I am sure that I am not alone in sometimes getting stuck thinking about what to cook for the next meal. Cooking at home every day for over 2 months is quite a novelty. Normally I would eat out at least once a week, midweek lunches would be at work or on the hoof and the teens would be having school lunches or the something from the various fast-food places around college. Dinner at home, rushed and simple, midweek or weekend with minimum prep, fuss and clearing up. Now with so much time to plan, its easy to get carried away and think about the next meal as we are finishing the current one. I’m lucky that my teens eat everything and are adventurous, however, that does make them discerning critics!
So I’ve been cooking a lot and experimenting, often because what i have the the fridge or cupboards isn’t exactly what I would have bought, but it came in my Riverford veg box or I had to buy an alternative due to products being out of stock. Carrots are a vegetable which I almost never bought. I’ve always found them a bit ‘meh’ and dull. However, I’ve had to rethink my views as almost every week there is a bunch of carrots in my veg box….. and I’m beginning to come around to them and they are actually quite versatile!
I started with carrot muffins – recipe to follow below. Its simple, based on one i found online but i used brown sugar instead of white, left out the walnuts (didn’t have/don’t like) and added orange zest. Perfect teenage snack material and almost could be considered healthy.
I like a slaw type salad but I don’t like raw cabbage – too much crunch, and i’m not big on mayo. Instead our salad of choice is now shredded cos, grated carrot, grated apple, sliced onion with a light dressing of mustard, dill, a touch of mayo, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, a touch of honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the carrots, onion and apple and leave for 20 minutes and then throw in the shredded cos lettuce. Dial up the lemon juice/mustard/mayo as you wish depending on your taste.
My favourite dish so far came about when I received the most beautiful bunch of rainbow carrots. I topped and tailed them, scrubbed not peeled (they are organic so no nasty pesticides), cut them in half lengthwise and then tossed in olive oil and salt. I baked these in a 200C oven for about 20 minutes or until they were just soft. When they are done, pile them onto your serving plate, squeeze some lemon over them and sprinkle with a generous tablespoon of Zatar and a few fronds of dill if you have it. Thats it… simple and oh so good! I served it as a BBQ side as it is best at room temperature when all the flavours have mixed together a little. Happy cooking!
1 1/3 cups (320 ml) grated raw carrot(about 2-3 peeled carrots)
1 small apple, peeled and grated
1 1/3 cups (175 grams) plain flour
3/4 cup (150 grams) soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (120 ml) coconut flakes
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
zest of one orange
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Place paper liners in 12 muffin cups.
Toast the pecans or walnuts for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop coarsely.
Peel and finely grate the carrots and apple. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Stir in the nuts and coconut. Set aside.
In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Fold the wet ingredients, along with the grated carrot and apple, into the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 10 minutes remove the muffins from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Makes 12 standard-sized muffins.