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Posts Tagged ‘carrots’

I didn’t go into this salad with a good attitude. The first batch of beans I tried cooking for it had their own attitude problems, and they pretty much all burst during cooking, which wasn’t good for this salad or my plans to do something other than scrub a pot that evening. But, as you’ve probably already divined from the fact that it’s appearing here, I ultimately triumphed and it was totally worth it.

white bean and carrot salad

I am pretty sure that this salad would be fabulous even with canned beans, which is why I’ve tagged it for a weeknight supper; I just had a bee up my bonnet after that first batch rebelled on me. The combination of the brown sugar and the tang of the lemon juice gives a surprising depth of flavor, and the caramelized carrots come out wonderfully sweet. I liked this best warm, but it could be served at room temperature or even cold.

White Bean and Carrot Salad
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Olive oil
4 medium carrots
2 shallots
4 c. cooked white beans (or two 15-oz. cans; I used navy beans, but you could use cannellini or their oddly-named smaller cousins, Great Northern beans)
1 T. dried dill or 3 T. fresh dill
3 T. lemon juice
pinch salt
2 T. brown sugar

Wash or peel the carrots, and then slice them as evenly as you can, aiming for slices about a quarter-inch thick. You can do this quickly by trimming the carrots, lining them up side by side, and chopping across all four at once.

Heat a big skillet or chef’s pan over medium heat with a splash of olive oil in it. (Start with 2 T. if you’re the measuring type.) Add the carrots in a single layer. If your skillet isn’t huge or if you’re doubling the recipe, you may need to do this step in batches. Eventually, the carrots will let off a bit of water, and then start to brown. Stir them every few minutes and cook until most of them are nicely caramelized on at least one side, which will be ten or fifteen minutes.

While they’re cooking, peel the shallots and mince them finely. Combine them with 1/4 c. olive oil, the lemon juice, and the salt. Mix with a fork or whisk to combine.

Add the beans and dill to the skillet with another small splash (about a tablespoon) of olive oil. Cook until the mixture is thoroughly heated, about five minutes, then remove from the heat and pour into your serving bowl.

Sprinkle with the brown sugar and add about half of the dressing and stir to mix. Let it sit for five minutes or so, and then taste. You’ll probably want to add most of the rest of the dressing, possibly along with more salt.

Serves six as a main dish and ten as a side; I liked it reheated in the microwave for lunches. If someone in your family is dubious about beans, you could also serve this over couscous or bulgur for a more mixed texture.

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Even though borscht was the first way I ever ate beets (at a pretty awesome tasting dinner at evoo a few years back), I hadn’t made it until recently. I have no real excuse for this other than having no personal vision of borscht that would allow me to sort through the hundreds of different recipes available and select one. But this winter, that problem was solved for me by necessity: given an overwhelming beet situation, I just picked one on the basis of “having all of the basic ingredients in my kitchen at the time.” Very scientific.

mmm, borscht

The best thing about the soup below is that it is both fast and easy, rare qualities in a soup. It took me a bit over an hour, start to finish, including peeling and chopping the vegetables. You can also serve it pureed (as shown above) or not, depending on your preference. And for something made with vegetables in season at the dead of winter, it is surprisingly light and fresh, more like a vegetable soup than like a stew. Combined with its brilliant hue, it makes for a nice break from the beige diet of late winter.

Borscht
Wildly adapated from the Kitchn

3 T. olive oil
1 large or 2 small onions
5 cloves of garlic or about 2 t. jarred crushed garlic
1 t. dried dill
4 carrots
2 potatoes (about 1 lb; use starchy potatoes if you have them)
1 bunch beets (about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. lemon juice (from half a lemon or a jar)
1 T. brown sugar
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

Peel and dice the onions. Then do the same to the carrots, beets, and potatoes, aiming for half-inch chunks.

borscht veggies

Heat the olive oil in a big stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and translucent, about five minutes. Add the garlic and dill, stir, and cook for another minute or two until fragrant. Then add the carrots, beets, and potatoes. Cook for another five minutes, until the vegetables start to lose their crispness.

