Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Little Carrot Pots

The thing about getting a weekly veg bag that is preselected by someone else is that it becomes an ever evolving challenge. To use it all in the allotted time, to make great food - new and interesting dishes with the contents as your starting point and defining guide - avoid disasters, don't let it spoil or go to waste, eat less meat all seem to be considerations. A weekly Ready Steady Cook challenge at home. It's harder than it should be!

This week I had carrots and no plan for most of them. Love carrots - all alone they can brighten your day - they taste great, have a brilliant crunch, are lovely raw, grated, juiced, steamed, mashed, useful in all kinds of stews and salads the whole year long. If they don't come from the supermarket they have the potential to be comedy shapes or the starting point of many a joke. Good for you - the World Carrot Museum summarises neatly -   
Let us start with a brief history of Medicine and Nutrition - 

Patient "I am sick".
Physicians responses:
3500 years ago - "Here eat this root"
2500 year ago - "That root is heathen - say this prayer"
150 years ago - "That is superstition - drink this potion"
50 years ago - "That potion is snake oil - take this pill"
15 years ago - "That pill is no good, take this antibiotic"
Today - "that is not natures way - here eat this root" 

 The recipe I settled on this week had piqued my curiosity in the weekend Guardian. It was for a dessert, a concoction of carrot  and cream, gorgeously scented with vanilla and orange then served with more cream in little pots. The man loves little pots! It comes from Thomasina Miers' article about pigs - and her pig idea project.

Carrot and Vanilla Pots

Makes 4

Use the best flavoured carrots you can get your hands on - I find if they smell sweetly carroty they taste pretty good

200g carrots, peeled and finely sliced
15g butter
40g golden caster sugar
Juice and zest of an orange (a blood orange, ideally)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla pod
175ml double cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk

Heat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Put the carrots in a saucepan with the butter, a tablespoon of sugar and the orange zest, and add water to cover. Cover and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes. Remove the lid, raise the heat and cook until all liquid boils off – the carrots should be tender and glazed. Add the orange juice and vanilla extract, and whizz to a fine purée with a stick blender.

Cut the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds into a clean pan. Add the cream, scraped pod and remaining sugar, bring to just below a boil, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly, retrieve the vanilla pod then pour the warm cream into the carrot purée. Add the whole egg and egg yolk, and whizz with the blender.

Fill four ramekins with the mix. Place the ramekins in a baking tray and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until just set. Remove, set aside to cool and serve at room temperature with cold pouring cream.

 They worked a treat, very simple to do, and I'm thinking they'd be fabulous with a blow torched sugar crust - though that might be because I am hankering for a kitchen blow torch.

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