This past weekend, we made our way to New Hampshire to visit a friend from Fairbanks who’s completing a year-round fellowship at Phillips-Exeter. This woman, who I’ll call Fulminus Dividium (long story—this name was created over a glass of wine or a really strong latte, I don’t recall), is a poet, one whose words, I’m certain, will be remembered, anthologized and talked about well after our time. As an artist, she dedicates her whole self to her poetry, something I truly admire. As a person, she is beautiful in every way and a friend Chris and I are blessed to have in our lives. And what are the odds?! She is living 1 hour away from us.
We headed down to Exeter after work on Friday and drove into the sunset down I-95. In two shakes of a lamb’s tail, we were knocking on her front door, which has this beauty nailed to it:
Soon enough, we were reunited with our friend, sharing wine around a table once again, just as we did in our past lives in Alaska. We tried “catching up” but we were chasing that idea all weekend. We ordered shitty Chinese food—the kind that is deep fried and soaked in corn syrup that Fulminus so aptly described as all-you-want-when-you-have-a-hangover Chinese food—and we talked.
The next morning, we ventured out to explore downtown Exeter. It’s like most small New England villages, both charming and inviting, colored by the patina of time. We stopped in the most amazing coffee shop and had the best latte I have ever had in my life, D^2.
These folks make their own flavorings, and the bottom of latte mug looked like a riverbed of specks from vanilla beans. We also sampled pie, coffee cake, and a muffin, but I was so enamored with the latte, I didn’t pay much attention to the food. A rarity for me, I assure you.
After lattes, we went treasure hunting in thrift and antique stores. My favorite, and antique store off the main drag, was packed from floor to ceiling with treasures, each grouped by color, use, or material. An artist owns the shop and she uses little odds-and-ends from her merchandise to create unique pieces. Springs, clock faces, spools, and broken glass are transformed into statement pieces, and most of them rest on the floor, propped up against the wall or hiding between old sifters and colanders.
After treasure hunting, we headed to a liquor store because New Hampshire is known far and wide for its cheap alcohol. It’s tax free AND cheap, so we spent an hour or so browsing the aisles, loading up the cart, 2 to 3 bottles at a time. One of Chris’s favorites is Kraken rum, and they had half a gallon on sale for $25. Yes, $25 for a half gallon of rum. That, coupled with $8 bottles of wine, well, friends. Call us lushes.
So, I hate to admit, alcohol inspired this week’s post. Alcohol and the conversation around lattes and wine and the all of us reminiscing holiday dinner parties and ridiculous amounts of food. These little appetizers are sweet potato, rosemary, goat cheese, and proscuitto napoleons with a buttered rum sauce. They’re little one bites that are packed with a flavorful punch. I tried this particular recipe a couple times. The first didn’t pan out too well. The product did not look appetizing and the textures were off. Blurg.
After the first try gone wrong, I had too few sweet potatoes and too much leftover sauce. So, I totally used it to make buttered rum rice crispy treats. Yes. I said it. I, for one, love the sweet treats, and you usually have two teams: the team who loves gooey, marshmallow-overload RKT and those who are a bigger fan of the cereal than the sweet. I play for either team. If you’re intimidated by the rum, don’t be. In both cases, the alcohol cooks off and gives a depth of sweet that is perfect for this dessert.
Oh, the life of a food blogger, whose challenge it is to make good food look and taste better, and if all else fails, figure out another use for it altogether. That’s not always the case. Carrots and Peanut Butter, anyone? Anyone?!
I did finally hit the nail on the head and realized the sweet potatoes needed to be extra crispy. They would be best fried (what wouldn’t) but got a similar effect without dealing with all the oil by slicing the potatoes very thin and baking them in a really hot oven. Again, fried sweet potato chips would be better, but this recipe is nothing short of satisfying. I promise.
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut thinly (1/8 of an inch) using mandolin or food processor attachment
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 8 oz. goat cheese
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4 sprigs of rosemary
- ¼ pound proscuitto
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- ¼ cup rum
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- Preheat over to 450 degrees.
- After potatoes are thinly cut, add to bowl and toss with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and 1 Tbsp. of chopped rosemary. Prepare a baking sheet by placing a piece of parchment paper over the pan. Place the sweet potato slices in a single layer on the prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are browned.
- While the potatoes are baking, mince the garlic. Incorporate it in the goat cheese by using the back of a large knife, folding the garlic into the cheese.
- Cut the proscuitto pieces in half. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and cook the proscuitto until it is cook through and slightly brown along the edges. Set ham aside on a paper town lined plate.
- In the same pan you used to cook the proscuitto, melt your butter over medium heat. Once melted, add rum and brown sugar, and let reduce for 3-5 minutes. The sauce should be thick and shouldn't smell like alcohol.
- Once sweet potatoes are done, let cool slightly. Starting with a sweet potato on the bottom, add a few crumbles of goat cheese and a piece of proscuitto. Do this 3 more times, ending with a sweet potato on top. Skewer with a half sprig of rosemary.
- Drizzle each napoleon with the rum sauce and serve immediately.