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Carrots are considered one of the foundation vegetables in professional as well as many home kitchens. They are an often underappreciated root vegetable but a workhorse nonetheless, finding their place in braised dishes, savory confections, desserts, roasted dishes, salads, side dishes, soups, and stews.

They are a staple ingredient in my kitchen, used in many different ways—in a soffritto, for example—in what I like to cook. And, if the leafy green tops are in good condition, I often look for ways to incorporate them in a recipe or two.

Carrots are available year round, although they are at their best in the spring to early summer and again in the early fall, which yields more mature carrots.

I recently read that carrots are alleged to absorb heavy metals or other contaminants from tainted soil. That being true, it is better to err on the side of caution and source organic carrots whenever they are available.

Whether using the tops or not, carrots will store better in the coldest part of your refrigerator, with the tops cut off about 1 to 2 inches from the end, and tightly wrapped in sealed plastic bags.

The Imperator variety, that classic orange carrot that is readily found in most grocery stores, is considered the most popular. I learned there are many other varieties, shapes, and colors to explore. For example, the Nantes carrot is available in as many as 12 heirloom varieties with names such as Bolero, Napa, White Satin, and Kaleidoscope, aka Rainbow; the Chantenay carrot can be found in a couple of heirloom varieties; the Mini-Style, aka Radish-Style, with names such as Babette and Romeo. There may be other varieties that I have overlooked, but you get the idea—there are a lot to choose from. I think it is safe to say that unless you have a great farmers’ market close by, or a good CSA connection, you will more easily source the Imperator and Kaleidoscope varieties.

So with that as a brief introduction, I want to share some recipes that might inspire you to add carrots to your cooking repertoire in other ways besides as part of a mirepoix, or your next pot of minestrone soup.

Included for you to explore are a salad dressing, an antipasto dish, a marmalade, an easy carrot salad, a pickled carrot, a Moroccan carrot salad variation, and a dessert.

 

Carrot and Ginger Salad Dressing

Ingredients
½ pound of carrots, washed and cut into uniform pieces
3-inch piece of ginger root, skinned and cut into small pieces
1 large shallot, small dice
1 tablespoon of garlic jam, or roasted garlic puree
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 anchovy filets
2 tablespoons of honey (many options to choose from)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or unflavored rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon + 1 orange + zest of the orange
¾ cup olive oil
Salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste

Method
Gently poach carrots and ginger until easily pierced with a fork (approximately 20 minutes), drain.

Place in the work bowl of a food processor with all the other ingredients except the olive oil and spices. Puree, scraping down the sides as needed.

Season to taste.

Slowly add the oil until fully incorporated.

Strain, pressing with the back of a ladle, extracting all the liquid and discard the solids.

Taste and correct the seasoning as needed, then pour the strained liquid into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. The yield will be approximately 1¼ cups of a smooth, turmeric-colored emulsion.

Lightly chill, and shake well before using.

This dressing has a subtle zip to punctuate a bitter greens salad, a baby greens and herb salad mix, or can be drizzled over grilled or roasted root vegetables or potatoes.

 

Sweet and Spicy Marinated Carrots—Part of an Antipasto

An all-vegetable antipasto has always been of interest to me with that combination of shapes and colors, raw and cooked, and the flavor characteristic I enjoy the most—that mix of the savory, sweet, and the spicy—agrodolce e piccanti.

The inspiration for the recipe came from one written by Viana La Place in her book Verdura. Although that recipe produced a spicy carrot dish worthy of any vegetable antipasto spread, it reminded me more of the Italian pickled vegetable antipasto Giardiniera, the flavor of which I was not after this time.

My adaptation emphasizes that balance between the sweet and the spice, along with adding some fresh herbs to the mix so the vinegar does not dominate and the fresh subtle flavor of the carrots is allowed to shine.

This dish can easily be part of an all-vegetable antipasto, or served on its own accompanied by a cheese or two, some olives, and good rustic bread.

