CHRISTMAS CARROT WREATH
Something about the holiday season stirs up the creative juices and urges us to put extra energy into meals we prepare to celebrate with family and friends. On the one hand, we must admit we love the praise that comes when someone says, “Wow! That looks great!” It says others recognize we’ve put a little extra love into the dish because we wanted to bring something special to the table.
On the other hand, we simply love the process of creativity and thoroughly enjoy puttering in the kitchen to come up with a dish that’s our very own creation. And we don’t mind spending extra time to play with seasonings until our creation zings with flavor! Because I was so inspired by foods of the holiday season, I created my Vegan for the Holidays cookbook. This recipe is one of the tasty treasures.
Our final effort goes into making our masterpiece look as magnificent and enticing as it tastes–a little garnish of mint sprigs or a fluff of shredded purple cabbage, perhaps a sprinkle of ground nuts–and we’ve relished every moment spent in our favorite comfy niche, the kitchen.
The Christmas Carrot Wreath is one of those creations I envisioned. It definitely took a few tries before it came together, but it was time well spent. I learned lots in the process (we always do, don’t we?).
I’ll be playing more with the garnishing–I know that needs work. And I’ll re-post the new, enhanced photo as the season progresses. For now, enjoy the dish. It’s never failed to receive praise.
You’ll be tempted to sing “Deck the Halls” when this golden wreath comes to the table. Baked in a ring mold, this carrot dish makes a unique accompaniment to any entree. It’s deliciously moist, delicately sweet, and has a texture reminiscent of a light, airy muffin. Prepare it in advance and reheat it briefly by covering it with aluminum foil, and tucking it into a preheated 350-degree F. oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
CHRISTMAS CARROT WREATH
Yield: 6 servings
3/4 pound carrots (about 3 large), peeled and sliced
1/2 cup vanilla or plain soymilk
1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or distilled vinegar
1/3 cup organic canola oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bunch parsley, cilantro, or mint
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly oil a 4-cup metal ring mold. Set aside.
- Put the carrots in a covered 2-quart saucepan with enough water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil, immediately decrease the heat to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the carrots are fork tender.
- Meanwhile, combine the soymilk and vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to thicken slightly. Stir in the oil, lemon juice, and almond extract; set aside.
- Using a slotted spoon, drain the carrots thoroughly and transfer them to a bowl. Mash them well with a fork or potato masher. Measure 1 cup of the mashed carrots and set aside. Use the remaining carrots for another recipe.
- Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and mix well.
- Add the mashed carrots and wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spoon the carrot batter into the prepared mold and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Invert the mold onto a serving platter.
- To garnish, form a wreath of green herbs around the perimeter of the serving platter, if desired. Sprinkle with the diced red bell pepper and sliced almonds. Cut into portions and serve.
The ring mold I use is an old-fashioned aluminum jello mold made to look like copper. A Bundt pan or spring-form pan with a tube in the center would also work. An angel-food cake pan might work, but it’s best to use a shallow metal mold for ease in unmolding the wreath.