photograph by Matt Hulsman

Whole Roasted Carrots

Yield: 4 servings.

1 pound fresh medium carrots, washed and peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Coarse or flaked sea salt

Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange carrots in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over carrots and massage oil into carrots until well coated.

Roast carrots for 20 minutes or until just fork-tender. In a small bowl, mix the basil, parsley, and chives with the melted butter, lemon juice, and remaining olive oil.

Remove carrots from oven and place on a serving platter. Spoon herb mixture over the warm carrots and lightly sprinkle with coarse or flaked sea salt.

Chilled Carrot Soup with Salted Peanuts

Yield: 6 servings.

6 large carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch rounds
3 cups fresh carrot juice, divided
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 teaspoons honey
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, minced
Salt and white pepper to taste
6 teaspoons crème fraîche
Tarragon sprigs or leaves
½ cup salted peanuts, chopped

Place carrots, 2 cups of the carrot juice, vegetable stock, butter, honey, and curry into a soup pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid has partially evaporated and carrots are very soft, about 30 minutes.

Whisk in cream, increase heat to medium, and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Blend carrot mixture, remaining carrot juice, and tarragon in a blender until mixture is creamy and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls or ramekins, and garnish with crème fraîche, fresh tarragon, and peanuts.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 16 slices.

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cardamom
1¼ cups vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups carrots, peeled and grated (5 to 6 medium carrots)
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup golden raisins

For the frosting:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Lightly grease the top of the paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom until well blended.

In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, sugars, and vanilla. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until combined.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Gradually add the dry ingredients and gently stir. Do not overmix. Fold in the carrots, nuts, and raisins.

Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Place pans on the middle oven rack and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the tops of the cake layers are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove cake pans from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Flip pans onto a cooling rack; cake should release from pan easily. Peel off parchment paper and allow cake to cool completely.

For the frosting: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with a handheld mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in the powdered sugar, about ¼ cup at a time, until fluffy. Pour in cream, vanilla, and salt. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Cover and chill until ready to frost cake.

When the cake layers are completely cool, frost the top of one cake layer. Place the other cake layer on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake using an offset metal spatula.

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Lynn Wells is a personal chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry and a degree in Nutrition Management from UNCG.