March 16, 2011


I didn't find out until after I made this dish that it had such an interesting name (I thought it was just Dutch Potatoes), such a long history in traditional Dutch cuisine, or its own legend (and Wikipedia entry - see! To be honest I was just looking for a side dish involving carrots, not involving the word "glazed." According to legend, the recipe for this dish came from bits of cooked potato left behind by Spanish soldiers during their Siege of Leiden in 1574 during the Eighty Year's War. Supposedly the Dutch still celebrate Leidens Ontzet every year on October 3rd by eating Hutspot! Maybe some of our Dutch contributors and/or followers can confirm this?

Okay, enough suspense - here's the dish! As I had hoped, an easy, affordable, delicious way to incorporate carrots into your dinner.

1/2 chopped onion
2 tsp & 1 Tbsp butter
6 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed
4 medium carrots, peeled & sliced
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Reduce heat, add the sliced carrots, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the cubed potatoes and continue cooking 10-15 minutes until both carrots and potatoes are tender. While the carrots and potatoes are cooking, saute the onions in 2 tsp butter until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Drain the carrots and potatoes and coarsely mash. Stir in sauteed onions, 1 Tbsp butter, sour cream, salt & pepper. Ready to serve!

March 2, 2011

Tower of Ivory, House of Orange. Part 1

So many orange and green/blue items appeared in my kitchen/dining room lately, some of which you all recognize, recently. Not least of these are carrots, our next vegetable. Odd, because (as far as I can tell) the carrot is earliest derived from Iran in purple variation. Carrots have been found to inhabit various colors since this time, including white and the orange color with which it is most closely associated. Both the root and the leaves are edible, although there is some debate about eating the leaves, according to the World Carrot Museum.

This useful site also describes the medical benefits of the carrot top, which was also once a fashionable item with ladies and their milliners. Incidentally, when carrots go to seed, they very much resemble the prairie flower Queen Anne’s lace, which is actually wild carrot (!)

An outcome of my new-found knowledge of carrot tops and their various edible qualities caused me to explore a recipe involving such greens (thanks again, World Carrot Museum.)


I admit that a major draw of this particular pesto (aside from the use of carrot tops) was the presence of hazelnuts. Toasted. Hazelnuts. Although the carrot tops tasted like grass (not that I’ve been eating much grass lately), the hazelnuts carried the pesto. Throw in some lemon juice, fresh parsley, olive oil, garlic, and salt, and you’ve got yourself a tasty green mess, particularly if you do not own a food processor, and attempt a make-do with the “icy drinks” setting of your blender. Next time I’ll settle for the rough chop, which may be preferable with the hazelnuts.

For the carrot roots I employed Jamie Oliver’s recipe (one of three) for carrots, which involves boiling large pieces of carrot in water with wedges of orange (I substituted tangelos), whole garlic cloves, herbs, butter, and sugar (I substituted urban honey, thanks to Nichole and Sarah.) When the carrots are tender, drain the liquid, reserving one citrus wedge and the garlic cloves. Chop the citrus, garlic, and carrot together (I sort-of mashed them for textural purposes), return to the stove and stir in more butter, some cumin, salt and pepper.

Another recipe I’ve tried was a spicy carrot salad from Smitten Kitchen.

In all honesty, I have not thought much about carrots in and of themselves until recently. I have now developed a heightened awareness, as well as a sensitivity the power of cumin and citrus to transform the lowly carrot.

Another interesting diversion to the Story of the Carrot involves the The House of Orange, the regal entity of Holland during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I assume that our readership is cognizant of the broad outline of this period of time, in which the Reformation occurred. I think we’re all apprised of the bad (iconoclasm, violence) and good (church reforms) occurred during this time. Well, the House of Orange got pretty involved in a nasty altercation with Spain to allow more religious diversity (and a few other, umn, mercurial ventures), as well as Dutch Independence. They also ate a lot of carrots, which they prized for their coloring.

Should you be interested in learning more about the eighty years’ war, here’s a link to what may be the longest wikipedia entry currently on file. Ladies, please correct this problem.

Stay tuned for Part 2, in which I will commemorate the Beeldenstorm with some provocative and distracting root-centric art.

January 9, 2011

Bringing Back the B.S.

If you don’t like Brussels Sprouts, you’re just not cool. There. I said it. There are approximately 500,000 (I was going to write "a million," but decided to tone down my exaggeration)amazing recipes for Brussels Sprouts posted on foodie blogs all over the internets. And you don’t have to take my word for it. This salad looks amazing.