Ingredients
8 to 10 carrots, washed, trimmed, and cut on the bias approximately ¼-inch thick
1 large garlic clove, very finely minced
Finely minced herb mix including celery leaves, parsley, and mint
A pinch of dried oregano (optional)
3 tablespoons of white balsamic + 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt, pepper, and red chili flakes to taste

Antipasti mise en place

Antipasti mise en place

Method
Place the prepared carrots in a saucepan and gently boil until just fork tender, approximately 8 minutes. Drain well in a colander and transfer to a large work bowl.

Add the minced garlic, the herbs, and the vinegar, gently tossing to thoroughly mix and combine.

Lightly drizzle with the olive oil and season with the salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Toss again, cover the bowl with clear film and allow the carrots to macerate for several hours at room temperature.

Before serving, check and correct the seasoning including the vinegar and oil as needed. Mix again and plate to serve.

Plated

Plated

 

Carrot Marmalade

My first introduction to this recipe was from the book titled Radically Simple by Rozanne Gold. Doing some further research and online recipe searches, believe it or not, even finding a site called The Carrot Museum, I learned that carrot marmalade and jam are popular in Egyptian and Iranian cooking, and often prepared with a red carrot when they can be found in the markets.

It is a great accompaniment to creamy cheeses, for example, and pairs particularly well with chèvre, feta, ricotta, and other triple cream varieties.

The marmalade can be served simply on buttered toast and makes a tasty crostini topping paired with one of the mentioned cheeses.

As you might expect, there are many recipes and flavor combinations for this confection. One option would be to use only honey instead of sugar, which will yield a less sweet, less glossy, and coarser-finished marmalade. Or, in addition to using the zest and juice from lemons and oranges, grind up the pulp along with the carrots, wrap the seeds in a sachet, and include them in the cooking to extract the pectin. Preserved ginger slices can be incorporated, and the spice mix can be varied to achieve a more subtle or assertive end result.

So after experimenting, I came up with this recipe, which I like best. It is not overly sweet, thanks to combining reduced amounts of both honey and sugar, together with the citrus, herb, and spice.

Ingredients
2 cups of water
2 to 3 small bay leaves
½ cup of honey (many options to choose from, influencing the overall flavor and sweetness depending upon the variety you use)
1¾ cups of sugar
Zest and juice from 1 lemon and 1 orange
4 cups of coarsely grated carrots
1 teaspoon ground coriander and ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of sea salt

Mise en place

Mise en place

Method
Place the water, bay leaves, honey, sugar, zest, and juice in a heavy-bottomed stockpot and bring to a gentle boil, stirring to dissolve the honey and sugar.
Lower the heat to a simmer, adding the carrots, spices, and salt, stirring to combine.
Cover and simmer for 1 to 1½ hours, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has cooked off and the consistency has thickened and has a glossy finish.
Discard the bay leaves and allow the marmalade to cool completely. It can then be spooned into jars and either stored in the refrigerator for 3 weeks or frozen indefinitely.

Marmalade with chèvre

Marmalade with chèvre

 

Easy Carrot Salad—Carrot-Fennel-Radish

This is a recipe I prepare often. It is easy to assemble, using only a few ingredients that should be found in most home pantries, and emphasizes the flavor combinations that are the basis of many root vegetable salads—salty, sour, and sweet. In addition, the mix of the colors and textures of the ingredients make for a nice presentation.

This salad pairs well with something roasted, especially pork, and is my go-to side when serving roasted veal marrow bones because the salad is a refreshing complement to the rich roasted marrow.

Ingredients
(for 2, scales up easily)
1 medium shallot, skinned and sliced into thin rings
2 medium carrots, trimmed, washed, but not skinned
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed
2 large radishes
12 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, leaves removed and left whole, stems discarded
1 generous teaspoon of capers, rinsed (optional)
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
Juice from ½ of a large lemon
Olive oil
Salt, pepper, and red chili flakes

Salad mise en place

Salad mise en place

Method
Separate the shallot rings and place in a bowl of ice water to soften the strong flavor.

Using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler and a sharp knife prep the vegetables as follows:

  • Halve the carrots in the middle, and run them across the mandolin blade to cut ribbons approximately 1/8-inch thick until you reach the core (save for another use).
  • Cut the stalks off the top of the fennel bulb (save for another use), creating a flat top and run the trimmed bulb across the blade of the mandolin cutting into approximately 1/8-inch slices.
  • Slice the radishes into 1/8-inch rounds and using your knife, cut across the rounds making 1/8-inch wide batons, white with red tips.

