Charred Carrots with Brie

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So, Facebook did it to me again! There it was, a post from Tasting Table, and a photo. An intriguing photo of what looked like charred carrot sticks. Then I read further.

It’s a photo of charred carrots, tossed with Brie, cayenne flakes, honey, and lemon juice. WOW! A sweet, spicy, smoky, cheesy, and tangy vegetable dish, by Tim Love.

Tim Love is a Texas chef best known for his “urban Western” cuisine, and more typically – meat and game. Not being familiar with him, I googled. He’s definitely not Tim Love, the plastic surgeon.

From chef Tim Love, “This is a dish that is actually the result of a little too much pink wine. I was cooking for a party and I drank a lot of rosé all day,” Love says with a laugh. “I forgot about the carrots under the broiler and had to figure out what to do with them — and it ended up being the most popular dish of the night.”

The most important part of this dish is charring the carrots, so don’t be afraid to get them dark. Since you aren’t tossing them while they roast, only one side will char, preventing them from tasting burnt. After you toss them with the Brie, honey and lemon juice, make sure to transfer the carrots to the platter without any of the accumulated liquid. That way the vegetables stay crisp.”

Charred Carrots with Brie

4 medium carrots
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 ounces triple-cream Brie (rind removed), roughly chopped
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the broiler to 500°. (Don’t forget to have a rack on the top shelf in the oven like I did!)

Cut the carrots into cut into 4-by-½-inch sticks.

In a medium bowl, (I used a large Pyrex bowl) toss the carrots with the oil and cayenne pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper.


Transfer to a baking sheet and spread the carrots out into a single layer.

Cook until the tops of the carrots are well charred, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Immediately, add the Brie, honey and lemon juice to the bowl with the carrots, and toss to combine. (I used the same Pyrex bowl to toss the hot carrots with the other ingredients.)

Let sit for 2 minutes to allow the Brie to melt, then toss to incorporate.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the carrots to a platter, leaving any liquid behind.

Serve immediately.

To say these carrots are fantastic is an understatement. The flavor profile is incredible.

I will be making this recipe again, and experimenting with sweet potatoes and Cambazola, especially as it gets closer to the holidays! Thanks Chef Love!

Sauce Vierge

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I’ve mentioned how I plan my personal meals around condiments, and I’m not exaggerating! In fact, a condiment will inspire a whole meal for me. I guess it’s no different than a BBQ lover who sees BBQ sauce and immediately wants brisket, beans, and cole slaw.

Basic condiments like home-made aioli, mustards and ketchups are wonderful, but so are romesco, chimichurri, charmoula, persillade, harissa, chutney, and confit. So many condiments, so little time!

Recently I came across another sauce – Sauce Vierge – that is almost like a marriage of a fresh tomato salsa and persillade, loosely speaking.

I discovered the sauce on Food 52. Sauce Vierge translates to virgin sauce, and was created in 1976 by Michel Guérard, “one of the forces behind the lighter, fresher nouvelle cuisine that sprang up in reaction to cuisine classique, dripping with all its hefty mother sauces.”

I got excited when I read about the sauce, which includes tomato, lemon juice, and fresh herbs, because it’s a perfect sauce to make in the summer. And it’s summer!

Sauce Vierge

4 ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 whole, peeled garlic cloves, lightly smashed
1 freshly squeezed lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pinch of ground coriander
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs

Peel and seed the tomatoes, then roughly chop and place in a medium bowl.


Add the oil, garlic, lemon, salt, pepper, and coriander.

Then add the fresh herbs. I used chives, basil, tarragon, thyme, and rosemary.

Cover the bowl, and leave to sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Taste and adjust the seasoning, remove the cloves of garlic, and serve warm or room temperature.

To use the sauce, I grilled tilapia, and served the sauce at room temperature.

I wanted the sauce ingredients to really stand out.


I served the tilapia with boiled potatoes, on which I drizzled some of the herby oil. You can tell I’m not scared of a plate of olive oil!

In reality, is Sauce Vierge a condiment or a sauce? Where does a condiment start and end, and a sauce or paste begin?

My answer is “who cares?!!”

verdict: I will continue to make this sauce/condiment during summer months when I can get my hands on ripe tomatoes. It is exquisite. Over fish it was a great pairing, but I can see this on scallops, chicken, lamb, bread…

Note: Instead of using the ingredients at room temperature, you can alternatively mix the ingredients in a saucepan, and simmer the sauce slowly over low heat for 30 minutes.

Cilantro Garlic Shrimp

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I’ve rarely made the same dish twice since I began cooking. Thus my motto: “so much food, so little time!” I truly live by this only because there is always something new to make, or variations to try. It’s just fun for me to cook and eat that way.

My husband really enjoys it, I think, because he grew up with the Monday night meal, the Tuesday night meal, and so forth. Seven meals, exactly the same, every week. Not fun.

