Posts tagged with carrots

 

Sometimes I wonder if people who are real, knowledgeable cooks/chefs ever see some of my ‘original’ recipes and think ‘She’s doing it wrong’.

I have zero proper instruction on how to cook or bake and often find myself wondering if what I’m doing is the best way to get maximum tastiness out of the dish I’ve got at hand. My love for food revolves around the act of eating, and as much as I do like to spend time in the kitchen, it’s safe to say that I feel pretty freaking clueless sometimes.

Soup’s pretty hard to screw up, but I managed to do just that, a lot last winter. Soup and I lost our mojo and took a little break from each other. Fall 2012 has been a time for us to rekindle our relationship, and so far, things are going pretty well!

I had some tasty root veggies that I picked up at my local farm stand, Noggins Farm. A couple of turnips, carrots, onions, the homely veggies that so many hearty, starchy soups are spawned from. In rummaging around my fridge looking for some butter, I found a pack of gorgeous, thick-cut bacon from a local butcher. Um, yeah. That bacon was going in my soup. No questions.

So here’s when I get a little iffy about my soup-ing method. Obviously I wanted to put the fat off that bacon to good use; my onions were getting browned in it, for sure. So chop bacon, get it all brown and toasty in the bottom of the pot, lots of tasty bacon grease to work with. Now…to leave the bacon in the pot or remove it? I left it in there. The bacon was along for the full soup ride. Not sure if that was the right way to go about this soup but hot damn…the end result is indisputably amazing.

Next post - this gorgeous, oat-y, sweet, soup-dunkable bread!

 

The smokiness of the bacon, earthiness of the veggies and a generous drizzle of maple syrup makes this soup the lunch equivalent of a heavy home-made afghan. So cozy and warm. This one’s a keeper, peeps!

 

Maple, Bacon & Winter Veggie Soup

Ingredients

  • 2-3 strips thick cut bacon
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 medium turnips (about softball size) chopped in about 1 inch cubes
  • 5 cups broth, I used veggie
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch cayenne powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

In a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven (I used my Creuset), sautee the bacon until just done.

So here, I left the bacon in, but most bacon-y soup recipes call for it to be removed at this point, placing the bacon on some paper towel to drain. Do whatever!

Now sautee the onion, carrots and turnip in the bacon fat, seasoning with salt and pepper, cooking until onion softens, 5 or so minutes.

Add broth and bring to a boil, then cover, reduce to a simmer a let it go until all veggies are cooked through.

Once they are tender, remove the pot from the heat, throw the bacon back in (if you removed it in the first place), and add nutmeg, cayenne, and maple.

Puree using immersion blender or regular blender...just be careful! Once smooth, return to pot and adjust the seasonings as necessary for your tastes!

Enjoy with a thick slice of brown bread and have a little love for the winter!

I know tomorrow’s the first of May, but I am still feeling the need to curl up with a bowl of soup once in a while! April’s been pretty chilly here in Nova Scotia, and carrots, spuds, and onions are still the main event at my beautiful local Farmer’s Market.

Carrot ginger is like the little black dress of soup recipes, isn’t it? A fave on so many resto menus and food blogs, it’s pretty much always a safe bet! There are loads of variations out there, and I’m sure they’re all just dandy…but this one is better than dandy. It’s the best. It’s creamy, rich, decadent carrot soup. I deviated a wee bit from the original, I used some lovely NS-grown sweet potatoes from Keddy Farms instead of regular spuds, and topped it with cilantro instead of the called for green onions. It’s great both ways, folks!

It’s a recipe that I am borrowing from my boyfriend’s dad, who’s a fantastic cook and entertainer. Bob isn’t scared of a little butter and cream, as is evident here, but let me tell ya. It is worth it. A bowl of this soup, with a dollop of sour cream and a few sliced of green onion, paired with a slice of crusty bread? A full-on cure for those April showers chills.

Creamy Carrot Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 large carrots, sliced
  • 1.5 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 medium white or sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 - 1 cup heavy cream (I used 1/2 cup, original called for a full cup)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • sour cream (optional, for garnish)
  • chopped green onion or fresh herbs (optional, for garnish)

Melt butter in large, heavy bottomed pot and add onions, carrots, ginger and garlic. Sautee for about 20-30 minutes, over medium/low heat. Stir around to ensure even cooking. Add broth and chopped potatoes bring to a simmer and cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until all veggies are cooked through. Once everything is cooked through, take off heat and allow to cool a bit. Puree the soup, in batches (be careful!) in your blender or food processor. Return to pot, add cream (I used 1/2 cup, the original recipe calls for a full cup), lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and chopped green onions or herbs! This will keep in the fridge for 3 days too. Perfect for lunches!

 

Carrot cake is something almost everyone loves. But it’s something that really polarizes people. With raisins? With pineapple? With nuts? Without any/all of the above? It’s safe to say that a simple, warmly spiced cake without too many mix-ins will win most hearts. In the case that this cake was destined for an office birthday party, I wanted to bring just that.

I had some farmer’s market carrots in the cupboard and some apple butter in the fridge that I knew would add a nice moistness (sorry, if you’re one of those people who hate the m-word) while letting me sub out some oil from the original recipe. Right on!