Add the salt, lemon juice, sugar, and vinegar, plus four cups of water. Mix well, and turn up the heat so it boils. Then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until all the vegetables are tender. Start checking for this around 30 minutes, but it could take up to 50 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.

borscht - cooking

If you want to serve it as a chunky soup, you can go ahead serve it as soon as it is cooked. If you want to puree, you’ll probably need to remove it from the heat and wait for it to stop boiling, then do it in batches in your blender or food processor. (It’s a bit much for an immersion blender, I’m afraid.) If you find the texture too thick after pureeing, you can add more water.

Many people like this with sour cream, although I preferred it plain. Makes about six cups.

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Raisinless carrot cake

Now is probably as good a time as any to confess that I have a pretty serious issue with raisins. Like, I have a hard time even just calling them “raisins” and not the-evil-scourge-raisins, which is what I believe them to truly be. Still, it’s okay with me if you like them. More for you!

Anyway, this whole raisin issue kept me from trying a number of foods for a long time. Scones were one of these casualties. But another one was carrot cake.

carrot cake.jpg

Carrot cake is especially dangerous to raisin-haters since some genius introduced golden raisins, which should pretty much be labeled “now even harder to pick out!” Not fair, I say.

Then, one fine day, I came across this recipe, from a fellow raisin-hater, and I knew that fantastic carrot cake would be mine, any time I wanted it. Bliss.

Carrot Cake
Adapted from Food on the Food

1 1/2 c. canola oil
2 1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs, separated
5 T. water
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
pinch salt
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
3-4 carrots
1 c. pecans

Frosting

1 stick (1/4 lb) butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese (low fat is okay, but don’t use fat-free here)
1/2-3/4 lb. confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

Chop the ends off the carrots. Wash or peel them, then grate. The easy way to do this involves a food processor. The hard way involves, you know, a grater. Either way, look out for fingers! You want to end up with about 1 1/2 cups of grated carrot.

In a big bowl, mix the oil and sugar. Beat in the 4 egg yolks, then add the water.

carrot cake beginnings

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. (If you have lumps in your stuff, you might want to do this through a strainer, but I’m generally not bothered.) Stir in carrots and nuts. Batter will be very thick.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir about a quarter of the egg whites directly into the batter to lighten it up, then gently fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter. A rubber or silicone spatula is your friend here.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out pretty cleanly. (Crumbs yes; batter no.) Let cool.

powdered sugar

To make frosting, whip together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add 1/2 lb. confectioner’s sugar and mix until it’s as lump-free as you require. (If you are really strong on the lumplessness, you might want to put the sugar through a sifter.) I found this plenty sweet, but if you like it sweeter, go ahead and add more sugar.

Frost the cake when cool. I like to do this right in the pan, but if you have a platter that will hold the whole cake, go for it. Alternately, you can bake the cake in two eight- or nine-inch round pans, in which case you’ll want to double the frosting so you have enough for a layer cake.

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Alice Waters is pretty my much idol. She was into local food before it was a thing people were into, and now that she’s got that sorted, she’s moving on to saving school lunch.

carrot soup.jpg

So even though this carrot soup recipe looks ridiculously simple, you’re going to want to take her word for it that it’s a good idea.

Alice Waters’ carrot soup
Adapted from Soup’s On! via Serious Eats

2 T. unsalted butter
1 onion
1/2 sprig thyme or about 1/4 t. dried
1 1/4 lbs. carrots (about 6)
1 t. salt
3 c. stock (Alice uses chicken; I used Imagine brand no-chicken)

First, peel the carrots and then slice them thinly. If you’re me, this means using a food processor with a slicing blade or a mandoline, but those with better knife skills should not hesitate to use them. If your carrots are fat, you might want to halve them before slicing.

Then dice the onion.

Put the butter in a pot over medium-low heat. When it melts, add the onion and thyme, and cook slowly until the onion is quite soft, about ten minutes.

onions and thyme

Add the carrots and cook for five more minutes, stirring once in a while.

add carrots

(Dubious stove lighting, you are becoming a bigger and bigger problem for me!)

Add in the stock and turn the heat to high. Bring the whole thing to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cook until the carrots are tender. How long this takes depends on your slicing, but half an hour is a good first time to check.

I ate this straight up; Alice recommends a sprinkle of chives, and there’s a reason she’s Alice Waters.

Serves about four

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