Easter Carrot Cake

This is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had in my life. My entire family felt the same way. I’ll never be able to try another version.

When my friend gave me this special cookbook, she mentioned that the carrot cake recipe was wonderful and that it incorporated crushed pineapple. I can’t believe I waited so long to make it! The author notes that this is their most popular cake- and that its sales in the bakery double every year. It really was unbelievably delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King, founder of Tate’s Bake Shop. I roasted the walnuts, reduced the baking time, and lined the cake pans with parchment paper.

Yield: One 9-inch, 2-layer cake

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups grated carrots (from 5 to 6 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 1 cup crushed and drained pineapple
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Roast the walnuts until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, grease paper and dust pans with flour.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  6. In another large bowl, mix sugar and oil.
  7. Beat in eggs with an electric mixer. (I used a hand held mixer.)
  8. Stir in carrots, roasted nuts, and pineapple.
  9. Stir in the flour mixture.
  10. Pour into prepared pans. (I use a scale to ensure that the pans hold an equal amount of batter.)
  11. Bake for 35 minutes on convection, or up to 45 minutes in a standard oven, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Remove pans to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pans.
  13. Let the cakes cool completely before icing.

For the Cream-Cheese Icing and To Finish the Cake:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Add vanilla and mix.
  3. Beat in the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Spread the icing between the 9-inch layers and over the top and sides of the cake.
  5. Chill before serving. (I made the cake a day in advance.)

Note: This cake is very moist and keeps for at least a week in the refrigerator; it also freezes perfectly unfrosted.

One Year Ago: French Apple Cake

Two Years Ago: Carrot-Cake Thumbprint Cookies

Three Years Ago: Outrageous Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Four Years Ago: Jacques Pepin’s Plum Galette and Raspberry Custard Tart

Five Years Ago: Carrot Cupcakes and Cheesecake Brownies

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Panko-Crusted Roast Chicken Thighs with Mustard & Thyme

This is a superstar weeknight dinner. I already know that I’m going to make it a million times. 😉 The preparation is actually very similar to my favorite weeknight salmon recipe.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Jenny Rosenstrach. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in, and adapted the cooking temperature, method, as well as the cooking time. I roasted the chicken over sliced rainbow carrots and also roasted potatoes and asparagus on separate sheet pans in the same oven. Wonderful!

  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons thyme leaves, plus 6 sprigs
  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds medium carrots, scrubbed, cut into 4-inch pieces, halved lengthwise if thick (I used rainbow carrots)
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds tiny gold potatoes, optional
  • 2 pounds asparagus, optional
  1. Place a rack in highest position in oven; preheat to 425°, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Place carrots on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the thyme sprigs and roast for 15 to 20 minutes; remove from oven and set aside. (At this point, I also began roasting the potatoes on a separate sheet pan, for about 30 minutes.)
  3. Place panko in a shallow bowl.
  4. Mash butter, mustard, and thyme leaves in another small bowl with a fork (it will be a little lumpy).
  5. Season chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange “skin side up” over the partially roasted carrots on the rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Smear mustard-butter all over the top of the thighs.
  7. Working with 1 piece at a time, firmly press chicken, skin side down, into panko so crumbs adhere. Place back on baking sheet, on top of the carrots, with the breadcrumbs facing up.
  8. Roast until carrots are tender and chicken is cooked though, 20-25 minutes. (I cooked the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.) (At this point, I also roasted the asparagus on a separate sheet pan, for about 15 minutes.)
  9. Heat broiler. Broil chicken and carrots just until panko is golden brown and carrots are tender and browned in spots, about 2 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a platter and pour pan juices over top, as desired.
Two Years Ago: Chicken Meunière
Three Years Ago: Chicken with Mustard
Five Years Ago: Chicken in Tomatoes

Spicy Roasted Carrot & Red Lentil Ragout

When a family friend posted a link to this “tried and true” recipe on Facebook, I knew that I was going to make it for sure. Not only is she a wonderful cook, but she also endorsed it by saying that she’s been making it for ten years!

This hearty and healthy stew-like soup is really another wonderful variation of vegetarian chili. The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Molly O’Neill. I increased the amount of carrots, omitted the cayenne pepper, and cut the carrots prior to roasting in order to decrease the preparation time.

We ate it as a stew served over brown Basmati rice and topped it with Greek yogurt (others with sour cream) to temper the heat. The author suggested extending the ragout with either coconut milk or stock to give it a soup-like consistency, if desired. Yum!

Yield: 6 servings

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled, cut in half and quartered
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • ¾ teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • â…› teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  • plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Lay the carrots in a roasting pan and toss with 3 tablespoons oil. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast for 12 minutes.
  3. Turn the carrots, add the onion and roast an additional 15 minutes, until the carrots are brown and tender.
  4. When carrots are cool enough, cut them in 1/4-inch dice.
  5. Warm 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan. Add the carrot-and-onion mixture, the chili powders and the cayenne pepper, if using. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the lentils. Add the stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the lentils are falling apart.
  7. Season with remaining salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with rice, or as a thick soup. Garnish with yogurt or sour cream to temper the heat.

