Tag Archives: recipes

recipe: hot honey carrots

It’s been a marathon weekend of painting around here – sandwiched in with regular weekend life, which means the painting happens in the “off hours” and off hours=late hours. I mentioned these carrots last night, and thought I’d wait and post this recipe this morning, but as soon as I turned on my computer and read the headlines, I ceased to really care about carrots. Now it’s the end of the day, and I’m worn out. Worn down. What do you do? I don’t know. Go to church? Go to a bookstore? Go for a run? I did all of those things, and they engaged my mind and my spirit in different, and difficult ways. I’m spent. All I have is carrots, and it’s nothing, I know that. I have outrage, and half written posts on all the hot topics – race, politics, religion, sex, guns. It’s summer and it’s busy and it’s so hard to tie up these things in neat packages, so for now I’ve got nothing. But if you know me, you know it’s there, simmering.

Tonight I sliced a watermelon, placed the triangles in the freezer for a few moments, topped them with goat cheese I whipped honey and vanilla into, and spread blueberry compote on top, followed by mint. For dinner, or at least for the salad portion of dinner. I spent the better part of the afternoon with E, and we talked about lots of things, many of them listed in that heavy list above. Tonight we talked again, and now she’s asleep and I’m the luck-luck-luckiest mother on the whole planet. How how have I earned that? Can I express my gratitude in food the color of rainbows?

You’ve probably seen this bumper sticker around town. I know a few people who have them on their cars. I parked next to one this afternoon.

LovePeople

I know it’s not the solution, but I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s just carrots, and not even fancy ones. It’s not enough, cooking them tasty food, but it’s a tool in my tool belt that helps me drive in the first sentence.

Love people.

…..

It started with a small bunch of carrots I picked up at the market last weekend.

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(You can see the carrot tops sticking out from under all the flowers I purchased at the market. And the rhubarb. They sort of blend into the grass, but they lent some legitimacy to my market visit.)

I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with them, but I figured I would probably roast them. But after scrubbing them and cutting off most of the leaves and stems, they were just so tiny and cute, they were calling out for a little fancier treatment.

In my head I pulled together two different ideas and sort of melded them into one, and the results were so good that I instantly regretted not buying more. I remedied that situation by buying three bunches yesterday morning, and thought I’d share this recipe as a great side dish or even an impressive (and delicious) starter course – I think it’s really lovely.

Fresh spring carrots, tops intact, the smaller the better. If you can find a variety of heirloom carrots in different colors, they look so beautiful in this dish. Scrub them really well, but you don’t need to peel them. Get them good and clean around the base of the greens where dirt likes to hang out.

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Preheat oven to 425, rack in the middle position.

Trim the tops, leaving about an inch of stems left. These actually taste really good when you roast them, but you can also just use them like a little handle to pick up the carrots and eat them with your hands. Slice the carrots in half lengthwise.

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Toss carrots with olive oil, whole, unpeeled garlic cloves, fresh sprigs of thyme, and salt and pepper to taste, be generous with all of the above. I use my hands, it’s quicker and more effective.

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Roast carrots for 30-50 minutes. I know this is a huge range, but it really depends on the size of the carrots. I set my timer for 20 minutes, gave them a quick toss at that point and then checked at the 30 minute mark and again at 35. 35 was the magic number for these. You want them good and crispy on the edges, slightly shrunken and wrinkled, a little disheveled.

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The inspiration for the rest of this came from a few places – my Fat Radish cookbook and my Ripe Cookbook. (And before I forget – @mylavenderblues on IG is where the watermelon recipe came from). Both of these suggested some form of sweet and spicy kick, executed in far more steps, and then I remembered the honey and red pepper flakes we drizzled on a Blue Apron recipe for pizza once, and then I thought “Mike’s Hot Honey!” plus the drooping, water-starved mint we brought in from the yard to hopefully rescue in the kitchen. (Mike’s Hot Honey was purchased at Porano Pasta, and is available here. Or make something similar by adding red pepper flakes to honey.)

