Miss Ruby’s Sweet Potato Pie Recipe

A popular expression is, ” as American as apple pie.”  However, if one wants to become more specific about the African American cultural group then it might be fair to say, “as African American as sweet potato pie.”  I have quite a few African American friends who do not like the pie but truthfully most that I know love it.  My family has a multi-generational recipe that I am not allowed to give out or punishable by death by my mother.  Tough luck getting Southerners of the U.S.A to give up family secrets.

Well, I found this recipe on the site of a fellow Examiner Talli Counsel, Presidential Master Chef.  Do not take the title lightly.  He actually has consulted for three U.S. Presidents.  This pie was served to Bill Clinton while in office. –Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor


  • 2 medium sweet potatoes about a 1/2 pound)
  •  1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  •  3/4 cup sugar (*or to taste)
  •  3/4 cup half & half
  •  3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  •  1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (*pan toasted)
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1 tablespoon dark Jamaican rum
  •  1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch good quality pie shell PREPARING THE PIE

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the sweet potatoes on a shallow baking pan or pie tin, in the middle of the oven and roast until very tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Cool to room temperature. With a soup spoon, scoop out the sweet potatoes into a bowl and dispose of the skins. Mash the sweet potatoes with a potato masher or fork until smooth. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar. Add the melted butter to the sweet potatoes with the half and half milk and the eggs, and beat with a whisk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining ingredients (the filling will be very liquid). Pour the filling into a docked (fork holes in the pie crust) pie shell. Depending on your oven, and where you live, the middle rack may be a better alternative to place the pie for baking.

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Best spots for Dessert in Los Angeles: Part One

Dessert is certainly the sweetest taboo in a weight conscious town such as Los Angeles but alas we all surrender at some point.    And boy do we tend to surrender during the holidays.  If you aren’t good at making desserts from scratch or you can’t make it home for grandma’s best fixins’ then stopping at these selected restaurants below may do the job.   The Los Angeles Comfort and Soul Food Examiner presents the best desserts in Los Angeles and the surrounding area.

Top Dessert Restaurant HonorsMs.  Peaches located in North Hollywood gets top billing for having the best desserts.  They have a wide range of desserts to please almost any dessert lover.  My favorite dessert at the establishment are the Gooey Butter Cake and the Banana Pudding which is only served on the weekends is an absolute must have.  Gooey Buttercake has a bottom layer of buttery yellow cake and a top layer of either of egg and cream cheese, or butter and sugar.  Ms. Peaches also gets nods for their very homemade tasting Red Velvet Cake and Sweet Potato pie.

red velvet

Banana Split: Cool off with a Banana Split at Granville Cafe in Downtown, Burbank.  The Banana Split is a sharable dessert for two or three people. The bananas are brulee’d. The dessert also consists of hand crafted Tahitian vanilla, dark chocolate and black  chip ice cream, Port-poached cherries, caramel and Kahlua chocolate sauce with whipped cream and pecan brittle.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte: Ladies, if you have chocolate cravings and you don’t want to feel like a kid because you want a peanut butter cup.  Market City Cafe located in Downtown Burbank ups the ante on the comfort snack favorite with their divine chocolate peanut butter torte.

Bourbon Bread Pudding: Les Sisters located in Chatsworth offers a bread pudding which is drunk with flavor.

To see the best places for Pumpkin Cobbler and Buttermilk pie visit:

Review by Crystal Johnson- Restaurant Critic for the Los Angeles Examiner and Valley Scene Magazine

Home Cooking With Trisha Yearwood-Cookbook Coming Soon

trishayearwood43-280x210After compiling her first cookbook, Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen, Trisha Yearwood found 60 or 70 recipes on the chopping block. However, she wasn’t sure those leftovers would ever end up in print since she says it takes about a year to put a cookbook together. To help her make the decision, she enlisted family members to bring their favorite dishes to a reunion — along with the recipe. Then she divided the stack of recipes between herself, her sister and their mother, plucking the best ones. The result is Home Cooking With Trisha Yearwood, a new book being served in April 2010.

Calling from the Oklahoma home she shares with husband Garth Brooks, she spent about half of our conversation describing her new dishes, such as asparagus wrapped in bacon, Crock-Pot macaroni and cheese, sweet potato pudding, Key lime cake (her new favorite), ambrosia with apples (contributed by family friend, the late Betty Maxwell), cornbread salad with homemade French dressing and chunky, meaty cowboy lasagna.

After wiping away the drool, we were able to talk about cooking meals for her friends, sharing (or not sharing) famous recipes and holding out for the best brownies.

To read the interview with Trisha Yearwood visit: http://www.cmt.com/news/country-music/1625752/trisha-yearwood-finds-more-family-recipes-for-her-second-cookbook.jhtml

Memphis at the Beach Cafe- A Comfort Food Spot Bringing Fine Dining with Soul to The Beach

memphis at the beach

by Crystal A. Johnson – Los Angeles Examiner Comfort Food & Soul Food Restaurant Critic

A group of Manhattan Beach locals claim they are “…Bringing a little bit of Soul to the beach”, by partnering with Memphis Group to bring Memphis at the Beach Café. The Memphis Group has been around since 1995 and started with a small spot located in Costa Mesa. The Memphis at Beach Cafe take on the franchise is a large venue and very cosmopolitan. The Manhattan Beach location is known as the former post office to locals, situated on the corner of bustling Manhattan Ave. The streets are lined with a plethora of restaurants. Memphis at the Beach is no more than a block from beach and it’s pier. The outside of the restaurant features beautiful shades of blue and green glass surrounded by lush green organic faux grass with interiors warmed with eco-friendly high design furniture. The windows are large and the lighting is enticing to those who pass by.

None of the upscale trendy aesthetics scream Memphis or soul but once you sit down, see the families dining together, and  recieve a serving of cornbread then a sense of comfort comes over you. My dining companion and I quite enjoy the cornbread served with delicious honey barbecue butter. Being the child of Southern parents, I can guarantee that I know good cornbread. Before sampling the main course entrees, a pecan crusted goat cheese salad is served. It consists of arugula, beets, and yam chips with roasted garlic buttermilk vinaigrette. We are impressed with the plating of the salad and not once does the plating disappoint.

(We’re just getting to the good part- Read more at the link below)

Memphis at the Beach Cafe- A Comfort Food Spot Bringing Fine Dining with Soul to The Beach

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Having a Taste For it, What is Food to You?

by Crystal A. Johnson












As a restaurant reviewer of Comfort food for the Los Angeles Examiner, I find that it is a tall order to review comfort food.  What is comfort food?  Many things to many people which bring them the comforts of home, culture or extended experiences. (Read more at link below.