There are a few dishes that my kids request when they visit home. One loves my black bean enchiladas, the other loves my salads with salmon, but even these are never the same because I don’t follow recipes. But one thing both of them enjoy and request often during the warm months, is this cilantro garlic shrimp.

In this shrimp appetizer, cilantro adds a wonderful freshness, and pairs so well with fresh garlic. So this shrimp is wonderful in the spring and summer, for any kind of get-together.

Cilantro Garlic Shrimp

Cooked shrimp, tail or no tail, preferably poached
Olive oil, about 1 cup
Fresh garlic, 5-6 cloves if you want a sharp flavor
Fresh cilantro, a whole bunch
Salt

Spread out the cooked shrimp on paper towels to dry if necessary, then place in a bowl and keep refrigerated.

To prepare the marinade, pour the olive oil into a blender jar. Add a generous amount garlic cloves, fresh cilantro, stems and all, and a little salt.


Blend until smooth, then pour over the shrimp and toss. Don’t overdo it – you just want the shrimp coated, but not drowning in the marinade. If you have any left over, keep it for chicken. It’s fabulous!
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This shrimp can be made the day before, and kept refrigerated, but take it out of the refrigerator at least an hour before serving, so the olive oil doesn’t remain coagulated.
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If you like the addition of lemon juice in this cilantro and garlic mixture, do not let the shrimp sit for long. In fact, serve as soon as possible. The lemon juice will cook and mush up the shrimp.

note: You could marinate cleaned, raw shrimp in this cilantro-garlic mixture, and then grill them, but it’s never quite the same. Some liquid always leaks out of the shrimp and they can’t be grilled properly. So that’s why I use pre-cooked shrimp. That way you’ve got perfectly cooked shrimp, coated with the lovely “marinade.”

Curried Lentil Salad

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You all know that I love lentils. They’re delicious and healthy, but they’re also versatile. Once they’re cooked, you can serve them as a side dish, as an entrée, a soup, a dip, or a salad!

Well this salad I’m posting on today is delicious year ’round. It’s equally good in the winter as the summer months, and every month in between. It’s a lentil salad tossed with a curried garlic-citrus dressing. The dressing I made is as important as the salad itself.

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I feel it’s very important to match dressings or vinaigrettes to salad ingredients, which is why I prefer to make my own dressings from scratch. And when it comes to salads made predominantly, if not exclusively with legumes, I find that lemon- or lime-based dressings are preferable over vinegar. And I love vinegar, don’t get me wrong. There’s just something about that acidity that pairs well with the legumes. I find it true with grain salads as well.

So today’s salad is a combination of cooked lentils, with some celery, carrots, and dried pomegranate seeds. Good, but not great. In addition, I’ve made a fabulous lemon juice-based dressing with a little twist. I hope you enjoy it.

I am not posting an exact recipe, because none is needed. Just go with what you like in the salad as well as with the dressing. Remember – no rules. It’s your food, you make it how you like it!

Lentil Salad

For the salad, I simply borrowed some lentils that I’d cooked the day before. Make sure the lentils are well-drained for the salad, if there’s an abundance of cooking liquid with the lentils. Alternatively, or use a slotted spoon to collect them. Then place the lentils in a medium-sized serving bowl, depending how big your salad is going to be.

To the lentils add thinly sliced celery and carrots. You could also add shallots or purple onions as well.

At this point, taste the lentil salad and make sure it is well seasoned. There’s no need going forward if the lentils aren’t seasoned to your liking. Salt and pepper should do the trick.

I cook my lentils, typically, in water with a chicken broth powder added. It’s a wonderful product I’ve talked about before, that I buy in 1 lb. packages online. The chicken flavor of the broth adds enough seasoning to the lentils so that for me, no more is required. It “rounds” out the lentil flavor nicely.

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Toss the salad gently, and then make the dressing.

Curried Garlic Citrus Dressing

Juice of 3 lemons, strained, about 1/3 cup
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons orange-infused oil
2 small cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon curry powder*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

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In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, and oils. Then add the garlic and seasoning.
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Give everything a good stir, and you’re ready to go.
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Place the lentil salad in bowls for serving, and top with the dried pomegranate seeds. Raisins or currants would work just as well.
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Add as much of the dressing you want to each salad; I like a generous amount.
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Toss gently to get the lentils coated with the dressing, and enjoy.

This salad is best at room temperature.

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* I use a Penzey’s curry powder called sweet curry powder that I like. I wrote about this product in a post before, albeit a very short post, because I find this curry powder a decent blend if you don’t make your own from scratch. If you’re not too fond of curry, which is actually many, many different spices all mixed together, I would start out with a very small amount and work your way up. But I would try it. The lemon juice, the orange oil, the curry, plus the lentils and dried pomegranate seeds go so well together, it would be a shame to not experience these flavors!

note: If you don’t like the sharp bite of fresh garlic, place all of your ingredients in a mini blender and purée the dressing before using. Also, if you don’t have an orange-infused oil, a good olive oil will work well.

