Sweet Potato Pie

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

My son Atticus started cooking with me at a very early age. We would pull up a chair so he could assist me, and his main job was stirring. We came up with a little song to sing to keep him on track (OK, it might be more of a rap): "Keep it in the bowl, in the bowl, in the bowl. Keep, keep in the bowl, in the bowl, in the bowl." Repeat.

He's 10 now, and his brother Adam and sister Margo have followed in his footsteps making many memories in our kitchen and feeding us along the way. Now I know not every parent likes to cook and not every kid will like to, either. But I truly believe the kitchen is the heart of the home and the interaction you have there can be priceless.

This sweet potato pie includes so many activities for you and your child: peeling the potatoes, cutting the pie dough with a pastry cutter and, of course, rolling it out. As you tackle this together you will be happy with the results. You'll be happy with the pie. too!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pie crust: purchase a ready-made crust or see the recipe online at ColumbusParent.com
  • 3-4 sweet potatoes
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • one pinch of salt
  • one pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 cups of cream

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Kid (with grown-up's help): To prepare sweet potato puree, peel then dice the sweet potatoes into one-inch-square cubes. Place the sweet potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender (takes about 15 minutes). Drain and puree in a food processor until smooth. Measure out two cups of the puree and set aside to cool.

Kid (with grown-up's help, if needed): Crack and beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the spices and salt. Stir in the potato puree and cream.

Grown-up: Warm this mixture in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until it is hot to the touch (do not boil).

Grown-up (with kid's help): Lay the pie crust into your pie plate or dish, and crimp the edges upward to create a rim. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet. Pour potato mixture into the crust and bake 45 minutes. The inside should shake like Jell-O but is still moist. Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature. High five!

Tried and true from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. You can use a good old fashion pastry cutter (kid friendly) or a food processor. Makes one crust.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Whisk the flour, salt and sugar together or alternatively pulse once or twice in a food processor.

2. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter until it resembles cornmeal or alternatively turn on the machine and process about 10 seconds to get the right texture.

3. Put the mixture in a bowl and add the ice water. Mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball, adding another tablespoon or two of ice water if necessary (if you overdo it and the mixture becomes sodden, add a little more flour).

4. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

5. Sprinkle a clean countertop with flour, put the dough on it and sprinkle the top with flour.

6. Use a rolling pin to roll with light pressure from the center out. If the dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes. If the dough is sticky, add a little flour (if it continues to become sticky and it's taking you more than a few minutes to roll it out, refrigerate or freeze again).

7. Roll, adding flour and rotating and turning the dough as needed; use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place. (This is where you need to let prettiness go as your child rolls this out.)

8. When the diameter of the dough is about 2 inches greater than that of your pie plate, drape the dough over the rolling pin to transfer it into the pie plate. Press the dough firmly into the plate. Refrigerate for about an hour before filling (if you're in a hurry, freeze for a half hour or so).

9. Trim the excess dough to about 1/2 inch all around, then tuck it under itself around the edge of the plate. Decorate the edges with a fork or your fingers. Freeze the dough for 10 minutes (or refrigerate it for 30 minutes).

10. When you're ready to bake, fill it (or prick it all over with a fork for prebaking).

Want to learn more ways to bring your kids into the kitchen? Tune into No Chefs Allowed, Tricia Keels' Internet radio show, on Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. to hear from Ali Banks, children's cooking class instructor at Sur La Table. Go to heritageradionetwork.com to listen live.

And go to ColumbusParent.com for the online version of this story, which includes more of Tricia Keels' tips for cooking with kids.

Use these five tips to begin bringing your kids in the kitchen with you:

1. Have fun with it yourself. Who doesn't want to be a part of the fun? If you act like it is drudgery they will see the task the same way.

2. Ask your kids if they want to help - don't try to make them. If they say no, then respect the answer and ask again later. When you force them, cooking becomes a chore.

3. Learn to make something that cultivates wonder. You know, the kind of food that widens your eyes as it comes together. Like homemade whip cream, popcorn on the stove or a bread that rises. These foods cultivate curiosity to learn more.

4. Embrace that cooking with your kids will take longer, be messier and look uglier than when you do it yourself. Let that go. Foods made together are always beautiful no matter what.

5. Encourage them to learn something new and show you trust them. Sure the stove is hot and a knife is sharp. This I know. But at certain ages you need to let them extend their skills. Teach them how to flip the pancake at the hot griddle or cut the bread tucking their fingers back. You'll love that look they get when they realized they did it and you supported them.

-Tricia Keels