Drain the shallot slices and dry on a paper towel. By hand, gently mix the trimmed root vegetables along with the shallot rings, the parsley leaves, and the capers (if using) in a large work bowl until loosely combined.

Whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil to make a vinaigrette. Drizzle over the salad, season with salt, pepper, and a dusting of the red chili flakes. Taste and correct the seasoning as needed, mound on plates, and serve.

All dressed up

All dressed up

Plated with roasted marrow bones

Plated with roasted marrow bones

 

A Carrot Pickle—One Approach

Just like mushrooms there is probably not a pickled fruit or vegetable I would not try. There are so many approaches to pickling and so many variations that I have been gathering information and recipes to devote a whole blog post to the subject in the future. For now I thought that this post about carrots would not be complete without at least one pickle recipe.

On their own I find pickled carrots refreshing. Salty, sweet, spicy, and a savory accompaniment to roasted, braised, or smoked dishes, a component for plates of cheese or cured meats, or simply finding their way into salads or sandwiches, pickled carrots are a useful addition to any home kitchen pantry. So here is one recipe for pickled carrots, the basis of which could also be used to pickle other vegetables or fruits that you might have on hand.

Ingredients
Yields approximately 3¾ to 4 cups of brine
2 cups of water
1½ cups of white vinegar or white wine vinegar
½ cup of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of kosher salt or sea salt (not iodized salt)
½ cup of sugar
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 whole bay leaves
2 to 3 whole cloves
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
5 to 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 to 2 small whole dried chili peppers or a generous pinch of dried chili flakes
3 cups of sliced carrots either rounds or on the bias, approximately ¼-inch thick

Method
Place all the ingredients, except the carrots, in a large stockpot and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and the sugar.

Add the carrots, again stirring to combine.

Remove from the heat and cool at room temperature. Once the liquid cools the carrots will have cooked until just fork tender and will be ready to use.

If you are storing the pickled carrots, transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and cover completely with the pickling liquid. They should store indefinitely in the refrigerator as long as they are submerged in the liquid.

Carrot pickle

Carrot pickle

 

Moroccan Carrot Salad

This is another recipe I have prepared countless times, showcasing carrots surrounded by various combinations of spice, fresh herbs, and citrus. There are many interpretations of the basic dish—I have explored either lightly poaching the carrots first, which is a more traditional approach, or roasting them instead, which I find makes a more interesting main ingredient.

This salad can be served on its own, or more commonly accompanied by thick Greek yogurt and sprinkled with chopped fresh cilantro. I prefer an herb mix of parsley and spearmint instead of the cilantro but it is all a matter of personal taste.

Moroccan carrot salad

Moroccan carrot salad

Ingredients
Yields enough for 4 salad servings
1 small sweet onion, or a shallot, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
½ cup white wine vinegar
8 to 10 medium to large carrots, washed, trimmed, not skinned
Zest from 1 orange
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon each of the following; ground caraway, ground cinnamon, ground coriander, ground cumin, powdered ginger, pimentón (sweet); there will be more spice mix than needed for this recipe as you don’t need to use it all

Olive oil for finishing

1/4 cup loosely packed, fresh flat leaf parsley and spearmint leaves, roughly chopped

Salt, pepper, and red chili flakes to taste

Spice mix

Spice mix

Vinegar and fresh herbs

Vinegar and fresh herbs

Method
Marinate the onion and garlic in the vinegar while preparing the remainder of the salad.

If poaching, cut the carrots into approximately ½-inch pieces. They should all be the same size so they poach evenly. Place in a heavy-bottomed stockpot and gently boil for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until just fork tender with a little crunch. Drain and cool.

If roasting, lightly coat the whole carrots with olive oil. Sear in an ovenproof pan to lightly char. Place the pan in a preheated 375-degree oven and roast for 12 to 15 minutes or until just fork tender with a little crunch. Cool and then cut the whole carrots into approximately ½-inch pieces

Place the cooked carrots in a large work bowl. Season with the salt, pepper, and the chili flakes. Sprinkle some of the spice mix and zest over and gently toss to distribute the spices evenly.

