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Spring carrots lend new flavors

Sue BarhamDaily CorrespondentVail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily Tender spring carrots bring their earthy sweetness to soups.
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I confess, I’ve never had much respect for the common carrot. Oh, I know, it’s the base of soups, stocks and sauces and you can rely on carrots to be available any time you rush into a grocery store. When the green beans are unappealing and the broccoli is limp, there are the perky carrots with their vibrant orange color ready to dress up the dinner plate.Last week, a bowl of soup the color of autumn leaves was placed in front of me at Restaurant Avondale; I expected it to be butternut squash, but what I tasted was heavenly. Carrots! It was an epiphany.Sous chef Kevin Delonay enlightened me. “Though winter carrots never call to me as a veggie, they’re a chef’s essential ingredient,” he said. “But tender baby carrots in spring taste entirely different. There’s an earthy sweetness that melts into a rich texture when they’re cooked.”Suddenly, all the endorsements about the health benefits of carrots seemed a lot more palatable. Loaded with beta carotene and Vitamins A, C, D, and K, carrots are the friends of your lasting eyesight and have powerful anti-oxidants to fight many diseases. When shopping for baby carrots, look for those sold in bunches, still with the bushy green tops attached. The two-inch “baby carrots” sold in plastic bags are great for a healthy snack, but they don’t deliver the same flavor as the first young carrots pulled from the earth in the spring. Packaged “baby carrots” are actually cut and whittled from larger, gnarly carrots, in essence the heart of larger, tougher tubers.Find some young spring carrots at the grocery and enjoy a new taste sensation with these recipes.

1⁄2 cup onion, diced1⁄2 cup celery, diced1 Tablespoon butter5 cups fresh young carrots, sliced8 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth1 teaspoon chipotle powder1 teaspoon salt1 cup fresh peas, shelledSalt and black pepper to tasteGarnish:Pea shootsCrme FraicheMelt butter in stock pot. Saut onions, celery, carrots in butter until fragrant and starting to soften. Add chipotle and salt, stir and cook about a minute. Add broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until carrots are soft, about 10 minutes. Puree soup in a blender, then pass through a fine mesh sieve. Stir in peas, add salt and pepper to taste and divide among four bowls. Garnish with crme fraiche and pea shoots. Serves 4.

1 pound medium carrots, peeled1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil1 tablespoon chopped parsley 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to tasteUse a peeler to grate carrots into long sheer ribbons. Transfer to a bowl. Whisk lemon juice and oil together, pour over carrots, and toss. Add parsley and tarragon and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

2 3⁄4 cups flour1 teaspoon baking soda2 teaspoon cinnamon1 teaspoon salt2 cups sugar1 1⁄2 cups vegetable oil4 eggs1 1⁄2 Tablespoons Vanilla3 cups grated carrotsCombine first 4 ingredients and set aside. In another bowl, cream sugar and oil. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add in the dry ingredient mixture, mix well. Fold in the carrots. Bake in 9×13 pan at 350 about 45-55 minutes. Allow to cool before frosting.Cream Cheese Frosting8 ounces cream cheese1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter33⁄4 cup powdered sugar1 teaspoon vanilla1 cup pecans, chopped5 ounces crushed pineapple, drainedCream together the cream cheese and butter till smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat till smooth. Fold in pecans and pineapple. Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur (www.larkspurvail.com), at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale (www.avondalerestaurant.com) opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa and features a West Coast-inspired, market-driven menu. Email sue@savorygroup.com.


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