Roasting carrots

When the bounty of a season of carrots have been harvested, besides freezing or pickling, I find a great option is roasting carrots and stewing with honey into a jam. Originally, I read about the idea in Chef Michael Smith’s book Open Kitchen (which is difficult to find now since it is out of print, but sometimes is available on sites like Amazon). He pan-roasted the carrots in butter, stirring constantly. I decided another approach would be to roast with less oil in a very hot oven. I still finish the jam on the stove top but it eliminates a lot of standing over and stirring. Chef Smith used this jam in a roasted carrot cake. I found that it makes a wonderful spread on a sandwich as well as a component of carrot cake or carrot muffins. To reduce the work on making muffins, I usually make the roasted carrot honey jam ahead and it can even be canned. My muffin recipe is based on Chef Michael Smith’s carrot cake, with variances to the carrot jam and using Gold Forest Grain‘s red fife and soft white wheat flour, I had to adjust the moisture content accordingly.


Roasted Carrot-Honey Jam

7 cups Riverbend Gardens carrots, cut into 1cm(1/2″) dice

1/2 cup Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil

2/3 cup Coal Lake Honey Farms mixed flower honey

Preheat oven to 220C/450F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Toss the carrots with the oil in a large bowl, then spread the carrots out in a single layer on the two prepared baking sheets. Roast in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through, until golden brown and softened.

Transfer the roasted carrots to a large pot with the honey, and simmer for 10 minutes until glazed with honey and deeply golden. Purée with a hand blender until smooth, or transfer to a blender and purée. Serve as a sandwich spread, as a bruschetta topping with shaved aged gouda or in a carrot muffin.

Roasted Carrot Muffins

Wet ingredients:

1 recipe Roasted Carrot-Honey Jam

8 eggs

4 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups grated Riverbend Gardens carrots

Dry ingredients:

2 cups Gold Forest Grains soft white flour

1 cup Gold Forest Grains red fife flour

2 cups demerera brown sugar

1 Tbsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line muffin pans with paper muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together both varieties of flour with the brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the Roasted Carrot-Honey Jam, eggs and vanilla. Gradually work in the dry ingredients and grated carrot until a smooth batter is formed. Portion out the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick comes out clean (about 20 minutes). Makes 30 regular sized muffins, 60 mini muffins or 3 medium sized loaves. Good for a week in an airtight container or frozen for several months.


Rethinking Thanksgiving

Having family spread in various parts of western Canada, it’s often difficult to gather for holidays such as Thanksgiving. I decided to do a twist on the traditional Thanksgiving meal that would be more suitable for me, or for a small group. Plus it ended up being a great way to use leftover stuffing in the future.

Stuffing-Crusted Turkey Breast

Basic Stuffing:

1 large Riverbend Gardens onion, peeled and finely chopped.

2 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil

1 Tbsp salt

3 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 Tbsp coriander seed

1 tsp ground savoury

1/2 tsp, each, ground cumin, celery seeds, black pepper

1 Tbsp salt

9 cups cubed whole wheat bread

2-3/4 cups homemade chicken or vegetable broth

4 Sunshine Organic eggs

Preheat oven to 200C/425F.

On two baking sheets spread out the cubed bread in a single layer and toast for 15-18 minutes or until dry toasted. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and 1 Tbsp salt. Stir occasionally, gradually reducing the heat over the course of 25-30 minutes until the onions are deeply golden and caramelized. Add a bit of water through the slow caramelizing to loosen any browning on the bottom of the pan to ensure an even caramelization. Add the celery and sauté for another 5-7 minutes until the celery is softened but not brown.

Grind the spices together and add to the sautéed onions and celery and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until aromatic. Add to a large bowl with the toasted bread cubes. Fold the spiced onion-celery mixture to coat the bread and add the chicken stock. When the stock just hydrates all the toasted bread cubes, add the eggs and stir to combine.

Reduce oven temperature to 180C/350F.

Line a 24cm x 33cm (8″ x 13″) cake or lasagna pan with parchment paper and pour the stuffing mixture inside. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden on top and starting to brown. Chop stuffing into 1cm(1/2″) chunks and return to two parchment-lined baking sheets. Reduce the oven temperature to 110C/250F and dry the stuffing for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. They should be dry like a crouton without browning too much. Grind in a food processor or blender until fine breadcrumbs are achieved. Set aside.

1.5 Kg/3.3lb Sunshine Organic turkey breast, cut into 2cm/1″ cutlets

3/4 cup Gold Forest Grains soft white flour

2 Sunshine Organic large eggs + 1/4 cup water

Reserved Stuffing breadcrumbs

In a small bowl, add the flour. In another small bowl, beat the eggs and water together. In a third medium bowl, add the Stuffing breadcrumbs.

Pound the turkey cutlets between sheets of parchment paper until they are less than 1/2cm(1/4″) thick. Dredge each cutlet in flour, then the egg/water mixture, then the Stuffing breadcrumbs, patting the breadcrumbs firmly on each cutlet. Set on a large plate or baking sheet and allow to set at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. This ensures a firmly set breading that will not crumble off during or after cooking.

In a cast iron pan, heat 1/4 cup canola oil over medium heat. Add a pinch of breadcrumbs and when the oil starts to sizzle, fry the breaded cutlets for 6-8 minutes on one side and a further 4-5 minutes on the other. Drain on a clean kitchen towel and keep warm in a low oven (110C/225F).

Caramelized Cabbage Mashed Potatoes

2 lbs Riverbend Gardens baby white potatoes, chopped

1 recipe Caramelized Cabbage

1/4 cup butter

In a large pot, boil the chopped potatoes in plenty of water for 10-12 minutes until soft. Mash with the butter and prepared Caramelized Cabbage. Set on a warm back burner with the lid on while you prepare the Smothered Brussels Sprouts.

Smothered Brussels Sprouts(*See Note)

1 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics canola oil

6 cups Riverbend Gardens Brussels sprouts, quartered

1/2 Riverbend Gardens sweet red onion, sliced

100g Medicine Man Bison bison bacon, chopped

1 cup homemade chicken or vegetable stock

In a large pot, sauté the onion in the oil over medium high heat until softened but not brown (about 5 minutes). Add the bison bacon and sauté for another 3-4 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

*Note: The Smothered Brussels Sprouts recipe is based on a Creole Smothered Cabbage recipe here

To serve, spoon Caramelized Cabbage Mashed Potatoes in the centre of the plate, surround with the Smothered Brussels Sprouts and gently lay one or two Stuffing-Crusted Turkey Breasts on top of the potatoes. Serves 4-6.