Strain and discard the onion and garlic marinating in the vinegar. Distribute 2 tablespoons of the now-flavored vinegar over the carrots, along with a generous drizzle of olive oil.

Again, gently toss to cover and coat the carrots. Allow the carrots to macerate 15 minutes or so to take on the flavors of the spice mix.

Before serving, mix in the chopped herbs, then taste to check and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Pan sear

Pan sear

 

Carrot Cake with Polenta and Marsala

Over the years I have served a carrot dessert, a Venetian Carrot Cake, that I have made many times, so I was seeking something new. Until a few years ago the only other carrot cake I was familiar with, before the Venetian came along, was the sweet, sometimes layered cake with a cream cheese filling and topping. That was definitely not what I was looking for as the final carrot dessert for this post.

So, in looking through some of my cookbooks I found this recipe in Domencia Marchetti’s The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, which was a new recipe for me and just what I wanted.

It is the type of cake I like to prepare, using olive oil instead of butter, punctuated by the citrus zest, a light crunch from the polenta, moisture from the carrots, and a nutty essence from the addition of dry Marsala wine.

Here is my interpretation of Domencia’s recipe:

Ingredients
3 to 4 large to medium carrots, washed, trimmed, but not skinned
½ cup of olive oil
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup dry Marsala wine
Finely grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup of finely ground polenta
2 teaspoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon powdered nutmeg

Method
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Using a box grater, shred the carrots for 2 generous cups, set aside.

Using olive oil, coat an 8-inch springform pan and lightly dust with flour.

In a large work bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sugar, eggs, wine, and zests until thoroughly combined.

In another large work bowl, whisk together the flour, polenta, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.

Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until completely combined and free of lumps. Then fold in the shredded carrots until a smooth batter is formed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Cool the cake on a rack, run a knife around the sides of the pan before releasing the ring, and allow the cake to cool completely. Transfer to a platter and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Carrot cake

Carrot cake

If you haven’t developed an appreciation for carrots beyond including them in soups or crudités, perhaps some of these recipes will broaden their appeal for you. I’m hopeful you will give them a try. Happy New Year!

Eat Well. Be Well.
DM
One of the best things about cooking is that it is an on-going learning experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not Your Mother’s Pork and Beans

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We are now in the home stretch heading into year’s end and the height of the holiday season. We have come out on the other side of Thanksgiving, where I would guess many of you found yourselves in a food coma for a couple of days. Well, it only gets better from here as there are more meals and gatherings ahead of us.

Thanksgiving was somewhat quiet in our household this year for various reasons which some of you understand. That said, we did manage to cobble together a few good meals, one of which I wanted to share with you. This informal dinner was prepared and shared with two friends who we finally reconnected with just ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday break.

It is my hope that by sharing the whole menu, it might leave you the option to prepare it in total, as I have done, or interpret it in your own way. Or perhaps it will inspire you to try just one of the dishes, be it a starter, the main, one of the sides, or one of the desserts to include as part of your own menu.

So let’s get started . . .

I often begin with some type of simple antipasti, or appetizer, to draw my guests into the meal, and establishing a pace of nibbling and relaxing while the rest of the dishes are being assembled and served. It would not be unusual to find good bread as part of the meal’s preamble, where the bread serves as a platform for said appetizer. Bruschetta, crostini, or “raft” are used, and the crostini often finds a place at our table. To quote Cindy Pawlcyn, the chef and restaurateur of early Fog City Diner fame, and author of several cookbooks; “in old diner lingo, if something came on a raft, it meant the food was served on toast.”

Well before there were diners as we know them today, there was bruschetta and crostini. In today’s foodie lexicon the terms are used interchangeably although the differences between the two are subtle.

We could devote an entire blog post to bruschetta and crostini, and perhaps at some point I will, as it would be fun to explore the myriad of toppings there are to choose from. Suffice to say, both are considered antipasti served ahead of the main meal, and some serve them as a main course accompanied by a salad.

Bruschetta can be considered the original garlic bread. Its name is derived from the word bruscare, which means to “roast over coals.” In its most basic form it is generally a thick slice of country bread, grilled, then while still warm, rubbed with a piece of raw garlic, drizzled with good olive oil, and sprinkled with a flaky sea salt. Simple toppings are an option but the basic form is generally all you need.

