Friday, June 1, 2012

Sweet Potato Tacos from Julie Powell


We are at Week 50 of Gourmet's List of Female Game Changers in Food and Julie Powell is our parting game-changer. Love her or hate her (she does evoke controversy in the blogging and food world), Powell seemed to blast open the food blogging world with her mission to do every one of Julia Child's recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year - in a tiny Queens kitchen. From that effort she spawned a book (Julie and Julia) and a movie. For those unfamiliar with her, her biography is here. Her current blog can be found here (although it is woefully out of date).


I came upon Julie Powell via her book - which was remaindered at Barnes and Noble years ago. Intrigued by the combination of the tiny Queens kitchen (grew up in Queens) and Julia Child, I had to give it a go. I am addicted to "remaindered" books - they're like flea markets. Somewhere in the pile of "stuff," there is a chance at an unpolished gem. I bought the book and devoured it one summer evening. I liked her challenge. There was no movie deal yet and the huge buzz that would come had not happened.

Interestingly that when I went to her blog (now a new blog, the year of Julia Child was over), I did not linger. But while her blog did not engage me, her year with Julia Child did. Powell is a writer - not a chef. She found her voice that year - and it's a voice that not every ones loves - but it is her distinctive voice. Powell's second book Cleaving - about the art of butchering and her extra-marital affair did not quite capture the public's imagination the way Julie and Julia did. It will be interesting to see Part Three in her journey.


Powell is a Texas gal and I chose these sweet potato tacos as the last game-changing recipe. It's not her recipe - she wrote the narrative describing her perfect  easy taco-entertaining party. Deborah Schneider provided the recipes. Find the original article here.

I was drawn to these because they are fresh - there is no gloppy sauce as is the case of most Mexican food in Minnesota. Also - they are vegetarian and can be vegan - giving me an alternative when I have guests who now all have more dietary restrictions than there are lakes in Minnesota. In true Powell style, I did some substituting. I have a limit of going to the grocery store twice in a day. If I still have forgotten an ingredient - I make do!


Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos (Serves 6 - makes 12 tacos)
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 white onion - diced (I used 1/2 large red onions)
1 poblano pepper or green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into `1./2 inch dice (I used a large)
1 cup black beans - drained and rinsed (I was stuck with kidney beans)
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

12 corn tortillas
vegetable oil
6 ounces Oaxaca or Monterey-Jack cheese (omit if going vegan)
Chipotle sauce (I omitted but when I do it again will do)
pico de gallo (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heavy a heavy ovenproof skillet over medium high-heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to pan and then add onion and pepper. Cook, stirring until lightly caramelized. (about 10 minutes). Stir in garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt. In another bowl, toss sweet potato with 1/2 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add to skillet and cook, stirring for about 1 minute. Place pan in oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Heat a frying pan over medium high heat. Brush 1 side of tortilla with oil and place it side down in pan. Scatter a generous amount of cheese over center of tortilla and cook until cheese is melted and tortilla is golden but still flexible. Place on cookie sheet and repeat with remaining tortillas and cheese. Cover to keep warm. (I did not do this, I simply warmed the tortillas in the oven.)

Remove skillet from oven and stir in black beans and black pepper. Top each tortilla with sweet potato mixture, a drizzle of the chipotle sauce and a spoonful of pico de gallo (if using.)

I simply served it with sour cream and pico de gallo. If going vegan, of course omit the sour cream. In retrospect - it didn't need it. I loved it sauceless. The varied colors and crunchy, creamy textures told me that my suspicion was correct and I have a lot to learn about Mexican cooking - even Tex-Mex. 

I should apply my Italian cooking mantra to Mexican cooking - when it's in season and bursting with flavor - don't dress the dish too much - give your ingredients room to have their say. 



As the 50th week draws to a close, I want to thank Mary from One Perfect Bite for including me on this journey. I came halfway into the project and was still able to experiment and shake up my kitchen with recipes that are out of my tidy, Italian comfortable world.

