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Les carottes sont cuites

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

carrot seedsweb

Literally, the French expression “les carottes sont cuites” means that the carrots are cooked. Figuratively, it means that the jig is up, that whatever one is discussing is all over and can’t be changed, that one is saying “ENOUGH ALREADY!” We can hope in this case that it means that our long winter has been cooked.

The cooked carrots in the soup below are ideal for the sort of spring we have had so far in the northeast. In this chilly weather soup calls to us.

The curry powder and cumin lend an Indian tang to the mundane root vegetables, and the finished product pleases the eye and the palate.

If you don’t have a blender or immersion blender on hand (my sister-in-law Leigh and I couldn’t find one the first time we served this, although it turned up for subsequent meals!), a potato masher will render the potatoes and carrots small enough to make them sippable.

This colorful soup would make a lovely first course for an Easter dinner or a Seder (if you keep Kosher and want to use it in your Seder you might want to substitute olive oil for the butter).

By the way, Margie from Shreveport, Louisiana, won The Cast-Iron Skillet Cookbook. She seemed very pleased when I wrote to her. Thanks to all those who entered the drawing for this book! I’ll try to have another one soon.

Meanwhile, happy Easter, happy Passover, and happy spring! Warmer weather WILL come….

carrot soupweb

Curried Carrot Soup


1 stick butter (you may certainly use less butter if you like; this makes a very rich soup!)
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 medium potatoes, roughly diced (2 large potatoes make a heartier soup)
2 pounds carrots, roughly diced (between 5 and 6 cups)
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt (and/or to taste)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 generous tablespoon curry powder
the juice of 1/2 lemon


In a large saucepan or Dutch oven melt the butter. Sauté the onions and garlic; then stir in the potatoes and carrots. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, and then add the stock and the salt.

Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the soup, and reduce the heat. Simmer until the vegetables are tender (about 1/2 hour).

Puree the soup, either in batches in a blender or in its pot using an immersion blender. Stir in the spices, and heat the soup again briefly. Taste and adjust seasonings. Just before serving add the lemon juice.

Serves 6 to 8.

If you don’t use all your soup at the first serving, you may certainly refrigerate the leftovers for another meal. When you reheat the soup it tends to become very thick and erupt. Feel free to add a bit more stock to settle it down. You may also want to add more spices as their flavor tends to dissipate over time.


My New Go-To Pizza Crust

Monday, September 17th, 2012

A Mini-Pizza with Spiced Lamb

I have made a variety of pizza crusts over the years. They are generally quite tasty. But they’re generally also a lot of work. I’m just not geared toward stretching things gently.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I tried a recipe published in the 1960s, in TV Guide of all places. The recipe was from entertainer Danny Thomas, and it walked me through making Laham Ahjeen, Lebanese lamb patties. Thomas was pictured in full chef’s regalia making this dish “from his homeland—Toledo, Ohio.”

The patties were simple, a mixture of lamb and spices on a basic flatbread. Once I discovered the flatbread, a metaphorical light bulb went off above my head. I realized I could use it as a pizza crust! So last week I made tiny Margherita pizzas using the same dough recipe. They were WONDERFUL … and I had no trouble shaping them!

Here is the flatbread recipe, slightly adapted from Thomas’s original. So far I have made 12 or 18 patties with it. I imagine one could also make one large pizza, but I love the tiny version so much (I really get a kick out of miniature food) that I’m not tempted to do that right now.

Since we still have tomatoes and basil galore, I’m planning to make another batch of mini-Margheritas soon. I suggest my readers do the same. Here’s my Margherita recipe to use as a guide.

Luckily for me, the dough balls do NOT have to be perfect rounds!

Inspired by Danny Thomas Pizza Crust


2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons butter, plus a bit more later if necessary
1 envelope yeast
approximately 1/2 cup lukewarm water (a little less is okay)
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt


Begin about 4 hours before you want to bake your pizza/patties.

In a small saucepan melt the shortening and the 2 tablespoons butter. Set aside to cool slightly.

Combine the yeast with the lukewarm water and let it proof briefly.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Stir in the shortening. Add the yeast to the flour mixture.

Mix and knead the dough until it is firm enough to roll. If the dough refuses to hold together, add a small amount of melted butter. Place the dough in a greased mixing bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and place it in a warm part of the kitchen to rise until it has doubled in bulk (2 to 3 hours).

When the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cut the dough into 12 pieces (or 18), and place the pieces on a cookie sheet covered with a damp cloth. Allow them to stand, covered with a damp cloth, for about 1/2 hour. Use the palm of your hand and your fingers to shape the balls into little flat rounds. They will be between 3 and 4 inches in diameter, depending on how many you are making.

Place the rounds on cookie sheets covered with silicone or parchment. Cover the rounds with the toppings of your choice—spiced meat or pizza ingredients—and bake until done, between 10 and 20 minutes. (How long the baking takes will in part depend on your toppings.)

Serves 12 to 18 as an appetizer, 4 to 6 as a main course.