. . . TALLYRAND ON CARROTS
& COOKING ARTICLE
article about carrots has been written by Tallyrand
as a result off my "I hate carrots"
campaign over previous weeks!
. . . the last word?
I have been reading and following the last couple of
week's editorial with great interest: the 'grate'
felt compelled to add to it because, like David, I used
to be a confirmed xenicarrotphobic (not a real
word but sounds good!). The smell of them took me back
to my school days where we were force-fed them
every lunchtime. I would stand in line and the dinner
lady would remove the cover and up would waft this stench
of boiled carrots! . . . Uggggggggh! . . . then I became
a chef and learnt the art of cooking (or not) these
delights and how to get the best from them.
is something that you may not have known about these
root vegetables. Their original colour was purple and
sometimes white! Yep, that's right . . . purple.
and how the colour change then? Well, it was Dutch growers
apparently who, through a selective growing process,
changed their colour to orange . . . which, of course,
is their national colour. Now this happened hundreds
of years ago, before anyone had heard of the term genetically
modified foods! You would be surprised how many flowers,
vegetables and fruits this has happened to - what we
eat now is nowhere close to what the original plant
looked or tasted like. You should see what kiwi fruit
looked like one hundred years or so ago ,before the
New Zealanders changed it The Chinese Gooseberry (Yang
Tao) was a far cry from the soft delectable fruit
we have now.
interesting tit-bit is that if you eat a diet of nothing
but carrots, after a month your skin will take on an
orange hue . . . I kid thee not!
original carrot however is now making a comeback, with
the purple and white varieties starting to appear again.
A neat marketing ploy maybe, but it takes it back to
its roots, if you will excuse the pun. Thankfully, there
are also a lot more orange carrot varieties available
these days than there ever was. No longer are they grown
as big as possible with a harsh flavour, but selectively
grown and picked when they are at their best. No more
are sweet baby carrots the domain of the canning companies,
no longer are they a veritable delicacy known and enjoyed
by the home grower.
just what can you do with this vegetable? Two of my
personal favourites have already been covered but I
have included my versions anyway, but here are a few
tips, tricks and recipes that might even convert David.
After all, they are good for the eyes they say . . .
guess that is why bunnies never wear glasses!
frozen or canned carrots?
Which are best? I prefer them in the above order - fresh,
frozen, canned - but with the following conditions:
carrots definitely over winter ones. Winter carrots
being grown in such harsh conditions and lack of sun,
do not have that sweetness and freshness of flavour
that summer ones possess (see my later tip for counter-reacting
fresh carrots are fresh. In other words they are
no more than a week out of the ground to be at their
best. The green tops are the best indication for this
because after this time, the green will be limp and
or small carrots? The smaller the better - as
vegetables grow the natural sugars are converted to
enable them to grow, so the smaller ones will have
a sweeter more subtle flavour. Larger ones (this applying
to most vegetables and fruits) lose flavour and tend
to take on a more earthy taste . . . which explains
why new / baby potatoes taste so great!
the above are not possible then go for frozen carrots.
Many chefs poo-hoo this, but only those that
are not thinking or have not been well trained in
my opinion. From the time vegetables are picked or
harvested, they start to lose nutritional content
fast. Vitamin C is very fragile and easily lost through
storage, handling, contact with moisture (it is water
soluble), chopping and cooking. But frozen carrots
and other vegetables are harvested and frozen quickly,
efficiently and correctly, thus retaining their nutritional
all else fails, canned carrots it is I guess.
Nutritional wise, they are great but always far too
over cooked for my liking and best used for soups.
Not to mention expensive. But that is just this chef's
/ one man's opinion.
We all love this one and I am sure you all have your
own version or recipe for carrot cake, so I will not
supply one this week. However, the reason this cake
is so moist is mainly because of the grated carrot.
So following my story and advice below for candied carrots,
use the same technique for moistening that chocolate
cake, fruit / Christmas cake, etc. Add a finely grated
carrot to your normal recipe. You will not see it or
taste it but it adds that extra moist feel to it!
