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Posts tagged ‘carrot’

creamy carrot soup & preserved lemons

On a winter’s afternoon, weeks still before Christmas, a good friend Carolyn and I came together in my kitchen. We’d amassed on the counter several bags of organic lemons, sea salt, a few herbs and spices, and a collection of pretty jars.  We washed, sliced and stuffed the lemons with salt. We packed them tight into their jars. Then tighter still. We dropped bay leaves and pink peppercorns and allspice berries in behind them, and then squeezed juice enough from other lemons to cover them. We talked about what we’d do with them and who we’d give them to as gifts for Christmas. In six weeks they’d be ready. Carolyn hadn’t tasted them before, so she could hardly wait.CarrotSoup-1Some time – too long ago – I posted on how to preserve lemons. I (kind of) promised that I’d share recipes that used these indescribably delectable “preserves”. (In all truth, though, you don’t really need a recipe in order to use them. You can strew them on a salad or in the salad’s vinaigrette; or in with roasted or steamed vegetables; make a simple sauce sort of extraordinary; add them to stews or soups; flavor grilled or poached fish with them. I reach for them several times a week, at least!) Over the next couple months I’ll share a good handful of really good recipes. One of them will be from my friend Carolyn who invented it on the spot (she does that sort of thing, and created herself a beautiful shrimp dinner in about 15 minutes.) She told me about it and I made it and we loved it. (Expect to see more from Ottolenghi too.)

This one today is from Mike – Mike, married to my daughter, is a good good cook. They received a jar of Preserved Lemons for Christmas. One day my girl and I were on an outing and she raved about the dinner Mike had made the other night. By that afternoon, I was texting Mike…

He generously shares his soup:

Creamy Carrot Soup with Preserved Lemons

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 -3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil

 2 cloves of garlic, minced

1½ teaspoons finely minced ginger root

 2 cups chicken stock (or good vegetable stock)

2 Tablespoons dry sherry or white wine

8 to 10 medium carrots, sliced thinly

1 to 2 sections of preserved lemon, diced finely (See NOTE)

1 to 1¼ cups milk (from whole milk to 1% to your preferred milk alternative)

Salt & Pepper (white if you have it) to taste

NOTE on preserved lemons. By “sections” we mean quarters of lemon. After soaking in a briny liquid for 6 weeks, the flesh of the lemon has given over much of its juice to the jar. The rinds of the lemon have softened, and in a way quite impossible to describe, have mellowed, given up their acidic bite and become more roundly-flavored, very lemony still, but not mouth-puckeringly so. To use them, you remove the flesh (either discard it or toss it back in the jar) and use only the rind, which you rinse well first and then (generally) finely dice. If you cook with it, it will impart its lemony-ness to the dish but in a way you can’t quite put your finger on. If you use it fresh, without cooking first, you get little lemony bursts.

CarrotSoup-2

If you don’t want to make them yourself, you can find them in many markets. That said, they’re easy and (we think) fun to make…especially with a friend.

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carrot cake cupcakes

Ever since spreesgratefulguineapig left his comment on morning glorious muffins, word has spread quickly. I might never have admitted to it if he hadn’t spilled the beans first – but I confess, it’s true, I’m married to a rodent. And today is my dear rodent’s birthday! In honor of the occasion, there will be no lab experiments today, no spree in her lab coat, no need to ask with forced cheerfulness,  “so what exactly is this, honey?” Just a few of his favorites – and my grateful guinea pig loves carrot cake!

Happy Birthday, love!

And thank you, for being such

 a good sport!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

(makes about 20 cupcakes)

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 2¼ cups finely grated, peeled carrots
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see NOTE at bottom of recipe)
  • 2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (this is 3/4 of a standard-size cream cheese container)
  •  ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature (½ stick)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (see NOTE)

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

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morning glorious muffins

Getting out of a deliciously warm bed and stepping onto a cold bare floor with the windows revealing nothing of the day but drear and dark –

not to whine – but it’s hard on us humans. Do you like to think we deserve something special for our heroic efforts? On a rainy morning when the only reason we rise is because we must, these, and a mug of steaming hot something, make it one fraction easier to leave our warm comfy beds.

This recipe reads a bit like a carrot cake. Like the cake, and unlike many muffins, it’s chock full of good things our mothers would approve of.  It’s deliciously moist, surprisingly light and un-dense.  It keeps very well, and  it re-heats nicely (if you’re looking around for something to melt your butter on.) But let’s do better for breakfast than carrot cake. We won’t frost them; instead we’ll top with a liberal scattering of healthy walnuts. We’ll only use whole-wheat flour, and we’ll do one better by adding extra wheat-germ. We’ll grate 2 whole cups of  carrots, newly-pulled from the good earth, and add a grated tart apple, a handful of shredded coconut, some warming spices and some strewn bits of candied ginger. And after a few warm bites, we can raise what’s left and call it a glorious morning, because what we call it matters maybe even more than how we start it.

morning glorious muffins

(makes 12 muffins)

  • ½ cup raisins —  (or substitute chopped dried apricots, or dried cranberries, if you’re not a raisin fan)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour — (either the traditional or white whole wheat – same nutritional content)
  • 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups peeled and grated carrots
  • 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored and grated
  • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts – divided — (or substitute pecans, or sunflower seeds)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened wheat germ
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Lightly grease your muffin tin or line with papers and coat with a non-stick spray.

(Excuse me while I digress. I have this muffin “tin” that’s not a tin, but made of silicone instead and I love it. Here’s why: Muffins release easily from it without the addition of oil.  They cook beautifully in it – as brown as you like. Washing is easy – you can simply turn the cups inside out and give a little scrub. When not in use, roll it up and stuff it into cramped places. I’ll include a picture of it at the bottom of the post. All that being said, obviously, any muffin pan will do! )

Put the raisins (or the dried fruit of your choice) into a small bowl and cover with hot water to plump. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt together, until thoroughly combined. Stir in the shredded carrots and apple, the coconut, 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, finely chopped candied ginger and wheat germ.

In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, orange juice and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and stir until evenly blended. Drain the raisins well, and add them now.

Divide the batter between 12 muffin cups – they’ll be nearly full, but they won’t overflow. They’ll just dome up beautifully. Scatter with approximately ¼ cup chopped walnuts (or your choice of nut or sunflower seeds.) Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a tooth pick or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan, on a rack, for 5 minutes only. Then remove the muffins to the rack to continue cooling.

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(Or of course, you may eat them steamy warm, and I highly recommend you do.)

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My silicone pan is actually one made for brioche but I use it for muffins because I love the shape. Here ’tis: Read more