Category Archives: Carrots

Company’s coming.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

It’s Thanksgiving! Family and friends are about to descend for a dinner you have spent days, if not weeks, preparing for. Right about now then, is when it hits you like a quick punch to the gut: those guests are staying for three nights, and you haven’t planned any other meals.

Wednesday night you’ll order pizza, and a bag of bagels covers breakfast. There are turkey sandwiches for lunch on Friday, but what are you going to do that night for dinner?

Let’s face it, you’re exhausted. After getting a 23 pound turkey on the table with stuffing, mashed potatoes and 8 other side dishes – all ready at the same time, you might add – there is no way you are returning to the kitchen to cook another full diner for 10-15 people.

So, make a pot of soup! It actually does get better after a day or two, so you throw it together on Tuesday. With cold weather forecast all week, you can leave it out on the porch, saving plenty of room in the fridge for Thanksgiving dinner groceries. Best of all, it’s Moroccan, which will be a welcome break from the hearty American fare you’ll be eating until Thanksgiving leftovers finally run out.

Now sit back and enjoy a glass of wine. You’ve got a busy week ahead of you.

Moroccan Meatball Soup

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. ground pork*
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp hot Paprika
  • 1 tbs chopped, fresh thyme
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp each cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, cut in a 1/2″ dice
  • 1 bulb celery root, cut in a 1/2″ dice
  • 1 large carrot, cut in a 1/4″ dice
  • 6-8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 pound spinach, chopped
  • Sherry vinegar

*If you are also celebrating Hanukkah this week, leave out the pork and increase your lamb and beef to 3/4 lb. each.

Instructions:

  • In a medium bowl, mix together lamb, pork and beef with egg, paprika and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. To check seasoning, fry a small meatball and taste.
  • Shape mixture into 1” meatballs.
  • Warm 1 tbs olive oil in a 6 quart soup pot placed over medium heat. Fry meatballs in batches until browned. Reserve on paper towels to drain fat.
  • Pour off all but 2 tbs fat from the pot and add onions. Cook 5 minutes until soft.
  • Blend spices with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir into onions and cook 1 minute.
  • Add remaining vegetables to the onions. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes.
  • Add stock and cook until vegetables are fork tender.
  • Return meatballs to pot and cook 5 minutes until heated through.
  • Add spinach and cook until wilted. 2-3 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper and vinegar.
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The root of the problem.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

A beetroot salad, in British television, seems to be shorthand for punishment or penance. However, faced with a spring   season where the calendar had gotten far out ahead of the weather, that’s precisely what we made.

Cold days had prevented the emergence of sweet asparagus or spring onions, so we sat in the test kitchen staring at winter storage celeriac, parsnips, carrots and beetroot. They seemed more suited to a fall roast tossed with thyme than a light spring salad.

Our first decision was to serve them raw, the second was a light poppyseed vinaigrette. Shaving them thin on the smallest side of our box grater eliminated thick , tough shreds  of fibrous root vegetables. With the grater already out, we grated onion rather than dairy to thicken our dressing.

Faced with several vinegars, Sam, part of our #testkitchen crew, selected a mildly acidic, slightly sweet Autumn Apple from Sapore. It was the perfect choice.  Winter never tasted so much like spring.

*Yes, this blog post title is a terrible pun. If one of you had brought me more coffee it could have been avoided.

Sam’s Root Vegetable Slaw

The beets turn the rest of the vegetables a beautiful bright ruby color.

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

For slaw:

  • 1 cup grated beet
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup grated celery root
  • 1 cup grated parsnip

For dressing:

  • 3 tbs grated onion
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1-2 tbs honey
  • 1/4 cup Autumn Apple* or Sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

*Autumn Apple vinegar is available in DC or online at Sapore. Commonly available cider vinegars tend to be bitter and acidic. Sherry vinegar would be a closer match to the autumn apple.

