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Recipes

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches - anneliesz

I’m psyching myself into making this year the best! year! ever! And, yet. In the first week of the New Year, a dear friend of mine called late enough one evening that her name flashing on my phone was foreboding. We’ve been swapping texts, doctor diagnoses, and the emojis that speak into the places we don’t want to go for several days. It’s day six of the New Year. (Update: good news! She’s in the clear.)

A neighbor wrestles with the ever-real possibility that her landlord will attempt to evict her. I’ve been feeding her, shuttling over an extra smoothie, extra tagine, extra food as if somehow giving food will figure out the future that can seem awfully untenable at times.

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches - anneliesz

Today, I spoke with a woman representing Amnesty International and we had a candid conversation about the travesty that’s been going on in Syria for far too long and that doesn’t always make front page news. Some problems seem so big and can make us feel so small.

Here’s the thing, I tend to be an optimistic realist. And, I’m of the mind usually that we have to choose the positive in a situation for our own well-being. But sometimes, it’s equally as important to get dirty, go down in the trenches of life with someone else who is languishing. Equally as important, laughing with those who laugh and celebrating those who are succeeding.

One of my favorite things about tea (and there are many) is the notion that the act of brewing tea forcibly slows us down in a world that’s all go-go-go. If I make a resolution in 2017, it’s one that started late last fall when a rumbling for change reverberated through me, and a desire to let this idea take root: to make time for the people in my life is to water the stuff that makes life good. I awaken thinking of my friend, the hospital- my neighbor, the shelter in question- my smallness, the big problem- and they become smoke, an offering, a prayer.

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches - anneliesz

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches

MAKES 10

5 medium carrots, peeled
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 leek, whites only, rinsed and halved
1/2 block cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon creme fraiche
7 Castelvetrano green olives, pitted
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon caper juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves
1 1-inch long lemon zest peel
10 slices honey wheat sandwich bread, crusts cut off
2 radicchio leaves, cut into 10 small pieces

Preheat the oven to 375. Line a roasting pan with parchment paper. Slice the carrots into 3 sections. Cut 1/4-inch planks from each section. Toss the carrots in the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Place the carrots on the lined roasting pan. Pat the leek halves dry. Rub the leek halves in the remaining oil coating the carrot bowl. Place the leek segments onto the roasting pan– if you need a second pan, line one up and go for it– you want to make sure the carrots and leeks have room to roast. Roast for 25 minutes or until the carrots are fork tender and the leeks are golden brown. Cool the carrots. Toss the leeks, cream cheese, creme fraiche, olives, capers, caper juice, black pepper, remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, cilantro, and lemon zest into a food processor. Pulse until mostly smooth with a hint of chunkiness. Slice each bread slice into long fingers. Coat one finger with one tablespoon of the olive leek spread. Lay a slender slice of radicchio on the leek olive spread. Tile carrots on top. Complete the sandwich with another finger of bread and serve.

 

PS- I love make-ahead recipes. If you do too, roast the carrots and make the spread the day before. Assemble them right before serving.

PPS- Wondering what to do with the bread crusts? Feed them to ducks. Toast them and make Toast Croutons. Or, use the toasted crusts and blitz them into tiny crumbs to use in meatballs, meatloaf, or atop mac and cheese (they’d be good especially tossed with some butter and chopped herbs).

Roasted Carrot Finger Sandwiches - anneliesz

Categories
Recipes

Ginger Carrot Soup

Ginger Carrot Soup

From the open window, a breeze tickles the tall trees outside in such a way that lets me know rain will soon fall. This morning I lolled in bed for an hour longer than usual. Do you find lazy mornings one of the most luxurious and decadent ways for the day to unfold? The ultimate morning for me would involve a book of poetry, heavy covers, and no clock. I meandered down to the farmer’s market, stumbled upon ingredients still in season that made me giddy. Early Girl Tomatoes! Concord Grapes! Lemon Verbena! Albion Strawberries! Last Monday, I flew back from Texas and sat next to an 85 year old woman from Arkansas who helped me think differently about the seasons of life. A big birthday looms in the not-so-distant future for me and I’ve begun to understand the reticence some people have for announcing their age. People ask me if we have children. They ask me if we plan to have children. To answer that question is to try to explain what has kept you from answering it the other way. The adage that time flies sometimes applies, other times, it stealthily slips through our fingers. I thought I had more time. I still do. 

