Week 9: Carrot Week!

It’s Carrot Week here in the western suburbs of Paris! Yes, the 28 kilos (62 lbs) of sandy, dirty carrots lovingly carried into our basement on that fateful February morning are finished. I wish I could say that every last one of them made it into our stomachs via some delicious and unique recipe but the fact is, some of the carrots threw in the towel before they could be shredded, steamed, cooked and baked into more intriguing Chez Maureen concoctions.

Useful tip from one overzealous carrot buyer to potential surplus victims: say no to carrots. Even organic, dirty, Normand carrots. They might look strong, healthy and hearty but it’s only a matter of time, to be precise, about four months less time than you will need to work your way through them. And besides, carrots always need to be peeled, slicing them is tedious, and shredding them is downright dangerous. If you find yourself, despite my warning, in a position where crates of orange root vegetables have found their way into your cellar against a check that your signature somehow found its way onto, buy a food processor (in French, robot).

But carrots aren’t all bad. And buying them a few pounds (a kilo) at a time to store in the crisper box of your refrigerator is a perfectly sane idea. Besides the fact that they are nutritionally good for you, they make tasty additions to a number of savory and sweet dishes including these:

Karoo carotene soup

Tarte Lorraine aux carrots (Carrot pie)

Gajar Halva (Carrot pudding)

Confiture d’oranges, carottes et pamplemousse (Orange-carrot-grapefruit Jam)

Although carrots will not actually improve your night vision, they might make you laugh:

How do you catch a rabbit?

Stand in a field and make carrot noises.

Karoo Carotene Soup

Once upon a time when we lived in Kenya, we took a trip to South Africa. We bought two things there: the cd African Musical Safari (which has served as background music a) at every single social gathering we have hosted in our home since then and, b) to vigorously “rock” both of our babies to sleep) and a Karoo cookbook, called appropriately The Karoo Cookbook.  The Karoo is a semi-desert region of South Africa. We didn’t visit there but the cookbook is beautiful and includes intriguing recipes like “Guinea fowl casserole”, “Goose with porcupine”, “Ostrich neck and asparagus quiche” and “Springbok rib roll”.

There is already a carrot soup recipe here at Chez Maureen. If you haven’t tried it, It’s quite tasty and easy to make. However, when I found this recipe while browsing for exotic wild game ideas in the cookbook, it was clear that this one was worth a try. Not only does the recipe contain enough beta-carotene to turn your hair the same shade as Noah’s, the healthy dose of fresh ginger gives it a lingering and delightful kick.

Butter, 1-1/2 Tbsp (25 g)

Onion, 1, chopped

Garlic, 3 cloves, chopped

Ginger, fresh, peeled and grated, 2 inch (4 cm) piece

Carrots, 5, peeled and diced

Sweet Potato, 1, medium, peeled and diced

Dried apricots, soft, 10-12, chopped

Chicken bouillon, 6 cups (1.5 liters)

Salt & pepper

Fresh cream, toasted flaked almonds and chopped fresh parsley for decoration

  1. Heat the butter in a saucepan and sauté the onions, garlic and ginger.
(The ingredients that don’t contain beta-carotene.)
  1. Add the beta-carotene (carrots, sweet potato and dried apricots) and the chicken bouillon. Season and simmer for 30 minutes.
(The ingredients that do.)
  1. Blend into a smooth soup using whatever you’ve got. If you have the time, it would be advisable to let the soup cool somewhat before blending but let’s be honest, I never have the time.
  2. Serve with as many of the decorative garnishments as you can muster. Out of parsley and no time for toasting flaked almonds? No problem, substitute the “swirl of fresh cream” with a spoonful of sour cream (crème fraîche).
A side of baguette is always in order.

