MONET’S GLAZED CARROTS

Surprised by the title of this post? Monet was not only a great painter, but also a lover of good food. When we visited his home/museum in Giverny a few years ago, Phil bought the book “Monet’s Table: The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet”, full of wonderful pictures of his garden and home, including the amazing kitchen. The book even shares a recipe for his favorite cake that he requested every year for his Birthday. That very cake was a technical challenge in the Great British Bake Off a few years ago. Browsing the recipes, the first thing I noticed is how cooking changed over the decades. We now rely so much on ingredients, spices and produce from all over the world. Miso, pomegranate molasses, harissa, dried limes… In Monet’s time it was all quite different. One of the components that was present in many recipes – even the most basic veggie concoctions – was rich beef or chicken broth. For the most part, that was how they intensified flavors. This is a recipe for glazed carrots that intrigued me because it is so different from the way I “understand” glazed carrots. I made it, we loved it, therefore I share…

MONET’S GLAZED CARROTS
(adapted from Monet’s Table)

3 cups of carrots, cut in slices, not too thin, not to thick
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
4 sprigs parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup beef broth (I used canned from Rachael Ray)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon powdered sugar (yes, you read that correctly)
additional parsley to serve (optional)

Cook the carrots in 3 cups salted boiling water for 5 minutes, drain, reserving 1/4 cup liquid.

In a saucepan, melt the butter, add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring. Add the parsley, salt, pepper, reserved carrot cooking liquid, and the beef broth. Stir well, then add the lemon juice, powdered sugar and carrots. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to as low as it will go, and leave the lid slightly open so that the liquid will reduce. Cook for one hour, or until the carrots are cooked and glazed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Several things intrigued me about this recipe. I never imagined starting with a roux, using beef broth, and adding a touch of powdered sugar. It also seemed like an awfully long time to cook the carrots. The whole time I kept telling myself – this won’t have a happy ending. But I was proved wrong, way wrong. It ended up less sweet than some of the glazed carrots I’ve made in the past, and with more complex flavor, which I am sure comes from the beef broth.

This was a Polar Vortex dinner that we cooked together. I made the carrots, and Phil prepared a pot roast, simple but I must say it turned out outstanding (sorry ladies, he is taken). To deglaze the pan to make the gravy, he used some of the water I cooked the carrots and that was a winning move. A real back to basics meal. Which sometimes is all we need.

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SLOW-ROASTED SWEET POTATOES IN TOMATO, LIME AND CARDAMON SAUCE

Once again I turn to Joanne’s blog for inspiration. Like me, she also loves Ottolenghi and adapted this recipe from his new cookbook, Flavor. His method calls for high-temperature roasting of sweet potato slices coated in maple syrup and spices. I changed things around a bit, as I am absolutely set on roasting them low and slow (after trying the method described in this post of my recent past). You can conceivably make the sauce and the potatoes days in advance to finalize the dish quickly before meal time. I served it alongside grilled chicken breasts. They worked so well together that I decided to feature both recipes in a single post.

SLOW-ROASTED SWEET POTATOES IN TOMATO, LIME & CARDAMON SAUCE
(adapted from Joanne’s blog)

for potatoes:
3 large sweet potatoes, cut crosswise into 1-inch thick rounds
olive oil to rub potatoes
salt and pepper to taste

for the sauce:
5 tbsp olive oil
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
14 oz whole peeled tomatoes, blended until smooth
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ground cumin
zest of 1 lime
1 tbsp lime juice
1 cup water
2 tsp finely chopped dill

For the sweet potatoes. Heat the oven to 300F. Rub them with oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, and slow roast for 60 to 90 minutes until tender. Set aside to cool, peel the skin off and slice it into 1 inch thick rounds to proceed with the recipe (can be made a couple of days in advance).

Make the sauce. Combine the olive oil, jalapenos, shallots, and a pinch of salt in a large saute pan over medium heat, cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, cardamom, cumin, lime zest, and 1 tsp salt. Cook for 5 minutes so the flavors can combine, stirring frequently. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 425F. Add the sauce to a shallow baking dish that can hold all the potato slices in a single layer, if possible. Place the slow-roasted potatoes on top of the sauce and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Close to the end of roasting time, sprinkle dill on top. If you like a little more color development, use the broiler.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was absolutely delicious, and if you spread the preparation by roasting the potatoes the day before, it is a breeze to put together. I actually find myself slow-roasting sweet potatoes and saving them, still with the skin, for all sorts of uses later. Cardamon and lime in the tomato sauce? Winner combination. I intend to make a roasted tomato soup pretty soon with those basic flavors. Stay tuned. And now, as I promised, the main dish we had with these wonderful potatoes.

BONUS RECIPE

GRILLED CHICKEN BREASTS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt

In a bowl, stir together all ingredients, except chicken (of course). Whisk well until brown sugar is dissolved. Place chicken breasts in a ziplock bag and add the marinade. Leave it in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes, but if you have time allow it to sit for 4 hours or even longer.

Heat grill, and cook around 6 minutes per side. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then slice on the bias, and serve, preferably with those amazing sweet potatoes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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CAULIFLOWER AND SWEET POTATOES IN YOGURT-CURRY SAUCE

At the risk of being repetitive, I must tell you this was a total winner and yes, it will go into our regular rotation. Other veggies can be used, like potatoes, green beans, butternut squash. The method won’t change. This side dish is rich and light at the same time. Contrary to most curries that rely on heavy cream or coconut milk, the yogurt offers just that amount of creaminess you might crave. Use full-fat yogurt to make sure the sauce won’t separate.

