Thursday, September 20, 2007

Carrot Puree (Page 529)

  • Date: Thursday, September 20, 2007 -- 9pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Recipe Rating: B-

I chose this recipe to make tonight because I know from experience that making the purees with a big crowd is a bad idea since no one likes pureed vegetables. So I figured I would cut the recipe in half and make it just for me. Somebody who selected recipes for The Book must be really into pureed vegetables (Carrot Puree, Cauliflower Puree, Pureed Limas, Parsnip and Apple Puree, Maple Squash Puree, Sweet Potato and Parsnip Puree...). Perhaps he or she has a baby. I can't think of any other explanation. Pureed vegetables have a place: in soup. But thick pureed vegetables as a side dish? I just don't understand it. This carrot puree was about as good as carrot puree could be. Carrots taste good, so it tasted good. The recipe didn't call for nearly enough salt to bring out the carrot flavor, but other than that I had no objection to the taste. However, I just don't see the appeal of food this texture. Thicker mushed up veggies foods (e.g. mashed potatoes) can be appealing. And thinner pureed vegetables (e.g. butternut squash soup) can be marvelous. But baby food texture? Why do that to a perfectly good carrot (or lima bean, or sqaush, or parsnip, or cauliflower, etc...)? It remains a mystery to me... Maybe I will thin out the leftovers and eat it as soup. That seems like a decent idea.

This recipe isn't online.

Tomorrow morning my students have their first midterm! I am nervous to see how they do. It's hard for me to judge if my exam is too short/long, easy/difficult. We shall see. After my two classes I am meeting with my teaching assistants for a few hours to frantically grade the 120 midterms. I have to leave the department by 3pm though to drive to the airport. It's a secret (shhh... don't tell anyone), but I am flying to Boston tomorrow. Ok, ok, it's not really a secret, but my trip is ridiculously short -- flying in late Friday night and out early in the afternoon on Sunday -- so I am trying to keep a low profile. Hopefully I won't have to spend my whole time in Boston finishing the grading on those exams!

Speaking of my trip, I should go pack. Tomorrow is going to be really hectic so everything needs to be ready to go tonight.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder just what it is that makes you so revolted by the texture of puree in your mouth! It is a delightful texture, particularly combined in a meal with other dishes that are crunchy or chewy.

We are designed by nature to an appreciation of almost any texture of food. Certainly any texture we are able to put it in, anyway.

I think your revulsion is your association of pureed vegetables and fruits with "baby food." Why even that should revolt anyone is beyond me. I can remember a time when I thought baby-food carrots were better tasting than any other kind. I've expanded my sophistication since then, but baby-food carrots are still the purest richest way to enjoy the unadorned taste of "carrot".

Pureed foods go beautifully with many things, as part of the variety of textures, for instance, that the Chinese and other Oriental cuisines demand.

All textures have merit. If you ate your pureed carrots plain, with just salt, that isn't the fault of the carrots or their texture; it's the fault of your not having added ingredients to compliment the flavor of pure carrot. Taste-wise, you get out of a recipe only what you put into it. You put in only carrot and salt, and that's what you got. I wouldn't mind eating it, myself, just like that, but perhaps with a pat of melting butter - but I would be strongly tempted to add other flavors.

What could you add? Why just about anything. Just tossing in a handful of chopped, toasted nuts could add great delight. You could mix in some cream. Carrots have a natural sweetness, which can be enlarged by adding a bit of honey, brown sugar, molasses or just plain table sugar. Or mix a white sauce seasoned with some lusty spices into the puree. Or add something lumpy, for a texture contrast, such as peas, corn, just about anything, including pieces of cooked meat - plus, of course, seasonings.

I'll make a very LARGE argument in favor of eating pureed fruits and vegetables - and often: Nutrition.

Your body can only absorb the nutrition of a carrot to the extent that it has physical access to it. A piece of carrot can, at times, pass through you almost entirely whole. Many factors can be involved, and I won't go into them, that can cause this, but it is a fact that it certainly does happen. You just lost out on the entire nutritional content of that piece of carrot.

A puree puts the entire substance of the carrot into intimate contact with the digestive system, making it easy to digest and absorb. You have just maximized your body's access to the nutritional content of that carrot.

There is no better condition for any food to be in, to maximize absorption of its nutritional value, than in the form of a puree.

So don't knock purees. You don't need to be a baby, or toothless, or an invalid to appreciate them. By pureeing any food, its inherent flavor is maximized, too. Often, it can be thoroughly enjoyed, just as is. More often, it is better, enhanced with other ingredients, particularly flavorful ones.

I'll also mention that they are positively dreamy components of sauces. Many sauces are based on pureed foods. The base of spaghetti sauce is pureed tomato. The base of raspberry coulis is pureed raspberry. On and on.

Try mixing in some honey, some cream, maybe some cinnamon or a pinch of clove, and dipping fresh fruit into it. It would be good enough to eat, just plain, even without the fruit.

If a savory taste is desired instead, mix in some toasted spices, such as cumin, coriander, sesame seeds (toast and grind these for maximum flavor), or add some chopped herbs, like garlic, ginger, thyme, dill, and many others. Choose the herbs and spices to compliment the carrot as well as each other.

What was needed most for your carrot puree was...more imagination.