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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ode to the Sweet Potato Tart

So, I was at work one day and my boss/friend comes back from lunch and hands me a package and says you have to try this. Ok I said enthusiastically, knowing if she is giving it to me it's worth a try! I have seen these before, there are pictures of them all over the island. There is a big factory looking building with colorful flags outside and pictures of these things just north of our house. I figured they were some sort of sweet, possibly a cream puff type dessert. Little did I know.
See, here on Okinawa they grow sweet potatoes, beautiful bright purple sweet potatoes. And they are wonderfully SWEET! They are harvested locally and are considered a seasonal treat. These little babies are sweet potato tarts! Sweetened with a little sugar cane (also grown on the island) and whipped into submission, they pipe the creamy concoction into little cakes and package them up.
Now, the cake itself is nothing to marvel at, not very sweet, sort of like the outside "cake" part of a fig newton, only not as sweet. The filling however, is dreamy. I personally love sweet potatoes. I love to bake them and add butter, I love to make fries with them, I love to mash them at Thanksgiving, and I LOVE these tarts! They are delicious!
I give them to my son, it's a great sweet, healthy treat. The cream does have a bit of starchy, potato texture to it, but it is all part of the goodness. Kudos to the Japanese for using real ingredients and making a naturally sweet potato the star of this show! I love it here...and don't knock it till you try it!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Passion of the Passion Fruit

Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is a half of a passion fruit. They grow all over here, and are considered a delicacy. They are somewhat expensive (about 100yen each) and they look a lot like a big ripe plum on the outside. They are a beautiful deep purple color, but they are hard unlike the look alike plum. It feels light and kind of fuzzy and smells a bit like sour feet when uncut.
Sol my friend Kim gave this one to me yesterday as a gift, she has lived here a long time and is a great friend! We decided to cut it up and have it for dessert lastnight. Once we cut it open, it was apparent that this is no ordinary fruit. The outer shell is hard and was a bit like cutting into a gourd as far as texture goes. Once opened, the yellow/green juice oozed out along with a few of the seeds. The inside is just that, the fruit coated seeds all of which is edible, just not the pink along the inside. The taste results: a big ole NO in our house. While very pretty and wonderfully fragrant when opened, it is deceptively sour! Like SOUR! There is a bit of sweetness in there but it's mostly sour! The black seeds are crunchy and add a different texture and the yellow/green coating is a bit slimy but not to a gross point. We all agreed that is should be used sparingly as a flavor agent, as in passion fruit flavored...scones or something, but not eaten alone. It is also a bit acidic so if you have a sore tooth, might want to wait this one out! I recommend trying them as our tastes are not the end all be all, they can be purchased around this time of year in specialty produce sections at most stores. Have fun and, Don't say you don't like it until you have tried it!