Saturday, November 1, 2008

Getting In Touch with My Inner Bugs

I've been cooking again! Lately that's my weekend hobby, which works well in this economic slowdown, I guess. Anyway... today's cooking experiment was a long time coming.

This summer, a group of us girls celebrated Brunette's bachelorette party in a most unusual - and awesome - way. Rather than the typical Adams Morgan bar crawl (which, let's face it, we're all way to old to do) we took a cooking class! For about 3 hours on a Saturday night, we hung out in the kitchen of Figs, a great little Mediterranean cafe right here in DC. We were taught how to make a full dinner, with I think 5 or 6 different dishes. My absolute favorite recipe of the evening was the carrot salad, immortalized in the pic on the right amongst its other salady friends from that night.

And, even though my gal pals would probably say I'm the *last* person they'd expect to try to recreate any of our dishes from that night... that's exactly what I just did! AS was good about writing down and sharing all the recipes, so I used her notes as a basis for my carrot salad but tweaked it a little bit (to reduce the salt and, um, cuz I forgot one ingredient but I don't think it matters much.)

So, here we go...

I started with a bunch of carrots fresh from the farmers' market. It's been a *long* time since I've peeled and diced carrots, since I've become one of those people who rely on those bags of baby carrots. I don't know if this bunch I bought would qualify as heirloom, and I can't remember how they were labeled, but it was still great to see carrots that didn't look like mass-produced clones.

All clean and ready.

I loved the color variations, they were really were so pretty. From this point, I attempted blanching for the first time in my life. I don't know if it is an exact science --- what I did seemed to work. I boiled them for about 5 minutes, then drained them and dropped them into a pan of cold water for a few minutes. Later, I chilled the whole thing before eating. They were soft yet still structurally intact, not mushy.

While the carrots had their bath, I made the vinaigrette.

Another first -- I've never used fresh cilantro before! I opted out of using salt as stated in the original recipe, and used black pepper instead. I forgot the cumin, but it doesn't seem to need it. I rough-chopped the cilantro, then added 3 cloves of garlic (yes, I cheated and got pre-peeled after my last rough go of it with fresh garlic), about 2 tsp of white vinegar, and about 2 tbsp of olive oil all into my baby chop-chop.

I wish this was scratch-and-sniff, cuz the smell is FANTASTIC. So much better than the picture.

Here it is! My finished carrot salad! Doesn't look that different from the original pic, eh? Guess what? It tastes pretty dang close, too! It's a teensy-bit too garlicky, but I'll keep eating anyway. This recipe is a keeper.


Stef said...

mmmm. the cilantro is making a second appearance this morning, in my eggs. yum!

Marie and Charlie said...

Hooray for carrot salad...that stuff was amazing!