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Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

roasted carrot and parsnipPop-up shops (temporary retail spaces that sell merchandise of any kind) have been around for a while and not limited to art or fashion.  Farmers’ markets are getting on the band wagon and showing up in places you wouldn’t have thought.  And why not?  Last week I dropped my daughter off at Mic Mac Mall and she quickly called to let me know there was a market in the main entrance. When I returned to pick her up, I popped in to see what was being offered. The Vegetorium Country Farm Market had a small, but jam-packed table.  Every Thursday from now until October locals will have an opportunity to buy produce fresh from the farm.  I eyed the carrots and new potatoes.  Roasted carrots and parsnips make a lovely side dish and easy to eat when serving to children – perfect finger food!

carrots, sliced lengthwise
parsnips, peeled and sliced lengthwise
extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
half a lemon

garden fresh carrotsPreheat oven to 400f. Arrange carrots and parsnips on a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle cumin over the vegetables. Squeeze lemon over and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Place pan in oven and roast 20 to 30 minutes or until veggies are tender. Serve hot or allow to cool to room temperature.

carrots and parsnips
To take this dish up a notch (photo shown at the top), sauté chorizo slices until warmed through and the natural oil is released. In a bowl, add chorizo plus any oil from the pan and the roasted vegetables along with a choice of cooked barley, lentils, or quinoa. These grains can be cool or warm. Add a splash of olive oil, minced garlic and chopped parsley.  Toss to combine.

roasted parsnips & carrotsThe Culinary Chase’s Note:
If you bought small carrots fresh from the farmer like I did, don’t peel.  Simply scrub clean.  If the carrots or parsnips are large, cut them into quarters (lengthwise).  Roasting brings out the natural sugars in the vegetables and remember to keep an eye on the cooking time. Cut vegetables in roughly the same size for uniform cooking. Enjoy!

Carrot Soup with Feta and Quinoa

carrot soup with feta & quinoaWhen it’s cold outside there’s nothing more comforting and warming than homemade soup.  Soup, by the way, doesn’t need to be arduous nor does it need to take a long time to make to taste good. Carrot soup with feta and quinoa should make you take notice as this isn’t something ordinary but downright scrumptious! The crunchy chewy texture coming from the quinoa not only adds substance but will keep you feeling satiated longer (always a good thing when trying to stick to those new year’s resolutions!).  Carrots have a host of nutritional health benefits:  helps to cleanse the liver, improves vision, reduces the risk of cancer, anti-aging, and healthy skin to name a few.  This soup can be ready in 30 minutes.

Serves 4
adapted by Gourmet Traveller

2 1/2 lb (1.2 kg) carrots, coarsely grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup quinoa
300g Greek feta, coarsely crumbled
handful of coarsely chopped mint and flat-leaf parsley
extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)

carrots by The Culinary Chase1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion and garlic and stir occasionally until tender. Add carrots, cumin, paprika and lemon rind.  Stir occasionally until carrot softens. Add stock and 2 1/2 cups boiling water, season to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until well-flavored.
2. Cook quinoa in a saucepan of boiling water until tender (10-12 minutes), then drain and set aside in a bowl.
3. Remove soup from heat, add lemon juice and half the feta, process with a hand-held blender until smooth. Top with quinoa, scatter with herbs and remaining feta, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Use a food processor with a grater attachment to speed up the grating process.  *You may need to add more water if soup is too thick.  With so many flavors and textures, this recipe is a keeper.  Enjoy!

Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup with Garam Masala Cream

carrot & sweet potato soup by The Culinary ChaseSo, it’s your turn to provide food for your book club but you are short on time and ingredients. What to serve? This carrot and sweet potato soup is thick enough to satisfy any hunger pains. Add to it a side of warmed naan bread and pair with a chilled bottle of white wine.  Garam masala is an Indian blend of ground spices and typically includes black and white peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, coriander and cardamom.  Garam masala is usually found in the international section of your grocery store.

Serves 4 to 6
adapted from Ripe

¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup onion, chopped
4-6 carrots, roughly chopped
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¾ teaspoon garam masala
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons sour cream or Greek yogurt, plus additional to garnish

1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, sweet potatoes, salt and pepper, and ½ teaspoon garam masala. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Add the stock and 1 cup cold water and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and partially cover. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Purée soup using an immersion blender. Or let soup to cool slightly and then purée in batches in a blender. Return soup to pot. Add lime juice, to taste. Taste and season with salt and pepper (if needed).
4. Mix sour cream or yogurt and remaining ¼ teaspoon garam masala in a small bowl. Swirl into the soup. Serve hot, garnished with additional sour cream or yogurt (optional).

