Today is a happy day.
We are almost on the verge of signing apartment lease and Varun is one step closer to staring a daycare next week. Both of these things are a nightmare in San Francisco especially if you have recently moved to the city, are used to larger apartments at a cheaper price and need something right now and can’t really fight with others for an apartment or be on a wait list for ever. There are wait lists here, not just daycare but for everything – pediatricians, school information sessions, gynecologists, dentists. Moving to this city after having kids and figuring things out is a nightmare.
But today, we are not as anxious and stressed out.
To celebrate, I made us a tart. A low sugar tart with sweetened ricotta and purple carrots. The colors of purple carrots are inviting. The center is pale creamy or orange. Just look at those colors. They taste great caramelized with sugar. Ricotta is always a hit. And crunchy phyllo is always welcome.
Simple flavors that come together in a colorful plate. They reminded me a bit of Indian carrot pudding – gajar ka halwa– just a lot less sweet and cream. I topped it with more fresh fruits before serving to pump up the color and dessert factor. Though it was splendid as is. Vanilla ice-cream or fresh whipped cream would be another good side to this.
Purple Carrots and Ricotta Tart Recipe
- 2 Purple carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon butter to grease the baking sheet
- 2 + 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 tablespoons ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon raisins (optional)
- 5 phyllo dough sheets, thawed overnight per directions
- 3 tablespoon oil ( or butter) to grease the phyllo sheets
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease a cookie sheet with 1 teaspoon butter.
2. Toss the carrots with 1 tablespoon of sugar and layer them in a single layer. Bake for 10 – 11 minutes till tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 F
3. In the meantime, whip the ricotta cheese with sugar and raisins (if using). Set this bowl of ricotta aside.
4. Prepare the phyllo sheets. Use oil or butter to grease the sheets and layer them on a shallow pie pan. Cut the sides leaving some hanging to fold over on the edge of the pan.
5. Spread ricotta cheese at the bottom of the phyllo sheets. Layer the carrots in a circular pattern.
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes till the tart edges are golden brown. Cool.
Serve with more fresh fruits, fresh cream or with vanilla ice-cream.
When we were Seattle, we were jet lagged most of the days. It was only after 4 days that I began to feel human and stay awake during normal day time. On Monday, when everyone went to work, Varun and I played, watched TV , went for a walk and generally had fun. And along side we made some lamb stew.
Now, I don’t normally make a lamb stew on a whim. But my friend’s house is so well stocked and it has an island with a Viking cooking range, that I wanted to cook something nice. Plus, I haven’t cooked with lamb, baby carrots and baby potatoes in a while. So, while Varun and I enjoyed together the lamb thawed. And it was cooked to a slow perfection with spring vegetables while he slept. The stew bubbled merrily as I enjoyed the afternoon catching up on the world of Barefoot Contessa, Rachel Ray and Giada! Not to mention the stacks of Better Home and Garden and Veranda magazines! What a blissful way to spend an afternoon!!
This truly is an entrée to surprise and impress. It takes minimal effort and with simple ingredients on hand can be made while doing something else – watching a movie, playing poker or simply catching up with friends. The vegetables make the stew colorful and refreshing. And not to mention hearty. And when you enter the home after cooking this stew, the aromas draw you in. You will want to sample this from the pot.
We ate it with crusty bread to mop up all the gravy but it should go well with some rice pilaf as well. The original recipe is from Whole Foods that my friend had cut out and stuck on her fridge. I made a few tweaks to bring out the flavors. Hope you enjoy it as much as well all did. Pairs perfectly with friends, white wine and cheesecake. Now all you need a spring weekend to enjoy this!
Spring Lamb Stew Recipe
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 lbs – Lamb Stew meat cut into small chunks
- 3 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 cup White Wine
- 1 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
- 1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 cups baby potatoes halved ( mix of white, red and purple)
- 2 cups baby carrots halved
- 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup spring onion diced for garnish
1. Mix the flour, pepper, paprika and salt and dredge the lamb in the mix.
2. Heat oil in a thick bottom flat pan and working in batches, brown the lamb on all sides.
3. Once all the lamb is browned, in the same pan, add the lamb, white wine and the spices ( rosemary and oregano). Mix well. Lower the heat to a slow simmer and cook for an hour.
4. Add the potatoes and carrots. Mix and cook on low heat for another hour.
5. Add lemon juice and peas. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Cook on simmer for another 15 – 20 mins till peas are tender.
Ladle in bowls. Garnish with spring onions and serve warm immediately.
Continuing with the ‘Eat more veggies’ theme, over the weekend I cooked up a storm. Actually my cook was OOF so I was forced to cook. First up was red pepper carrot soup. The first time I have ever had red pepper was a packaged version from Whole Foods. And it was so good that we used to stock it up. Now in India, I don’t buy any pre-packaged food.
This version of red pepper carrot soup is very easy to make. Dice, sauté and blend. Sweet, creamy and colorful. Sautéing it brings out the natural sugar in carrots and bell pepper. The reddish – orange hue is particularly appetizing. If you have a stock of those lovely deep red Indian carrots ( or purple and deep orange ones from farmers market) then give this recipe a try. It freezes well so double up and freeze a portion for mid-week.
Red Pepper Carrot Soup Recipe
- Canola or Olive Oil – 1 tbsp.
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
- 2-3 garlic cloves – diced
- 1 medium onion – diced
- 1 Bell pepper – deseeded and diced
- 2 carrots – peeled and diced
- Water or Chicken Stock – 1 cup
- Mint chopped – a generous bunch, chopped
- Veggie Bouillon – 1 packet (optional)
- Ginger grated – 1/4 inch root
- Pepper – 1/ 4 tsp
- Salt to taste
1. Heat oil in a pan, and when warm add cumin seeds. Once they sizzle, add garlic. Once garlic is slightly browned, add diced onions.
2. Once the onions are translucent, add carrots. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Once softened, add bell pepper. Cover and let cook for another couple of minutes.
3. Add pepper, bouillon, ginger and salt. Add water and let cook for another couple of minutes.
4. Once carrots and peppers are cooked through, add mint and let it simmer for about a minute.
5. Blend this using a magic bullet or a regular blender. Adjust water and seasonings to taste after it is blended.
Garnish with sharp cheddar or mint leaves. Serve warm with crackers and cheese or with a Fritata for a light brunch.