Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Sunday, August 21, 2016

To Taste ... Roasted Carrot Dip

More and more, I just make stuff up when I'm cooking. I start with an idea, look in my cookbooks (Eat My Books is a handy tool for this), or more normally, just google the idea. The idea that started this was a roasted cauliflower dip.   I found a recipe or two, make some modifications, and it came out tasty, but a pretty unappetizing color.  So then I thought -- carrots!  That will be pretty (after all, dips are party food and it can't just be a grayish/beige blob).  For flavor inspiration, I riffed on the roasted carrot with yogurt sauce side dish at Stake, our local (excellent) steak house. Found more recipes... I would say this one was guide that I used, but changing things that need to be changed because I wanted it to include yogurt.  And I didn't have any Harissa.  It came out good.   The problem is that at some point later in time, I want to make it again.  So I'm trying to remember what recipe(s) I used for a base (did I clip it in EverNote? was it a cookbook?), what did I do different from the recipe?   At which point I think about writing it down.  Which is good, but if I want to post it, I feel obligated to include cooking times and measurements.   So then I will make it again, make notes of measurements and times.  But be aware... my notes are often just estimates.   But I don't really feel too bad about this, because you need to cook things until they are done, which will vary depending on your oven, the freshness of the vegetables, how things are cut, and a thousand other variables.  And the same goes for how things taste... the age and variety of vegetables, the type of yogurt, all will affect the taste.   Then there is your taste .. how salty or spicy do you like things?  

Bottom line, use this as a guide.  Don't hesitate to adjust as you see fit.

 Roasted Carrot Spread

1 lb carrots
4 cloves garlic, with the skin still on
~ 1 tablespoon olive oil
~ 1/2 teaspoon spice rub* to sprinkle
1 teaspoon spice rub*
1 tablespoon tahini
¼ cup plain or Greek yogurt. Or Crème Fraiche
Juice from ½ lemon, maybe more
Salt, Pepper

Preheat oven to 425F, convection roast if you have it.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.   If using large carrots, peel, but if using smaller/fresher carrots, just scrub.  Split carrots if large.

Put carrots and garlic on sheet pan.  Drizzle olive oil over (note – I never measure), and sprinkle with spice rub (maybe a ½ teaspoon.. again, I don’t measure).  Toss with your hands to get everything evenly coated.  Spread out carrots; put the garlic in the center. Wash your hands, then put the pan in the oven.  If using convection, turn the carrots and garlic every 10 minutes or so. The garlic will be done first, in about 20 minutes. (The garlic is done when it is soft.) The carrots should be done in 25 – 30 minutes.  The carrots are done when they are soft and edges are starting to brown. If not using convection, turn every 15 minutes, and they will be done in 30 – 45 minutes (again, the garlic will be done sooner).  

Let the carrots cool.  Squeeze garlic out of its skin into a food processor.  Add carrots and remaining ingredients (start with ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt, and a good grind of pepper), then process until fairly smooth.  Taste .. add more salt, lemon juice, yogurt, or spice rub to suit your taste.  Serve with crackers, pita, or bread.

* Spice rub:

1 part ground cumin
1 part ground coriander
1 part mild chili powder

Sunday, January 3, 2016



I always have great intentions of posting a recipe that would be great for the holidays prior to the holidays, and this recipe is great for entertaining, but is there really a season for crackers?  Not at my house. 

Crackers are definitely one of my vices in terms of processed foods.  I try to find ones that are "more healthy" ... low in sugar and have some fiber, but generally rationalize that I'm eating crackers with a big salad and that's OK..  Except when I'm having them with a nice piece of cheese.  It's a slippery slope.

And my favorite crackers are Rainforest Crisps.  They make a bunch of flavors, but the I go for the Original ones.  A little sweet, but not too bad, with lots of nuts and seeds.  The only problem is that they are $7 or $8 a package (and this is a 6 ounce package), and that you can only get them at places like Whole Foods or specialty stores.  And they go stale in about a week.  It's one thing to pay a lot for sustainably raised meat, but for crackers?? This just seems like highway robbery.

Then I found a bunch of "copycat" recipes on the web for these crackers.  Could it be?  Let me say there are a lot of them out there (see here for my inspiration).  Most of them are similar... it's basically a soda bread that you bake, then slice, then bake again.  (which reminds me, someday I need to find out if I can make good crackers from my Soda Bread when I have leftovers).  There are variations in how much brown sugar and/or honey used, plus a lot of variations in different add-ins (nuts, seeds, dried fruit).  I tailored the recipe to the nuts and seeds I usually have around, skipped the honey, and have discovered that (like my soda bread) yogurt can be interchanged with buttermilk.  

The only hard part about making these is making very even, very thin slices.  It helps to refrigerate the loaves to get them to firm up.  Also, this recipe makes a lot of crackers (and like the ones from the store, they do lose their crisp pretty quickly).  But, you can freeze the loaves (the recipe makes 4 loaves, each loaf makes about the same amount as a package of crackers), then just slice and do the second bake when you are ready for some great crackers!  

And the best part, each loaf costs about $1 to make.  One note.. If you use sesame seeds, buy them in 1 lb packages, NOT in the spice aisle at your local grocery store.  Places like Whole Foods or Asian markets have them, they are priced similar to other nuts.  They will keep forever in the freezer. 

And Happy New Years!

Crisp Seed Crackers

Makes over 8 dozen crackers.  

1 cup flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk or yogurt
1/3 cup brown sugar (or a little less)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitos)
1/4 cup sesame seeds or sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, or slivered almonds, roasted if desired)

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Spray 4 mini-loaf pans with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk (or yogurt) and brown sugar, then mix with spoon until combined. Add the seeds and nuts, stir until blended.

Divide batter evenly between loaf pans. Bake 20 – 25 minutes until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.  When cool, wrap loaves and put into the refrigerator (this is an optional step, but it makes them easier to slice). You may also freeze loaves that you don’t plan to bake soon.

To make the crackers:  If loaves have been frozen, let them sit out for a half hour or so. Preheat the oven to 300° F.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a large sheet pan (one mini-loaf fills one sheet pan).

Slice the loaves as thin as you can with a serrated knife. Place the slices in a single layer on sheet pan.  Bake them for about 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 5 - 10 minutes, until crisp and deep golden.  Remove slices as they get done, the thinner slices will bake faster than the thicker ones.  Cool on rack.  Store airtight, they will lose their “crisp” in a week or so.