014: Carrot

Hey guys what’s up! I kind of thought about eating a whole carrot and doing the Bugs Bunny routine while I was cooking but that didn’t happen. Mostly I just listened to podcasts, and made mashed potatoes at 11 AM.

Menu (Serves 4)
Thai Carrot and Chicken Salad
Carrot-Peanut Butter Soup
Carrot Gnocchi in Carrot-top Pesto
Ginger Pound Cake with Butter-Rum Carrots and Raisins

Carrot Gnocchi (adapted from Greene on Greens)
-1 1/2 lb yukon gold potatoes
-2T butter
-1/4c cream
-1 large carrot
-1 small white onion
-2 eggs
-1/8t nutmeg
-1/4t white pepper
-1 1/2c flour

Quarter the potatoes. Put them in a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer, and let it cook, covered, for about 20 minutes. After that time the potatoes should be real soft and a fork should just go right in. Run them through a ricer or use a masher to pulverize em up. Season with salt and pepper, throw in the butter, and use enough cream to get them to a good texture. Try to do this around 11 AM so you can have mashed potatoes for brunch. Scoop out 1 1/4 cups and put them in the fridge, and eat the rest!
When the potatoes have chilled, you can make the gnocchi. Peel the carrot, and grate it on a cheese grater. Cut and shell the onion, and grate that as well. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, starting with just 1 cup of the flour. Add more to get the dough right. You’ll probably end up needing more than a cup and a half.

Soft dough it. Cover the dough and put it in the fridge for an hour.

Carrot-top Pesto
-1 bunch’s worth of carrot tops
-1c olive oil
-1/2 cup toasted almonds
-1 cup grated parmesan
-2 cloves garlic
-1T honey
-juice of 1 lemon

Cut the stems of the tops off, and chop the leaves roughly. Mince the garlic. Throw everything but the honey in the food processor. Blend it very thoroughly, cause carrot tops are seriously tough and difficult, and generally not pleasant to eat in their whole form.

This pesto tastes weird — adjust the flavor how you like.

Start a pasta pot boiling. Pull out the dough, and cut it into four or so pieces. Cover them in flour, and squeeze/roll them into 1/2 inch logs. Slice the logs into gnocchi. They’ll end up about an inch long. Roll them in flour and lay them out so that they don’t stick together.

When the water boils, drop 10-15 gnocchi in and leave them in until they start floating, at which point, pull them out and move them to a bowl. Add some pesto, and coat the gnocchi to ensure they won’t stick together.

Ginger Pound Cake with Butter-Rum Carrots and Raisins

-3T chopped ginger
-3/4c and 2T sugar
-1c flour
-1t baking powder
-1/4t ground ginger
-1/4t salt
-1/4c milk
-1/2t vanilla
-1 stick butter
-2T lemon zest
-2 eggs
-2T lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 325.
Put the fresh ginger and 1/4 cup of the sugar into the food processor and grind them together.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt. In a smaller bowl, mix the milk and vanilla.
With an electric mixer, beat together the butter, remaining sugar, and zest in a large bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat them in. Add the flour and milk mixtures in turns, about a quarter of each at a time, mixing the batter between additions. At the end of it, add the ginger/sugar mixture and the lemon juice and mix that as well.
Pour the batter into a smallish loaf pan, and bake for about 40 minutes, or until you like the color of it.

-2 large carrots
-2T rum
-2T butter
-2T raisins
-2T brown sugar

Skin the carrots and cut them pretty thick. Parboil them in a pot of water, just until they’re tender. Melt the butter in a pot, add the carrots, and the sugar. Let it cook onto the carrots so that they’re nicely coated. Add raisins and rum, and cook it until the alcohol evaporates, a couple minutes.
Cut a thick slice of the cake, and spoon carrots and sauce over it.

Thai Carrot and Chicken Salad
-1 bunch small red carrots
-1 bunch small white carrots
-1 bunch small orange carrots
-3 green onions
-2 skinless or un-skinned chicken thighs
-heart of romaine lettuce
-1 lime
-1T soy sauce
-1T fish sauce
-2T sugar
-2T salt
-2T white vinegar

Cut the tops off the carrots, and peel them. Cut all of them into thin slices at an extreme angle, that will get them long.
Quick-pickle the orange carrots by putting them in a little ziploc with the salt, sugar, and vinegar. Leave them for at least 15 minutes.
Salt and pepper the chicken thighs. Cook them through, then cut them off the bone. Slice the chicken up into small-bite-sized pieces and put them into the fridge to cool.
Press the lettuce together, and chop it very thin, about half way down. Chop the green onions. Pull the carrots out of the pickling fluid, and mix them in a bowl with the other carrots, green onion, lettuce, and cooled chicken. Juice the lime into a little bowl, and mix with the soy and fish sauce. Toss the salad with this dressing.