All of the hype could almost cause me to deny my interest and appetite for b.s. I will be honest, though, and admit to being even more enamored with the sprout when I saw it being touted for all its worth. And I will also admit to putting my money where my mouth is, purchasing Brussels sprouts by the stalk; in my CSA box, at Whole Foods, and even at Trader Joe’s.

One of the worst/best things about Brussels Sprouts becoming cool with our generation is that they have always been cool with our parents, and our grandparents. Very few other items can bring your family together at the holidays (short list of others: booze, cookies, gifts of cash, and in some cases, Motown.) For example, at Christmas dinner, my amazingly cool brother-in-law braised b.s. and Grandma had a second helping. I asked my Dad about the b.s. “I love ‘em,” he responded. As it happens, the first meal my father prepared for my mother included Brussels Sprouts, and they grew them in their first vegetable garden (!)

So not only is it uncool to not like b.s. It’s also inauthentic. Some things are just good.*

Personally, my favorite recipe for Brussels Sprouts is a good old fashioned roast, perhaps with some toasted nuts and a maple-dijon glaze. So easy.

Did I mention that I also made a collage? I dedicate this one to Katy, Ryan, and their new little sprout. Actually, it’s a belated gift. So, surprise, Katy! I hope you like Brussels Sprouts. If you don’t…

*Disclaimer: As we are all entitled to our various tastes, I maintain that IF you have eaten Brussels sprouts that are well-prepared, and IF you still do not enjoy them, you might yet be considered cool in some circles, depending on a few other factors, which I am probably not cool enough to be aware of.

December 13, 2010


Had to share this photo. I only recently discovered Carnival Squash. And I think they are my new favorite. It's just the cutest squash I've ever seen. The love child of Acorn and Delicata is apt, Laura.

One more thing about winter squarshes: I have always scooped out the seeds of a squash-half BEFORE roasting... until now! Our friend, Kai, enlightened me last Friday to the wisdom of the seeds-in-squash roasting technique. Laying the squash on the buttered tray with the seeds snugly nestled in place by all those stringy fibers (which are not that easy to scrape out when raw, I find) helps to keep the moisture in the vegetable as it cooks. Afterward, gently scooping out the seeds, it's like butter.

December 7, 2010

Brussels Sprouts : Everyone’s (New) Favorite

I have been surprised how prevalent Brussels sprouts are in this new era, and how popular they are among our friends. Maria and her boyfriend Kyler seem to be eating them and buying them all of the time. I have served them a number of times when we’ve had guests this fall, and they always seem happy to eat them. These little cabbage-like things seem to have a constant spot in our refrigerator’s vegetable drawer. This is surprising; as a child, I loathed them and avoided them at all costs. But as an adult, I have found them to be quite pleasant, to the mouth and to the eye.

For a thanksgiving gathering I attended, I was asked to bring a vegetable dish, so naturally, I roasted some carrots and Brussels sprouts. I was pleased to find the sprouts for sale still on the stalk, which is always a sight to behold. Upon arrival at the gathering, someone excitedly exclaimed, “Elizabeth, did you bring Brussels sprouts?” And once again, I found myself slightly dumbfounded at the excitement around Brussel sprouts.

Roasting these vegetables is the way to go; it really brings out the flavor. Ina Garten, author of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, is the one who taught me to roast these veggies. Here is her recipe:

* 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
* 3 tablespoons good olive oil
* 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt, and serve immediately.

As you can see from my photo, I chose to cut the sprouts into quarters to speed up the roasting process.

December 5, 2010

The Other Squash

For anyone who wondered about the alien-looking squash in the bottom corner, I can't say with certainty what it is. I think it was either a "Dumpling," aka "Sweet Dumpling," or a "Carnival." Sweet dumplings look like the love-child of a small pumpkin and a delicata. The Carnival looks like the love-child of an acorn squash and a delicata. You can see how a person could confuse the two. Judging from the shape, I think the squash in the painting is most probably a carnival.

I did eat several of each this fall. The flavor of the sweet sumpling is actually quite similar to delicata. And, also like delicata, you can eat the skins! Why is this so exciting?! It feels good to eat the whole thing, you know?

What did I cook with this squash? I am a simple cook, so I sliced it in halves, face down (estimated 30 minutes) and then sprinkled a few toasted pecans, raisins or currants, and either blue cheese or gorgonzola crumbles, parmesan shavings, or (once) some melting brie. Half of a squash with such fillings makes a great little work-lunch. I also love this squash plain, with butter and salt. This Fanatic Cook roasted a sweet dumpling quash whole and ate it in slices. Fanatical!

Here's a good short list of other varieties of winter squash at What's Cooking America. I am interested in the Hubbard Squash.