Monday, June 16, 2014

Roasted Heirloom Carrots

Sometimes, simple is best. Simple recipes are often all high-quality ingredients need to shine on the dinner plate. Take for example: heirloom carrots. I picked up a bag of organic, multi-color heirloom carrots at Trader Joe’s on my way back from Philadelphia to Small Town. I loved all the different colors in the bag from lemon yellow to bright red. It made my day to say the least.

So when I needed to decide what to do with these beauties, I landed on the humble vegetable’s best fried: roasting. Just a few ingredients, a really hot oven, and a little bit of time is all these babies need to come out golden brown and caramelized sweet.

There’s little to say about this recipe as it so simple. Rather, there is more to say about what to do with the roasted carrots once you pull them out of the oven. The possibilities are truly endless. You can put them on a plate next to salmon, beets, and baked potatoes like us. But I’d rather hear about them on top of a big green salad; tossed with quinoa and kale; a bed for a poached egg next to their buddy-the roasted potato. Hey, even on top of ice cream! No, I’m kidding about that.

And if there happen to be any leftovers by chance, chop them up for Shepard’s Pie, or in a hummus and roasted veggie sandwich. I mean these carrots are pretty amazing. I mean it.
So if that hasn’t convinced you to make the easiest gourmet side dish in the world then I do not know what will…
Roasted Heirloom Carrots
Makes 4-6 sides


2 lbs. heirloom multi-colored carrots, peeled and topped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tbsp. olive oil (more for the pan)

½ tsp. kosher salt

Fresh black pepper

Desired Seasoning: Greek, dill, Italian, even dukkah all work well

½ tsp. garlic powder


 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 Cut carrots in 2-3 inch pieces, the small ends intact, the large ends haved.

 Toss carrots with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and spread out evenly on a dark baking sheet with a little more oil if necessary to grease the pan.

 Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Carrots are done when they are golden brown on sides and soft when pierced with a fork.

 Serve while still hot or later when cold over a salad.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Chicken Gyoza in Savory Broth

I’m so glad to be writing this from the comfort of Small Town, Pennsylvania rather than West Texas. While I definitely tried to make the best of it there with my wonderful library job and co-military wives, I did miss Pennsylvania. One of the main reasons is the food I can purchase and make easily here...and my family of course.

 Trader Joe’s my-not-so-secret obsession was one of my first trips after the 25 hour drive with my mother and 4 lb. dog. I was here only a day when I needed to drive down to Philadelphia to spend the weekend with my sister whose fiancé was going on a trip. That provided a good opportunity for a “back to PA” celebration praticing Yoga near the river, eating French food at our favorite restaurant, and of course, a trip to my beloved Joe’s.

That trip provided these lovely pot stickers (also known as gyoza or Chinese dumplings) which are the centerpiece to this dish. I don’t want to call it soup since I like to keep the broth shallow and rather focus on the fresh veggies and pot stickers. Plus, with this incredibly flavorful broth, you only need a small amount rather than a large bowl of liquid.

I love these veggie and chicken filled beauties especially since they aren’t full of preservatives or un-pronounceable ingredients like many grocery-store frozen offerings. But being the product of Trader Joe’s, you can feel a little better about it.

This also makes the meal a little simpler. You can focus on making a really flavorful broth since the dumplings are already made. I love using different color carrots for a contract of colors, (another Trader Joe’s product.) You can use red, yellow, or orange carrots for a beautiful plate. And don’t forget about the garnishes. Like Vietnamese Pho, which inspired this broth, I like the contrast of the umami rich broth to the bright crisp veggies and herbs. At the time, I only have green onions and cilantro along with the carrots, but bean sprouts, shredded cabbage, even Thai basil would be delicious additions. I used homemade broth leftover from a roast chicken. It really makes the difference if you have it!

This recipe is good for about 4-5 servings with 4-5 dumplings in each bowl. This would be an impressive first course, but made a full meal with a salad and maybe some spring rolls on the side…courtesy of Joe of course.

Chicken Gyoza in Savory Broth
(Makes 4-5 servings)

20 frozen chicken pot stickers (gyoza, dumplings, I got mine at Trader Joe’s)
4-5 cups homemade chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup shredded chicken (optional)
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon anchovy paste or fish sauce
1 inch nob of fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Juice of one lime
2 tsp. tomato paste (optional, but adds richness)
1 tsp. Sriracha chili sauce
Olive oil

Water for dumplings
2 carrots of different colors, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup chopped green onions
Cilantro, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and/or shredded cabbage for garnish

Suggested additions: sautéed wild mushrooms, bok choy, shelled edamame, sesame oil for serving

For Gluten-free: Use GF dumplings or make your own! Use GF soy-sauce and fish sauce and make homemade broth. For Vegetarian: Use vegetable broth, omit chicken, fish sauce and use additional lime juice and soy sauce and use vegetable dumplings.

In a large soup pot, heat to medium then drizzle enough olive oil to lightly cover the bottom. In pot, sauté onions until soft and translucent, not brown. Stir in garlic, anchovy paste and ginger and sauté for an additional minute, stirring until well incorporated and not clumpy. Lower heat to medium low and stir in wine. Let simmer for about a minute, then add broth a cup at a time. Stir and let broth simmer on lower heat, covered for 25 minutes.

 Once broth is a nice rich golden color, add soy sauce, Sriracha, lime juice, and tomato paste. Taste broth and add additional anchovy paste (or fish sauce) and soy sauce as need, carefully whisking into the broth. Stir in chicken meat and cook for an additional 2 minutes until meat is warmed through.

 While broth is cooking, heat a large, flat skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. Add dumplings, about 5-6 at a time depending of the skillet’s size. Brown for two minutes on flat side, then turn to other side for 1 minute. Add 3 tbsp. water and immediately cover pan, cooking for 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep in slightly warm oven (heat to 200 degrees, then turn off) until ready to serve. Repeat with remaining dumplings. Dumplings should be golden brown on sides.

 Right before serving, stir carrots in the broth. In shallow bowls, place 4-5 cooked dumplings. Carefully ladle broth with the carrots over the dumplings. Don't fill the bowls too high with broth, rather only half-way to the dumplings. Top with cilantro, green onions, and any additional garnishes. Serve with lime wedges, Sriracha, and toasted sesame oil.

Serve immediately. (If there are leftovers, store broth and dumplings separately so dumplings do not get soggy. I recommend cooking dumplings fresh if reheating broth later.)