Directions:

  •  Toss together grated vegetables in a large bowl.
  • Make dressing: whisk together onion, dry mustard, paprika, poppy seeds, honey and Autumn Apple vinegar with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Whisk oil into dressing in a thin stream to form a creamy emulsion.
  • Dress slaw and let rest 10-20 minutes before serving to let flavors develop. These vegetables are bold and heavy, so add a little more dressing than you would to fresh greens.
  • Serve topped with grated lemon zest.

Stock stock.

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Asian soupI’m a strong advocate for homemade stock. Store-bought not only lacks the same depth of flavor, but even low-sodium versions end up too salty when reduced. The answer? Make your own.

Vegetable stock is a simple mix of carrot, onion and celery, thyme sprigs and parsley stems, bay leaves and peppercorns. Simmered for 30-40 minutes, it’s flavorful and ready just as you finish the rest of your vegetable prep, easily completed for a Tuesday night meal.

“But,” you say, “I want to make chicken stock.” Simple, just add chicken parts. If you are lucky enough to live near a market that breaks down whole chickens in to breasts, wings, legs and thighs, then you can buy backs and necks for about $1 per pound. Simmer for three hours and you have beautiful, rich stock.

“But wait,” you say,” I never have three hours to cook anything.”

I’m going to make an assumption, and forgive me if I offend, but sometime in the next, let’s say 45 days, you are going to wake up on Saturday morning just a little hungover. Your big plan for the day is to sit on the couch with a giant cup of coffee and watch Tyra Banks chew out models for 8 hours straight (or you’re just checking out the models). Either way, there is no reason that a big pot of stock can’t be simmering on the back of the stove.

We’ve posted recipes for chicken stock and vegetable stock before. Here are two stocks that we use for Indian or Asian sauces, soups and braises.

Asian Stock

Perfect for soups, stir-frys and sauces.

Ingredients:

  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 1 sheet kombu seaweed
  • 1-2 cups Shitake mushroom stems
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs rice wine vinegar

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients in a stock pot and cover with 8-10 cups water.
  • Simmer for 40 minutes and strain solids reserving stock.

Indian Stock

This special stock adds additional richness to Indian-flavored dishes. You could also use it for soup with the addition of lightly browned pieces of carrot, potato and chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs ghee or butter
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 whole cloves

Directions:

  • Melt ghee in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot, celery, onion and leek and cook until browned.
  • Add cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Cook for 1 minute more and fill with 8 cups water.
  • Simmer for 40 minutes and strain solids reserving stock.

Stock is magic.

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Thanksgiving dinner is a pause. I somehow put everything down for three days and focus on bringing one meal to the table. In a life filled with multi-tasking and the constant feeling that I lost a week somewhere in 2003 that I desperately need to get back, it’s a moment of peace.

That peace begins with a deep breath and a pot of stock. Even before I’ve finished the menu, the house fills with the scent of roasting meat and rough-chopped aromatics. Stock is effortless and rote, a handful of ingredients with no complex techniques, simply roasting and simmering with a little deglazing in between.

But, for its simplicity, stock adds great complexity and depth to the meal that lades the table Thanksgiving day. It brings satisfying richness. It elevates pan drippings into gravy, layers the simple sugars that glaze sweet potatoes and parsnips, transforms day-old bread into moist, herbed stuffing. Let’s hit the kitchen.

Rich Turkey Stock

Ingredients:

  • 6 pounds turkey parts like necks, legs or wings, cut in 3-4″ pieces*
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1.5 cups dry white wine or dry Vermouth
  • 4 ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 6-8 parsley stems, about 2″ each
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns

*You’re looking for cheap meat, less than $3 a pound, with some bone in it. Have your butcher chop it down for you.

