What followed was immense excitement in the Keston Kitchen household, as Paul had brought me literally the biggest Carrot I have EVER seen in my life and probably ever will again. He had been round to visit his friend Mark who lives close to us in London. Mark's Father is a prize winning vegetable grower so he had a lot of the left over vegetables just knocking around the house. He kindly donated a couple of items to Paul who knew that one way to impress the Keston ladies would be to bring us prize winning giant vegetables- it worked! I literally ran around to Jules' and Charlotte's rooms brandishing the giant Carrot, much to their delight.
That weekend was the first one I had been free just to potter around the kitchen since June. As much as I love them, the festivals of the Summer had kept me away from any culinary adventures (bar the crew food, which is often a different type of adventure!), so I decided to make the most of it. Saturday was spent on the first 2 recipes and Sunday was spent cooking a 2 bird uber roast (the first of a long roasting season) for 9 other South East London based friends and roast dinner fans. I had a brilliant weekend!
After peeling and top and tailing, I got 600 g of Carrot so I wanted to put it to as many uses as I could. The first of which is the tried and tested Carrot Cake recipe by Delia. It is one of my favourites and one of the most deliciously moist carrot cakes going. This is partially down to the inclusion of the sunflower oil instead of the use of butter, which means it's good if you are watching your waistline too.
Delia's Low Fat and Incredibly Moist Carrot Cake
6 oz (175 g) dark brown soft sugar, sifted
2 Large eggs at room temperature
4 fl oz (120 ml) sunflower oil)
7 oz (200 g) wholemeal self-raising flour
1½ level teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
3 rounded teaspoons mixed spice
Grated zest 1 orange
7 oz (200 g, I actually used 300g just because I could) carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
6 oz (175 g) sultanas
For the topping:
9 oz (250 g) Quark (skimmed-milk soft cheese- philadelphia or own brand works just as well, just make sure you don't buy the garlic and herb version!)
¾ oz (20 g) caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus a little extra for dusting
For the syrup glaze: juice ½ small orange
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
1½ oz (40 g) dark brown soft sugar
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C).
You will also need a non-stick oblong cake tin measuring 6½ x 10 inches (16 x 25.5 cm), top measurement 7 x 10½ inches (18 x 26.5 cm),1½ inches (4 cm) deep, the base lined with silicone paper (parchment).
Begin by whisking the 6 oz (175 g) sugar, eggs and oil together in a bowl using an electric hand whisk for 2-3 minutes.
Then sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and the mixed spice into the bowl, tipping in all the bits of bran that are left in the sieve.
Now stir all this together, then fold in the orange zest, carrots and sultanas. After that pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 35-40 minutes, until it is well risen and feels firm and springy to the touch when lightly pressed in the centre.
While the cake is cooking, make the topping by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl until light and fluffy, then cover with clingfilm and chill for 1-2 hours or until needed. Now you need to make the syrup glaze, and to do this whisk together the fruit juices and sugar in a bowl.
Then, when the cake comes out of the oven, stab it all over with a skewer and quickly spoon the syrup over as evenly as possible. Now leave the cake on one side to cool in the tin, during which time the syrup will be absorbed.
Then, when the cake is completely cold, remove it from the tin, spread the topping over, cut it into 12 squares and dust with a little more cinnamon.
The results are usually very well recieved, delicious and tasty. Here is my version which I served up after the Sunday Roast.
A Spiced and Spicy Carrot, Apple and Tomato Chutney
The second idea I had for a recipe also incorporated the other present Paul bought me that day which was a bag of ripe and fast over- ripening tomatoes, also from the prize winning vegetable grower. Autumn in the Keston Kitchen is often a Chutney making affair. In fact, one of the plus points to the other girls for me moving in around 18 months ago was the fact that I was bringing my very large pan that is perfect for such events. I couldn't agree more and thought it was time to have a proper go at this and tomatoes that needed using quickly lent themselves very appropriately to the cause. I couldn't find a good recipe for Carrot and Tomato Chutney, so I did what I enjoy doing most which was looking at a few recipes and having a go at freestyling. My base recipe was from Rachel Allen on the Good Food website (which is a fantastic resource for a quick search for recipe ideas). It appealed to me as it was simple and looked tasty. I came up with the following based on that.
- 1 kg ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 200 g onions, chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 300 g roughly grated carrot
- 1 large red chilli
- 100 g raisins or sultanas
- 250 g cooking apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
- 300 g sugar
- 225 ml vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp onion seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1. Place all the ingredients in a large stainless steel saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved completely.
2. Bring to the boil, stirring, then simmer on a low heat, stirring regularly (to make sure the mixture does not burn on the bottom of the pan) for about 1 - 2 hours or until thick and pulpy. The chutney is cooked properly when you can draw your wooden spatula across the bottom of the pan and the two sides created take a short time to come back together.
3. Pour into hot sterilised jars and cover. To sterilise, you need to boil the jars for approx 10 mins and then dry in a heated oven.
4. The Chutney is best left to mature for 4-8 weeks before eating if possible. And in which event, I am yet to taste my Chutney, but I will report back once I have done so. You can guarantee I will be using it to it's best effect with some West Country cheddar and some crusty granary bread with a nice glass of red wine :)
Carrot + Paul
So what of the 3rd way? Well after a cake for 12 people and 5 jars of Chutney, The Carrot had given as much as it could give. I made honey boiled Chantenay carrots with butter and black pepper to serve with the Roast dinner, which I know is a little bit of a cheat, but I really don't mind, so I hope you don't either. Thanks to Paul for genuinely one of my favourite culinary presents I have ever recieved and to all my carrot tasting friends, which has so far involved 10 of us in total, and potentially a lot more once the Chutney has been dished out. I have to say, I enjoyed getting back in the kitchen and working out my carrot based kitchen endeavours. This post has been fun! I'm definitely embracing the Autumn.