Crostini, meaning little toasts, are smaller, thinner rounds or squares of different breads­­—a baguette for example. They are generally brushed with olive oil or butter, then lightly toasted, grilled, or even fried before the toppings are added. The toppings are generally richer than the more rustic bruschetta, and the crostini can be served either cold or hot.

For this meal I served two crostini using a French baguette and a multi-grain baguette. One topping was a fig and olive tapenade spread over Blu di Caravaggio (buffalo gorgonzola) and sprinkled with fresh minced sage. The inspiration and adaptation of the tapenade recipe came from articles I read by Food 52 and the Huffington Post.

The second crostini was topped with a lardo pesto, fennel pollen, and flaky pink sea salt. Lardo is made from the thick fatback layer from a pig, which is cured, generally using a mixture of salt, herbs, and spices. It’s Italian in origin and some of the best is said to come from northern Tuscany, although in this recipe I used lardo I sourced from a purveyor featuring this cured salumi taken from the Ibérico hogs of Spain. The inspiration and adaptation for the lardo pesto came from chef Michael White’s book, Classico e Moderno, the pollen actually came from a fennel plant we grew in our herb garden, and the salt was the pink Murray River Salt packaged in Mildura Victoria Australia; however there are many flaky sea salt options which could be substituted here.

The flavor pairings are my own, so you could follow them or explore some of your own. Below are the recipes for both the tapenade and the lardo pesto.

Crostini

Crostini

 

Fig and Olive Tapenade

Ingredients
¼ pound dried figs (Turkish or Calimyrna), stems removed, sliced thin
1 cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives (you can choose from many olive options)
1 garlic clove, minced
Fresh rosemary and parsley (to taste), minced
Olive oil
1 generous tablespoon balsamic syrup

Method
Either hand cut all the ingredients to a thick, chunky mix and place in a work bowl and bind together with the olive oil and the balsamic.

Or place the dry ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until the chunky mix blends together, then add the oil and balsamic to bind.

 

Lardo Pesto

Ingredients
½ pound slice pancetta, cold, cut into small cubes
½ pound lardo, cold, cut into small dice
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove peeled and flattened with the side of a knife
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary, needles stripped from stem and minced
1 large sprig of fresh sage, leaves separated from stem and minced
Fresh ground black pepper and a pinch of red chili flakes to taste

Method
Chill the prepared pancetta and lardo in the refrigerator, and place the work bowl and blade of your food processor in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Warm the olive oil in a small sauté pan, add the garlic and minced herbs. Remove from the heat and allow the oil to infuse with the garlic and herbs.

Place the pancetta and lardo into the chilled work bowl of the food processor and pulse continuously until a paste is formed. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl as needed.

Pour in the oil, garlic, and herbs, add the black pepper and the chili flakes and again pulse until all the ingredients bind together into a smooth paste.

This can be served immediately, or jarred and stored in the refrigerator for a week or more, or frozen indefinitely with a drizzle of olive oil on top.

The main menu consisted of a braised pork tenderloin dish which yielded a variation of pulled pork that was tender and flavorful. I discovered the recipe, which I eventually adapted, on a Twitter post sent from my longtime friend, broadcast and music aficionado Bob Marrone, who shared a link to a video hosted on a site called 12 Tomatoes. The recipe calls for using a slow-cooker pot, which I don’t have. So instead I modified the ingredients just a little to achieve the flavor I was after, and braised the pork tenderloins slowly on the stovetop in a heavy ovenproof saucepan with a lid.

The pork was accompanied by a Spanish tapa-style warm gigante bean salad with pimentón and celery. The Greeks, the Italians, the Spanish, among other nationalities, include gigante beans in their cooking, which are also known as butter beans.

Along with the pork and beans, broccoli confit was served, which is simply a long— cooked vegetable side dish of broccoli and garlic until they are meltingly tender. The idea and approach was introduced to me by a recipe I read in the Food 52 Genius Recipes book, along with another I discovered in Sameh Wadi’s book The New Mediterranean Table. He featured a recipe for green beans entitled Grandma’s Slow Cooked Green Beans, which, although not part of this menu, did highlight the long slow cooking approach and is nonetheless addictingly delicious. I plan to prepare it again using the long green beans found in most Asian groceries . . . but that is for another time.

