Saturday, December 19, 2009

What's up Doc? Carrot Heaven

I received some of the sweetest carrots I have ever had this year from our winter CSA. Due to the cold weather, winter storage carrots develop a wonderful sweetness that sets them apart from the flavorless store-bought carrots. Carrots come in a variety of colors such as the Purple Haze and Yellow Stone Varieties or the Bolero variety which is perfect for winter storage. Because these carrots are organic, I leave that flavorsome thin skin on. If you are buying store-bought, non-organic carrots I highly recommend peeling them due to the large amount of pesticides used to grow them.

To highlight the carrots' sweetness, I adapted a recipe for Curried Carrot Almond Soup from the now defunct Gourmet Magazine. I used homemade chicken stock and added some different spices than the Gourmet Magazine recipe. This is a velvety pureed soup which is low fat but certainly doesn't taste like it. The addition of unsweetened almond milk gives it a delectable creaminess. You can easily make this soup vegan by switching the chicken stock to vegetable stock or water. As everything is going to be pureed you don't need to spend too much time on finely chopping the ingredients which makes this a quick and easy soup that tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen. I substituted pine nuts for the almonds. Garnishing with cilantro and toasted nuts really added to the balance of this soup so try not to skip this step.

Curried Carrot Almond Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 pounds carrots, washed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup toasted almonds for garnish
1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish

  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy 4-quart stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute, stirring occasionally until onions are soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add sliced carrots and saute for about 5 minutes to help release some of their sweetness.
  3. Add chopped garlic, curry powder, ground coriander, ground fennel, ground ginger, salt and pepper and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add in chicken stock and almond milk and simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally , until carrots are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Let the soup cool slightly then blend soup in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Adjust seasoning with salt and 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
  6. Serve sprinkled with cilantro leaves and toasted almonds.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spanish Tortilla

I received some beautiful red skinned, red flesh potatoes from my CSA along with some kale and red onions. I had the cheddar cheese and eggs on hand so decided to whip together a Spanish Tortilla. When most people hear "tortilla" they think of the flat bread used to wrap burritos or tacos, but the Spanish tortilla couldn't be more different. It is actually an egg omelet made with potatoes and other vegetables may be added (similar to the Italian Fritatta). When making egg dishes such as omelets, tortillas, frittatas or quiche, any filling should be cooked before being added to the eggs. This will prevent you from having a watery egg dish and it also allows you a chance to add some more flavors to your dish such as herbs and spices.

Spanish tortillas are a great economical choice for any time of the day. It can be served hot or cold. I have taken a classic Spanish tortilla recipe and given it a Vermont twist. In this recipe I added some sauteed kale for some extra fiber, folate, and iron and some cheddar cheese instead of Manchego.

I've found one of the most important pieces of equipment when making a Spanish tortilla is the pan you use. It MUST be non-stick or else you will end up with a scrambled mess on your hands.

2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups chopped fresh kale, stems removed
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons water
1 pound red potatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
6 large eggs
1/4 cup shredded cheddar
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a medium sized non-stick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and chopped kale to heated oil and saute for 5-10 minutes or until the kale becomes tender. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water if the kale begins to stick to the pan. Season with salt and pepper, remove from pan and let cool.
  2. Wipe out the pan and then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Heat over medium heat and add sliced potatoes. Cook potatoes until they begin to soften, about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add in sliced onions and paprika and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until onions are translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Remove cooked potatoes and drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs. Mix in grated cheese and season with salt and pepper. Add in cooked potatoes and kale mixture. Mix together and let sir for about 5 minutes to allow the potatoes to absorb some of the egg.
  5. Heat cleaned non-stick skillet over medium-low heat and add remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Once oil is hot, pour in egg and potato mixture. As the edges set, lift them away from the side of the pan and tilt the pan to let uncooked egg flow underneath. When the tortilla is mostly set, place an inverted plate a little larger in size than the pan, hold them firmly together, and turn the pan upside down on top of the plate. (Protect the hand holding the plate with a towel or pot holder.) Slide the tortilla back in the pan and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes and then slide onto a plate.
  6. Another way to cook the tortilla is to finish it in the oven as long as the pan you are using is oven-proof. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Start the tortilla on top of the stove, as above. After a couple of minutes, put the pan in the oven and cook until the tortilla is set on top, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  7. Slice into wedges and serve.
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