Posts tagged carrots
Monday, June 14, 2010

carrot cake

carrot cake

Today, I have cake for you. Not just any cake – carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I know, it’s been all cake and sorbet and more cake around here lately, but we are entering picnic and barbecue season, and doesn’t carrot cake just makes you want to take a picnic blanket to the park along with lemonade and potato salad and slaw, and just sit under a tree for hours with friends, feasting and lounging away. My favorite weekend days is when your biggest accomplishment for the day is eating. There is nothing, and I mean, nothing wrong with that.

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dry ingredients mise

Saturday was that lovely kind of a day: my biggest accomplishment consisted of cooking some supper that involved a roast chicken, some guacamole and some pasta with tomato sauce and sausage – I know, lots of random things, but food had to be rescued and cooked. I also found excellent use for these plates – sliced kiwi looks amazing on them. When you start the day around noon, have brunch at 2pm and then for the rest of the day you resolve – no plans, no obligations – it is, I will tell you, an amazing day. Weekends like these are my favorite.

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But this post isn’t so much about lazy weekends, as it’s about carrot cake. A carrot cake for my friend Bill’s birthday. The very same Bill of the mascarpone cake fame, except this time, I’m not a year behind in writing about it.

cake battercream cheese frosting

For Bill’s cake, I looked through every baking book I had (surprisingly few feature carrot cake, actually) until I came across a recipe that made me do a double-take. The recipe was called “Big Bill’s Carrot Cake” – it was as if cake fates have led me straight to it. Now, Bill isn’t particularly big per se, but the title sounded so commanding and the recipe was so perfect, that I decided then and there that this was going to be the cake. Besides, with the recipe coming from the one and only Dorie Greenspan – how could you go wrong?

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If you’re like me and believe in the universe speaking to you via baked goods (because when you’re looking for a cake for your friend Bill and you find a recipe with his name in the title – is that not the universe sending you a sign?), then you will put to rest all the other recipes. Dorie knows her cakes, and after you read through any book by her, you feel like she’s your fairy godmother of baking. You know her. You trust her. You’ve had conversations with her while you baked from her books. She has never steered you in the wrong direction. She has never, ever, let you down. Her recipes are detailed, exact, certain, full of the kind of instructions you want to have in so many other books. Few baking personas are as universally adored and revered as Dorie – perhaps because she makes us all feel competent, even if a recipe looks intimidating. She whispers softly to us, “You can do it.

carrot cake
i was tempted to reverse the candle order

Well, friends – meet my new favorite cake. It even outpaces the peanut-butter chocolate one I’ve been so enamoured of. This is a cake that’s got it all – spice, nuts, raisins, a tangy cream-cheese frosting. It’s not too sweet, the frosting doesn’t overpower. It’s a perfect picnic cake, after-dinner cake, Mad Men themed birthday cake. It is, despite that long list of ingredients and preparation instructions, is manageable and unfussy. And it’s a cake that is going to be made a few times over in my kitchen this summer season – and I hope in yours as well.

bill's piece

Continue reading carrot cake.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

carrot salad with garlic and dates

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It’s Yom Kippur today, so why am I writing about food? Well, last night while figuring out our dinner options we were trying to come up with a quick and tasty way to use our carrots, which were hanging out happily in the fridge, but a few more days and Yom Kippur today and my Sunday business trip (Sunday, I know), it was either now or never with these carrots.

Now, I’m pretty weird when it comes to carrots. I love them raw and I love them in things like chicken soup. In fact, as a kid I loved carrots in my soup so much that my mom would always put in extra carrots in my bowl and they would be the first things I would eat. I think I even made up a song about eating carrots in my soup. The blurry memory is lazily rolling around in my head, but luckily I can’t remember the song! And yet, when my mom made stewed carrots (tzimmes), I would refuse to touch the mushy, orange mess on my plate. Boiled soup carrots were fine, but the stewed carrots were not. I’m still fickle with my carrots, not to such an extent, but some cooked carrots I won’t go near.

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I’ve got to confess I’ve cooked nary a thing this week. It’s been a confluence of events – my office relocated further uptown and east, and coming from Tribeca has managed to make my work commute 45 minutes door to door. I know, living in Manhattan and spending 45 minutes each day twice a day commuting, is pretty sad. And work has picked up so much. There are meetings and conference calls and business trips and of course work that you do at your desk to add!! So when I would come home at 7:30 or later, my lovely KS had dinner waiting for me – so the next few entries will be about his magical and filling concoctions. We’d eat, and by 8:30, I’d be pretty much a tired, lackluster monkey.

Ah, but the carrots! I thought, at first, to shred them and mix them with a generous serving of freshly chopped garlic, some raisins and olive oil. But then my heart (and stomach) earned for something warm. Since I just told you about my cooked carrot dislike, you understand my conundrum. And then, a little idea appeared in my head and I was all aflutter – I could warm the carrots with some sesame oil and sesame seeds and voila – I’ll have a meal I like. I added some garlic to the carrots along with a little bit of curry mix. Some salt, a couple of minced dates, and the warmed carrots were done. The whole process grating and all took about 15 minutes. How’s that for dinner in a hurry? We ate our carrots with the remnants of the picadillo KS made the night before. While I liked my carrots just fine, KS loved the orangey warmth. The trick is to just warm the carrots and not cook them – this way you preserve the texture and taste of raw carrots, but give it a little more of that fall comfort. Looking back, I would have added a dash of cinnamon. And if we had any cilantro, the dish would have sparkled even more! But in no time, we ate a tasty dish and salvaged the contents of our crisper!

And now that I’m sufficiently hungry, Yom Kippur seems even longer to me. Fasting isn’t a food blogger’s strongest suit. How long will I last? I have low expectations for myself!

Continue reading carrot salad with garlic and dates.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

spiced glazed carrots

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With Thanksgiving less than a month away, I though of pulling a few of the last year’s recipes to set the mood. This time is my favorite time of year, filled with great comfort foods: warm, full of spices, filling.

When the temperatures begin to drop, my craving for root vegetables grow. Roasted beets or turnips find their way into my meals. Having grown up in Russia, where plenty of root vegetables are consumed year-round, I never had to develop a taste for them. In fact, I never had to hear my mother say “Eat your vegetables!” to me – it was more like “Eat your meat!” In America, I learned, in school, that liking beets was a very uncool thing. It painted me as a borscht-belt immigrant with her weird foods. Chicken nuggets were in, root veggies were out!

Surprisingly, carrots were not as uncool as their other earthly cousins. Carrots, smothered with dip, were acceptable. My first encounter with a crudite left a sad impression as carrots sticks lay side by side with celery and tomatoes, all dried up and bent out of shape. The irony was that I hated cooked carrots.

As a little girl, I had to eat a lot of tzimmes, a traditional Jewish dish with cooked carrots, honey, raisins and cinnamon. It sounds good to me now, but back when I was a tiny, wee thing, I dreaded the dish like the plague. As I got older, I grew to love cooked carrots and even crave tzimmes now. But that recipe will be saved for another day. Perhaps when Passover hits and I need to contribute to the Jewish cooking ideas. The spiced, glazed carrots I made for Thanksgiving last year, my favorite holiday, were a hit with everyone at the table. Even the self-proclaimed vegetable haters.

Not only did they taste good, but they looked quite pretty with their green tops decorating the platter!

Continue reading spiced glazed carrots.