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)

 

 

Roast Rosemary Rack of Lamb

Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (4 of 13)

Hosting a dinner party for friends but can’t think of what to make in a short amount of time? In situations like these, a quick and easy solution would be to roast a rack of lamb. Roasting is the ideal way to cook a rack of lamb. The process can basically be broken down further into three distinct parts: preparation, roasting and resting.

First, the prep work. Prepare a combination of fresh or dried herbs and spices or create a paste by combining the herbs and spices with a little bit of olive oil and rubbing it over the lamb. For best results, use the following steps for preparation:

  1. Score the fat covering the meat using a crisscross pattern across the surface of the lamb.
  2. Season both sides of the rack with salt and pepper.
  3. Rub the lamb with single herbs, mixtures or herb paste.
  4. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

What’s the best temperature to roast a lamb rack? Ideally, the best roasting temperatures are between 425 and 450 ° F (about 230°C ). Cooking lamb at high heat preserves the tender and juicy nature of the meat. The lamb rack should cook to a medium pinkish rare in about 12-18 minutes.

For me, I like to sear the lamb before roasting to get a nice brown finishing. This can simply be achieved by heating a salute pan with olive oil until the oil shimmers. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper, and sear the meaty side for 3-4 minutes until a golden brown colour emerges. If you elect to pan sear before roasting, add herbs, crust or herb paste after searing and before roasting to ensure the lamb remains juicy and succulent.

Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (10 of 13)

Roast Rosemary Rack of Lamb

Total time: 25 minutes | Serves: 6 (roughly 3 chops each)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Two baby back lamb ribs
  • Few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil, to rub
  • Salt and black pepper, to season

Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (2 of 13)

METHOD:

  1. Season the lamb racks first by generously rubbing them all over with olive oil, black pepper, garlic, thyme, and rosemary. Leave to marinade for a few hours, or overnight if desired.Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (5 of 13)
  2. Preheat oven to 230 degrees celsius and line roasting tray with parchment paper.
  3. Heat sauce pan on medium high. Pour some olive oil to coat and once oil starts shimmering, throw the lamb racks in and brown evenly on both side (roughly 2-3 minutes each side).Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (7 of 13)Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (3 of 13)
  4. Transfer browned racks to the preheated oven and roast for 12-15 minutes depending on how “rare” you like your lamb.Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (8 of 13)
  5. Let the rack sit for a few minutes (can cover with an aluminium tent foil) to let the juices run so that the lamb chops will be tender upon serving.Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (12 of 13)
    Roast Rosemary and Garlic Rack of Lamb (1 of 13)

Eggplant with Buttermilk Greek Yoghurt Dressing and Pomegranate

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (6 of 18)

After a month of silence, I am finally back with the postings. Past month has been hectic. Got caught up with a multitude of tasks, then travelled to London and Sicily for a much needed and long-awaited break. Finally back and over my jet lag. Fell in love with Ottolenghi’s restaurants in London. In fact, I kept going to his pastry shop in Notting Hill almost every morning since it was just around the corner from where I was staying (hence I unavoidably stacked on the pounds but it was definitely worth every calorie). Bill Granger’s Granger and Co. was just around the corner too. How can one resist Bill’s breakfast, especially his signature ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter that brought him to fame (the scrambled eggs as well of course) in Sydney?

Now that I am back, the first dish I felt naturally compelled to make is an Ottolenghi inspired creation: the baked aubergines with a buttermilk greek yoghurt sauce from his book Plenty. Given the sloppy texture, I know aubergines may not be everyone’s favourite vegetable, but I personally love aubergines. There are so many ways you can dress them up with and they absorb flavours like a sponge. They are the perfect staple vegetable for several middle eastern dishes.

As for the dressing, the yoghurt sauce has the ability to round up so many flavours and textures like no other component does. The addition of buttermilk adds some acidity which works wonders with the slightly greasy nature of the aubergines and the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds. The original recipe calls for Za’atar, which is a Middle Eastern spice blend of sumac, sesame seeds and herbs. I value efficiency so I simply just sprinkled sumac on top of the buttermilk dressing to add some contrast in colours and flavour. Finish off with some chopped fresh mint (again, original recipe calls for lemon thyme leaves but these are not so easy to find in Hong Kong).

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (2 of 2)

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 as a side dish):

  • 2 large long eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon of dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of Za’atar or Sumac (or combination of dried thyme, oregano, and pepper)
  • 1/2 pomegranate
  • 3-4 tablespoon of pine nuts, roasted
  • Some fresh mint leaves, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Sea Salt (Maldon sea salt is ideal)
  • Black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoon of greek yoghurt
  • 3 tablespoon of buttermilk (alternative is to add 1/2 tablespoon of white vinegar to 1/2 cup of milk and let it stand for 5-10 minutes and let it stand)
  • 3/4 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/3 teaspoon of garlic past (about 1 small garlic clove)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cumin powder

METHOD:

1) Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a roasting tray with parchment paper or aluminium foil.

2) Cut eggplants diagonally into rounds, almost an inch thick. Use a small sharp knife to make a criss-cross hash pattern on one side of the eggplant so that the flavours can absorb more readily.

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (18 of 18)

3) Spray with olive oil cooking spray (or brush with olive oil). Sprinkle freshly cracked black pepper, sea salt and dried thyme.

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (17 of 18)Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (16 of 18)4) Shove into the oven for ~20 minutes until flesh goes soft and turns into a nicely brown colour (NB: can check by inserting a skewer). Take out of the oven and let it cool completely.

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (15 of 18)

5) Whilst eggplants are roasting you can start preparing the buttermilk sauce. Whisk together the buttermilk, yoghurt, cumin, olive oil, garlic paste, and salt. Feel free to adjust for taste according to your own liking (sometimes I like to add a squirt of lemon juice). Keep sauce chilled.

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (11 of 18)6) Roast the pine nuts by heating up a pan on medium heat and pan-frying for 2-3 minutes.
Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (12 of 18)7) Cut pomegranate in half and remove the seeds with your fingers. Make sure that all the attached white skin or membrane has been removed apart from the seeds.

Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (1 of 18)

8) To serve, lay out the cooled aubergine rounds onto a dish and spoon plenty of the buttermilk dressing on top. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of Za’atar or Sumac, and garnish with the pomegranate seeds, roasted pine nuts and some freshly diced mint leaves. Finish with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Ottolenghi's Grilled Aubergine with Buttermilk Dressing (3 of 18)