New Recipe: The Recorder – ‘The carrots are cooked’

The French expression “les carottes sont cuites” literally means “the carrots are cooked.” Figuratively, it has a variety of vaguely related meanings. It means that the jig is up; that whatever one is discussing is all over and can’t be changed; that the die is cast; that hope is lost; that one is saying “enough already.”

According to the French website “Project Voltaire,” in the 19th century, it indicated that someone had died. When I called my brother from my mother’s deathbed, instead of telling him, “We are now orphans” — as I did — I apparently could have said, “Les carottes sont cuites.”

In the 20th century, the website notes, the expression was a code phrase in World War II. It was used by the Allies in London to signal that the time had come to carry out an operation in Nazi-occupied territory.

I tend to mumble “les carottes sont cuites” when cold weather lingers in the spring as it has on and off for the past couple of weeks. In April, I’m ready for carrot season. Fall-planted carrots will soon be coming in. And last year’s carrots are still good if they were stored properly.

Carrots are sweet yet full of nutrition, fiber and flavor, and they lend themselves to cooking in a variety of ways. I love to roast them until they caramelize or heat them on the stovetop with a tiny bit of butter and maple syrup. I munch on them raw. So does my dog.

The recipes I share here are for cool spring weather. The soup is a warming way to use these lovely orange vegetables. It’s adapted from a recipe given to me by master gardener Ed Sourdiffe, of Chester, a.k.a. the “Green Thumb Guru.” Sourdiffe’s a gardening consultant and teacher. He’s also an excellent cook.

The curry powder and cumin lend an Indian tang to carrots, which are after all a little mundane, and the finished product pleases the eye and the palate.

If you don’t care for Indian spices, never fear. Carrots can take on a variety of flavors. Try a southwestern twist for your soup with chili powder, cilantro and cumin. Or, add German-inspired flare with caraway seed and a little cooked sausage.

The carrot cake is a standby adapted from a recipe from my cousin, Deb. In college, she worked in the school kitchen, and carrot cake was her favorite thing to bake (and eat). Like other vegetable-and-fruit-based cakes, this one stays moist for a long time. It may be eaten by itself, but I prefer it with cream cheese frosting.

My cousin was feeding a crowd. She, therefore, doubled the recipe below and baked the cake in a 9-by-13-inch pan for about 45 minutes.

One could also bake the double recipe in a 10-inch Bundt pan; my guess is that it would take more than 45 minutes, but testing with a finger or a toothpick will help you determine doneness

If you don’t have a small Bundt pan (I love mine), you can certainly bake the recipe below in an 8-inch square pan. I’m not sure how long it would need to be in the oven, but I’d start testing after 25 minutes.

Happy cooking and eating! May all your carrots be cooked literally — not figuratively.

Curried Carrot Soup

¼ cup (½ stick) butter

One large onion, roughly chopped

One clove garlic, roughly chopped

One medium to large potato, roughly diced (large makes a heartier soup)

1 pound carrots, roughly diced (about 3 cups)

3 to 4 cups strong vegetable or chicken stock (less stock makes the soup thicker)

1 teaspoon salt (and/or to taste)

½ teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons good curry powder

A little lemon juice

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven melt the butter. Sauté the onions and garlic; then stir in the potatoes and carrots. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, and then add the stock and the salt.

Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the soup, and reduce the heat. Simmer until the vegetables are tender (about a half-hour).

Puree the soup, either in batches in a blender or in its pot using an immersion blender. Stir in the spices, and heat the soup again briefly. Taste and adjust seasonings. Just before serving, add the lemon juice.

Serves four.

Easy College Carrot Cake

¼ cup (½ stick) sweet butter at room temperature

¼ cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

Two eggs

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup flour

1½ cups grated carrots (about ½ pound)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 6-cup Bundt pan. Combine the butter, the oil, and the sugar; then add the eggs, followed by the salt, the cinnamon, and the baking soda. Stir in the flour, followed by the carrots.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the cake for 20 minutes; then remove it from the pan and cool it completely before icing it with cream cheese frosting.

Cream-Cheese Frosting

¼ cup (½ stick) sweet butter at room temperature

4 ounces cream cheese

Confectioner’s sugar to taste (don’t overdo this; start with 1 cup and add a little more if you need to)

½ teaspoon vanilla

In a mixer cream together the butter and the cream cheese. Stir in the confectioner’s sugar, followed by the vanilla. Frosts one small cake.

Tinky Weisblat is the award-winning author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook,” “Pulling Taffy,” and “Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb.” Visit her website, TinkyCooks.com.




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