Because we were in St. Louis all day Saturday, I didn’t get around to making these until early Sunday afternoon. If you know us in real life you know that we live in an interestingly diverse neighborhood. I say that because nearly every facet of humanity is somehow represented in “Andersonville,” which encompasses several city blocks. We live in the more colorful section and every day is seemingly a scene right out of the movie The Burbs.
So as I was trying to play Susie Homemaker in the kitchen, Neil was out trying to take advantage of the seasonally warm weather and get our dying, unkept yard cleaned up. Somewhere in there, smoke started pouring out of our neighbors back yard. I don’t know approximately how many people live in the house, but I can only really describe them as DIY Hippie Backpackers? Their house really looks more like a massive campsite.
I just want to state for the record that we are not assholes. If you live in a residential neighborhood, you probably know that there are ordinances against burning within city limits. Why? Because the already tight, corridor layout of older neighborhoods is exacerbated by smoke from your neighbor’s illegal bonfire pouring into your windows and dropping ash all over your car. We are pretty passive about a lot of the weird stuff that goes on in this neighborhood, but the smoke, falling ash and their complete oblivion was a little more than annoying, not to mention we’re in the middle of a high-risk code red burn warning. All it takes is a little inattention with fire, and we make CNN before dinnertime. So we called the non-emergency police number thinking they’d send a squad car and tell them to knock it off.
Fire trucks came blazing down the street, prompting the rest of our neighbors to spill out onto their lawns. Somewhere in there, one of their dogs got loose and bit one of our other, more crazy neighbors (Kim, the one who pushes the shopping cart around and shops our trash on trash day). She of course went bananas, and called animal control, who apparently now have some kind of immediate-response team, so in no time there were two white government trucks parked alongside the fire trucks. One phone call and less than thirty minute later our block looked like a scene out of Shaun of the Dead and Neil and I were mortified and hiding our shame under the bed.
Luckily we had these Sweet Potato Garlic Knots to keep us company. Adapted from (Never Home)makers’s Pumpkin Garlic Knots recipe, they were just out of the oven just as Neil closed the door to hide from the neighbors. We gobbled them up pretty quickly too, as they are perfectly-sized addictive little morsels.
1 cup warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 tablespoons honey (or agave nectar)
½ cup sweet potato puree (canned or fresh)
2 tablespoons olive oil (I used an herbed variety)
1 ½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt
3 ½ cups unbleached bread flour (I used ½ bread flour, ½ whole wheat flour)
For the drizzle:
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1. To make sweet potato puree: Wash and peel sweet potato and cut into 1-inch squares. Place in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 20-25 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat and drain into a colander and return to pot. Mash and allow them to sit while you prepare your other ingredients.
2. Pour warm water into a medium bowl and slowly whisk in yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes, then add honey, olive oil and mashed sweet potato. Whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, mix flour and salt. Slowly stir in wet ingredients and continue to stir until it becomes impossible. Then use your hands to continue mixing and slowly start kneading your dough, adding more flour to your hands to keep it from sticking.
4. Once you’ve created your nice dough ball, add olive oil to the bottom of your bowl and roll the dough ball in it until it is coated. Cover with saran wrap or damp towel and store in a dry place (I use my microwave) for two hours.
5. Around the last 15 minute mark, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Divide your dough into pieces you can easily hold in your fist and roll them into long strips around 8 or 9-inches long. Don’t worry if they’re skinny, they’ll still get fat when they bake. Tie each into a knot, and tuck the edges under each side, then place each on the pizza stone.
6. Bake until golden, around 10-15 minutes. Brush with minced garlic and olive oil immediately after removing from oven. Allow to cool 3-5 minutes.
Makes 16 garlic knots.
The hissing sound the oil and garlic makes as it drips off the roll and onto the pizza stone is to die for. I made a few changes to the original recipe, but not many. If we could have stopped ourselves from eating them long enough, I would have sliced a little honey and butter into them, but they really didn’t need it. Neil’s already fantasizing about sweet potato crust for our pizzas, so stay tuned, I’m sure that will happen sometime in the near future. Until then, make these and let whatever is going on in your world disappear for a while.