Archive for November, 2012

November 19, 2012

Chipotle-Roasted Carrots

I’m thrilled to be hosting Thanksgiving this year! Without a doubt its my favorite holiday. Great food, family, friends and good drinks. What else is there to live for.  It’s a time to give thanks for all that we are grateful for and all that we often take for granted. My daughter lost a grandma this year. She will be missed and in our thoughts this holiday season. Many of us have survived various degrees of Hurricane Sandy’s impact. I know those of us who spent extended time without electricity will be happy to light candles illuminating our Thanksgiving tables, because we want to, not because we have to.

For some reason, the last month has caused the side of my brain that organizes stuff in my life to shut down. I’ve tried to fix it, but it’s not cooperating. I had high hopes of a beautiful photo of a big turkey on my homepage, obviously that didn’t happen.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be weeks of preparation and days of cooking, leaving you exhausted and unable to enjoy the big day. Try to simplify things a little. There are many recipes that you can make ahead or that require little prep with delicious results. I just made these carrots from Food and Wine as a trial run for Thanksgiving and this dish is a keeper! Sweet and spicy from molasses and chipotles, I love how their flavor adds a nice kick to the Thanksgiving plate.

Adapted from Food and Wine, November 2012

INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6)

  • 2lbs carrots, peeled and halved on an angle
  • 1 tbsp unsulfured molasses
  • 1 chipotle, minced (from can of chipotle and adobo sauce)
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce from the can
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • Generous sprinkling of sesame seeds (about 1 tbsp) – toasting is optional, I didn’t
  • Handful of watercress, stems removed (about 2oz)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

On a sheet pan toss the carrots with the minced chipotle, adobo sauce, molasses and olive oil. Spread the carrots out evenly on the pan and roast for about 35-40 minutes until tender. Timing will depend on how thick your carrots are. Check the thickest one on the pan, using a fork, after about 30 minutes.

Remove the sheet pan from the oven and allow the carrots to cool slightly. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and watercress leaves. Toss to combine and serve.

NOTES: I’ve changed the original recipe to make it even simpler and to reduce the amount of olive oil just a little. The recipe calls for 30 thin baby carrots (2-3 bunches) with the tops discarded. These are the pretty carrots that remind me of Peter Rabbit. I know these can be hard to find, so I made this using a 2lb bag of carrots from the grocery store. It turned out perfect. In addition, this is spicy! I used only one chipotle. The original recipe calls for two. Feel free if you can take the heat. Serve it with some plain greek yogurt or sour cream  if you want to cool it down.

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November 13, 2012

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. Life has been hectic to say the least. The Northeast survived Hurricane Sandy with terrible damage and devastation to our shorelines and throughout the tri-state area. Our prayers continue to go out to those who have lost so much. I feel fortunate having only lost a number of big trees and of course, power for a week. I know there are many folks not far from us that still don’t have power. The whole experience gave me a new appreciation for the simple things… electricity, heat, and gas stations that have no lines, and gas. I think we take these things for granted as we go about our day. Think of all the countries in the world where much of their population doesn’t have electricity or running water… or shoes.

With all the stormy weather and colder temperatures, a big bowl of soup was in order. Ladled into bowls with a sprinkle of fresh basil and parmesan, this is a delicious weeknight soup you can throw together in a reasonable amount of time. Perfect when accompanied by a sandwich, it’s a great grab-and-go for lunches the next day, too.

This soup is rich and creamy, but with no cream. Blending the softened vegetables using an immersion blender gives you the consistency of a cream soup, without the added fat and calories. I’ve found this works for butternut squash soup, as well. An immersion blender is super convenient, as you take the blender to the food, rather than ladling hot liquids into a blender. They are inexpensive and available at any housewares store.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/4lb), quartered and seeded
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3/4 cup diced carrot (about 2 small)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 28oz can whole plum tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 8 whole fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (if needed)

TO ROAST THE VEGETABLES

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the quartered tomatoes, onion and whole garlic cloves with the fresh thyme on a baking sheet. Drizzle the vegetables with 2 tbsp of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper – toss to coat. Place in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until everything is soft and the onions are beginning to turn a little golden on the edges.

TO MAKE THE SOUP

Heat a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Add the remaining tbsp of olive oil and the diced carrot. Sauté until the carrots begin to soften. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine with the carrots, about 2 minutes. Pour in the can of tomatoes and break them up with the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Add the roasted vegetables straight from the oven with the basil leaves, stir to combine. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Taste for reseasoning with salt and pepper. If the tomatoes are a little acidic you can add in the 1/2 tsp of sugar.

Blend the soup using an immersion blender until nice and creamy. Serve with chopped fresh basil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese… a grilled cheese sandwich would go nicely as well.

* You could easily make this vegetarian by using vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock.

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