Friday, September 17

Carrots Take the Cake

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The fall harvest and these fresh recipes shine a spotlight on one of our favorite root vegetables

Pumpkins aren’t the only plentiful orange item in the produce department. Carrots are tops! Although we see them in consistent supplies all year, they are the most abundant and least expensive this month and again in the spring. Put these tasty root vegetables center stage, and be ready for bunches of applause.

Spiced Carrot Bread
(See note below to change to a Carrot Sheet Cake)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • ½ cup golden raisins, optional
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour 2 loaf pans and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, pecans, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center and set aside.
  3. In a separate small bowl, combine the eggs, carrots, oil, pineapple, raisins (if using) and extract. Stir into the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
  4. Bake 1 hour or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely on wire racks before slicing and serving.
*Note: In order to convert this recipe to a Carrot Sheet Cake, grease and flour a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Follow the same instructions, but with these changes:

Decrease all-purpose flour to 2 cups
Add 2 teaspoons baking powder to the flour mixture
Increase eggs to 4
Increase grated carrots to 2¾ cups
Increase vegetable oil to 1¼ cups

Bake 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. While the cake is cooling, make the Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until well combined. Decrease the mixer speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. When incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. When the cake has completely cooled, spread the top with the frosting, then slice and serve.
Spiced Carrot Soup with Grilled Shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup sweet white wine or mirin
  • 8 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 celeriac, peeled and diced
  • 1 (12-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • 24 grilled large shrimp, tails removed
  1. Place the oil in a large stockpot over high heat. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the garlic, ginger, cumin, chili powder, coriander, paprika, salt, turmeric and cinnamon. When the oil is hot, add the spice mixture and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the onions and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the wine or mirin and cook 7-8 minutes or until the liquid has almost evaporated. Add the carrots, celeriac, coconut milk and stock and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth. Stir in the cream and bring to a simmer. Garnish with the parsley and serve warm with the grilled shrimp.
Roasted Carrot Hummus
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 (15½ ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon pepitos (pumpkin seeds)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Place the carrots in the center in a single layer and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Fold the foil into a packet and seal to create a pouch. Roast for 30 minutes and set aside to cool for 15 minutes, carefully opening the foil packet.
  2. Place the carrots, remaining oil, garbanzo beans, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Puree until smooth and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately topped with the pepitos or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Candied Carrot Dressed Arugula
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon lemon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt 6 cups arugula
  1. Place the carrots, milk, sugar, juice, honey, pepper and salt in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Use immediately or transfer to a covered container and refrigerate up to 3 days. Serve over arugula.
Oven Roasted Garlic Carrots
  • 12 carrots, peeled and cut in large dice
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Meanwhile, place the carrots and garlic in a mixing bowl and drizzle with the oil. When the oven has preheated, remove the baking sheet and add the carrots to the hot pan. Roast 18-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Sprinkle with the pepper and salt and serve warm.
Pickled Carrots
  • 1½ cups cider vinegar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon dill seeds
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar completely dissolves. Add the carrots, seeds and garlic and return to a boil.
  2. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 8 minutes. Cool completely, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving. To serve, pour through a fine mesh strainer and discard the liquid and garlic cloves.

Carrot tips

  1. True baby carrots are extremely tender because of their immaturity. But because of that, they are not as flavorful as mature carrots.
  2. Many small packaged carrots are baby-cut carrots. In other words, they are peeled and cut to a small size.
  3. Select carrots that are firm and free of cracks.
  4. If the tops are still attached, remove them immediately. They pull moisture from the roots and shorten the shelf life.
  5. Store in the refrigerator vegetable crisper drawer in a produce bag or loosely closed plastic bag.
  6. Avoid storing with apples, which give off a natural ethylene gas that can cause the carrots to have a bitter flavor.
  7. Limp carrots can be revived by placing them in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes, then draining and using as your recipe directs.

Tammy Algood develops recipes for The Tennessee Magazine that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce.

Ask Chef Tammy

Arthur writes: “I have seen several recipes I would like to try that call for oyster sauce. I have never bought it and am not sure I can find it locally. If not, can you tell me something I can purchase that will be a good substitute? None of the recipes call for very much of it. Many thanks!”

Arthur: Oyster sauce is a unique condiment that is made from oysters, brine and soy sauce. It is cooked until it is thick and concentrated, which is why most recipes don’t require much of it to impart flavor. If you can’t find it next to the soy or teriyaki sauce in your supermarket, purchase one of those instead. The consistency is much thinner and not as flavorful but will do in a pinch. If you have canned oysters, save the juice and add a teaspoon for every tablespoon of soy or teriyaki sauce used.

Marianne asks: “I have a recipe that requires the addition of rye whiskey. I have what I guess is regular whiskey and am not sure if that is going to make much of a difference in the finished product or not. Can you help me, please?”

Marianne: It will probably be OK to go ahead and use what you have. Rye whiskey has a flavor that is quite smooth and similar to that of a nicely aged, rich bourbon.

Email your cooking questions to Tammy Algood: You might be featured in the next issue of The Tennessee Magazine!


About Author

Tammy Algood develops for The Tennessee Magazine recipes that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce. For more information about our recipes, contact Algood at

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