In-laws hey. The poor maligned family members who always seem to get the raw end of the deal! As I write this I hear many of you mumbling “Ja, right, you don’t know mine.” I know and in my experience, it is definitely the mothers getting the worst deal – we all know the jokes; then there is the fiery mother-in-law’s tongue curry spice that will burn you two ways from a holy day, and there is even a wikiHow site helping people deal with difficult mothers in law! Shame man, imagine being one! Anyway, my in-laws reached legendary status this week. After our rather rapid growth this year, we have been spending more and more time making boxes, trying to keep up with orders. While a bit of hammering can be rather therapeutic at times, Bevan is no carpenter and things were getting rather tense. So, blow me over but does my father-in-law not arrive yesterday afternoon all the way from Sabie with a car load FULL of wood and pre-assembled boxes! Bar “Legend”, I was speechless. Now my mother-in-law… she may very well have a tongue that will make you run, but what she also has, besides a heart that can’t stop giving, is the uncanny ability to feed people everywhere she goes. She loves it! She’ll make food for her family, food for their friends, food for the gang in Sabie – always miraculously remembering who doesn’t eat what and making something for everyone! It’s both a gift and a selfless act of love – the very heart of cooking. And trust me, her feeding hand is in those boxes too! In my time of knowing her, she has had so much input in my life and my cooking. I love it – that is where I feel the extensions of family and love. Regardless of challenges, I think we can find so much positive in each other if we are open to it – yes, even in your in-laws. After all, they made the one you love so much, they must know something. One of Cathy’s go-to classics is a sweet potato salad, she tasted it at Spriggs in Durban and true to form, went home and made it herself. She plays with it, I play with it, I hope you’ll play with it too – have some fun, its delicious!
Sweet potato, sliced into chunky rounds
Drizzle of olive oil for roasting
Red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
Spring onion, finely sliced
Dressing: olive oil
red wine vinegar
salt & pepper
Put sliced sweet potato into a roasting dish, I like them with the skin on, but peel if you prefer. Coat with olive oil, cover and roast at 200° till tender and golden – about 35-40mins. While they roast, make the dressing by toasting about 1½tsp of cumin seed in a dry pan. Watch so it does not burn. When toasted and nutty, grind until fine. With a pinch of course salt, grind a clove or so of garlic in a pestle and mortar until you have a smoothish paste. Add the cumin powder, remember, cumin can be overpowering, so rather be sparing and add more later. Add a Tbl of honey – don’t make it too sweet, you can always add more if needed, but you need some sweetness to counter the chillie. Now add red wine vinegar and olive oil at a ratio of about 1:3, depending on your taste. Taste and adjust seasoning and honey if you like. When the sweet potato is ready, remove from the oven and carefully transfer to serving dish, while hot drizzle with the dressing so it soaks in well, let it cool to room temperature. Now crumble some lovely salty feta over, scatter with some fresh, green coriander and spring onion and lastly add a hit of fire with some gorgeous red chillie on top. It smells intoxicating, it looks mouth-watering, it tastes like more. Enjoy! This is a fabulous accompaniment to any braai or roast, it is substantial as a vegetarian meal with a leafy salad. I love it with a really chilled aromatic white wine or maybe some ‘pink stuff’ like they quaff in Sabie! If you don’t fancy all the spice and it seems too much fuss, just slice your sweet potatoes and dab with some coconut butter and roast as above, simple heaven. I love the orange fleshed ones best of all, but it can be challenging to find organic ones. If you haven’t tried sweet potato mash, give that a try too, really good with poached chicken breasts and an Asian-style broth.