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The carrot. To some people, the most pedestrian of vegetables. Not me, I love 'em. Wild carrots, purple ones were originally found in Afghanistan and a yellow variant of it, migrated to the Mediterranean during the 11th to 14th century. They reached China, India and Japan between the 14th and 17th century. The Chinese were particularly impressed by it's nutritional value and called it "little ginseng". The Dutch, those well known funsters, bred from the pale variants and brought us the familiar orange variety.
Perhaps driven by chefs wanting to deliver new flavours and textures, a resurgence in the cultivation and availability of heirloom carrots benefits us all. Even the big supermarkets had purple ones last year for Halloween, so give them a try when you see them.
Organic carrots are available widely in the UK now at a very affordable price, worth spending the extra few pence.

Moroccan Carrot Salad
Serves 4 as a side dish
3 large carrots, grated
2 cloves of garlic, minced
juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons of olive oil or cold pressed rapeseed oil
1 teaspoon of cumin
half a teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of dried currants or sultanas
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley or coriander
salt, dried chilli flakes to taste

Combine all of the ingredients and adjust seasoning if needed.Chill for at least half and hour before using. Any leftovers can be upcycled to make carrot falafels or spicy carrot and potato rosti.
Carrot falafels - Use equal quantities of drained carrot salad and dried, soaked overnight, not cooked, chickpeas. Put the chickpeas in a food processor with a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of cumin, coriander and some chopped parsley and whizz. Add the drained carrots, whizz briefly again. Add a tablespoon of cornflour and a good pinch of salt, whizz again until mixture is combined. Form into egg sized balls and bake or deep fry until golden.
Spicy Carrot and Potato Rosti - Drain leftover carrot so that it's as dry as possible.Peel and grate a large spud. Using a clean tea towel, squeeze out all the moisture from the potato. Finely chop a green chilli and a couple of spring onions. Combine all ingredients. Sprinkle over some nigella seeds or some black mustard seeds if you have them to hand, a large pinch of salt and mix. Squeeze into small handfuls so that the mixture stays together, fry slowly in a mix of butter and olive oil until crispy on both sides. Serve with poached eggs, loads of fresh coriander and a splodge of hot sauce. Yum!

Image BigOven

This recipe is belongs to my fabulous mother and is a family favourite. A very moist cake that freezes well. Serve naked or topped with cream cheese icing. Whip together 300 grams of sifted icing sugar with 50 grams of soft butter, add 125 grams of cream cheese and beat well. Ice cake when it is completely cold.

Margaret's Seriously Good Carrot Cake

Pre-heat oven to 150c fan

3 cups of grated carrots
450 gram can of crushed pineapple ( you may only be able to get rings, just give them a squish n include the juice)
2 heaped cups of self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
4 large eggs
2 cups of brown sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

Line a 9 in /23 cm spring form pan with baking paper.
Mix carrot, pineapple, cinnamon, eggs, sugar and oil in a large bowl until well combined. 
In a separate bowl sift the flour and bicarb together and add to wet ingredients and gently mix together.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45 - 60 mins. Test with a skewer at the 45 minute mark to see if the centre is baked. Return to the oven if skewer covered in wet batter.

5 Top Carrot Tips

1. Store carrots wrapped in kitchen paper, in the refrigerator. Chop off green tops
if they have them, they'll last longer.
2. Confit sliced carrots in carrot juice and butter for extra carroty flavour.
3. Carrots love family, so work really well in combination of one or more of their with relatives, fennel, parsley, caraway, cumin and dill.
4. Make you own carrot batons, those pre - cut ones from the supermarket taste like cardboard. It takes no time at all to cut fresh ones, you& yours deserve better!
5. Roast, sliced extra large/old carrots, in the oven, it will concentrate the flavour and you'll overcome the woodiness.

Love Food, Love Carrots X