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Soup’s on in 30 minutes!

Tuscan Braised Beef Short Ribs

Tuscan Braised Beef Short Ribs by The Culinary Chase

It’s hard to believe we’ve been back in Canada now three weeks…a slightly hectic time to say the least.  Settling into a routine has been hit and miss for me and is one of the reasons for not posting regularly.  It can be a challenge balancing the time I used to spend on my own while John was at work, to him now being home all the time.  We’re starting to find a rhythm that works for us incorporating fitness time together, focusing on the job hunt, social activities and me doing what I love to do best – cooking and networking.

We had a dinner party Saturday night with Wayne and Jenn…friends who we met four years ago.  They came to visit us in May while we were still in NY and yet our Saturday get together felt as though we hadn’t been away at all.  We’re so comfortable being around them and feel so lucky to have them in our lives.  An evening filled with laughter and thought-provoking conversation.  A good time was had by all.

Serves 4 to 6
adapted from Fine Cooking

4-1/2 lb. beef short ribs
3 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup diced carrots
2/3 cup diced onions
2/3 cup diced fennel
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 or 3 anchovy filets
1-1/2 cups dry red wine
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup beef broth (sodium reduced)
chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 325f. In an 8-quart Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Season the ribs well with salt and pepper. Add half of the ribs to the pot (or as many as will fit without overlapping), and cook, turning with tongs, until nicely browned on all sides (do the ends as well), 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the ribs to a plate and repeat with the remaining ribs.

beef ribs by The Culinary ChaseAdd the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, carrots, onions, and fennel to the pan. Season with salt. Cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the thyme, garlic, paprika, coriander, and anchovies, and cook, stirring, until well distributed and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Pour the red wine into the pot and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Transfer all the ribs (and any juices that have accumulated) back into the pot. Pour 1-1/2 cups water, tomatoes, and beef broth over the ribs, arrange the ribs as evenly as possible.

Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover, and place the pot in the oven. Cook, turning the ribs with tongs about every 40 minutes, until they are fork tender, about 2-3/4 hours. (The meat may fall off most of the bones about midway through cooking; this does not mean that the ribs are fully tender).

braised beef ribs by The Culinary Chase

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Fork tender and flipping delicious! I served this with a creamy polenta.  Make this ahead of time and serve it the next day for an enhanced flavor.  Enjoy!

Carrot Marmalade

carrot marmalade by The Culinary ChaseHomemade marmalade has been a long standing tradition in my family. Both my paternal and maternal grandmothers were fruit preserve queens! My mom also made her fair share, too. I’ve dabbled a bit but lost interest while we lived in Asia as storage was limited and cold rooms were non-existent. While fruit such as orange or grapefruit are common when it comes to marmalade, I’ve never heard of carrots being used until I saw Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. I caught the tail end of the show and was intrigued when carrot marmalade was paired with thinly sliced Virgina ham, and mayo on top of a slice of bread.  The combo wasn’t something I would have entertained but it peaked my interest so I knew I had to make it!

According to The Oxford Companion to Food, marmelada was the Portuguese name for a sweet quince paste. This luxury good was imported to Britain by the late 15th century, to be used as a medicine or a sweetmeat. All marmalades were solid confections, to be cut into slices and eaten with fingers, not at all like modern marmalade. A minor but interesting facet of this British attainment is that, among all the numerous culinary operations carried out in British domestic kitchens, marmalade-making is one which is quite often performed by men. Who knew?

Makes 2 cups
inspired by Fig and Fauna

zest and juice of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 orange
2 cups water
2 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 – 2 cups natural cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom

marmalade ingredients by The Culinary ChaseAdd zest and juice of the lemon and orange in a large pot and top with the water. Boil for ten minutes then add the carrots, cardamom and sugar to the mixture. Continue boiling until the marmalade is thick and forms a sheet when poured from the spoon, about 30 minutes. Seal marmalade in sterilized jars and process in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Allow marmalade to cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate once opened.

lemon zest by The Culinary Chase

grated carrot by The Culinary Chase

The maple board below is hand made in Halifax, Nova Scotia by Swaine Street Woodworking. If you enjoy the natural beauty of wood cutting boards as much as I do, I highly recommend a visit to Jana’s site.

carrot marmalade

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  A quick way to test if the marmalade is ready, place a small plate in the freezer. After the 30 minute cooking period, take a teaspoon of the marmalade and place it on the chilled plate and let it sit for 30 seconds. Tilt the plate. The mixture should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If it is thin and runny, it is not ready. Continue boiling for another 5 minutes and do the test again.  This has to be the easiest marmalade recipe to make and it tastes like orange marmalade!  Enjoy!