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place turkey pieces in a single layer in a heavy bottomed roasting pan (you’re going to put the pan on the stovetop later). Do not crowd the turkey. Roast in two batches if needed.
  • Roast the turkey until rich brown, about 1 hour. Remove turkey to a large stockpot.
  • Add carrots and onion to the same roasting pan. Toss them in the rendered fat from the turkey and place in the oven. Reduce heat to 375.
  • After 30 minutes, toss the roasting vegetables in the tomato paste and return to the oven. Turn the oven back to 400 and roast for 10-15 minutes until golden brown, watching carefully not to burn. Remove vegetables to stock pot with roast turkey.
  • Place the roasting pan over two burners on medium high and add white wine. When wine comes to a simmer, scrape up all the brown goodness. When wine reduces to 1/4 cup, add additional water if needed to finish scraping the brown bits from the roasting pan.
  • Pour deglazed pan juices into stock pot and add remaining ingredients.
  • Fill pot with cold water to cover turkey and vegetables by 2 inches.
  • Bring the pot to a simmer over medium low heat, partially covered. It will take about 45 minutes. Skim off any foam that collects on the surface.
  • Continue to simmer stock, partially covered, just a bubble or two every few seconds, for three more hours. Be careful not to let it come to a boil. Add more cold water if needed to keep meat covered. Skim any additional foam that collects on the surface.
  • After three hours, strain the stock and remove the solids, discarding them. Strain the stock through a fine sieve and then one more time through a sieve lined with a  layer of paper towels or double layer of cheese cloth. You will have to change out the towels or cheese cloth several times, as they become clogged.
  • Place strained stock in the fridge overnight. In the morning, skim the coagulated fat from the surface.
  • Taste a little stock with a pinch of salt. If needed, reduce stock by up to 25% to concentrate flavor. It should make about 3-3.5 quarts.
  • Refrigerate for three days, or freeze up to 6 months.

Crécy is not French for “carrot.”

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Anything this orange, made with root vegetables, should be served on a crisp fall day – rich and hearty with a crusty bread and some good farm-fresh butter (which I evangelize about here). But this carrot-beet soup is light and fresh, tastes as good cold as it does served hot and is perfect for summer.

Arriving home from a trip to the Market with baby carrots and golden beets, I began searching cookbooks for salads and sautés. Stumbling across a recipe for Potage Crécy first made me think of soup. Crécy, it turns out, is not French for orange root vegetables, but refers to a town known, once-upon-a-time, for growing exceptional carrots. However, there is debate about which of two French towns, one in the south and one in the north, each with Crécy in its name, first served up this light summer soup.

Reading through several recipes, I discovered a basic formula of carrots cooked with onions and stock, puréed and flavored with orange. We added the golden beets, sweet but far less earthy than red ones. I grabbed a bottle of Sapore’s Orange Oil off the shelf and we served up three bowls, each seasoned differently. It was a quick bite after adding turmeric but before adding cumin that was our favorite – although curry was a close second. Served warm, it is light and sweet. Once chilled it is herbal and far more carrot-y. Both are delicious.

Potage Crécy

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 candy sweet onion, or white onion, diced
  • 4 cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 3 cups diced golden beets
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 6-8 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 tbs Orange Oil*
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • Sherry vinegar

*If you don’t have Orange Oil, substitute 3 tbs olive oil, and one tablespoon grated orange zest

Directions:

  • Melt butter over medium heat in a 4 quart soup pot. Sauté onions until
  • soft and translucent.
  • Add carrots and beets. Sauté 7-10 minutes until golden on edges. Add ginger after 5 minutes.
  • Add stock and simmer approximately 30 minutes until vegetables can be mashed with a fork.
  • Pass soup through the finest blade of a food mill or purée with a blender. Return to pot.
  • Stir in Orange Oil and simmer an additional 5 minutes to bring flavors together.
  • Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and stir through cream.
  • Add turmeric a little at a time so as to not overpower the carrot flavor.
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper and sherry vinegar.
  • Serve hot or cold.

Homemade is better. Part II

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Chicken stock is cheap and easy.

Okay. Go ahead. Get the jokes out of your system. I like my coffee black too*. Ready to move on?

Stock is the perfect weekend project. Hit the market in the morning for your ingredients – or pick them up on your way home Friday night. Saturday or Sunday you are going to be home for a few hours: working in the garden, cleaning house, or sitting on the couch watching an America’s Next Top Model marathon while recovering from Friday night happy hour, right? So, dump your ingredients in a pot, set it to a low simmer, and kick your feet up on the couch. Tell everyone not to bother you. You’re cooking.