To add some color to the menu, a bunch of rainbow carrots were included as another side dish. They were dusted with Ras el Hanout, a North African, Middle Eastern spice blend, often referred to as the national spice of Morocco, and roasted until lightly charred and tender. They were served drizzled with pomegranate molasses and sprinkled with finely chopped spearmint leaves and red chili flakes.

As a punctuation for the pork I prepared a chutney using sundried Angelino plums sourced from California. Just a word about chutneys, I like them and make variations of them all the time. For me they are a versatile pantry staple, used for example, in this menu to accompany the pork, or simply included when serving some favorite cheeses. It must be the play of the sweet and savory flavors that I like so much, or the endless flavor combinations which are just fun to explore.

The meal was finished with two very straightforward desserts, one an Italian pear cake in which I was able to incorporate the small Seckel pears I had on hand, and a cornmeal cake paired with a cranberry compote, although a drizzle or two of your favorite honey paired with some seasonal berries or grapes would have been just perfect as well.

 

Slow-Braised Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients
2 pounds pork tenderloins
3 tablespoons soy sauce (Note: I used Bourbon Barrel Foods Bluegrass small batch microbrewed soy sauce from Louisville, KY)
1 generous teaspoon porcini mushroom powder
Juice and zest from 1 lime
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup honey (Note: these are many options; I used thyme blossom honey)
½ teaspoon ground, powdered ginger
3 garlic cloves minced
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes

Method
Lightly coat the loins with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I also coated them with some garlic jam that is one of my pantry staples.

Sear the loins in a hot pan to form a crust all around.

Pour the braise sauce ingredients over, lower the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and braise for 3 hours.

Test the loins for tenderness, they should be easily pierced using a fork. Remove them from the pan and tent on a platter.

Raise the heat and cook the braising liquid down by half to thicken and serve as a gravy for the pork.

Using two forks, shred the pork on the serving platter so as to resemble pulled pork, then plate with a drizzle of gravy over.

Seared Pork T-Loins

Seared Pork T-Loins

Pan Sauce Reduced

Pan Sauce Reduced

Pulled Pork T-Lion

Pulled Pork T-Lion

 

Warm Gigante Bean Salad with Celery and Pimentón

Ingredients
Olive oil
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
1 teaspoon smoked pimenton dulce (sweet Spanish paprika)
2 celery stalks thinly cut on the bias ¼-inch thick
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 15oz can gigante or butter beans, rinsed
Finely minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.

Sauté the garlic and shallot until they just begin to soften.

Stir in the tomato paste and the pimentón until fully incorporated.

Add the celery and the beans, mixing to fully coat and combine.

Add the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm with the minced parsley sprinkled over.

Warm Gigante Bean Salad

Warm Gigante Bean Salad

 

Broccoli Confit

Ingredients
1 large bunch of broccoli
8 large cloves of garlic
Olive oil
1 cup water
Salt, pepper, chili flakes

Method
Trim the hard, thick stems from the broccoli and then split the bunch into quarters or eighths keeping the florets attached to the main stem.

Trim and skin the garlic, keeping the cloves whole.

Place the broccoli in a large saucepan that will hold all of the trimmed pieces, and scatter the garlic cloves around.

Drizzle olive oil all around and over the broccoli, pour in the cup of water, and season with the salt, pepper, and chili flakes.

Cover the pan, start the cooking on medium high heat until the water begins to sizzle. Lower the temperature and very slowly simmer the broccoli and garlic until very fork tender, no more than 1 hour.

Remove to a large platter using a spoon so as not to break up the broccoli pieces. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Broccoli Confit

Broccoli Confit

 

Roasted Rainbow Carrots

Ingredients
1 bunch rainbow carrots, or regular organic carrots if rainbow are not available
Ras el Hanout spice mix or other preferred spice combination
Olive oil
Pomegranate molasses
Fresh spearmint leaves
Red chili flakes

Method
Wash and trim the carrots, don’t peel. Place the carrots in a roasting pan, drizzle all around with olive oil and sprinkle the spice mix over.

