This is one of those periods in life with a lot of changes. New job, new house, new city, new country, new people…
End of September I returned to Europe from Canada. After visiting some friends and spending two great months with my parents I went to Berlin for a job interview. It ended up being a bit crazy, since a last-minute trip was not easy to arrange from my parents´ small village in Spain. So it turned into a four night trip for an interview of 1.5 hours; including a night in a bus, some hours of sleep on a bench in a bus station, and a day in Valencia. But it turned out to be worth it, because just before the end of 2017, after another relaxing month with my parents, I flew to Berlin with my backpack and a work contract.
Fortunately, my new employer was nice enough to provide me with accommodation for January. This meant I didn´t have to spend New Years in the cold. Instead, the first night of the year was the first night in the apartment I would have for a month. Not too inclined to go into the city alone – I know from experience it gets pretty crazy over New Years – I watched fireworks from the balcony with a bottle of sekt (a German sparkling wine), curious to see what the new year would bring. For a start, 2018 brought a month focused on apartment searching. On the first viewing I went to, a public viewing, there were definitely over 80 people visiting the apartment. This, and many people telling me how difficult it is to find a place in Berlin, did definitely worry me. But as often happens, staying positive and being persistent fortunately paid off. After countless messages to real estate agents to avoid public viewings and ten flat-visits I got the phone call I was hoping for: just before the first month had passed I had found a very nice apartment for myself and in a good location.
Of course, moving into an unfurnished apartment with only your backpack with clothes, a little coffee maker and some cutlery and plastic plates requires a bit of creativity in the beginning. On the Friday that I moved in I bought a lot of furniture. But I still needed to sleep on the floor the first night, as the furniture couldn´t be delivered the same day. And also, I had all my kitchen equipment still stored in Barcelona. Knowing this would be transported to me at some point in the near future, I did not want to purchase new pots and pans. Fortunately my new apartment was already equipped with an oven. And besides home-made pizza, this recipe was one of my favourite dishes to make in those weeks without much to cook with.
Oven roasted sweet potato
It´s a really simple dish that does not take much work. It mainly takes some time to properly cook the sweet potatoes until they are soft and delicious. Whether you take mozzarella or feta cheese depends on whether you like the extreme melting qualities of mozzarella or an extra kick of savouriness from the feta cheese. And finally, you can leave the bacon off easily. But it is of course a popular saying that bacon makes everything better (except when you´re vegetarian!)
Ingredients (for two)
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 200 grams of mixed mushrooms
- Handful of cashew nuts or mixed nuts
- 1 clove of garlic
- Mozzarella or feta cheese – around 100 grams
- 4 thin slices of bacon (optional)
- Small bunch of parsley or another fresh herb
- Olive oil
- Cayenne pepper – a teaspoon, but it depends on how much you like spicy
Switch your oven on and turn it up to 220°C. Wash the sweet potatoes and wrap each of them separately in aluminium foil. Place them in the oven and let them roast for at least 50 minutes.
After this time, carefully unwrap one of them and check with a knife if it is soft all the way through. If there is still some resistance, leave them in for a bit longer. When they are completely cooked through, open the aluminium foil packages but leave the potatoes on the foil. Cut the potatoes through in the length and open them up like a book. Sprinkle some salt, cayenne pepper and a bit of olive oil and rub this all over the inside where you made the cut. Use a brush or a spoon if it´s too hot.
Thinly slice the mushrooms and place in the middle of the potato. Add a bit of extra salt and if you want some more cayenne pepper. Switch your oven to the grill mode and place the potatoes with the mushrooms under the grill for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, roughly chop up the nuts. Mince the garlic and mix it through the nuts. When you want to use the bacon, tear it up in pieces. Take the potatoes out of the oven again and add the garlic and nut mixture and the bacon. Place them again under the grill, in the middle of the oven, for around 10 minutes. Then turn the oven off, tear up the cheese and sprinkle it over the potatoes. Place in the oven for a few extra minutes so that the residual heat can melt the cheese. Chop the parsley.
Finally, add a bit of extra olive oil and sprinkle the parsley over the top.