*I’ll buy you a cup of coffee if you got the joke.

Homemade white chicken stock

“White” here refers to the fact that your ingredients go right into the pot without browning them first.

Ingredients:

  • 6 lbs chicken parts (see notes)
  • 1 large carrot (2″ diameter and 8″ long)
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 large onion (about the size of a baseball)
  • 1 leek, white parts only (optional)
  • 8-10 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6-8 parsley stems
  • 4-6 sprigs thyme
Directions:
  • Cut the chicken into 3 inch pieces. Better yet, have your butcher do it. Place them in an 8 quart stock pot and add water to cover the chicken by 2 inches.
  • Meanwhile, roughly chop the vegetables. This is not the time for fine knife skills.
  • Bring the pot to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat and hold at a slow simmer – just a few bubbles per second.
  • Cook the chicken for 15-20 minutes. Skim off the grey/brown foam that gathers on the surface, and discard.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to simmer for three hours.
  • At the end of three hours, remove and discard the solids.
  • Strain your stock through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth or a coffee filter.
  • Remove the fat from the stock. the easiest way to do this is to cool the stock to room temperature and cool it in the fridge overnight. The fat will congeal on the surface and is easily removed. If you need the stock right away, let the stock rest for 15-20 minutes. It will float to the surface of your stock. You can remove the liquid fat with a spoon.
  • If the stock is too thin, or bland, reduce your stock down to 8 cups over a gentle boil.
Notes:
  • Most grocery stores have their chicken delivered pre-butchered. Buy cheap meat with plenty of bones, like thighs and wings. You could also chop up an entire chicken. If your market or specialty grocery breaks down whole chickens into parts, ask them for chicken backs and have them cut them into 3″ pieces for you. You will pay about $.98 a pound.
  • Letting the chicken cook for 20 minutes first makes it easier to skim off the foam. Otherwise you are fighting with the veggies floating on the top of your pot.
  • Don’t let the stock boil until the end, after you have removed the solids and the fat. Otherwise your stock will get cloudy
  • You can test the level of flavor by putting a little in a small dish and adding a pinch of salt. Taste it. If it tastes to watery, reduce the stock further.

Homemade is better

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You should make your own stock. Why? Not because it makes you better than that friend who always has better pots, pans or a more exclusive source of Humboldt Fog goat cheese than you do. While that may be a perfectly legitimate reason to make your own stock, there are far better ones.

Number one – your food will taste better. Much better. Sooooooooo much better.

Number two – salt. When you cook, your stock will invariably reduce. Even low-sodium stock can end up tasting too salty. I am not worried as much about your health here. In fact, you should salt your food. The real risk of high-sodium comes from packaged, processed and fast foods; not cooking from scratch in your kitchen.

Number three – your entire house will smell awesome! but please, plan on cooking something else at the same time. When stock is done you throw all the solids away. So while your family has been salivating over the rich smells wafting from the kitchen, you’ve got nothing ready for them to eat. On the other hand, they’ll be desperate and hungry. Get them to wash the dishes before you feed them.

Vegetable Stock

Your stock will cook in under 45 minutes. You can put it on the back burner while you go about cooking something else, or kicking your feet up on the couch. This stores well, so put some in the fridge or freezer. You can add lots of veggie scraps to flavor your stock, but avoid bitter and acidic foods like peppers, tomatoes and any member of the Brassica family – cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large carrot (2″ diameter and 8″ long)
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 large onion (about the size of a baseball)
  • 1 leek, white parts only (optional)
  • 8-10 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6-8 parsley stems
  • 4-6 sprigs thyme
Directions:
  • Roughly chop the vegetables. This is not the time for fine knife skills.
  • Add 10-12 cups water to a 6 quart stock pot. Add all of the ingredients.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium low heat and cook for 45 minutes or so.
  • Strain and discard all solids.
  • Boil stock and reduce to about 8 cups.
  • You can test the level of flavor by putting a little in a small dish and adding a pinch of salt. Taste it. If it tastes to watery, reduce the stock further.