I hadn’t walked the farmer’s market in weeks and felt out of step with what was in season. Did I miss the tail end of zucchinis and summer squash? Would eggplant still be around? Earlier this week, I scouted around in the refrigerator for jam to smear on toast. Wistfully I uncorked one of two remaining jars of Morado Jam, 2015 reserve, thinking I had missed making reserve 2016. This jam walks the line between summer and autumn. It’s a bit like me right now in this season of my life. So, imagine my surprise and glee when I spied Concord grapes at the market this morning. Without hesitation, I bought several pounds of the dusty dark clustered orbs, knowing the work ahead of peeling, pitting and cooking them down into something sweet to be preserved for a different season. 

It’s a funny thing when a jam hijacks a recipe for soup, but I could easily see a plate of crostini, dabbed with Morado Jam and chèvre served alongside this soup. The ginger juice obsession that started this spring continues. I’m still tinkering with a few recipes that when ready, will be wonderful additions for autumn. My first pot of Carrot Ginger Soup came together in an in-law apartment so near to the Ocean we could almost taste the saltwater in the air. At that time, I was in my early 20’s and according to my Dad, was in an age of invincibility. I’m not there anymore. Instead, I see the delicate webbing of our lives. The rain is about to fall. A stillness inhabits the space around us. We wait for autumn to come in earnest, girded with a bowl of soup.  

Ginger Carrot Soup

Makes 4 to 6 servings

10 carrots, peeled 
1 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 white onion, minced
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup ginger juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
Carrot Top Pesto, optional

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush the carrots with the olive oil, using the pastry brush. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a fork can easily penetrate them and they almost fall apart. Cool the carrots for 2 to 3 minutes.

Sauté the onions until caramelized. Pour the orange juice, ginger juice, carrots, onion, celery seed, turmeric, salt, and chicken stock into a blender. Purée in batches until smooth. Warm on the stovetop for 5 minutes. Season with pepper. Serve with a dollop of pesto on top, if desired.

Categories
Recipes

Sunday Roast Cauliflower

Sunday Roast Cauliflower

Is it possible that we have recreated the Tower of Babel by emoji? With the right string of icons, anyone can now communicate by smiley face or thumbs up. And, new smart phones feature them as one might find an alphabet or keyboard of letters. It’s easier than ever before to connect and communicate. Or, is it? Deep down, I wonder.

Years ago, I used to take walks with a friend who also worked as a community manager, managing the online community  for her company through social media. We wondered out loud about how to give the right content to our community, flooding their feed regularly with mouth-watering snapshots of food that they had signed up for. It sometimes gave us pause to scratch underneath the surface of what it is exactly that they had signed up for. And, more importantly, how could we create and curate content that would get to that deeper impulse underneath appreciation for a branded product in the grocery cart, transferred to the pantry and then to Facebook. We would hike around the edges of Lands End in San Francisco and mull what our customers didn’t see about the food industry–the things that can be maddening like free-fills in retail stores (providing free stock to a store to sell through but the company not reaping any profit on those items) or how sometimes people visit company web pages with the sole aim of discord. I lived for those walks. And in hindsight, I can see that part of what made them invaluable was the companionship of someone who understood the inner workings of the business side of the social platforms that for some are time sucks for most people, as time for personal fun.

Moving to a new town, not so far away, and yet not close enough to tie on my walking shoes and drive or take two forms of public transportation to traipse through the quiet hills on the edge of Lands End evenings after work, I’ve had to change my rhythm. And, this has included walks with food writer friends to talk about cookbooks, blogging, and the inner workings of living life digitally and by recipe. I have stepped into a leadership role with IACP. This new rhythm also included joining a local meet-up for Food Content Creators. Around a table with mugs of hot tea, several of us meet regularly as part of a writing group I cherish. How we form community in our everyday lives as we get older and especially in the transient world of big cities can nudge you out. I was reminded recently how sometimes the places we think we might find community can make us feel marginalized and unexpectedly more alone in a group of people than we were by ourselves at home. 