If you're curious about who Gourmet chose as their female game-changers in food, find the list here. It proved to controversial. ("Too many food bloggers!," "Where's Marion Cunningham, Lynn Rossetto-Kasper?" "What's Rachel Ray doing there?" etc.) Some of the bloggers are going on to Week 51 - chronicling their favorite female game-changer left off the list. If I was going for one more week, I'd probably be covering Ruth Reichl. I devour her words.

I also want to thank my fellow-bloggers who welcomed me late into the group and have been cheerleaders for everyone involved. This is the first "blogging group" I have ever joined and it has proven to be a haven of creativity. I wonder if any other "group" will ever match your generosity of spirit, information and taste sensations.Thank-you, all! See you in cybersphere.

Valerie from More than Burnt Toast took on the Herculean task of chronicling the fifty weeks and everyone's recipe choice. Find it here. The scope will amaze you - you can eat (and eat well) from that page alone for a year! I hope you all take a look at it (and hope Gourmet Live does also). It's an amazing journey into the female game-changers.

Be sure to stop by and see what other bloggers in the group are doing for Julie Powell!

Susan - The Spice GardenHeather - girlichef,
Miranda - Mangoes and ChutneyJeanette - Healthy Living
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Simple Nourished Living

39 comments:

Alyce said...

Adore tacos of any kind; these look delicious and healthy. This has been so fun; wish I'd joined it earlier. If you ever go to Scusi or The Groveland Tap, let me know; I'm almost right across the street!

Bradley said...

My mouth is watering. I never would have thought to put one of my favorite things (sweet potatoes) into my absolute favorite thing (tacos). This is dinner tonight for sure.

Peggy G. said...

What a great way to go out for the Gamechangers! These tacos sounds every bit as tasty as they are healthy =)

Cucina49 said...

I couldn't agree with you more on your thoughts about Julie Powell. If you don't like her new(ish) blog--which I don't either--definitely avoid her second book. Hoo boy. The tacos do look colorful and tasty, though.

Mary said...

What a perfect recipe to highlight the food that Julie makes. It was such a delight to have you join the group, Claudia. I have loved your "take " on things. I'll be back here anytime your posts hit my reader, so keep that back burner blazing. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Jill~a SaucyCook said...

I love your tacos and I really love your post. Thank you for including the link to the original post. I have enjoyed traveling down this blogging road with you and will miss looking at all the posts Friday mornings!

Jeanette said...

I agree, Julie is more a writer than a cook, but she helped take some of the intimidation out of Julia Child's cooking. Can't believe this event is over, but I look forward to seeing what you continue to cook up in your kitchen.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

I love anything with black beans. I am sorry to see this series end. Julie was the one surprise on the list in my opinion. I never understood her contribution to the food world and I know Julia did not approve of her efforts. Perhaps through the movie (which I thoroughly enjoyed) she introduced Julia Child to the younger people in the audience who might otherwise have not known her. Hope you'll do something on Ruth Reichl. I enjoy her writing also.

Enjoyable post Claudia. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.
Sam

Beth said...

And I've enjoyed following you and the others blog your way through this list!

Having read Julie's book, I must admit that I'm not a fan. But the tacos look great, substitutions and all.

Susan Lindquist said...

I love how you made that Texas connection! Yes, she does spark strong reactions, but she is who she is and I admire that about her!

I'm so glad you joined this journey! It's been fun getting to see your blog and reading your adventures and take on things!

Susan Lindquist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pegasuslegend said...

I cant agree with you more on your comments about Julie Powell. These taco's are magnificient I see the two Claudia's are on the same page again with sweet potato bliss but you have me wanting these on my plate right now! AWESOME!

bellini said...

This is a wonderful dish as a final tribute to all these wonderful women. It has been a pleasure to cook side by side over the last year.

Kathy said...

These look so healthy and delicious! Sweet potatoes are a favorite of mine!
Claudia, It has been great cooking along with you through this project and also getting to know you through your blog! I’ll miss all those e-mails every week!
FYI…Julie’s original blog can be found here
http://web.archive.org/web/20021013043154/http://blogs.salon.com/0001399/2002/08/25.html

Lizzy said...