Even though I was able to skimp out a bit of the oil, don’t kid yourself, folks…this ain’t no weight-watchers recipe. It’s sweet (but not overly so), decadent, with a tight crumb and is fantastic even a day or two after it’s made.  I made some cream cheese frosting and sprinkled the whole cake with chopped walnuts. Next time I’m going to add them right into the batter for a little texure; other than that, I will come right out and say this is a DAMN good carrot cake! Bookmark it! You will thank me.

Perfect Carrot Cake

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup apple butter (or applesauce)
  • 1.5 cup sugar (up to 2 cups if using unsweetened apple sauce)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cups grated carrots (about 4 large carrots)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and foil-line your baking pans, whether 2 8 or 9 inch rounds or a 9 x 13 inch pan.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, combine vegetable oil, apple butter/sauce, eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla. Slowly stir in dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Stir in grated carrots and nuts. Bake cakes in preheat oven for 37-39 minutes for the rounds or 40-50 minutes for the rectangle, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes in cake dishes before removing to a wire rack to cool. Slather with a good dose of cream cheese icing and another sprinkle of nuts! You can keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Simply Awesome Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2-3 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a bowl until fluffy. Slowly start adding icing sugar, testing along the way (I know, the horror...) until it\'s to your preferred sweetness.

2 comments

Spiced Carrot Butter

A couple of weeks ago, with the best of intentions, I bought a bag of gorgeous heirloom carrots from the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market. I love the idea of using heirloom varieties of produce as often as they are available!

A heirloom variety seed means that it was commonly used and farmed many years ago, and those same varieties  have been passed down from generation to generation. The original seed’s genes/traits are kept intact by dedicated farmers in smaller agri operations and gardeners, and often a product of open pollination practices.

Imagine that! REAL bugs doing buggy things and pollinating plants! Those little matchmakers! Hurray for Ma Nature.

Most produce comes from seeds that are genetically engineered for characteristics that we typically find ‘attractive’, like specific flesh and rind colours, textures, as well as improved transportability - being able to keep on the long treks from farm to grocery store and into your kitchen. So something about the heirloom varieties feels a little more homey and traditional; more natural. The way fruits and veggies are meant to be!

Anyway, about my lovely carrots. They’re beautiful, in hues of deep purple, yellow and vibrant orange. They were so pretty, that I had convinced myself that I had to do something really spectacular looking with them. Nevermind that they are so sweet and tender; I felt like I needed to primp these up like the little beauty queens they were!

Two weeks went by and they were still sitting around, unused, and batting their eyelashes at me. And by eyelashes I mean sprouts. I left them sitting around for so long that they had actually started to re-grow leaves and sprout. Alright, ladies, point taken.

Because I have very little self-control around baked goods, I ruled out making carrot cake. My gym isn’t open enough hours in the day to offset the damage I can do when left home alone with a whole cake.

Maybe soup? Soup and I are on a break. No soup for me (insert angry Seinfeld-character accent here).

I started thinking back to the sweet potato bars that I made a few weeks ago, and how freaking tasty even the plain sweet potato puree was before I added it to the other ingredients….hmmm….so away me and the pretty carrots went. It was go time.

This creation was a shot in the dark. Although it might not do the beautiful heirloom carrots any physical justice, this stuff is goooooood. A sweet carrot puree, spiced warmly with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a touch of maple syrup that your morning oats, yogurt, and pancakes are just dying to be slathered in. I even had it on toasted brown bread with a smear of cream cheese…heavenly.  Stir it into some cottage cheese and sprinkle with walnuts and coconut…bam. A healthy bowl of  carrot cake cheesecake.

Don’t give me a hard time about this maybe not being a typical ‘butter’ because clearly, it’s not! It’s more of a carrot sauce (as the texture is just like applesauce) but I couldn’t bring myself to slap that handle on it. Carrot sauce sounds about as appealing as a punch in the gut. So Spiced Carrot Butter it is!

Spiced Carrot Butter

Yield – About 2 cups

2 cups carrots, organic preferred

3/4 cup orange or apple juice (I used orange)

1.5 cups water, approx

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1-2 tbsp maple syrup (or brown sugar)

Peel, wash, and chop the carrots. Put them in a heavy-bottomed pot and add juice, and enough water to just cover them. I had to use about 1.5 cups of water to get them submerged. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer. You need to keep an eye on them at this point, checking in to make sure they have just enough water to boil in, but not much more. Add water little by little as necessary until all the carrots are cooked through and tender. They will be easy to pierce with a fork when they’re all done. Take them off the burner, and let them sit for a few minutes to cool down. Putting hot liquids in a blender is something to avoid if you can!

Pour the carrots, their liquid, and the maple syrup in to the blender. Puree the carrots, adding water (only if needed) little by little until it begins to blend and form a thick puree. You might have to pulse/scrape down the sides of the blender to ensure that everything gets mixed up without having to add too much liquid. Once it’s to the consistency of a thick applesauce, pour it back into your pot and add the spices, stirring, and taste testing along the way. Everyone likes different levels and types of spice, so this part is really up to you! The recipe above shows (about) what I put in mine.

Now I’m no ‘canner’ so I just made sure to put this in a clean mason jar, and will be keeping it in the fridge; I’m thinking it’ll keep for a week or two.