Carrot-Peanut Butter Soup
-1T oil
-1 onion
-1 pound carrots
-1 clove garlic
-1 stalk celery
-1/2t salt
-1/4t white pepper
-4 cups water
-2T peanut butter
-1T soy sauce
-1 lime
-peanuts or cashews

Start a pot boiling with the water. Skin the carrots, and chop them up. Throw in the carrot tops and skins, and simmer for half an hour or so. Carrot broth! Remove it to a vessel, preferably a 4-cup measuring cup, but if not, use a measuring cup to figure out how much you have. Fill out the rest with water.
Dice the onion, mince the garlic, chop the celery. Heat the oil in a pot, and saute the onion. When it’s softened, add the garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, add the celery, carrot, salt, pepper, and 3 cups of carrot broth.

Bring to a boil, then turn it down and simmer until the carrots are very soft. Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, and the juice of the lime. Pour the soup into a blender, or use an immersion blender, and puree it. Adjust the flavor with salt and pepper, and use the remaining broth to get the consistency how you like it.
Bowl the soup, top with some sriracha, and peanuts or cashews.

The worst-plated bowl got photographed.


Another mixed menu. All the dishes were pretty easy, but despite that I ended up coming down to the wire and messing up a couple things.
Most significant is the disappearance of those cute squat “Thumbelina” carrots in the prologue image up there. I roasted them with some brussels sprouts, and served them with the gnocchi. The carrots actually came out pretty good, but the brussels sprouts were everything they shouldn’t be. Scorched on the outside, mushy and mealy on the inside, and basically flavorless. So, I didn’t serve them. This led to the gnocchi having an even sadder plating than the soup:

The carrots also just look gross.
The pesto was an interesting idea, but the texture of the tops kind of persisted and made it a little unpleasant, and the sweetness of it was off-putting and made me wish I had just done a regular pesto. The gnocchi turned out so well! Most times I make gnocchi it’s mushy and comes apart and clouds the water with flour clumps, but these were tender and pretty much perfect. So it’s a lot worse that the pesto didn’t work how I wanted.
I liked the soup a lot. I think I’d like it better with more lime juice. There was a bit too much soy sauce, enough to color the flavor too far to that side. Salt would have been better.
The only thing wrong with the salad is that I had planned to put pea sprouts in it, and bought some for this purpose. I just forgot to do it. It was really, really good, though. Nice and crispy, salty, and sweet. I would totally make this for a potluck or something. An interesting twist on Thai chicken salad. The pickled carrots were a good addition, but my sister suggested rinsing them a bit, as they kind of stood out. I considered doing this, and rinsed one to test the flavor, but decided it wasn’t necessary. If you happen to be worried about them drowning out the rest, though, a quick rinse is safe and won’t erase the pickled flavor.
The cake was great. It was a perfect consistency, nice and light (not actually, but that’s how it tasted), and fresh-gingery. The carrots, on the other hand, were kind of a disaster. They didn’t taste bad, but I boiled them while we ate dinner and so ended up cooking them until they were a little mushy. In addition, I boiled them in plain water, when I should have done it in simple syrup (or perhaps the modified recipe in this post). I could tell that the sauce would be totally delicious if I had thought it through better, and, again, my heart is broken.

So, in terms of creativity, I think this menu is okay. Obviously, execution was lacking. The carrot top pesto was a fun notion, and I liked being able to do it and have it turn out edible, but it was absolutely inferior to a basil pesto. I think the carrot tops’ sorta nasty flavor forced the recipe into being sweeter than pesto should be. I also sauteed a carrot top stem in salt and oil, and I kind of liked it. I considered putting it into the salad, but as I mentioned, they just have a difficult texture and a tendency to catch in the throat. I probably should have made a carrot-tomato sauce or something, instead. I just learned I could use the tops and had to do it!

Next Week: Melon

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  1. Anonymous

     /  September 4, 2012

    The cake was wonderful and would be marvelous with any poached fruit (peach, plum, nectarine, berries). Also loved the carrot gnocchi.

  2. Micah

     /  September 11, 2012

    I usually make sweet potato gnocchi, but am often disappointed that they are too heavy and thick–I will try this recipe.


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