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Apples and sweet potatoes are often found on the Thanksgiving table, just not usually in the same dish

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 8, 2017, 11:10 a.m.

Vandal Gold and Black Rooibos Chai Jicama Pie, created by Samantha Buratto, Sandpoint, and Tara Jenkins, Las Vegas, Nevada. (Joseph Pallen / University of Idaho)
Vandal Gold and Black Rooibos Chai Jicama Pie, created by Samantha Buratto, Sandpoint, and Tara Jenkins, Las Vegas, Nevada. (Joseph Pallen / University of Idaho)

Apples and sweet potatoes are often found on the Thanksgiving table, just not usually in the same dish.

The combination is common in Japan, however, and Satoko Haji, a student at the University of Idaho who hails from Fukuoka, put them together to create the winning entry in this year’s Thanksgiving project.

The challenge was to use ingredients that are not typically cooked together to create a final dish that reflects Thanksgiving as well as Vandal pride. Students in the Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences developed their recipes at the school’s Quantity Food Production and Equipment Lab.

Vandal Sweet Potato Mash, created by Haji, 29, and Katie Akin, 21, of Moscow, features Honeycrisp apples, sweet potatoes, pecans and a balsamic-brown sugar sauce.

Look, also for Vandal Gold and Black Rooibos Chai Jicama Pie, created by Samantha Buratto of Sandpoint and Tara Jenkins of Las Vegas. For more information and recipes, visit http://www.uidaho.edu/advancement/departments/donor-relations/thanksgiving-recipes.

Vandal Sweet Potato Mash with Balsamic-Brown Sugar Sauce

For the mash:

3 small Honeycrisp apples, peeled and chopped

3 medium sweet potatoes (or 3 1/2 cups, cooked and pureed)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the sauce:

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup water

Additional pecans, for garnish (optional)

Make the mash: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and chop apples into 1/4-inch cubes and place in a small (6-by-6-inch) baking dish. Peel sweet potatoes and slice into 1/4-inch rounds. Bake apples and sweet potatoes at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until potatoes are softened and the apples have released their juices and are soft, but still firm.

Make the sauce: In a small pan, simmer balsamic vinegar on low heat for about 15 minutes. Add brown sugar and spices to the vinegar, then drizzle in the dissolved cornstarch while stirring continually. Remove pan from heat and stir occasionally until thickened. Set aside.

In a bowl, cream baked sweet potatoes, cinnamon, cornstarch, brown sugar and butter with an electric hand mixer. Stir in pecans and chopped apples (include any apple juice released into pan during the baking process). Serve the mashed sweet potato with the sauce. Decorate with additional chopped pecans, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

Vandal Gold and Black Rooibos Chai Jicama Pie

For the crust:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

6-8 tablespoon ice water

For the filling:

14-ounce package of pre-sliced jicama sticks (4 cups) chopped into 1/2-inch cubes

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4cup pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 packets Numi Rooibos chai tea

3-5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Fill a medium-sized pot half full of water and bring to a boil. Add jicama and boil, uncovered, 7-10 minutes or until soft but not soggy. Remove from heat, strain and dry with paper towels. Set aside.

While jicama is boiling, add 2 cups all-purpose flour and salt to a medium mixing bowl and whisk together until evenly distributed. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Using either a pastry cutter or a food processor, cut the butter into the flour a few cubes at a time until only small chunks are left. One tablespoon at a time, add water until a ball of dough is formed; it will take 6-8 tablespoons.

Divide the ball of dough into two even balls. Sprinkle a cutting board or flat counter top surface with flour. Roll out each ball into roughly 13-inch circles. Cover each with plastic wrap, roll them up and place into fridge.

Cut jicama into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a medium mixing bowl. Add brown sugar, maple syrup and lemon juice. Empty two packets of the Numi Rooibos chai tea in a mortar and pestle (or in a small bowl) and crush it up until smooth (small pieces are OK). Sprinkle over jicama mixture. Mix filling components (jicama, brown sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, chai tea) together and add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until slightly thickened (it will take 3-5 tablespoons).

Take crust from the fridge and roll out one of the layers on to the pie pan. Evenly fill the pan with the filling. Lay out the second pie crust and slice into even strips, about 1-inch wide. Layer the top with half the strips all facing one direction and layer the rest the opposite way, like a checkerboard. Take a fork and press the edges around the whole pie. Trim away the remaining dough over the edges. Cover the pie with aluminum foil and bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove aluminum foil after 20 minutes and place back in the oven and bake for another 35-40 minutes (until crust is flaky and lightly browned).

Yield: 8 servings