Carrots, Chocolate, and Red Pepper Flakes

Just before New Year’s Eve, I made a huge pot of white bean and rosemary soup, and wish I’d thrown in a handful of black-eyed peas for New Year luck. Along with the lucky number 13, I’m hoping that putting them in the header will suffice!

Cooking cooking – lots of cooking over the holidays – and new cookbooks! Our younger son and his sweet bride were here over Christmas, and cooking seemed simple because I had her wonderful, companionable help. More to come about the cookbooks, but for now I wanted to pass along two recipes we made with much pleasure – both from the same blog:

The site is full of interesting recipes and photos by a young man who writes about “making good food on a relatively small budget.” He writes from the UK with a lively good humor. Sometimes ingredient conversions are necessary – Google does for you quickly.

For a Christmas Eve gathering, we made his “Carrot and Coriander Hummus”: Roast 300 grams of chopped carrots (that’s about 10 ounces) with three unpeeled cloves of garlic in olive oil, salt, and pepper, until tender, just turning brown. Toast coriander seeds (I did this in the toaster oven). You need two teaspoons after “bashing” the seeds up a bit.

Put the carrots, the garlic squeezed out of its skin, two teaspoons of peanut butter (the mystery ingredient, nobody guessed peanut butter), a small handful of fresh coriander (didn’t have this), one teaspoon of chilli flakes (that’s a British-ism, I used red pepper flakes, pretty hot ones), and the juice of one lemon into a food processor. Then add one tablespoon of olive oil at a time (recipe says four) until the consistency is right for dip or spread.

FrugalFeeder says to serve with pita bread, but we substituted crackers. And, because we doubled the recipe, we were able to spread this on bread for several days after the party – really tasty.

Those same red pepper flakes (a sweet bride favorite) appear in another FrugalFeeding recipe “Chilli and Nutmeg Dark Chocolate Bark,” which is easy and looks festive. Start with good chocolate for this – we used 80% – three bars come close to the 300 grams called for.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. (I don’t have one, so we used a bowl inside a steamer basket.) Begin by breaking the chocolate and melting three-quarters of it. Remove the bowl from heat and add the rest of the chocolate and let it soften. Then put the chocolate back over the water until it reaches pouring consistency.

The sweet bride carefully poured the melted mixture onto a piece of parchment paper atop a baking tray – making a thin chocolate puddle. She’d earlier grated a nutmeg with a microplane grater (a new activity to us but perfect for a Christmas task, and I put the leftovers in Christmas pudding the next day), added a quarter teaspoon of the grated nutmeg to one teaspoon of pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt (coarse sea salt if you have it). She sprinkled this mixture over the still soft chocolate.

We went on to make red beans and rice and ginger cookies while the chocolate set up – then packed the broken bark into little bags – a quick, easy present! A recipient called the chocolate “not sweet and bitey hot!”

Carrots, chocolate, nutmeg, coriander, pepper flakes, family and friends – was a great holiday!

Paper palette carrot

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