This brings me to the idea of a Sunday roast. It strikes me as subject matter for Norman Rockwell, where all eyes around the table watch as the carving fork stabbed the meat and the slender knife trimmed juicy slices. Growing up, this tidbit of Americana cuisine passed over our house. Instead, on a good Sunday, my mom and I might venture out to Luby’s where I awaited crispy fish and mashed potatoes with a pool of tartar sauce. Maybe the point of the Sunday roast was to start cooking something that would be finished and ready to eat when you returned home after church. I don’t honestly know. Instead, there is a mystique to that meal and the idea that Sundays meant gathering around the table for this traditional repast. So, what kind of food do you eat on Sundays? At one point, Olga and I had the intention of making Sunday supper a place to invite friends regularly to the table. We wanted it to be a given that dinner would be served and friends would be welcome. It never came to pass, ultimately falling into the bin where good ideas go to fester.

So, where do you congregate with your community? Does it happen on a specific day each week or does it instead only happen at holidays and celebrations? In the age of the emoji, communicating might be simpler than ever before, but community is more complex. The table itself has become sometimes the symbol of dissonance where one person’s avoidance stems from a political perspective or allergies impact menu planning. But, it doesn’t have to be difficult. The simple Sunday roast might not make the cut anymore. So, instead, I offer the suggestion of a Sunday Roast Cauliflower where the crown of the platter comes cruciferous with crispy edges. It’s plentiful enough to carve into to serve your community, wherever you find it.

Sunday Roast Cauliflower  

Sunday Roast Cauliflower

If you’ve never roasted a whole cauliflower before, it leaves quite an impression upon all who partake of it. Imagine spearing it like you might a steak and pulling out your most trusty sharp chef’s knife to hack a section of the head to serve. And, who doesn’t like turning the idea of a Sunday roast on its head (of cauliflower). I like to make this dish during the week when my workdays run long and I need more time tying up that day’s details. It fills the house with the aroma of onions as a reminder that while I’m working, so is dinner. We serve this with steamed jasmine rice and spoon the Tea Umami sauce on it from Steeped or Carrot Top Pesto. Comfort food comes to the table roasted during fall and winter.

Serves 4

5 carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-inch pieces
1 cup celeriac, peeled and chopped into 2-inch chunks
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 red onion, peeled and quartered
1 head cauliflower, cored with the leaves removed
1 tablespoon plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375. Place the carrots, celeriac, garlic and onion in a bowl. Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil over them and toss to coat. Distribute them evenly in a Dutch oven. Crown the vegetables with the head of cauliflower. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the cauliflower. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the cauliflower and vegetables. Cook for 1 hour. Crank up the oven to 415 and cook for an additional 15 to 18 minutes to brown the top of the cauliflower a bit more.

Categories
Food Poetry

Carrot Top Pesto

Carrot Top Pesto | The Food Poet

Carrot Top Pesto

YIELD: 1 cup

 

INGREDIENTS

2 cups of frilly green carrot tops, rinsed & patted dry

3 garlic cloves, skins and clove end removed

¼ cup pine nuts

pinch of salt

4 tablespoons of good olive oil

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING CARROT TOP PESTO
Amass ingredients on top of one another
on a cutting mat: salt 
sprinkled on garlic
on pine nuts on frilly leaves of carrot tops.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather.

Chop and gather until minced.

Pour and stir in olive oil.

 

Categories
Recipes

Chopped Carrot Basil Salad

This past weekend my cousin Erika flew up to the city by the Bay for a visit with her son, who we will call the Wedding Cake Bandit. We call him that because a very clever wedding photographer caught a somewhat clever ring-bearer right before he deposited his index finger in our wedding cake on our big day. This remains one of my favorite wedding memories and can only endear me more to this little one so full of mischief and spirit like someone else I know. Ahem.

mother-child

You love someone deeply not just because they are family, but because in some ways they tell your story back to you when you forget it. You don’t think anything could make your love grow for them and then you meet their progeny. Something about the child that they bear and raise makes you ridiculously invested and protective of their innocence and life.

