With Thanksgiving on the mind, Weeks 11 and 12 featured recipes starring ingredients indigenous to the Americas such as squash and cranberries. Both of our weekly recipes, Biscuits with Cranberry Sauce Jam and Three Sisters Arepas, share these native roots.

At The Center School, Allergic to Salad educator McKenzie started class by talking about the science behind biscuits, which owe their modern fluffiness to the chemical reactions that come from baking with baking powder or baking soda. The wide availability of good butter and wheat flour also sets the biscuit we know and love today apart from the hardtack of yesteryear.

Sneaking a vitamin- and fiber-packed vegetable in an unexpected place, Sarde’s class at Williamsburg Northside took their biscuits a step further by incorporating sweet potatoes. Not only does the addition make for a more complex biscuit, it also adds moisture into the baked good.

Speaking to the recipe’s success, Sarde told us that her class “had a lot of fun making sweet potato biscuits with a cranberry sauce jam. They were really helpful with cleaning up and doing the dishes too.”At Spruce Street School, McKenzie’s class made butter in addition to the Biscuits with Cranberry Sauce Jam. “I gave each student something to add or do. When the students were kneading the dough I started the cranberry sauce. I gave the students a jar of cream to shake into butter.”

She added that “everything came out great,” and “I’m so glad I got to teach this class as it was a lot of fun!”

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Servings 15 2-inch biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup mashed roasted sweet potato (about 1 lb) NOTE: You can roast your own sweet potatoes for this recipe (shown below) or buy canned sweet potato puree. Roasting your own gives a richer texture and flavor.
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If roasting your own sweet potatoes, slice into 3-inch segments and place on a parchment-lined baking tray. Roast until soft, 40 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then peel off the skin. Mash and set aside.

  2. Line a different baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

  3. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir to evenly combine. Add butter and use your fingertips to smash the dry ingredients into the butter so the batter resembles wet sand. Add mashed sweet potatoes and buttermilk, stirring until just combined. Flip the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat into a smooth round, ½- to 1-inch thick. Use biscuit cutters to cut 2-inch rounds, or use 2-inch cookie cutters. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 13-15 minutes until golden brown.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Servings 15 2-inch biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (substitute up to 1 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine. Using your fingertips, massage the cubes of cold butter into the dry ingredients until it becomes the size of small peas. Stir in buttermilk with a fork until the dough becomes a loose ball.

  3. Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead a few times. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit for as long as possible, preferably 30 minutes, if you have the time. Otherwise, proceed with the next step.

  4. Gently pat the dough until it becomes a rectangle about an inch in thickness. Using a 2 inch biscuit or cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds, taking care not to twist the dough. Place on prepared baking sheet.

  5. Bake until golden-brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Cranberry Sauce Jam

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces frozen or fresh cranberries
  • 6 ounces frozen sweet cherries (or sub another 6 ounces of cranberries and add another 2 tablespoons honey)
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 orange, zested
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Instructions

  1. Place the cranberries and cherries (if you’re using them) in a saucepan with the apple juice, orange zest, and pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the fruit has significantly broken down, about 8 to 10 minutes. The mixture should be thickened at this point as well. 

  2. Stir in the honey, taste, and add more sweetener as necessary. Cool slightly and serve on hot biscuits.

As a fruit indigenous to North America, specifically the modern day northeastern part of the United States, cranberries were held as prized position with the Narragansett people who found value in the fruit as a dye, beverage and health remedy. Like the cranberry, the ingredients found in Week 11 & 12’s Three Sisters Arepas have a long history of importance to the native peoples of the Americas.

Three Sisters is the name of a grouping of companion plants that many Native American tribes across the nation practiced in their agriculture. This practice developed over 5,000 years of agricultural discoveries and plant domestications. The Three Sisters refer to maize, winter squash, and climbing beans. The three plants support each other throughout the growing season, each providing structure, shade, or nutrients to another.

At LMC, Allergic to Salad educator Eirann’s students loved the arepas. Eirann told us that “the students were really excited about the beans and had fun making their own arepas. We put some jalapeño in the salsa—some thought it was too spicy (but ate it nonetheless!), others wanted more heat!”

Educator Christy shared equal success with her class at School of the Future. “This was a great recipe with plenty for everyone to do and an interesting backstory. There was some familiarity with Three Sisters. Students cut the squash very small with the peel (to get all that extra fiber) and was roasted. The dish came out very well-delicious and pretty. All enjoyed it.”

At PS 85, Christy found more fans of the recipe. “They apparently love black beans and were eating them plain before we even made the salsa. We had trouble getting them to leave as they all wanted seconds.” We are happy to hear this nutritious dish was so loved!

Three Sisters Arepas

Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

Arepas

  • 1 cup masa harina
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • olive oil, for cooking

Butternut-Black Bean Salsa

  • 1 cup butternut squash, small dice, peeled and steamed/roasted
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced, whites and light green only
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, leaves and stem
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Spicy Cilantro Sauce

  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 jalapeno seeded and chopped (optional)

Instructions

Arepas

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine and mix arepa ingredients. Knead until smooth. Make ping pong sized balls of dough, rolling into a smooth circle. Flatten between palms, to about a ½ -inch patty. Continue with remaining dough. 

  2. Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté arepa 3-4 minutes each side until golden.

Butternut-Black Bean Salsa

  1. Prep ingredients according to instructions. Combine and mix in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

  2. Place a heaping spoonful of the salsa over the arepa to serve.

Spicy Cilantro Sauce

  1. Combine garlic, salt, cilantro, jalapeno if using, and cayenne in a blender or food processor. Process until just broken down and combined. While processing, drizzle in olive oil and lemon juice and process until smooth.

  2. Food safety tip: When handling hot peppers, it’s important to wash your hands and not touch your face for any reason. If you get any pepper juice in your eyes, it’s going to sting!

Even though these recipes were inspired by the Thanksgiving table, might we suggest that these dishes will taste just as good during the rest of the holiday season? Let your young chef impress loved ones with a dish at the holiday table and they are sure dazzle family and friends!

Until next time,

Team Allergic to Salad

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