Hearty dishes welcome comfort foods as temperatures drop

| Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 2:35 p.m.

With fall in full swing and a lot of yard work to do, all the workers in your family will need some hearty food to keep them going.

Let's start with a sweet potato salad that will work great on the game-day buffet table or, as a side at either lunch or dinner.

It will help to give energy to all the leaf rakers!

Sweet Potato Salad

(serves six to eight)

2 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed

3 tablespoons honey

1 1 / 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 1 / 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 / 4 teaspoons salt

1 / 4 teaspoon black pepper

1 / 2 cup salad oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Scrub the potatoes, and, then, prick them with a fork in a few places and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until they are easily pierced.

Cool and then peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into 12-inch cubes and place in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, blend together all the remaining ingredients well. Pour over the sweet potatoes and toss gently to coat.

Marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.


Now, with the weather changing, you'll want something substantial for lunch. Here is an idea that will fit the bill. The flavors of the ham and the cheese work together very well. Combined with the other ingredients you'll have a great custard pie!

Smoked Country Ham and Roquefort Pie

(makes a 9-inch pie, serves six to eight)

Pastry dough for single crust 9-inch pie, partially baked (recipe follows)

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup sliced leeks

6 ounces Roquefort cheese, softened

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 / 4 cup heavy cream

3 eggs lightly beaten

salt and black pepper to taste

1 1 / 4 cups diced country ham

Prepare pastry dough and line a 9-inch pie pan. Partially bake the pie shell. Instructions on how to do this will follow.

Reset the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. When melted, add the leeks and cook over medium heat until soft.

While the leeks are cooking, cream the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, Roquefort and cream cheese together. Beat in the cream and the eggs and mix until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In the bottom of the pastry shell, arrange the ham and the leeks. Pour in the cheese mixture and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Remove and let cool slightly before slicing into serving-sized pieces.

Pastry for single crust pie

1 1 / 2 cups flour

3 / 4 teaspoon salt

3 / 4 cup solid vegetable shortening

3 to 4 tablespoons cold water

Sift together the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Work the shortening into the flour with fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture is the consistency of coarse meal.

Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, and mix with a fork after each addition.

The dough should not be wet, just moist enough to hold together.

Form the dough into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before rolling out.

To partially bake the shell, line a 9-inch pan with the rolled out dough and form a fluted edge around the shell.

Prick the bottom of the shell with a fork.

Press aluminum foil into the bottom and sides of the shell and then cover the foil with uncooked rice or beans to weight the pastry.

This prevents the crust from swelling during baking.

Bake the shell in a preheated 425-degree oven for 8 minutes.

Remove the foil and beans/rice. Continue baking for another 5 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool completely before adding filling.

My friends, as always, enjoy!

David Kelly is has been a culinary columnist for more than 20 years. Originally from New England, he now calls Western Pennsylvania home.

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