No not the nickname for that ginger haired kid you teased
at school. If you have not tried the green carrot tops
(yes that's right the tops!) cooked in butter,
with a little garlic or smoked bacon you don't know
what you are missing!
Have you cooked these and had them taste more like the
earth they grew in? I remember it well until I learnt
better . . . and it is emblazoned in my mind. It went
like this, one day in the kitchen:
what do these carrots lack?" my chef asked
me. "What's missing that baby carrots have?"
thinking and careful not to want to look like a fool,
I tentatively replied; "Flavour, Chef. They
do not have that sweetness and freshness."
what are you going to do about it?" he said.
Seeing my blank look he offered the following hint.
"What can you put into them, then, to make them
taste like summer ones?"
when the penny dropped and I learnt maybe the most valuable
lesson I ever learnt in cooking:
it lacks flavour add it
it needs salt, put more in
its too thick thin it down with the same liquid you
used to start with - milk, stock, etc as water will
dilute the flavour also
it is too thin, thicken it using the same thickening
agent you started with (never, ever mix them: roux
and cornflour, arrowroot and cornflour, etc).
this particular case as the carrots were already cooked,
I made a very thin caramel with butter added and gently
mixed it through. From there on in I used the following
the carrots either as thin as possible or in batons.
cover with water (as they cook they soften and shrink
into the water and less vitamins are lost).
a lid on them and cook gently.
half cooked, remove the lid and add (per kg of carrots)
50gm of butter and 50gm of sugar or honey.
to continue cooking gently until the water has evaporated
and the butter and sugar has coated the carrots nicely.
But be sure they do not caramelise and burn.
result is sweet, wonderfully buttery carrots!
No not the colour this time, the flavour! Steph Daly
supplied a great recipe last week for these that you
really must try <click
here>. My version of this dish simply cooks them
in fresh orange juice instead of water, and as above
removing the lid half way through, adding butter only
(no sugar) and letting the juice reduce right down as
they finish cooking.
The week before last was a recipe for these from Stephen
here> who converted it from a chicken recipe
- great to see someone thinking on their feet . . .
a trait required for any great chef! But for me it lacked
those flavours, those flavours that take me back to
my trips to Morocco. So I have dug out a recipe from
my files, which I must admit I do not even remember
from where it came. It is not any better than Stephen's
I hasten to add just different. Harissa is a Moroccan
spice mix that is readily available now. If you cannot
find the Moroccan pickled lemons use the juice of a
lemon instead, but it will not give you that true Moroccan
- small, finely sliced
slice and cook the carrots in salted water. While
these are cooking prepare the following:
some olive oil in a pan and cook the sliced onions
slowly until they take on a golden brown colour. This
darkening happens as the natural sugars caramelise
and therefore turns the onions from their raw, strong
and astringent flavour to something sweet
the sliced garlic clove and allow them to soften
the finely sliced peel of the pickled lemon (discard
all the pith, centre etc), honey and harissa and combine
well. A word of caution here, harissa has lots of
chilli in it, so add to suit your own tastes.
the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan and place over
a medium heat to toast them gently until they release
their aromas. Add this the above mixture
the carrots well and while still hot, gently fold
in the above mixture and allow to cool
cool (but not cold) add a good handful of chopped
or shredded coriander leaves
in a plastic container, pour on a generous amount
of virgin olive oil (extra virgin will be too strong
and chill at least over night, serve at room temperature
Using many tips, etc from above this is a great one
to keep in your recipe arsenal for a quick, fix it salad
when those extra, unexpected guests arrive at your BBQ,
as it can be put together in a matter of minutes Grate
the washed and peeled carrots into a bowl, sweeten and
flavour with some orange juice (I actually prefer using
the liquid concentrate), add salt and sugar if required
/ preferred and a good handful of sultanas, raisins
are a million and one recipes for carrots in the Naked
Kitchen . . . this has just been a few of them!
Hub-UK : firstname.lastname@example.org