Sunday 30 November 2014

Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows

Girl with pigtails, her hair dyed red with dark streaks

This month's Food 'n' Flix is all about Thanksgiving. The movie chosen by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen is called Pieces of April starring Katie Holmes (she of Dawson's Creek fame) as April.

The story centres around April and her boyfriend in their small, slightly run down apartment preparing a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner - they seem to know what they are doing even though Katie's sister later says she can't cook and is never in the kitchen. She also decorates and makes place cards for her family and has got up very early to put the turkey in the oven- it's clear that April is making a lot of effort. However, her family really don't want to go and talk about the disaster that is April's life as they make their road trip to see her, but her dad tries to defend her saying she has a job now and isn't going out with a drug dealer any more. We learn her mother is dying of cancer which is why April is so keen to get the family together for what may be their last Thanksgiving.
April's oven stops working and she has to go to the neighbours, who she doesn't really know, to ask to use their oven; a kindly couple who are initially hostile are moved by her story of how her mother is dying so they agree to eat their Thanksgiving dinner later so April can get started cooking hers in their oven. The couple are making all sorts of dishes from scratch whereas April is opening a can of processed cranberry sauce; April says she likes it from the can but the man says nobody likes it from the can. So they teach her how to make a proper cranberry sauce.
But after a while they need to use her own oven so April has to go round asking other neighbours,  most of whom don't want to help or who are a bit strange to say the least. She then finds a neighbour - played by Jack from Will and Grace- who has a fancy new oven and is happy for April to use it. He turns out to be quite strange too and for a while won't let April back into his apartment to get her turkey out of the oven; when she finally gets in she takes her half-cooked turkey and leaves.
When her family arrive they are horrified by April's neighbourhood and meeting her African-American boyfriend, who has been on his own mission throughout the film to get a suit so he can make a good impression. When April goes downstairs to greet them they have left and she breaks down in tears. They seem to have gone to a pub and are going to eat there instead, but when April's mum sees a little girl she is reminded of her daughter - even though we have been told earlier they never really got on- and she hitches a ride on a motorbike and turns up on April's door. Eventually the rest of her family follows and they have Thanksgiving together with all the neighbours who helped April.
This is described as a comedy but I didn't find it particularly funny; it's a bit depressing in places but also kind of heartwarming and it's nice how the neighbours and April's family finally come together.

So for Food 'n' Flix there was no question that I would make a Thanksgiving recipe - and there is one thing I've wanted to try for a while: sweet potato with marshmallows. Have any of my American readers (or anyone else) ever eaten this? I've seen it on TV and read about it as part of Thanksgiving meals but wonder if it is actually that common? I made it for some friends who had never heard of putting marshmallows on sweet potatoes and found myself repeatedly insisting "It's a thing! Nigella says so!".

The recipe is in Nigella's Feast - my copy of which is now signed by the lady herself after the event I went to last week. I didn't follow the exact quantities as I wasn't sure whether people would like this so wanted to make a smaller batch but the full recipe is here.

I used four sweet potatoes, which I wrapped in foil and put in the oven at 175C for an hour and a half, on a baking tray. When I unwrapped the potatoes I only had to make a slit in the skin for it to peel off, leaving me to scoop out the soft insides.

Spoon the sweet potato into a dish and add a spoonful of butter (I used vegan butter substitute), a glug of oil, a dash of lemon or lime juice, a pinch of salt and a generous pinch of cinnamon.

Mash together then spoon into an oven proof dish and smooth the top. Cover the top with marshmallows. I left a small section without marshmallows; the ones I used were red (OK, pink), white and blue star shaped marshmallows which my boyfriend's mum got me in America. So very Thanksgiving!

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. The marshmallows melted - it did look a bit random and most people only wanted to try a small spoonful!

You can see here a spoonful of the sweet potato and marshmallow next to some meat loaf I made. The sweet potato tasted surprisingly good - but very sweet and some of my friends said it tasted more like a dessert than a side dish! It might have looked better if I hadn't used coloured marshmallows (see Nigella's picture) but I do think mine looks quite festive. It's not a combination that I expect I will make again, but I did enjoy it!


  1. I love those marshmallows--so very festive! ;-) And I am jealous about your signed Nigella book. Believe it or not, it is a pretty common side dish for Thanksgiving here although too sweet for my taste--I tend to leave it alone and go for the mash potatoes and gravy and stuffing, but I know people who love it. ;-)
    Thanks for joining in the Food 'N Flix fun this month.

  2. G'day I so love this dish and our Aussie friends were horrified the first time I served it!
    Congrats on completing the Food n Flix challenge too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  3. You met the goddess herself????? How wonderful (and I am envious). I simply love that you used colored marshmallows!!!!

  4. LOL, yes, it's totally a thing! Most people I knew grew up eating, and their Thanksgiving tables wouldn't be the same without it. I always thought it was too sweet, but took a spoonful anyway (tradition and all). Although, this is definitely the first time I've seen it made with colored marshmallows... ;)

  5. It is a very common side dish for Thanksgiving here in the USA we also make a squash casserole topped with marshmallows sometimes instead of the sweet potatoes but, at least in our household, there is always an orange and white casserole on the table.

  6. I totally agree with your reaction to the film. And no I have never had sweet potato with marshmallows but have been curious too. Love how your turned out and love the colored marshmallows.

  7. Haha! I love your colored marshmallows. Sweet potatoes with marshmallows have never been at my thanksgiving table, but I know a lot of people who do!


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