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And that’s it. The carrots are roasted to perfection, and everyone can drizzle with as much honey and mint as they’d like. It’s a great flavor combination, and it adds so much to dinner, or even snack time. They reheat well, so make plenty. Make them for somebody you love.

holiday food and a giveaway

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This morning, over breakfast, I asked the girls what they were most excited about for the coming holidays. Beyond the whole presents thing, E loves any sort of crafty / baking project and staying up late on New Year’s Eve to ring in the next year. F likes anything and everything related to food – and so do I!

What are your food traditions around the holidays? I love our Christmas Eve buffet. We have it after the candlelight service, so we’re all really, really hungry by then. I’m not sure how we ended up with the menu that we have, but I imagine that it’s evolved over the years as new items are introduced, but old favorites are still requested. There’s a large platter of shrimp with cocktail sauce in the center, piping hot sausage balls, and ham biscuits. My grandfather always liked oyster stew, although I never could get into it. We have various quiches, vegetables, maybe some fruit – sometimes a citrus salad. And then there are plates and plates of Christmas cookies we’ve had at every holiday table since I was a kid. Oh – I almost forgot – we also have cranberry sorbet to drink. That might be my favorite. It’s not Christmas Eve without it.

The girls love Christmas breakfast – we usually start with a grapefruit half before filling up plates with various breads, my mom’s famous cream cheese braids, more of those sausage balls and ham biscuits too. Lunch is the traditional affair with ham and vegetables and casseroles and bread; several years ago my mom started making a cheesecake for dessert, and that might be my favorite part. (Because the previous food hadn’t been rich or sweet enough!)

Then we enter into the realm of leftovers for a few days, until we all start craving pizza for a change of pace. If you get that way too, and you still have a family (or families) to feed for the weekend after, I might have just the recipe for you.

This past week we received our last box from Blue Apron for awhile since we’ll be traveling quite a bit over the next few weeks. We’ve been so busy lately, that I didn’t really give the recipes too much thought before I made them. But we were completely blown away by each recipe, particularly the Caramelized Meyer Lemon Spaghetti. I’m not kidding you – it was delicious. As it came together, it didn’t really look like all that much. But I’m still craving the finished product a week later. I think it would be a perfect post holiday meal to make and serve – it’s bright, it’s simple, but the flavors are more complex than you might expect. I think you could easily double or triple this recipe for a crowd. None of the prep work or process is difficult – the trickiest thing was removing the dozen seeds from the meyer lemon – but even that was not a big deal.

The ingredients should be relatively easy to find – make sure you use MEYER lemons – they are a cross between a lemon and an orange, and a straight lemon is not going to work. You also need palm or turbinado sugar – this is pretty easy to find in most grocery stores today. As this was going together I was a bit underwhelmed – it just doesn’t look like much is going on. (I also found that it took a few minutes longer than listed to caramelize the lemons, so watch that. And the photos make the pasta look darker than it really was – it will seem like there’s very little “sauce”, but it’s perfect – and not over-the-top buttery.)

We plated it up, sprinkled parmesan and the toasted garlic breadcrumbs on top, and added the parsley for garnish, and then couldn’t stop eating it. I can’t wait to make it again – hey! maybe even this weekend, post sausage ball extravaganza.

Since it’s the holidays, and I’m so grateful that you read this blog, and since I really wish I could invite each of you over and serve you this pasta personally – I thought I’d do the next best thing. I’ve had three free weeks of Blue Apron meals burning a hole in my pocket account for ages, and I’d love to pass one onto you.

As always, this is not sponsored in any way, I just receive free weeks because I use the service on my own. If you haven’t already won in past giveaways, please leave a comment in the email about your favorite (or least favorite) holiday food tradition. I’ll draw three names randomly over Christmas break – sometime after the cheesecake and before I make this pasta dish for a crowd.

