More bleedin’ carrots!
May 21, 2006
Kinson writes to Gastropunk to ask…
“What can I do with more bleedin' carrots again this week?
I made a Soup last week that could keep the rabbit population of Europe going, and still they send more!
Carrot pancakes anyone?”
Carrots can test the patience of the most inventive cook. I’m never happy to see another kilo of these slimy-muck-covered orange dullards in my box. Usually they squat in the bottom of my fridge, limpifying and mouldering, until out of desperation and pity I soup the blighters.
You can make the old carrot soup staple more interesting by mixing it up a bit. A tin of butter beans added after you’ve blitzed the basic soup helps by introducing a nice soft unky texture and a mellow taste. A big bunch of fresh coriander ripped or chopped on top and a swirl of cream – sour or single – lifts the basic carrot soup out of the hum-drum. Chopped bacon, crisply fried, scattered on top does the same. But its still just dressed-up carrot soup so what else can you do…?
I’ve tried pickling carrots in heavily salted water with crushed mustard seeds, then leaving them in the jar for a couple of weeks to fester. According to Madhur Jaffrey this is a delicacy in Bombay (or Delhi can’t remember). The carrots are deep red there so the pickle gets a rich deep colour and they drink the salty-mustard-carrot water with their meal. Well, in my opinion it was rank. Utterly inedible. But at least it got rid of a couple of kilos of carrots down the bog.
I reckon carrot cake would be a good way to rid yourself of these unwanted fridge guests. Trouble is I associate carrot cake with earnest 70s style vegetarian floppiness and the idea just doesn’t get the juices flowing. Might ask the missus to make some though – its right up her gastric street. So to speak. I bet the Italians have some good recipes for cakes using carrots – I’ll have to look into that for a future post.
Leaving them whole when you boil or roast them can be effective in preserving more flavour. Try hot-hot roasting a tray full with beetroot and onion, olive oil, herbs (thyme, rosemary?), crushed dried chilli flakes, whole garlic heads. Eat with something fresh, zingy and lemony to counteract the oily sweetness of roast root veg. Or mix into a bowl of steamy couscous.
I confess to secretly enjoying the odd carrot salad. Grate a couple into a bowl, add really strong olive oil, good seasoning, a touch of lemon juice or vinegar. Leave for a while to mingle. Chuck in some sultanas and nuts if you fancy. Serve with a range of salady stuff. Y'know – whole radish with salt, olives, thinly sliced and dressed red peppers.
Otherwise, hide the little orange critters in sauces. The Italians use a combination of finely chopped onions, celery and carrots as the basis for loads of their best pasta sauces – e.g. pomodoro and ragu (bolognese). Or use them to make veg stock for the freezer…
If you’re gonna boil them try this: slowly cook chopped onion in butter until limp and shiny. Add carrots sliced into batons and allow to mingle. Add seasoning (as always) and a good dollop or two of honey. Top up with water (and perhaps some white wine). Just enough to cover them and a but more. Boil until the water is reduced to a thickish glaze and the carrots are tender. Top up with a little more water if necessary. Good if you’re in the mood for some rich carroty sweetness.
Actually there’s loads you can do with these little beauties. I love ‘em after all!