Karoo Carotene Soup

Not only does the recipe contain enough beta-carotene to turn your hair the same shade as Noah’s, the healthy dose of fresh ginger gives it a lingering and delightful kick.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • Butter 1-1/2 Tbsp (25 g)
  • Onion 1, chopped
  • Garlic 3 cloves, chopped
  • Ginger fresh, peeled and grated, 2 inch (4 cm) piece
  • Carrots 5, peeled and diced
  • Sweet Potato 1, medium, peeled and diced
  • Dried apricots soft, 10-12, chopped
  • Chicken bouillon 6 cups (1.5 liters)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Fresh cream toasted flaked almonds and chopped fresh parsley for decoration

Instructions

  • Heat the butter in a saucepan and sauté the onions, garlic and ginger.
  • Add the beta-carotene (carrots, sweet potato and dried apricots) and the chicken bouillon. Season and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Blend into a smooth soup using whatever you’ve got. If you have the time, it would be advisable to let the soup cool somewhat before blending but let’s be honest, I never have the time.
  • Serve with as many of the decorative garnishments as you can muster.

Notes

Out of parsley and no time for toasting flaked almonds? No problem, substitute the “swirl of fresh cream” with a spoonful of sour cream (crème fraîche).

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Tarte Lorraine aux Carottes (Carrot pie)

I came across this recipe in the Mille et une recettes maison cookbook, under the section titled “Tartes sucrées aux légumes” (sweet vegetable tarts) alongside a recipe for a chard pie from Nice (Tourte de bettes du comté de Nice). Here I thought Americans were the only ones trying to disguise sugary, high-calorie desserts as nutritious by including symbolic vegetables (i.e. carrot cake, zucchini bread, pumpkin pie…). Turns out the French are pretty good at it too.

But before you get started, I have to be quite honest about this recipe. It requires grating 1-1/2 lbs (800 g) of carrots. This might not sound like a big deal, especially if it’s been a while since you last shredded 1-1/2 lbs (800 g) of carrots or if you are really enthused about the idea of a carrot pie from the Lorraine. The grating cost me skin off multiple knuckles while simultaneously expanding the vocabulary of my toddlers to include words one doesn’t normally associate with something as upstanding as carrot pie. Don’t get me wrong, the recipe is worth the risks but just so you’ve been warned…

For the pie crust:

Flour, 2 cups (250 g)

Butter, 1/2 cup (125 g)

Salt, 1 pinch

  1. In a bowl combine the flour and the salt with the butter.
  2. Cut in the butter, easily managed with a pastry cutter, also possible with knives or fingers (though not both at the same time).
  3. Add a bit of water, a little at a time, until a soft dough forms.
  4. Form into a ball and refrigerate covered for 30 minutes.
  1. Roll out to at least the size and roughly the shape of your pie pan.

*Pie crust alternative for busy parents: buy a prepared crust at the supermarket. Place in pie pan.

For the filling:

Carrots, 1-1/2 lbs (800 g)

Lemon, 1

Eggs, 3

Sugar, ¾ cup (150 g)

Butter, 3-1/2 Tbsp (50 g)

Ground almonds, 7 oz. (200 g)

Cinnamon and nutmeg, optional seasoning for taste enhancement

  1. Preheat oven to 410°F (210°C)
  2. Peel and grate the carrots. Dress and bandage any wounds.
  3. Zest the lemon. (The recipe suggests blanching the zest in boiling water for 2 minutes and then chopping it finely. My zest was already pretty finely zested so I skipped the blanching, but bravo if you go through the trouble.)
  1. Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until it becomes ribbon-like. (So, basic distracted mother’s mistake: after meticulously separating the eggs I willy-nilly threw the sugar into the bowl with the whites, not the yolks. Mild panic ensued when I realized I didn’t have enough eggs to start over. Then I thought “What would Chez Maureen do ?” and the solution was clear. I separated two more eggs, added 1 more yolk to the 3 waiting for sugar and used only the 2 unadulterated whites for the rest of the recipe.)
  2. Combine the ribbon sugar-yolks with the grated carrots, the ground almonds and the lemon zest in a bowl. Season with cinnamon and nutmeg if desired.
  3. Beat the egg whites into snow. (Another Chez Maureen shortcut: we’ve been down to one mixing bowl since I broke the back-up a few weeks ago, so I beat the whites by hand in a cereal bowl. It would have been a real stretch to call them “snow” when I was finished, more like “wintry mix”.)
  1. Combine the egg whites with the rest of the filling.
  2. Pour into the pie crust.
  1. Bake for 35 minutes.
  1. Now this would really be above and beyond the call of duty, but the cookbook suggests you could decorate the pie with thin slices of carrot that you candied in a sugar syrup. If you do, please don’t tell us. We would only feel bad that we served ours unadorned.

