Maple Glazed Baby Carrots

Maple Glazed Baby Carrots (5 of 9)BABY CARROT LOVE | Sweeten those baby orange gems with a dash of maple syrup

For a simple and fast side dish designed to delight your guests, look no further than the baby carrot. Dress the carrots with maple syrup and a hint of brown sugar to accentuate the natural sweetness of these orange gems further. All in all, this side dish will take you no more than 15 minutes to dish up from prep to table.

A baby carrot is an immature carrot, grown in a small size. Alternatively, they can be cut from a larger carrot (what are called “baby cuts”). Baby cuts were invented by a guy called Mike Yorusek in the mid 1980s.

Back then, the carrot industry was stagnant and wasteful. Yurosek, itching for a way to make use of all the misshapen carrots, got tired of seeing all the carrots go to waste so tried something new. Instead of tossing them out, he carved them into something more palatable. At first, Yurosek used a potato peeler, which didn’t quite work because the process was too laborious. But then he bought an industrial green-bean cutter. The machine cut the carrots into uniform 2-inch pieces, the standard baby carrot size that persists today.

The beauty of these 2-inch perfectly rounded orange gems is that they need not be peeled, thus saving a lot of time. Simply give them a good wash and ‘bam’, they are ready to go.

Now, why is one little carrot so important? First and foremost, munching on carrots can prevent blindness caused by Vitamin A deficiency.

Just to give you some statistics, vitamin A deficiency partially or totally blinds nearly 350,000 children from more than 75 countries every year. Roughly 60 percent of these children die within months of going blind. However, vitamin A deficiency is preventable. One cooked carrot has approximately 150% of the Recommended Daily Amount of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps to prevent night blindness, dry skin, poor bone growth, weak tooth enamel, diarrhoea and slow growth.

Convinced to eat more baby carrots now? Even the late Steve Jobs was an avid carrot fan, often fasting on weeks on nothing but carrots (and apples).

Maple Glazed Baby Carrots (9 of 9)

Maple Glazed Baby Carrots

Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook time: 10 min | Total time: 15 mins | Serves: 3-4 as a side

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 ounces of baby carrots / baby cuts
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped dill
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly torn thyme leaves
  • Drizzle of balsamic glaze (optional)

Maple Glazed Baby Carrots (2 of 9)

METHOD:

1. Wash and drain baby carrots in a colander.

Maple Glazed Baby Carrots (3 of 9)

2. Heat oil in a frying or skillet on medium heat. Throw in baby carrots, maple syrup, brown sugar, dill and thyme and gently toss to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally. until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes.  Maple Glazed Baby Carrots (4 of 9)

3. Garnish with additional dill before serving.Maple Glazed Baby Carrots (6 of 9)

For those who like the added dimension of balsamic, feel free to drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the cooked carrots before serving. For this dish, I lightly drizzled some of Pukara’s fig balsamic (pictured below).

Maple Glazed Baby Carrots (8 of 9)

 

 

Tahini-dressed Haricots Verts with Walnuts and Red Pepper Flakes

Tahini dressed haricot verts with walnuts and chilli flakes (2 of 9)

A quick and easy Middle Eastern inspired side dish reminiscence of the creamy richness of a ranch dressing.

Drawing inspiration from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Haricots Verts and Freekeh recipe with a minty tahini dressing, I’ve decided to create my own little adaptation by doing away with the freekeh and the dried mint. After all, keeping things simple and fast (particularly for the sides) is how I like to cook when hosting and managing multiple dishes.

Green beans are low in calories, and a good source of fibre (which is essential to ensure regular bowel movements). Moreover, they are an important source of vitamins C and B9/Folacin. The first is vital for the formation and maintenance of connective tissues; it is also a highly effective antioxidant in protecting the cornea, skin, and tissues. The second – vitamin B9 or Folate – is required by cells to grow and multiply: it is recommended for women hoping to get pregnant, children and anyone whose body requires cellular renewal (during growth or convalescence, etc.).

Given their nutritional content, one should regularly consume more green beans as a side dish or as a salad. This recipe is ideal for those who find green beans too bland and want something that tastes similar to the consistency of a ranch dressing (but minus the calories). Since this side dish is served cold, it can be prepared in advance so that it leaves you with more ample time (and hands) to work on your main course.

Tahini dressed haricot verts with walnuts and chilli flakes (3 of 9)

INGREDIENTS:

(Serves 3-4 as a side dish)

  • 1 pound haricots verts, trimmed
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill sprigs
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves with tender stems
  • 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt, to taste

METHOD:

  1. Wash and drain haricot verts. Tahini dressed haricot verts with walnuts and chilli flakes (9 of 9)
  2. Cook haricot verts in a pot of boiling water for ~4 minutes. Immediately dunk in an ice bath (bowl of cold water with ice) to stop the cooking process.Tahini dressed haricot verts with walnuts and chilli flakes (7 of 9)Tahini dressed haricot verts with walnuts and chilli flakes (6 of 9)
  3. Prepare the tahini dressing by whisking the garlic, oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, tahini, and 1 tablespoon of water together in a bowl. Season with salt. Add the haricot verts and toss around until evenly coated. Top with the chopped dill, cilantro, parsley, walnuts and red pepper flakes before serving.

