General Cooking Techniques
Carrots do not need to be cooked. Raw carrots are great for snacks, salads, and slaw, or diced or shredded and added to spreads. Carrots fresh out of the ground don’t need to be peeled. In fact, most of the nutrients, vitamins A, B, and calcium, are in the peel or close beneath it. And they make excellent healthful juice if you have a juicing machine. The famous “mirepoix” base for French stocks and gravies contains onions, celery, and, of course, carrots. And let’s not forget wonderful and irresistible carrot cake.
Cooked in some way, carrots mix with almost any other vegetable for new color combinations and taste sensations. They go well with green peas, green beans, and mushrooms. Many sauces, including cream sauce, cheese sauce, or hollandaise sauce give carrots or carrot combinations an extra zip.
Soups and Stews
Carrots add flavor--and fiber--to any soup, stew, or casserole. Carrots may be served as a soup, usually creamed, in their own right, or they might provide a base for another type of soup. Cauliflower is a nice addition to a carrot-based soup, simmered along with herbs such as cumin, marjoram and even a little fennel. For another taste treat combine ginger, oranges and carrots in a soup. A secret ingredient in a very famous and wonderful chili recipe is a cup or two of finely grated carrots. They disappear in the chili but their sweetness balance the tartness of the tomatoes. Other herbs that complement carrots include basil, caraway, cilantro, cinnamon, curry, ginger, mustard, nutmeg, rosemary, and thyme.
Braised, Steamed, Boiled or Glazed Carrots
Steam carrots in 5 to 7 minutes, stir fry them in 5 to 8 minutes, or parboil them in 2 to 3 minutes. One boiling trick is to add a tablespoon or two of wine vinegar to the boiling water before adding the carrots; it seems to sharpen their flavor.
Glazing is not a complicated process. For a simple glaze, just combine butter with garlic and chopped fresh parsley and heat in a pan. Cook the carrots ahead of time and then heat them briefly in the butter mixture. Try a glaze made from balsamic vinegar and some brown sugar. Make other glazes with Madeira wine, sherry, orange juice, orange-flavored liqueurs such as Cointreau or Curacao, ginger, or raisins mixed with a thickener such as cornstarch or arrowroot.