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January 18, 2005

Small-Time Cooks 1-18-05

Maria and I were still on our Iron Chef kick, and we wanted to try our hand with vegetables. Maria suggested carrots, since they were cheap and quick to cook. So we got ourselves a bundle of the orange stuff and went to work. I made an Italian interpretation of Japanese maki rolls with carrot, and Maria made a delicious carrot soup and a sweet salad.

Italian Maki

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon butter

1/4 cup diced onion

1 cup Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 cups vegetable broth

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into small chunks

Grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh ground black pepper

1-2 large carrots, peeled

In a pot, heat the vegetable broth to a low simmer. Melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Sauté the onion until soft (takes about eight minutes), stirring occasionally. Add in the Arborio rice and white wine and stir until the wine is almost absorbed. Begin adding in the vegetable broth about a quarter of a cup at a time. Stir until the broth is almost absorbed before adding more. Once you have added about a cup, begin to steam the carrot chunks in a pot (you can also add them to the simmering vegetable broth to boil for a few minutes). When they begin to get soft, add them to the rice and incorporate. Continue adding broth and stirring until the rice is just cooked. Remove from heat, and add in enough grated Parmesan until the rice sticks together. Grate some pepper over the risotto and mix in.

Now, carefully use a vegetable peeler to peel off wide strips of carrot from the peeled carrot. They should be at least five inches long. Steam these strips (you'll need about four per person) or lay them in boiling water for a few minutes. Dry the strips when done. Take a large spoonful of the carrot risotto and wrap a carrot strip around it. Drip some soy sauce over it, or just serve with some soy sauce.

Carrot Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/2 a red bell pepper

1 medium onion

5 carrots

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley

1/4 teaspoon dried dill

2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

Sour cream

Cut the red bell pepper into chunks, dice the onion, and peel and slice the carrot. Sauté the vegetables in the olive oil over medium high heat for about eight minutes. Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 15 minutes. Chop the parsley and add in with the dill, and season with salt and pepper. Add in the heavy cream and purée the soup in a blender or with a food processor. Simmer for a few more minutes and season with pepper. Serve, garnishing with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of parsley.

Carrot Apple Salad

2 carrots

2 gala apples

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 Tablespoons walnuts

Peel the carrots and apples and grate into a bowl. Add in the lemon juice and cinnamon and mix well. Lightly toast the walnuts and finely chop them. Serve the salad in domes and sprinkle the chopped walnuts over them.