Tahini dressed haricot verts with walnuts and chilli flakes (4 of 9)

Baked Salmon with Lemon-Dill Yoghurt Sauce

Oven Baked Salmon with Yoghurt Dill Sauce (14 of 18)

Salmon is one of the most nutritious types of fish to add to your diet. It supplies iron, zinc, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, in addition to a whole host of other nutrients you need for good health. As you may all know, salmon contains a specific type of unsaturated fat called omega-3 fatty acids which helps lower your risk of dying from heart disease. Choosing salmon over red meat can help lower your cholesterol because salmon is much lower in saturated fat than beef, pork and some cuts of poultry.

There are many ways you can serve your salmon. With just a hint of seasoning, the amateur cook can make salmon taste delicious. That said, salmon fillets are traditionally prepared with dill. You can’t go wrong by baking your salmon fillet(s) in a heated oven then dressing them with a dollop of creamy lemon and dill yoghurt sauce.

Oven Baked Salmon with Yoghurt Dill Sauce (15 of 18)

INGREDIENTS:

(1 fillet palm size ~ serves one)

Marinade:

  • 1 salmon fillet (~4 ounce)
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon of fresh chopped dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • Pinch of cracked black pepper and salt

Yoghurt-dill sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon of greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 tablespoon of fresh chopped dill weed
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Oven Baked Salmon with Yoghurt Dill Sauce (1 of 18)

METHOD:

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Line roasting tray with parchment paper. Marinade salmon all over with the marinade ingredients for 10-20 minutes.

Oven Baked Salmon with Yoghurt Dill Sauce (2 of 18)

2) Remove salmon from marinade and place on roasting tray. Shove in the oven and roast for ~15 minutes until skin changes colour and flakes easily with a fork.

3) In the meantime, make the yoghurt-dill sauce by mixing together all the sauce ingredients.

Oven Baked Salmon with Yoghurt Dill Sauce (4 of 18) Oven Baked Salmon with Yoghurt Dill Sauce (5 of 18)

4) Remove salmon from oven and spoon over a dollop of the yoghurt sauce to serve.

Oven Baked Salmon with Yoghurt Dill Sauce (16 of 18)

Ottolenghi’s Aubergine with Black Garlic

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (3 of 25)

Talk about unwavering devotion – my obsession with aubergines and Ottolenghi’s style of cooking has not ceased ever since I got back from London. Tonight, I experimented with his Aubergine with Black Garlic recipe set out in his vegetarian cookbook “Plenty More”.

Many of you may be asking “what exactly is black garlic?”. To save you the trouble from wikipedia-ing it, black garlic is the latest “it” ingredient, a new superfood. No, it is not a new strain of garlic nor a mutated garlic derivative. It is simply a type of caramelised garlic made by heating whole bulbs of garlic over the course of several weeks, a process that results in black cloves. The taste is sweet and syrupy with hints of balsamic vinegar or tamarind. It gives an unexpected depth of flavour to dishes. It is mellow enough not to dominate. As an added bonus, it supposedly has twice the antioxidants as regular garlic.

As for black garlics origins, it was first used as a food ingredient in Asian cuisine. Nowadays, its popularity has spread to the United States as it has become a sought-after ingredient used in high-end cuisine. Thanks to its recent appearance on Top Chef and Iron Chef, these two television shows have created newfound fame for this otherwise frightful thing. Trust me, if you found this on your kitchen counter and didn’t know that it was supposed to be black, you would mistaken it for being rotten.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (22 of 25)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 medium aubergines, sliced widthways into 1.5cm rounds
  • 200 ml olive oil
  • 8 large or 16 small black garlic cloves
  • 200g Greek yoghurt
  • 1.5 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 7 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 red chillies, sliced on the diagonal into 3mm rounds
  • 5g dill leaves
  • 5g basil leaves
  • 5g tarragon leaves (though I had to do without tarragon as this is not easily found in Hong Kong)

METHOD:

1) Preheat oven to 250 degrees celsius.

2) Place aubergine rounds into a large bowl and mix with 60ml of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper.Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (24 of 25)

3) Lay out on roasting tin lined with parchment paper. Roast until golden-brown and completely soft – about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (10 of 25)

4) While aubergines are roasting, make the sauce. Place the black garlic cloves in a small food processor with 1/3 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons of oil, 2 tablespoons of yoghurt and the lemon juice. Blitz for a minute to form a rough paste and then transfer to a medium bowl. Mix through the rest of the yogurt and keep in the fridge until needed.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (17 of 25)

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (12 of 25)

5) Heat the remaining oil in a small saucepan on high heat. Add the garlic and chilli slices, reduce the heat to medium and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the garlic is golden-brown and the chilli is crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic and chilli on to a kitchen paper-lined plate.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (9 of 25)

6) Arrange the aubergine slices, overlapping, on a platter. Spoon the yoghurt sauce on top, sprinkle over the chilli and garlic and finish with the herbs.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (1 of 25)