a recipe that’s delighted my family for years.

These rolls are fresh, not fried and served cold, but bursting with flavour. They can be prepared and eaten quickly, and the translucent wrapping gives you a peek into the colourful filling.


The first time I made these spring rolls I was frantically trying to measure quantities, but quickly learned that there’s a lot of freedom when making spring rolls. My sister insists on including mint. My son likes the mango and the squirt of lime over the noodles for a sweet and sour combination. And the Vietnamese lady at the grocery store, Helen, said make sure you have crunchy romaine lettuce for texture.

Experiment with ingredients and find your own favourite combination!


Fresh Spring Rolls

  • Servings: 10 rolls
  • Print


  • 1/2 small package fine rice noodles
  • 10 rice paper wrappers, medium to large
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 8 to 10 leaves of romaine lettuce, trimmed and shredded
  • 1 mango, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 1 red/orange or green pepper, seeded, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and julienned
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) chopped fresh coriander
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL), chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) Thai Sweet Chili Sauce



  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add the noodles and cook until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes (follow package directions). Plunge the noodles into ice water for about 5 minutes. Drain, cut into bite side portions, and set aside.
  2. Fill a pie plate with warm water, soak one rice paper for about  5 to 10 seconds, and paper has absorbed some water, and is slightly softened but still firm and pliable. (Make sure that you don’t soak the paper too long as it will be difficult to wrap your filling without tearing).  Shake out excess  water and place wrapper on work surface.
  3. Use a tea cloth to gently pat wrapper and dry up any remaining water, if necessary.  In the centre of wrapper place a small helping of rice noodles and squirt a few drops of lime juice overtop. Using a small helping of each, layer romaine, mango, carrot, red pepper, cucumber, coriander and mint. Make sure to leave a border of about 2 to 2 .5″on sides, and about 3 to 4″ on bottom and top of rice paper. Don’t overfill, or the rolls will not close neatly, and cause a tear in the rice paper. Holding the rice paper, fold the sides of the roll inwards over the filling first. Next, fold bottom of rice paper over the filling, and lastly bring up the bottom of the rice paper over filling and roll away from you, tightly to hold everything in place. Cover with a damp cloth to prevent rolls from drying out, until ready to eat.
  4. Serve with dipping sauce.  Wrap each spring roll individually with plastic wrap if using for lunch.