Place in a preheated 350-degree oven and roast for an hour or until fork tender. Arrange on a serving platter while still warm. Lightly drizzle with pomegranate molasses and sprinkle with the chopped mint leaves and chili flakes to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Rainbow Carrots

Roasted Rainbow Carrots

 

Angelino Plum Chutney

Ingredients
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 cups dried Angelino plums or other dried plums
1 cup golden raisins or cranberries
½ cup red wine vinegar + ½ cup sherry vinegar
1½ cups light brown sugar
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
8 allspice berries
8 whole cloves
2 teaspoons brown or yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
In a heavy saucepan with a lid, sauté the onion over medium heat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until just beginning to soften.

Slice the plums in half and place with the raisins in the pan stirring to coat and combine.

Add the vinegars, the sugar, and the peeled ginger piece, again stirring to combine.

In a piece of cheesecloth wrap the cinnamon stick, star anise, allspice, cloves, mustard, and celery seeds, tying to form a sachet, then add to the pan.

Bring the pan to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, cooking down to a jam-like consistency for approximately 2 hours. Check periodically and stir, adding a little water if it looks too dry.

Remove from the heat, discard the sachet, taste to check seasoning, and allow to cool. Can be stored in jars in the refrigerator or frozen indefinitely.

 

Italian Pear Cake

Ingredients
Zest + juice from 1 lemon
3 full-size Bosc pears or 8 Seckel pears, firm but ripe
1½ cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup sugar + 1 tablespoon to sprinkle before baking
3 large eggs
1 cup mascarpone or 1 cup full fat Greek yogurt
2½ tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of sea salt

Method
Butter and flour a 9-inch-round springform pan and set aside.

Finely zest the lemon and set aside, then squeeze the lemon juice into a large work bowl, removing the seeds.

Clean and core the pears, do not peel. Slice into 1/8-inch pieces and place in the lemon juice to keep the slices from turning brown.

In another large work bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder and set aside.

In a separate work bowl whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy. Fold in the mascarpone or yogurt along with the lemon zest until smooth.

Rough chop a few pear slices and along with the dry ingredients, the oil, and a pinch of salt, fold together with the wet ingredients to form the cake batter.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and then carefully place the pear slices in the batter, on edge all around the circumference of the baking pan. The slices should be close together to form a tight circle. Fill in the center of the circle with any remaining slices. Sprinkle the reserved tablespoon of sugar over the pear topping.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven until done when tested with a tooth pick that comes out clean.

Allow the baking pan to cool completely on a rack before removing the form and plating the cake.

Pear Cake

Pear Cake

 

Cornmeal Cake with Cranberry Compote

Ingredients
For cake
½ cup sweet butter, softened, plus more to butter baking pan
1 cup sugar
1 cup yellow or white cornmeal
¾ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup half & half

For compote
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1½ cups sugar
2 cups dry red wine

Method
For cake
Butter and flour an 8-inch springform pan, set aside.

In a large work bowl beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.

Slowly fold in the remaining cake ingredients, then beat at high speed until a smooth, pale batter is formed.

Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes or until done when tested with a tooth pick that comes out clean.

Allow the baking pan to cool completely on a rack before removing the form and plating the cake.

Cornmeal Cake

Cornmeal Cake

For compote
In a piece of cheesecloth gather and tie together the star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns, and rosemary to form a sachet.

In a heavy saucepan place all the ingredients and sachet over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Lower the heat and continue cooking until the cranberries begin to pop.

Once the cranberries are all cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes, remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside. Discard the sachet and bring the poaching liquid to a boil over moderate heat, reducing down by half to a syrup consistency.

Return the cranberries to the reduce syrup and allow to cool.

Serve alongside or on top of a piece of the cornmeal cake.

Well not exactly how I remember pork and beans back in the day, but an approach to consider. And, if there are any leftovers, a pulled pork sandwich on toasted slices of that good artisan bread is a nice treat, but I’ll leave all that to you!

Eat well. Be well.
Happy cooking!
DM
We can treat food as nothing more than fuel or instead enjoy and appreciate its every quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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