Monday, 17 September 2012

Rosh Hashanah Heirloom Carrot Salad with Dates, Almonds and Herbs

September 2012

Happy Rosh Hashanah. Shana Tova to all.  To celebrate this high holiday, I made a quick, simple but very traditional sweet dish of "
Heirloom Carrot Salad with Dates, Almonds and Herbs," with thanks to Food 52  

To explain.... one of the real joys of this new job is getting to work with some of the best and brightest young folks who have joined the public service in the past decade or so.  Smart, enthusiastic, bright, young policy minds who work long hours on complex public policy issues that are aimed at bettering the lives of Canada's veterans.  It's a real pleasure.

There's hardly any time for chit chat on the job.  So, today, as one of the policy assistants was leaving the office, she wished me (and all of us), 'L'Shanah Tovah'. Well, that got our attention.  Say what? I asked.  The traditional greeting on Rosh Hashanah is apparently Shana Tova which in Hebrew means "A Good Year!".

Not that I would have known it but the Jewish New Year or High Holidays started at sundown September 16 and run until September 18.  It is an event believed to be the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman.

Rosh Hashanah meals usually include apples and honey to symbolize a sweet new year.  I was sorely tempted to try Apple and Honey Challah (bread!) from Smitten Kitchen but it took more time than I have available.  Other temptations included 'Lekach' (or Jewish honey cake) and leek fritters called keftedes de prasa (I profiled those before on SmartCooks and highly recommend them). 

So, after a bit more research, I found a number of recipes involving carrots, which of course are known for being sweet.  "Heirloom Carrot Salad with Dates, Almonds & Herbs" was a perfect choice in terms of time and the ingredients i had on hand.  

The recipe is below.  Shana Tova Umetukah or "A Good and Sweet Year." Indeed! Enjoy. 

Heirloom Carrot Salad with Dates, Almonds & Herbs

Ingredients (Vinaigrette):

2/3 cups olive oil
1/3 cup walnut or grapeseed oil (I used grapeseed)
1/3 cup sherry vinegar 
1 T dark honey or maple syrup 
1 T lemon juice
1 shallot (minced)
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 small garlic clove (minced)


1 cup almonds, blanched (I used marcona)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp lemon juice
1 T kosher salt
1 T confectioner's (icing) sugar
2 bunches heirloom carrots (mix of purple, orange, yellow, white) 
1/2 cup slivered dates
2 cups baby arugula
1 cup herbs (mix of mint, Italian parsley, purslane and any flowers like nastursium, if available).  I found some at the Lansdowne/Brewer Park Farmer's Market).
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

First, toss almonds with cumin, lemon juice and salt, spread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven.

Once toasted, toss almonds with the confectioner's (icing) sugar. Crush almonds slightly with  a knife and put aside.

Vinaigrette:  Combine shallots, garlic, thyme, lemon juice, dark honey or maple syrup, salt & pepper and slowly whisk in oils till emulsified.  Taste, adjust seasoning.

Wash carrots, peel off first layer if necessary.  Set bowl of ice cold water in sink or on counter.  Using vegetable peeler continue to peel carrots down to the core creating ribbons, let carrot ribbons fall in to cold water to keep crisp. When all the carrots have are finished, drain and dry well.  Wash and dry arugula and herbs.  

To serve:  Combine carrots with two-thirds of the vinaigrette, almonds and dates and toss well.  Add arugula and herbs and add further vinaigrette to taste.

Applelicious PEI Apple-Pear Cake

September 2012

PEI Fall Flavours.  It is simply gorgeous in PEI these days ... warm sun, gentle evenings, signing of muted colours beginning to show in the trees.  The promise of fall to come.  

With fall come the 'fruits' of nature's bounty, including crisp delicious apples.  Applelicious indeed.  I couldn't resist.  I found myself buying a basket of apples and a smaller amount of pears and pulling together one of the best tasting, moist apple-pear cakes I have ever eaten. 

The recipe, adapted from A Taste of Home  includes the frosting, which I made for one batch (yeah!! delicious) but skipped for the second cake, preferring instead to garnish it with a mixture of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.  I took the cake and berries to a marathon management retreat and ... wait for it, it helped us make it through the night.  

So here you go.  Enjoy.   

Apple-Pear Cake 
(Frosting Optional)


    2 cups shredded peeled tart apple
    2 cups shredded peeled pears (I used bosc pears)
    2 cups sugar
    1 1/4 cups canola oil
    1 cup raisins
    1 cup chopped pecans
    2 eggs, lightly beaten
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    3 cups all-purpose flour (I used Red Fife)
    2 tsp baking soda
    2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    1/2 tsp salt

    Cream Cheese Frosting: (optional) 
    1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
    3 cups confectioners' sugar
    1/4 cup butter, softened
    2 T milk
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract

    In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Combine dry ingredients; stir into the fruit mixture.
    Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 325° for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
    For frosting (optional), in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' and butter until smooth. Beat in the milk and vanilla; frost cake. Store in the refrigerator.
    If not using frosting, garnish with a selection of berries such as raspberry, blackberry, and blueberries.