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Carrots

by Louise Fiszer & Jeannette Ferrary

There are two non-mysterious things that everyone knows about carrots. They are orange and they help prevent night blindness because they are chockful of vitamin C. Both of these facts are technically incorrect. Carrots were formerly every color but orange: red, black, yellow, white and especially purple. First cultivated in Afghanistan in the 7th century, carrots originally had purple exteriors and yellow flesh. In the Middle Ages, the Dutch developed the bright orange carrot we now know as the bearer of carotene. Once in contact with the human intestine it is converted to vitamin A.

Because of this vegetable's inherent sweetness, it has been used for desserts and candies long before the ubiquitous carrot cake.The Irish and English make a carrot pudding, the French make a cream with candied slivers of carrots in it, "tzimmes" a sweet carrot stew, is traditional for the Jewish New Year and early New Englanders gave carrot cookies as Christmas gifts. Two billion pounds of carrots are grown annually in this country alone, mainly in Texas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Quite a few also emanate from Holtville, California which dubs itself "The Carrot Capital of the World."

Consumer and Cooking Guide

Market Selection
Long and short best describes the carrots available. They should have bright orange-gold color and be well shaped. If the tops are attached, the leaves should be bright green and fresh looking.

Availability
Year-round.

Storage
Carrots will keep in the refrigerator in a plastic bag up to 10 days. Remove green tops before storing as they will reduce the carrots shelf life.

Flavor Enhancers
Dill, coriander, chervil, tarragon

Equivalents
1 medium bunch = 1 pound
1 large carrot = 1/4 pound
1 large carrot = 1 cup, shredded

Nutritional Value
Good source of vitamin A
35 calories per cup

Basic Cooking Methods
Cook in boiling salted water approximately 5 minutes. Steam 7 minutes.

Curried Carrot Soup
serves 4

2 cups chicken stock
1 strip orange zest
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
1 bunch green onions, trimmed and chopped
1 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder or to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream, half and half or plain yogurt
salt and pepper
mint sprigs for garnish

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock and orange zest to a boil. Add carrots and green onions, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in the orange juice and curry powder and cook another 2 minutes. Let cool slightly. Puree in blender with cream. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold, garnished with mint sprigs.

Green Pasta with Spicy Carrots
serves 4

3 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 slice fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3 carrots, peeled cut into matchsticks and cooked just until tender
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
salt and pepper

1 pound freshly cooked spinach fettucini or linguine
In a large skillet heat oil. Cook the garlic, jalapeno, ginger, cumin and cayenne about 3 minutes or until fragrant. Stir in the carrots and toss well to coat. Cook about 2 minutes.Add the stock, bring to a boil and then simmer 3 minutes. Meanwhile puree the sour cream and cilantro. Add to the carrot mixture and heat through. Taste for salt and pepper. Add pasta to skillet and toss well with sauce.

Flourless Carrot Torte
serves 10 to 12

1 1/2 cup ground almonds
6 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups finely grated carrots
1/2 teaspoon salt
confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Grease a 9 inch springform pan and dust with about 2 tablespoons of the nuts. Beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice and 1/2 cup sugar until pale and thick. Stir in the remaining ground nuts, cocoa, ginger and carrots.

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the salt and beat until thick. Add remaining sugar a little at a time and continue to beat until stiff and shiny. Fold the whites into the carrot mixture and pour into prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry. Allow to cool completely before unmolding. Sprinkle with Confectioner's sugar.

 

Jeannette & Louise are Bay Area freelance food writers and the authors of several books including Sweet Onions & Sour Cherries and A Good Day for Soup.



Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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