Although this recipe originated in Jamaica, it's popular throughout the Caribbean, and you can see why, can't you? These orange-spiced carrots look happy. That's because they are happy, after bathing in sugar, ginger, and orange or mango juice. The recipe couldn't be easier: Shred some carrots, using a food processor fitted with a shredding disk; cook the liquid and aromatics; dunk the carrots in the liquid; let everything get happy together for a quick few minutes. This dish tastes just as good cold as hot, so you can make it a day in advance. Serve as a side dish to not-too-spicy jerk chicken.
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WARNING: This is not a mirage. It's cauliflower. More specifically, it's aloo gobi, the classic Indian cauliflower and potato dish, redolent with warm spices and gold-tinged by turmeric. Yes, I am trying to get over my lifelong distaste for cauliflower in 2013, by combining it with flavors and in recipes I already know I love. Almost anything cooked in a spicy hot base tingles my taste buds; add to that the convenience of using the slow cooker, and I had to give this dish a go. I can't say I fell head-over-heels for the cauliflower, but I ate a few pieces, which is more than I might have done a year ago. My husband Ted happily devoured the rest with some steamed basmati rice.
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Travel the roads of northwest Rhode Island at this time of year, and you'll spot white plastic buckets, often in twos, dangling from the sugar maples. If the days are warm and the nights cold, small steel funnels tapped into the tree trunks will direct a steady drip of sap into the buckets. That sap, boiled down over many hours, becomes the maple syrup we pour over pancakes and johnnycakes. (It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.) Real maple syrup also makes a fine base for a savory vinaigrette, adding just a little sweetness, like honey or agave nectar, to balance the acidity of the vinegar. I'm not a huge fan of Brussels sprouts, as you know, but when a bag of shaved sprouts fell into my shopping cart at Trader Joe's a few days ago, I roasted them along with thinly sliced broccoli florets, and tossed everything with a bit of this irresistible maple mustard vinaigrette, with maple syrup from a farm here in town. I kind of, sort of, loved it.
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If you've been hanging around The Perfect Pantry for a while, you've heard me rail against recipes that require you to make twelve other things -- sauces, spice blends, stock -- in order to have the components for one recipe. So it wouldn't be fair to ask you to make an entire beef stew so you'll have leftover already-diced rutabaga, parsnips and carrots that won't quite fit into the stew pot, but which will fit quite nicely into your soup pot. (And it would be especially unfair if you don't eat meat!) This root vegetable soup, vegan and and gluten-free, carries its own sweetness; add some fruit and warm spices like cumin, coriander and garam masala, and whip everything together with your immersion blender. If you love cilantro, garnish individual servings with a few chopped leaves.
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