CAULIFLOWER AND SWEET POTATO CURRY
(inspired by Chetna’s Healthy Indian)

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided
1 medium size cauliflower, florets cut in small pieces
2 to 3 small sweet potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/3 cup tomato purée
1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
3/4 cup full-fat yogurt

Heat 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil in a pan, add the cauliflower florets and sweet potatoes, a little sprinkle of salt, and cook on a medium-to-high heat until they start to brown. Remove to a bowl.

Add one more tablespoon of oil to the pan, heat and add cumin and ginger. Saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until fragrant. Immediately add the tomato pure, Sambal Oelek, coriander and salt. Stir and keep in medium-heat. Mix the yogurt with water in a small bowl, then add to the pan, together with the reserved veggies.

Cover the pan and and simmer for about 20 minutes. If the sauce is too liquid, remove the lid and reduce it a bit before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: As I mentioned in the beginning, this recipe can be adapted to include many veggies. I would avoid zucchini because it would turn a bit too soft, although it could probably work if you roasted it and added in the very end.

The recipe was inspired by Chetna’s new book. Remember her from one of the greatest seasons of the Great British Bake Off? Chetna was often praised for her intuition with flavors. Her new book proves she is not only a great baker, but a fantastic cook. I got the idea of using yogurt as a base for the curry from one of her recipes. From her book I also recently made a delicious Tomato and Raisin Chutney.

It was my first time making chutney, and using this interesting ingredient called asafoetida. I loved it, and will definitely be making other chutneys in the future. Her book has quite a few options, all pretty unique.

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CURRIED SWEET POTATO FRITTERS

This is a wonderful take on sweet potatoes, that you could conceivably serve as a little appetizer, if you make them slightly smaller and use a lighter hand on the yogurt topping. Using cookie cutters to shape the patties makes the presentation very uniform and appealing, but of course if you don’t want to go through that step, simply add portions to the hot oil. They will be rustic but there’s really nothing wrong with that.

CURRIED SWEET POTATO FRITTERS
(adapted from Tea Time Magazine, November-December 2020)

for yogurt sauce:
1/3 cup yogurt
1 tsp agave nectar
1/8 tsp ground cardamon
1 Tbs lemon juice
pinch of salt

for fritters:
2 cups sweet potato, peeled and grated
1 egg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
olive oil for shallow frying

Make the yogurt by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl, and keeping in the fridge until serving time.

Stir together all ingredients for the fritters (except olive oil)  in a large bowl.  Place a 2-inch cookie cutter over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place a little over 1 tablespoon of the sweet potato mixture inside the cutter, patting it flat. Carefully remove the ring and make a second one. Use all the potato mixture, you should have between 8 and 10 fritters. Refrigerate to firm the mixture up for about 20 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and sautee the little cakes on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, and serve with a dollop of the yogurt sauce on top. You can keep the fritters in a low-oven for a while if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You can make the little patties way in advance and keep them in the fridge. In fact, I recommend you do that because they will keep their shape better as you cook them. I did not want to make them too thin, because they would get too soaked in oil, so after sauteeing both sides, I placed them in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes.

When I make them again, I will go Pollock on the sauce, I think it will look pretty cool that way. And yes, this will undoubtedly be one of those recipes to show up regularly in our kitchen. We both loved it!

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ROCKING THE ZUCCHINI BOAT

This recipe is perfect to put those very large zucchini to use. Maybe they grew a couple of days too long in your backyard, or they were sitting neglected at the grocery store (size-shaming is a cruel thing in the Cucurbitaceae world). For this recipe, a delicate, small creature just won’t be as good.


MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE ZUCCHINI BOATS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Foodie Crush)

3 large zucchini (yes, LARGE)
3 fresh sausage links of your choice (I used chicken/apple)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, to taste (probably 1/3 cup or so)
kalamata olives, pitted, coarsely chopped, to taste (another 1/3 cup or so)
1 to 2 tablespoons capers
fresh basil, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 cup almond flour
1 egg
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Heat the oven to 375°F.

Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp, coarsely chop, and reserve.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and the sausages (remove them from the casing, and crumble) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring and breaking it up into smaller pieces.  Add the reserved chopped zucchini pulp and cook until the meat is cooked and the zucchini tender. Season with salt and pepper.

At this point, you have two options, keep it coarse the way it is, or run it BRIEFLY in a food processor. I decided to do this extra step  because I wanted a smoother texture to fill the zucchini, but I admit it is a bit of a hassle. Skip this step if you are in a hurry, the dish will be a little more rustic, but nothing wrong with it.

Whatever you decide to do, stir in the mixture the egg, almond flour, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, basil and almost all the cheese. Reserve some to sprinkle on top. Spoon the stuffing into the zucchini boats and place in a suitable baking dish. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 more minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you do the food processor step, it will be a two to three pulses kind of thing. You will be asking yourself… did I really dirty my food processor for just these three little pulses? Yes, you did. But that brief encounter with the blades makes the texture super nice, and in my opinion, worth the trouble.

Quite often when you see recipes for stuffed vegetables, they involve a dense blanket of melted cheese covering everything. Not the case here. The cheese is a minor component in the mixture and a sprinkle on top. I imagine that a vegetarian version could depart from this one, using mushroom ragu in place of the sausage, but we really liked it exactly this way. A serving of couscous, a little salad, and we called it dinner… 

Leftovers keep very well, and also heat without issues in the microwave.

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