Good luck, and let me know what you think about the lemon dish if you make it. Thanks, too, for hanging out with me and letting me talk so much about food.

sparkling pear punch (in the gut)

I feel like I’m on a pretty tenuous tightrope these days, especially this week. I’m hunkering down more in the evenings, usually with a warm bath and the first library book I’ve checked out in awhile. I’m coming off a really busy stretch of extra-curricular activities that required a lot of solitary work inside my kitchen and a lot of extroverted activity at various events. I’d have to say I’m more comfortable somewhere in the middle of that zone – not so isolated and focused on a task that I feel like I only see my family in passing, and not so out there in the middle of everything where I’m not always the most skilled at organizing and delegating and entertaining. I’m settling back into the middles again, though not as gracefully as I would have liked.

Being busy is both diversionary and amplifying. Occasionally I can get so caught up in what I’m doing that my thoughts are distracted; more often than not, they are heightened and more focused. The general hum feels good in my head for a bit, but I’m surprised by how the simplest thing can trigger a rush of emotions in me these days. There’s a particular tree in a particular state of color change at a particular time of a sunny afternoon on a particular hill that does it for me. I’ve built my legs up and my lungs up a great deal this year so it’s not that slope that does me in. It’s that tree – everything tightens and I fold forward, hands on knees to catch my breath.

I realize that this is an awkward seque to a recipe, and if you bookmark or pin this post to revisit during the holidays, that most likely you’ll skim through my initial ramblings until you get to your grocery list. I’m okay with that. I’m skimming a lot of things lately, and not in a “gathering cream” kind of way, filtering through the noise to get to the good stuff, the essential stuff. More like a frantic skimming that leaves me wondering at the end of the day if I really addressed the things I needed to address or if I just think that I have because I skimmed a note or an email or let my mind rest briefly on a fleeting thought with no real follow up action.

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Punch is a funny word, and I haven’t really bothered to look up the origins of the word as it relates to a party drink. More often I think of the word as a physical one, the thing that screws up the rhythm of my extensive breath practice over these past few months. But serving punch at a party is such an easy, festive thing to do. Punch can be colorful, it’s often served in a lovely bowl, and you can float beautiful things in it, like fruit or flowers or frothy sherbert tops. When you’re not sure exactly what to do with yourself at a gathering, you can always make yourself useful by ladling up a few cups in the center of the action. Or you can hang closer to the edges and let your guests serve themselves. For the most part, on Saturday morning, I served since the the average age of the consumer was probably eight. This punch was so well received by the adult guests as well as the kids, that I consider it a keeper.

Do Ahead

You might want to make a large ice block by freezing water in a plastic storage container ahead of time. I didn’t think of this early enough, and the punch was certainly cold enough, but using an ice block might keep it cold longer.

Make the Ginger Simple Syrup

Peel and trim a large piece of fresh ginger, and then cut into one-inch pieces (3-4 of these). Place the ginger pieces in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar. Stir to mix, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat, simmering for about thirty minutes until reduced to a syrup. Allow syrup to cool slightly, remove ginger pieces, and store in refrigerator until cold.

Make the Punch

Here’s the ratio I used – in a large punch bowl, combine:

64 oz. pear juice (I used Santa Cruz Organic Pear Nectar – I found it at Schnuck’s in a 32 oz. bottle, you’ll need two)
1 cup of ginger simple syrup (see above)
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground ginger
Whisk until combined.
Add 1 liter seltzer water and stir gently. Add the ice block to the punch bowl.

I also thin sliced a pear and floated a few of the slices in the punch. I know it looks a little like (blurry) pea soup here, but the punch was really pretty and really tasty.

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One of my favorite things about the event was how the students that were helping out at the school all came up to tell me what they loved about last year’s spread, and what they were enjoying from this year’s table. One boy asked to try some punch, and while I was pouring him a glass he said “Remember that punch you made last year – the pomegranate one with the apple cider? It was so amazing.” I was so surprised (and touched) that he remembered it. And then he took a sip of this and said “This is off the chain.” High praise. I doubled the recipe, and the bowl was licked clean (and pear slices consumed, no joke.)

P.S. (We have this punch bowl, which conveniently transforms into a cake stand and cover which I think is brilliant. )