Another stray recipe roundup today, to catch some Leite’s Culinaria recipes that have been languishing in my photos folder awaiting a post. There are two recipes with carrots, for the carrot lovers among us. There is the revealing of the mystery chicken that I mentioned a while ago in a bento post (I’m sure that the intrigue has been almost unbearable). Finally, there are cute little fortune cookies; my photos will show that mine didn’t turn out perfect, but they were fun to make and share and tasted great, like very thin spice cookies, which is basically what they are, so that explains it.
To the two carrot recipes, then – one savoury and one sweet but both excellent choices. The savoury is carrot soup, served with chicken, and as far as I’m concerned it’s everything you want in a soup; it’s thick and satisfying, it delivers a rich and sweet hit of carrot along with fragrant thyme and sharp lemon, and you can make it look all fancy by decorating with a lemon slice if you have guests (or are just feeling a bit fancy). I wasn’t sure about the chicken and carrot combination at first, but it works really well and makes the soup into a meal by itself. You can leave it out and just enjoy the smooth, thick soup on its own with some kind of delicious bread, if you prefer. I won’t tell. Follow the link for the carrot soup recipe.
The second carrot recipe is for carrot muffins, and these went down extremely well at work. I played ‘guess the ingredient’ with my colleagues over these, and people got sidetracked trying to identify all the spices in them and didn’t even think that there might be secret vegetable content. As muffins go, they’re pretty healthy, containing as they do carrot, oatbran and spelt flour. The healthy ingredients add great texture and flavour to them as well as any dietary benefits. That said, I doubt they’ll be making any slimmers’ recipe books any time soon, because they do still contain all the good stuff like buttermilk and brown sugar. The streusel topping – like a crumble topping but more European – makes them different from your standard carrot cake and adds a nice crunch to proceedings. They’re not too sweet, either, so they’re good at breakfast time or for a morning snack, or at any time of day when you want a carrot muffin, I’m not one for insisting that there be a reason for eating.
The mystery chicken can now be revealed as star anise and ginger braised chicken, and it’s as good as it sounds. The addition of clementine juice at the end of the recipe is really the winning stroke, for me, as it adds great balancing acidity to the salt and spice already in the sauce. I would definitely opt for taking the skin off the chicken before cooking, as when I made this recipe with the skin on the sauce was extremely fatty and gelatinous after cooling, but the flavours were go great that this didn’t put me off as it might have with an inferior recipe. If you’re going to leave the skin on, remember that it won’t be crisp as in a roast chicken, but soft because it’s been braised. It comes away from the meat so easily that you can leave it on to get the flavour in the sauce but remove it before serving the meat, if you want the best of both worlds. It’s all down to preference and taste, and I always prefer as little skin and visible fat as possible in my food, but it’s easy to adjust this recipe to your own needs.
I’m not particularly proud of this photo; I didn’t get a lot of shots of the chicken after cooking and this was the best one, in a tupperware. Don’t let this put you off, it is very tasty, and does improve as time goes by, too. Another thing in its favour is how easy it is to make, even though it tastes like you must have been slaving over a hot stove to get it right. Result.
The last recipe I have is for these fortune cookies. These were such fun to bring to girls night and to share out, though I have to say that finding enough fortunes that were funny or interesting was a bit of a chore. I did a lot of searching online for good ones, I had absolutely no intention of trying to think of some myself. If you’re more creative in that department, or have more time than I did on that particular evening, you can make up your own, of course. Otherwise, I visited here for inspiration.
The cookies are admittedly tricky to make, in that you have to be careful not to over bake them or they won’t fold properly and then you have to work quickly with them to shape them while you still can. As you can see from the picture, I had some troubles getting the right shape but I think it’s all about practise. For a first attempt, they’re not so bad. My key advice would be to keep an eye on them in the oven, and adjust the cooking time to suit yourself; you don’t really want the edges to have browned much at all before you take them out, and don’t worry that they’re soft at first because, as you’ll find if you take too long over folding them, they harden soon enough. I missed out the stage of dipping them in chocolate, but only because I was tight for time; chocolate would be great along with the spicy sweetness of these cookies.
Here ends my catch-up post, and I really would recommend any of these recipes if you’re short on inspiration. Or you can always go ahead and browse Leite’s Culinaria, or even here at Rock Salt if you’re of a mind to…