You are not their mother. Yet, you mother. The mother and the child.

mother-child

The mother, the child, Beck and I set out for a grand tour of San Francisco, which is to say, this time, included one visit to see Claude, the albino alligator, an adventure filled with baskets of ollalieberries, and an early morning trek for some Early Girls.

updo

As Erika and I shared stories from childhood, we, in turn, were making memories that her little one will remember and if he doesn’t, then we will be the mirrors in which he can populate the stories for when he grows up. I made sure to sneak in daily visits to the park for us, sometimes including feeding the ducks and trying to avoid the pigeon gaggle descending from on high. We also made sure to work in several visits to the giant slide and once made our way through the dog run to see my favorite Frenchie I call “the boss” chase after his dingy well-loved tennis ball.

celebration

Three birthday celebrations later and the end of the weekend snuck up on us. After a Mexican feast capped off with Gluten Free Carrot Cupcakes, a Puerto Rican themed party with a piñata and smorgasbord of farmer’s market finds, we found ourselves tuckered out from all of our excursions and celebrating. Isn’t that what the summer, even a summer in San Francisco is all about? Granted, borrowed sweaters are peeled off at the midday burning off of fog.

celebration

After splurging on treats and waiting in the abysmally long line for one swell Blue Bottle latte, at the end of all the celebrating and at the beginning of returning to life as usual, a call for summer simplicity is in order. After dirtying every plate, platter and serving bowl in your cupboard, in the end, you might find something that requires one serving bowl sufficient. Here’s where this summer salad comes in. It flirts with your taste buds and is a snap to put together. In the lazy summer evenings where the sunlight pokes through the fog well past 7 p.m., something unfussy, you can pull together is as good as the memories you created all weekend long.

SALAD RECIPES- Chopped Carrot Basil Salad

 

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CHOPPED CARROT BASIL SALAD 

Something about the sweetness of carrots and basil is a revelation. It takes a lot of strength of will to not just slice up the Early Girl tomato and eat it as is, but this combination is so mellow and life-giving. From the creaminess of the avocado, the bright tang of the tomato, a fruity splash of good olive oil and the sweetness emanating from carrots and basil, I think you might find yourself and guests polishing off this colorful salad easily.

YIELD: 4 servings

  • 1 bunch of Carrots
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 Early Girl tomato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Arbequina or other fruity olive oil
  • dash of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Set a pot of water to boil. In the meantime, wash your carrots. Peel them and roughly chop. Once the water is boiling, set the carrots gently in the water and turn down the heat to a gentle rolling boil and cook for 5 minutes. Place carrots in a colander and let them drain when cooked through.
  2. Place basil leaves inside one another and roll them to then thinly chop in a chiffonade.
  3. Next, chop your tomato.
  4. Slice your avocado.
  5. Place carrots, basil, tomato chunks and avocado slices in a serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, a sprinkling of sea salt, and a few cracks of black pepper.

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Categories
Recipes

Minestrone Soup

SOUP RECIPES- Minestrone Soup

It’s not often that I find myself hankering for soup at an Italian restaurant, but a no-name hole in the wall in North Beach gets me hankering for their Minestrone. What I like about it is that it’s lemony and bright and the secret to their sauce- fennel! It holds up against the tomato base of the soup adding its lemony brightness. Nathan likes to grate parmesan into his soup and I’m keen on it just like it is. Soup is comfort in a bowl and Minestrone is a great way to get your vegetables. You might think it’s anathema to not add cannelini beans to Minestrone, but this cook is not partial to them in this soup.

 

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Minestrone Soup

TIME: 1 hour and 20 minutes
YIELD: 8-10 bowls 

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, chopped into 1 inch slices
  • 2 cups celery ribs, chopped into 1 inch slices
  • 4 large carrots, halved and chopped
  • 4 yukon gold potatoes, quartered and chopped
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes and any juices
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 T thyme, chopped
  • 2 tsp. parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 T lemon juice

Pour olive oil in large heavy pot set on medium high heat. Add onion slices and garlic to pot. Saute and stir until almost translucent.

Add celery, carrots, fennel, potatoes and green beans to pot. Cook for 10 minutes and stir occasionally. Add the tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes, water, thyme, salt, pepper and lemon juice to pot. Turn heat down to low, cover pot and simmer for an hour or until potatoes are soft.

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