April 04, 2013

Farm Food: Spring Cooking

Although I love love love to cook, I don’t usually post recipes because I don’t feel like they’re mine. I am definitely a recipe girl. I need a cook book. That’s how I learned and continue to learn how to cook –  I buy a book that appeals to me and cook all the recipes that look good. Then I buy another book and do the same. I’ve cooked through Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Nigella Lawson, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Ina Garten, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Jamie Oliver, the Smitten Kitchen blog, and at the moment I am obsessed (along with the rest of the world) with all things Ottolenghi. I’ve been doing this for years and years now (16 to be precise) so I’m getting pretty good at serving up decent food, but I certainly don’t feel like I can make up my own recipes yet. What I do feel like I am gaining some ground in though, is assembling recipes together from different books, newspapers, friends and putting them all together to create a delicious meal. I like to think of myself as a recipe curator.

Maybe it’s a bit late to be posting Easter recipes, but I wanted to share with you what I cooked last Sunday. They all go really well together for a big festive meal, but also work on their own for lighter eating. And they are great for any time during the spring. Even the dyed eggs can make a pretty table arrangement for an April or May weekend lunch. Hope you enjoy!

I found this recipe in a magazine at the hairdresser. Here it is:

Ingredients: 2 bunches of baby carrots, 2 red onions (peeled and cut into wedges), 1 tbsp dukkah, one juicing orange, 6 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, 2 tbsp fresh coriander (chopped)

1. Preheat the oven to 170 C. Trim the carrots and place in a large roasting pan with the onion wedges. Toast the dukkah in a small frying pan for 1 minute until browned and mix with the zest from the orange and 2 tbsp of the oil. Drizzle over the carrots and toss well. Roast in the oven for 1 hour or until tender.
2. Mix the remaining oil with the juice from the orange, vinegar and a little salt and pepper. Stir into the carrots with the coriander.
I always make lamb the same way. Before covering the leg in olive oil, salt and pepper, I carve slits in the skin with a sharp knife and put rosemary and a garlic clove inside each one. This time I read in Tamasin Day-Lewis’ Kitchen Bible that she puts an anchovy filet in each slit as well. I tried it, and it was delicious. Don’t worry, they don’t add an fishy taste. They just bring out the favor , like salt. Then I roast the whole thing in a 200 C oven for about an hour and 15 minutes. I love classic mint jelly, but these days I serve it with red pepper and chilli jam that I made over the winter. 
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is one of my favorite chefs, and Three Good Things is the most useful cookbook I have.  As the title suggests there are always three main ingredients with added spices, seasonings, and basics like olive oil.  The recipes are simple to cook and anything but simple in flavor. I make this curried red lentil, roasted potatoes and spinach recipe whenever I have leftover potatoes from Sunday lunch. Leftover roasted potatoes never appeal to me, so I’m thrilled I’ve finally found a use for them. Here it goes:

250g red lentils, 1 L water, 400g cold cooked potatoes, 2 tbsp sunflower oil, 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped), 1 tbsp curry powder, 250g spinach, a squeeze of lime, salt and pepper, lime wedges to serve

1. Put the lentils in a saucepan with 800ml water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring often with a whisk to help break down the lentils. Add a little more water if it looks too thick.
2. Cut the potatoes in 1 cm thick slices. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the potatoes for a few minutes. Add the garlic and curry powder and stir. Lower the heat and cook for another minute or two. Then tip the potatoes into the lentils.
3. In the same frying pan (used for the potatoes), add the spinach in handfuls, stirring until it wilts. Add a little water if necessary. Add the spinach to the lentil and potato mixture. Stir the whole mixture gently, trying not to break up the potatoes.
4. Add a good squeeze of lime juice, then season with salt and pepper as desired. Serve right away with lime wedges.

My mom gave me my first Ina Garten “Barefoot Contessa” book for Christmas, and I’ve been using it to learn how to bake. I tend to like old-school cake recipes so I wasn’t sure about the ginger mascarpone frosting in lieu of the usual straightforward cream cheese frosting for my Easter carrot cake. I also don’t love raisins so I omitted them, even though the recipe called for them. This was the best carrot cake I have ever had, and it was a unanimous hit with my guests as well. I hope you like it as much as we did.

Ingredients (for the cake):
2 cups sugar, 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil, 3 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 cups + 1 tbsp all purpose flour, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 pound carrots (grated), 1 cup chopped walnuts, ginger-mascarpone frosting (recipe below)

Instructions (for the cake):
1. Preheat the over to 400 F.
2. Grease two round cake pans, line with parchment paper and grease again.
3. Mix together the sugar, oil,  and eggs with an electric mixer on med-high for 2 mins. Stir in the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together the 2 cups of flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ones.
4. In a medium bowl, toss the carrots, walnuts and 1 tbsp of flour. Stir into the batter with a rubber spatula. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 10 minutes, lower the heat to 350 F, and bake for 30-35 more minutes until a toothpick (or a fork) comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 15 mins, turn out onto a baking rack, and cool completely.

Ingredients (for the frosting):
12 oz Italian mascarpone cheese, 4 oz cream cheese, 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, t bsp heavy cream, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/3 cup minced crystallized sugar (not in syrup), 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions (for the frosting):
1. With an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, confectioners’ suger, cream, and vanilla together for about a minute, until light and fluffy. Add the crystallised ginger and salt and beat for 30 second more.
2. Frost the cakes.



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Bryony Angell
7 years 4 months ago

Please come back to just style! Reading your style blog is my escape from domesticity, and your recipes kind of made my heart ache. The photos are pretty and nicely styled, but the recipes just reminded me of the meal I have to make when I get home tonight. Thanks but…please go back to just the style writing of your life–that is such a gift you have without the added weight of domestic goddess-ness. Let those food bloggers do their thing, and you yours–you do it so well already.

Thanks for considering. I love your blog!

Amanda Brooks
7 years 3 months ago

Thanks Bryony. I appreciate your honest feedback. No worries, I have no aspirations to be a food blogger! But I do love cooking, and it is a huge part of my life here on the farm, so it seems fitting to occasionally share how it inspires me. xx Amanda

7 years 4 months ago

This recepies look awesome and tasty! I will try the one with red lentils tomorrow. Thanks so much for sharing your cooking habilities

L. T.
7 years 4 months ago

Thank you for these nice recipes ! If you understand French, have a look at my blog : http://bruitsdecasseroles.blogspot.fr/
I'm a regular reader of your blog and love it…

7 years 4 months ago

Hello Amanda! I was a classmate at HM a million years ago (Melissa here), and I thought it would be rude not to say hello. Compliments on your blog! I love the life on the…posts. This one made me smile. Here's an easy and super delicious cookie recipe (http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/pecan-sandies). Happy baking!

Amanda Brooks
7 years 3 months ago

Which Melissa?

Thanks for the recipe? xx Amanda