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


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


Borscht Toast (Beet Caramelized Onion Toasties)

Borscht Toast

Gone are the days when I diligently jotted a note here letting you know about writerly goings-on elsewhere. But! My fondness for cabbage took an interesting foray into a letter I penned to that cruciferous vegetable, printed in Volume V of the New Guard. And so, I recently began musing about how wonderful Borscht never makes it into the food headlines. It should. Something about the sweet earthiness of beets with enough cabbage to keep it grounded and a touch of dill to lift it up into a heady high-tail into the clouds makes it a soup for the ages.

I haven’t had enough of open-faced finger sandwiches just yet and am enamored of the soup, Borscht. It doesn’t get quite the attention of other soups, but makes a marvelous spread on bread in Borscht Toast. These bright pink bites are the stuff of Valentine’s miracles. Let it be known the bread can be ejected from the scenario and the beet caramelized onion topping can easily sub as a dip with crudités. We find it particularly good with carrots or shoveling it into endive leaves with a few snips of dill or chives on top would be good too. I have a hunch that even ham would play well with this bright pink dip that’s savory and a cheery addition to a winter spread.

Borscht Toast (Beet Caramelized Onion Toasties)


1 medium white onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup finely shredded cabbage

¼ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 small Yukon Gold potato, quartered and cooked until fork tender

2 small beets, peeled and cooked until fork tender (about 3 1/2 – 4 ounces total)

¼ teaspoon dried dill or ¾ teaspoon fresh dill

16  white sandwich bread slices

Fresh thyme or dill sprigs

Create the bread rounds by placing a biscuit cutter dead center in the slices of bread. Reserve the leftover bread for another use.* Toast the bread. Drizzle and swirl the oil into a sauté pan set over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onions and salt. Saute them for about 10 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally. Stir the cabbage, thyme, and pepper into the pan. Saute for 2 minutes or until the cabbage softens. Cool the onion mixture for 10 minutes. Grate the potato pieces using the fine holes on a box grater—the potato skins will make it easier to grate the potato and you can toss the peels afterwards. You should have about ½ cup finely grated potato. Place the onion mixture, grated potato, beets, dill into a food processor. Pulse until almost smooth, but still a bit chunky. Scoop about 1 tablespoon onto the toasts.

PS- These open-faced toasts look pretty with a sprig of fresh dill or thyme for decor if desired.

PPS- If you go with thyme, it’s a pretty decoration. Thyme sprigs are woody after all and not quite so edible.

*PPPS- I like using the leftover bread slices missing their middles for egg in the hole at breakfast.