Congratulations on completing this huge 50 week project. I hadn't heard of many of these women; it was a wonderful way to meet these game changers. PS. your tacos look yummy!

Barbara said...

What a great taco, Claudia! Love the sweet potato inclusion.
I'm sorry to see the series end...it's been fun and I've loved meeting everyone. We'll stay in touch for certain.

Reeni said...

I'm sad to see this series end! I really enjoyed it. Love the idea of a potato taco! Delish.

Veronica Gantley said...

Gosh this would make a really great Lent recipe. I am so glad you took this journey with me. You picked a great recipe to end our series.

WokandSpoon said...

Lovely! I'm vegetarian so perfect for me. And my limit is 3 trips to the grocery store per day! I have a bad habit of forgetting things.

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

Delish!!! I love tacos and it's great to know all different variations so we don't get stuck with the same kind. :-)

The Mom Chef said...

I heard about all the Julie stuff so went and found her original blog. I was appalled by her crassness and rude language and left shortly after arriving. She appeared to be very selfish and self-centered. I guess you know which side of the fence I land on, huh.

I do like your choice of tacos though. Having grease drip down my wrist while I eat has never been appealing. These look delicious.

I too am sorry to see the gamechanger end, but all good things do, huh. Thanks for sharing your finds with us over these past 50 weeks.

Angie's Recipes said...

Love sweet potatoes anything...the taco looks delish with the combo of red beans and sweet potatoes..hearty and satisfying.

Balvinder Ubi said...

My kitchen is fully stocked for this recipe. This is a perfection and can't wait to try them.

Heather @girlichef.com said...

These tacos are an excellent way to honor this Texas-born girl! They look delicious.

Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits said...

Heather's got a point about the tacos. I'm always looking for good vegetarian tacos and this sounds tasty with the sweet potatoes. I'll miss our weekly encounters and shares, but I'll be checking back to your blog.

SKIP TO MALOU said...

I enjoyed this journey with you and Mary. It's also great to see all the different food that you come up with, using the game changer as your inspiration.
This taco looks amazing. We had taco yesterday at a taco place and boy yours reminded me of my last night's date with my hubs.
Have a great weekend!
malou

Chiara Giglio said...

These look so tasty and delicious Claudia, have a great Sunday, a hug from Italy....

Jeannie said...

This sounds delicious, although my sons would say otherwise, being meat lovers!

Frank said...

It really is amazing what you can do with a taco. A bi like pasta, isn't it? You can use just about anything as a filling! This one sounds delicious, and very healthy.

Tina Bk said...

I liked this theme, sad to see it come to an end. However, there may be something just as appealing in the near future.
These tacos are a nice change from the standard, the sweet potatoes must give them amazing flavor. Yum!

sophiesfoodiefiles said...

Hello Claudia!

Thank you for this lovely & very informative post!

I learned a lot & something new! These taco's look so tasty & well-flavoured too! I love to try them soon! :)

beti said...

such a great combination!! they look delicious

Joanne said...

I've never been especially entranced by Julie Powell though I am with these tacos! Great flavor combo!

Kitchen Riffs said...

My 51st week Female Game Changer would be Madeleine Kamman (I don't believe she's on the list of 50). She's quirky, but she really knows her stuff. Anyway, this is a nice recipe. Sweet potatoes and black beans are a wonderful combo, and this looks terrific.

Rosita Vargas said...

OMG...un taco muy especial me encantan son irresistible,tiene muy linda cocina,saludos desde Chile,hugs,hugs.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

So scrumptious! I love tacos. A wonderful combination.

Cheers,

Rosa

Mari said...

It looks scrumptious! Perfect recipe for week 50 :) Definitely something I will love to try.

Magic of Spice said...

This was a really fun series to follow :) I have not seen her new blog, but I do enjoy here writing. And this taco looks wonderful for summer!

Curt's Delectables said...

Hello Claudia, I have been a big fan of your site and now have my own blog so I now am your newest fan/ follower. Cant wait to try this as my GF and I love everything you make! MY Mom (Claudia from Whats Cookin) always brags about you! Hope to share recipes and ideas with you!