Tag Archives: autumn

Glazed carrots with whole spices and rosemary

Glazed carrots with whole spices and rosemary from Dinners for Winners

My mother and I threw a dinner party together recently. Mom had been out foraging mushrooms for a tart and shopping for wine while I rolled and filled ravioli, and the two of us spent a good amount of time extracting the seeds from a pomegranate for our salad (do you know a better method than we do?…). Gathered with our friends around the table at my parents’ farm house, we ate and warmed the chilly November evening with reminiscing and levity. Later it took three of us to get a torch burning to finish the creme brulees (worth it! They were awesome), and we finished the night with a pot of my mom’s thick-as-tar decaf coffee. Everything was wonderful, but my favorite part of the night, aside from the company, was absolutely these carrots.

My mom has carrots growing in her garden but upon digging them up, thought they might not be pretty enough for our dinner party. I’m so glad that we served them anyway since I think they were easily the star of our meal.

Glazed carrots with whole spices and rosemary from Dinners for Winners

These caramelized beauties are going to look wonderful on our Thanksgiving table this year, and on many other occasions to come, since they are so colorful and delicious I can’t resist repeats! They are fragrant with pepper and warming star anise, a spice wonderful in sweet or savory dishes such as pho or chai tea — these carrots are a bit of both sweet and savory themselves. Fresh rosemary infuses the dish with the taste of the holidays, at least to me, as I often lace the turkeys I serve this time of year with rosemary. Honey, brown sugar and cider vinegar dance and bubble their way to an amber, sticky-caramel glaze with the orange spears in the oven. My mom and I were new to this dish at the dinner party, and kept eyeing each other as the wonderful aromas were coming from the kitchen. It surprised us with its complexity of flavors and tender, toasty-brown carrots, while being so simple to pull off. A happy surprise! We’ve both been repeating this dish since.

I have to thank our friend Damon, produce manager for our local line of fresh markets, for setting me up with these pretties since I don’t have a garden in which to grow my own. Hop over to your favorite produce department and try these yourself — even if you’re someone who (ahem) might have used to say you didn’t like cooked carrots as much as raw. These made a believer out of me. Enjoy!

Glazed carrots with whole spices and rosemary from Dinners for Winners

Glazed carrots with whole spices and rosemary

from Martha Stewart’s cookbook Meatless
serves 6 as a side
  • 2 lbs slender carrots (halved lengthwise if thicker)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 – 2 star anise
  • Coarse salt

Preheat oven to 375F.

Peel carrots and trim, leaving an inch or two of green tops intact. Fill a large bowl with ice water and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch carrots for 3 -4 minutes in boiling water, until crisp-tender and bright in color. Immediately transfer to ice water to halt cooking. Drain.

Whisk together brown sugar, vinegar, honey and peppercorns. Over medium-high heat, heat oil or butter in a large, oven-proof skillet. Add carrots, rosemary sprigs and star anise and fry for 5 minutes before stirring in honey mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring carrots to coat well.

Transfer skillet to oven. Roast until carrots are glazed and caramelized, 20 – 25 minutes, turning carrots once or twice. Serve drizzled with glaze.

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Balsamic and roasted garlic yogurt dressing

Balsamic and roasted garlic yogurt dressing from Dinners for Winners

Early in September, my husband was given the swing shift at work. Besides the obvious subtraction of time we have to spend together, after seven or so years cooking for Nathan most nights of the week, I just haven’t been making many dinners lately. I knew to expect this change as we knew a swing shift was a possibility, but I didn’t really know how it would feel.

I’m a bit sad; I love to cook, I love to try new recipes, but most of all, I love enjoying food with Nathan as we catch up or share about our days. He is an enthusiastic and adventurous eater of all my experiments, raves over the successes and even praises the failures, and his zeal makes cooking even more fun for me. Have you ever cooked for someone who doesn’t really care about food? Takes the fun out of it, right? Nathan makes me feel like a Top Chef.

I’m funneling my enthusiasm for cooking into our packed lunches in place of our sit-down dinners. Sunday afternoons, after Nathan has left for work, I spend some time in the kitchen breaking down vegetables, soft-boiling eggs, pan-frying chicken, cooking some grains and washing greens. These short hours of work make packing lunches such a breeze the rest of the week. I’m forced to become more creative, which is a challenge I embrace, and as the weather turns cooler, I am transitioning our salads from farmer’s market fresh fare to roasted root vegetables and hearty greens.

Packing salads for lunch is my long-time standard, but I’m proud of this dressing especially. It’s inspired by a store-bought yogurt salad dressing that I love, honey mustard actually, but is just too expensive to justify (as healthful prepared food seems to often be). Making my own made a lot of sense.

Balsamic yogurt dressing from Dinners for Winners

I think this yogurt dressing is wonderful with its balsamic, garlicky kick complementing earthy kale greens, sweetly roasted butternut squash and the nuttiness of quinoa. In our lunches it has beautifully dressed peppery roasted rutabega, grains such as farro or wild rice, jewely-crimson roasted beets and fresh or caramelized cauliflower as well. It’s great smeared on a sandwich with shredded carrots and fresh arugula, too.

And unlike a balsamic vinaigrette, which can be abrasively acidic to my tastes, it is creamy and lush with my fave salad dressing components such as shallot and Dijon. Roasting the garlic mellows its harshness and coaxes out some of its sweet flavor, while chopped fresh herbs bring a wonderful brightness to this tangy Autumn dressing. These salads pack a lot of nutrition into our lunches, while still feeling like we’re eating together — separately, yes, but enjoying the same meal. It’s those little things these days. Enjoy!

Balsamic yogurt dressing from Dinners for Winners

Balsamic and roasted garlic yogurt dressing

yields almost 2 cups
 
Garlic is easily mashed into a paste in a mortar and pestle if you have one, but if you don’t, carefully smash the soft roasted cloves into a paste with the broad side of a knife.
 
Don’t feel like you’ll need to turn the oven on to roast a few cloves of garlic — I do a few in their papers on a dry skillet, over medium heat with a lid set ajar, cooked just until nearly blackened in spots. Perfect.
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic, smashed into a paste
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • scant 1 tablespoon molasses or honey
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

Whisk all ingredients together,  season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to five days.

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