*Pie filling alternative for busy parents: buy a can of cherry pie filling. Open and dump into prepared pie crust. Make carrot pie when the children are older and can grate their own carrots.

Tarte Lorraine aux Carottes (Carrot pie)

Here I thought Americans were the only ones trying to disguise sugary, high-calorie desserts as nutritious by including symbolic vegetables (i.e. carrot cake, zucchini bread, pumpkin pie…). Turns out the French are pretty good at it too.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • Flour 2 cups (250 g)
  • Butter 1/2 cup (125 g)
  • Salt 1 pinch
  • Carrots 1-1/2 lbs (800 g)
  • Lemon 1
  • Eggs 3
  • Sugar ¾ cup (150 g)
  • Butter 3-1/2 Tbsp (50 g)
  • Ground almonds 7 oz. (200 g)
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg optional seasoning for taste enhancement

Instructions

For the pie crust:

  • In a bowl combine the flour and the salt with the butter.
  • Cut in the butter, easily managed with a pastry cutter, also possible with knives or fingers (though not both at the same time).
  • Add a bit of water, a little at a time, until a soft dough forms.
  • Form into a ball and refrigerate covered for 30 minutes.
  • Roll out to at least the size and roughly the shape of your pie pan.

For the filling:

  • Preheat oven to 410°F (210°C)Peel and grate the carrots. Dress and bandage any wounds.
  • Zest the lemon. (The recipe suggests blanching the zest in boiling water for 2 minutes and then chopping it finely. My zest was already pretty finely zested so I skipped the blanching, but bravo if you go through the trouble.)
  • Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until it becomes ribbon-like.
  • Combine the ribbon sugar-yolks with the grated carrots, the ground almonds and the lemon zest in a bowl. Season with cinnamon and nutmeg if desired.
  • Beat the egg whites into snow.
  • Combine the egg whites with the rest of the filling.
  • Pour into the pie crust.
  • Bake for 35 minutes.

Notes

Now this would really be above and beyond the call of duty, but the cookbook suggests you could decorate the pie with thin slices of carrot that you candied in a sugar syrup. If you do, please don’t tell us. We would only feel bad that we served ours unadorned.
*Pie crust alternative for busy parents: buy a prepared crust at the supermarket. Place in pie pan.
*Pie filling alternative for busy parents: buy a can of cherry pie filling. Open and dump into prepared pie crust. Make carrot pie when the children are older and can grate their own carrots.


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Little known carrot fact: carrots can also be used for skincare. Karoo carotene soup, for example, makes for an excellent facial:

When Carrot Week continues:

Gajar Halva (Carrot pudding)

Confiture d’oranges, carottes et pamplemousse (Orange-carrot-grapefruit Jam)

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2 Comments

  1. Maureen I love carrot cake, but the carrot cake of my dreams is the one I grew up enjoying my older sister used to make it. I can almost smell it in my memory the Brazilian type never has a white frosting, it is chocolate but a special kind not buttercream, it is a thin crust of chocolate and sugar that crumbles as you bite into the cake Yum!! What a delicious looking carrot cake! And with a mix wow! The pecans on top are a nice touch too ??

  2. The carrot pie looks delicious. Will have to give it s try. Just need to convince someone to grate the carrots

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