Sicilian Inspired Wahoo

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As you might know from my wahoo fish salad post, I received the gift of a large chunk of wahoo from friends a while back. And today I’m going to prepare the other half of the wahoo in a completely different style. (Thanks again, Jim and Gab!)

I have a couple of cookbooks on Sicilian cuisine, which I find very fascinating. You’d think I’d have visited Sicily by now, especially since I’m half French and half Sicilian. But I haven’t. It is on my travel bucket list, however.

I’m not using a specific Sicilian recipe today, but one that I’ve created in my mind after glancing through pages of these cookbooks. Call it Sicilian-inspired.

The wahoo steaks will get cooked very simply, then I will serve them with an olive-based four-ingredient topping – simple ingredients yet strong flavors that will enhance the wahoo. Quick and easy.

Sicilian Inspired Wahoo

2 steaks wahoo, about 1″ thick, dried on paper towels
Olive oil
salt and pepper

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20 small pimiento-stuffed olives
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Juice of one small lemon
1 small garlic clove, minced

First, place a cast iron skillet over high heat. Add some olive oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, and the wahoo steaks. Season them with salt and pepper.

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After about one minute, turn them over. Season them on the other side.

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After another minute, turn off the stove but keep the steaks in the skillet. This gives the wahoo a chance to cook in the middle, without any further browning.

Meanwhile, chop up the olives and place them in a small bowl along with the chopped parsley, the lemon juice, and the minced garlic. Stir well.

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After about ten minutes after the stove was turned off, remove the steaks from the skillet and place them on two plates. Top each of them with half of the olive mixture.

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I served my wahoo with a simple tomato salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

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You can use any method you prefer to cook the wahoo. It’s just important not to overcook it. See how tender it is?

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verdict: I’m extremely happy with this dish. The olive topping really goes well with the fish. I think I’d make this again!

Asparagus with a Vinaigrette

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It’s finally spring, and asparagus is abundant. Yay! Like many of you as well, I love asparagus. Simply steamed or packed into a savory pie, it’s just a lovely vegetable with a soft texture and a punch of flavor.

Since my blog is written primarily for people who are beginning cooks, or just trying out new foods, I’m doing a very simple post on asparagus, served as a salad.

Asparagus of course works well as a side vegetable, perhaps with a little olive oil and salt, or a tab of butter. But it really lends itself to a vinaigrette as well.

I use beets a lot in my cooking, including canned beets, and I always save the leftover beet juice. That way, I can reduce the juice and create a fabulous beet syrup that can be turned into a number of things, including this beet-apple vinaigrette I made in last fall.

Since it’s spring, I decided to lighten the vinaigrette up a little. I’m still calling it a vinaigrette, because I don’t like the word dressing, but there’s actually no vinegar in it. Just lemon juice.

So here’s what I did:

Asparagus with a Beet-Lemon Vinaigrette

Strained juice from 1 can (15 ounces) of beets
Juice of 1/2 lemon, strained
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Few grindings of pepper
1 pound fresh asparagus

Place the beet juice in a small pan and begin reducing it over very low heat. It’s best not to leave the kitchen during this process because it can happen quickly.

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I estimate about 1/3 cup of beet juice, originally, which reduces to about 2 tablespoons at the most. At this point, remove the syrup from the heat and immediately whisk in the lemon juice and oil. Whisk well, then add the salt and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, clean the asparagus, which means removing the stiff, woody ends, which are the ones that were closest to the dirt. I simply snap off the ends. Some people prefer to shave the ends, using a vegetable peeler. There’s really no right or wrong here. However, when you have a pile of asparagus ends, you can use them to make an asparagus broth using a little onion and garlic, and then use that for asparagus soup! It just adds a deeper flavor. Otherwise, the compost pile will enjoy them as well.

Personally, I only steam my asparagus. They can be steamed with any kind of contraption, as long as the asparagus is sitting over water, and the pan has a lid. Once the steaming begins, I don’t ever go beyond 5 minutes, but you’ll have to play with this time. Asparagus just isn’t good overcooked.

Place the warm asparagus on a plate, and add some of the beet-lemon dressing. Sprinkle with some extra pepper, if you like.

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Also, a bit of crumbled goat cheese or chopped toasted walnuts would also be good on this salad. Or both! This would make a fabulous first course.

If you don’t like the look of the syrup separating from the oil, place the mixture first in a mini blender and emulsify it. If you prefer it a little creamier, add a 1/2 teaspoon of mayonnaise or cream.

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Note: I know some people try to pick out the skinniest of asparagus, thinking that they are more tender, but having grown asparagus, they all come out of the ground in varying thickness, and are all tender, as long as the weather hasn’t gotten too hot.