Some time ago, when I first started appearing on the Culinary Stage at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, I met chef Ina Pinkney, also known as "The Breakfast Queen." Ina is the owner and head chef of Ina’s near downtown Chicago. She opened this restaurant in 1991 after spending almost 10 years supplying desserts to restaurants and caterers.
It has been a pleasure sharing the stage at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show with Ina. She is loaded with energy, culinary knowledge and a next door neighbor personality. I have three or four favorite recipes that have come from Ina. When my store was open her Pasta Frittata was a regular addition to my sales shelf.
Ina has appeared on local TV many times in the past few years. She has served on the Board of Directors of many food related organizations and has donated her time, energy and intelligence to causes all across the Chicago area. In 2008 she was named SBA Woman In Business Champion.
With the weather outside growing colder and colder each week we begin to seek more warming and hearty recipes to sustain us. What made me think of Ina today was her recipe for sweet potato stew. This has a wonderfully wide variety of ingredients and flavors and can satisfy the taste buds of each member of your family.
Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew with Raisins, (From Ina Pinkney)12 servings
3 cups chopped onion, small dice4 cloves garlic, minced2 tsp turmeric1 1/2 tsp cinnamon1 tsp curry powder1 tsp ground cumin1 tsp salt1 tsp freshly ground black pepper1/2 tsp ground nutmeg1/2 tsp red pepper flakes6 med sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 2 inch pieces2 med red Bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped2 small eggplants, cut into 1 inch cubes1 cup vegetables broth2 15 oz cans of garbanzo beans, drained2 15 oz cans of chopped tomatoes, undrained1 cup raisins fresh cilantro for garnish
Combine onions and garlic in a large saucepan with a little oil and cook, covered, over low heat until tender, or onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add a little water if necessary.
Stir in spices, turmeric, cinnamon, curry, cumin, salt, pepper, nutmeg and red pepper flakes. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, eggplant and broth, bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for about five minutes.
Add garbanzo beans, tomatoes and raisins. Simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender about 35 minutes. When done transfer to serving platter or bowl and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Next time you're in Chicago be sure to have breakfast or lunch at Ina’s at 1235 W. Randolph Street, you won't be disappointed. You may also notice she pays particular attention to her customers who have gluten-free dietary needs.