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Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Parsley & Thyme

It is so important to balance heavier holiday meal side dishes with clean and relatively healthy vegetable sides. I loved the colors in this dish. Our unseasonably warm weather allowed me to incorporate freshly cut parsley and thyme from my herb garden too. Delicious. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Shulman. It was inspired by a roasted carrot antipasto the author sampled at Oliveto Cafe in Oakland, California. I doubled the recipe for our Thanksgiving feast.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds carrots, preferably rainbow carrots, peeled quartered or cut into sixths lengthwise depending on the size, then into 2-inch lengths
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the carrots in a large bowl, and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano.
  3. Spread in an even (single) layer in the prepared pan. Cover with foil, and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Uncover, and if the carrots are not yet tender, turn the heat down to 375 degrees and return to the oven for 10 to 15 more minutes until tender.
  5. Add the parsley, stir gently, and taste and adjust salt and pepper. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
  • Advance preparation: These will keep for four to five days in the refrigerator.
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Hugh Acheson’s Bucatini Amatriciana

I have a couple of fast weeknight pasta dishes to share. Classics. Both are served with bucatini, a house favorite. 🙂

This amatriciana sauce has rich and meaty flavor from the pancetta which balances nicely with the spiciness from crushed red pepper flakes. The flavors really come together as the sauce simmers. Simple and delicious.

This recipe was adapted from a “staff-favorite” Food and Wine recipe, contributed by Hugh Acheson. I omitted the marjoram.

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Charmoula-Spiced Salmon with Za’atar Roasted Vegetables

I am always thrilled to make a healthy and flavorful dish that incorporates TONS of vegetables from my CSA share. This recipe seemed to be created for the box I had just received which contained kohlrabi, baby bok choy, parsley, and cilantro. This dish was loaded with wonderful spices as well. It truly was one of the best salmon dishes I’ve ever prepared.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Chef Jared Wentworth of Chicago’s Longman & Eagle. I used one large piece of salmon instead of fillets, grilled the fish instead of pan-cooking, modified the oven temperature, used potatoes and kohlrabi instead of beets, whole carrots instead of baby carrots, and modified the proportions in the sauce. It was beyond delicious!

For the Roasted Vegetables:
  • 1/2 pound red potatoes (5) or baby golden beets, scrubbed and quartered
  • 1-2 kohlrabi, peeled and cut into medium-pieces (I used 1 1/2)
  • 3 large carrots, halved lengthwise and quartered
  • 1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound baby bok choy, chopped into ribbons (I used 9 heads)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the Charmoula
:
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Salmon:
  • 1 1/3 pound whole wild salmon fillet (or four 5- to 6-ounce salmon fillets)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional (I omitted it)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
To Make the Vegetables:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°, preferably on convection roast.
  2. On two large rimmed baking sheets, toss the beets or potatoes, kohlrabi, carrots and mushrooms with the olive oil and za’atar and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Immediately transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and fold in the bok choy until just wilted.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

To Make the Charmoula:

  1. In a food processor, combine everything except the salt and pepper and puree until nearly smooth. (I used a mini-food processor.)
  2. Scrape into a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.

To Make the Salmon:

  1. Season the fish with coarse salt and black pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the ground coriander and cumin with the paprika and crushed red pepper. Season the salmon with the spice mixture.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat a grill set to moderate heat.
  4. Place the fish on the hot grill skin side down and press gently with a spatula to flatten. Cook the fish over moderate heat until the skin is golden, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Flip the fish and cook until medium within, about 3 minutes longer.
  6. Serve the fish topped with charmoula over the roasted vegetables. Serve extra charmoula on the side, as desired.

Note: The charmoula can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Seared Scallops & Cauliflower Grits

With the sunshine and warmer weather, an Easter weekend tradition in our house is to celebrate our love (and the food!) of the beautiful South Carolina Low Country. I usually serve a version of the classic Low Country dish, Shrimp and Grits, but, this year tried this scallop and cauliflower grits adaptation. We absolutely loved it!

This recipe was adapted from Joel Gamoran, Sur La Table National Chef, via Sur la Table.com. I puréed the vegetables instead of juicing them for the sauce, used riced cauliflower, and doubled the garlic. Amazing.

Yield: Makes 4 Servings

For the Cauliflower Grits:

  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds riced cauliflower
  • 1 to 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

For the Scallops:

  • 2 medium whole tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons canola or grape seed oil
  • 16 sea scallops, patted dry
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Prepare the Cauliflower Grits: In the microwave, steam the riced cauliflower for 4 minutes, or until very tender.
  2. Combine the steamed cauliflower with Parmesan, garlic, and enough cream cheese to achieve desired consistency.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  4. Prepare the Scallops: Combine the tomatoes, pepper and carrot in a Vitamix, food processor, or blender. Puree.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  6. Season scallops with salt and pepper and add to pan in one layer. Sear the scallops for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden. Remove scallops to a platter.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low and add remaining oil to skillet.
  8. Add shallot and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes.
  9. Add garlic and smoked paprika and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
  10. Slowly whisk in puréed vegetables and bring to a boil.
  11. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  12. To serve: Serve scallops on top of cauliflower grits with sauce spooned on top. Garnish with scallions and extra black pepper, as desired.

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