I really want to like vegetables. Really, I do. It's just that I think they can be so boring. Honestly, if I see one more stack of green beans with a sprinkling of slivered almonds, I think I'll...oh, I don't know...probably just eat them, and just be left wondering if that's all there is.
With Sweetie-Pi's finicky taste buds to consider, there aren't a whole lot of vegetables to expand on. However, that is part of the challenge and the fun for me. One vegetable that we both agree on is carrots. Outside of boiling them or eating them in sticks, what else is there? So, I dug out a half dozen of my favorite cookbooks and settled on one of my favorites, Best of the Best from New England.
I read cookbooks as if they were novels, savoring each recipe, imagining the taste as I read the ingredients and the directions. Sometimes I can read a recipe and know I've found a winner. I know I've seen this recipe a dozen times and have skipped past it every time. The recipe title "Carrot Bake" is just so ho-hum and mundane and uninspiring. When I read the recipe again, I read it with new eyes. I looked past the title and read the ingredients and started to imagine the flavors. Yummmm, I thought.
And now I have found a new favorite way to eat carrots. I like this so much I would serve it to guests. The picture doesn't even begin to do justice. There is a melody of flavor on the tongue. Carrots, onions, green peppers, and a hint of sweetness. And the rewarding part? Sweetie-Pi absolutely loved this!
I wish I could've taken a better picture for you. This was our early Valentine's dinner, carrot bake, filet mignon, and what should've been Duchess potatoes. (Those were a laughable failure; I will not be blogging about those until I get it right. In the meantime, just focus on the carrots. Pay no attention to that mysterious white blob on the right of your screen!) We had a nice Merlot, and a new twist on strawberry shortcake, that could easily become the way I make all future shortcakes.
9 or 10 large carrots
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
Peel and slice the carrots. In a medium pan, with just enough water to cover the carrots, cook over medium heat until tender. Mash. (Now this is February in New Hampshire. The carrots were woody, unpleasantly fibrous, so I had to pulse them in a food processor.) Set aside.
In a small saute pan, melt four tablespoons of butter. Add the flour, milk, salt and sugar and cook until thickened. (To avoid lumps, I made a slurry with a portion of milk and all the flour and then added it into the pan with the vegetables and milk.) Add the reserved carrots and transfer all to a greased casserole dish. (Because there were a number of prepatory steps, I worked the recipe to this point, covered with plastic wrap, and then refrigerated, About 45 minutes before I wanted to serve dinner, I took the casserole out of the fridge and continued with the recipe.)
Melt the remaining one tablespoon of butter in a clean saute pan and add the bread crumbs. Toast the crumbs over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the crumbs are a golden brown. Then sprinkle those wonderful buttery, toasted crumbs over the casserole.
Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
Prepare to swoon.