Winter is coming and we're serious about keeping farmers market produce on the menu. Alexandra Stafford of Alexandra Cooks shows us how to store, prep, and make the most of it, without wasting a scrap.
Today: Carrots deserve more than their perennial role as a crudité. Here's how to store, prep, and serve this overlooked root -- and how to make the best broth you've had this season.
I did not need another monstrosity of a gadget cluttering my countertop. I had no interest in a cleanse or in meal replacements. I have always believed in eating vegetables in their mostly recognizable state, raw or simply cooked with minimal seasoning.
But in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I rationalized my way into owning a juicer. In fact, I willed it to happen: I refused to visit my local co-op without ordering the “Sweet Sunset” -- a $6 blend of beets, carrots, and apples -- and without noting that owning a juicer would quickly pay for itself.
Besides, I would tell myself, thanks to my CSA, I have SO many perfect juicing vegetables on hand -- what a great way to use up some of those tired looking beets and carrots. I even pulled out an old “Cook Like a Pro” article from Bon Appétit, which promised that making “the best sauce is as easy as juicing.” Who says juicers are unitaskers?
On and on I went till Santa couldn’t take it anymore and somehow snuck a gargantuan box under the tree. I put the juicer to work straight away and have since been welcoming each morning with some sort of “sweet sunset” concoction, and when I visit my co-op, I, smugly march right on past the juice bar.
Thus far the juicer has exceeded expectations, which I attribute mostly to its employment as broth maker and, in particular, to this Jean-Georges Vongerichten carrot broth recipe. It comes from The Chefs of the Times cookbook, a collection of recipes culled from 23 chefs who offer insight on the inspiration behind each of their recipes.
In the preface to his “Scallops in Carrot Broth” recipe, Vongerichten explains that in response to a sauce-phobic customer base in the 1980s, he began moving away from using stocks for sauces, turning instead to vegetable juices. Wanting something nearly raw, simple, and fresh, he seasoned carrot juice with lemongrass, limes, and chilies -- flavors he discovered while working in Bangkok -- then finished it off with roughly chopped mint and cilantro.
I followed the recipe to a T the first time around, serving the broth in shallow bowls with pan-seared scallops. The contrast of the brilliant orange against the white of the scallops and the green of the herbs made for a restaurant-worthy presentation, and I made sure to savor it all with a spoon -- each mouthful contained both scallop and broth, something Vongerichten insists on. But the broth, with its bright, sharp, spicy flavors evoking many a Southeast Asian soup made me want to cup that bowl with my hands, lift it to my face, and slurp it down like morning cereal milk.
Maybe it’s the chilly weather, but I prefer using this broth in less elegant presentations, with ingredients that better assume the flavor of the broth. Somen noodles and flaky white fish like haddock so nicely absorb the flavor of the lemongrass, lime, and chile. This soup could certainly be made vegetarian, too -- tofu and mushrooms would be great additions -- but any number of ingredients could work, especially those with sponge-like textures.
Made with few ingredients, this broth takes no time to throw together if you own a juicer. I am by no means trying to convince any of you to buy one, but if you're curious about using juice as broth, I suggest buying fresh carrot juice from a juice bar or health food market -- 1 1/2 cups is all you need.
Choosing and storing your carrots:
Prepping your carrots:
Eating your carrots:
Boiled or steamed:
Soups and stocks:
1 1/2 pounds carrots or 1 1/2 cups fresh carrot juice
2 stalks lemongrass
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 limes, juiced
1 small chile, such as serrano, minced (if you like heat, leave in some of the seeds)
1 pound flaky white fish, such as haddock
1 teaspoon olive oil
Pinches kosher salt
Small handful cilantro, roughly chopped
1 to 2 bundles somen noodles (about 4 ounces)
Hot sauce such as Sriracha, optional
Photos by Alexandra Stafford