24 January 2010

Hints & Pinches

The best advice to cooks is, I feel,
seek fresh,
avoid chemicals,
keep a light hand,
rise to the occasion,
try what you don’t know,
have fun
….and good eating, you all!

Eugene Walter

We are finishing up our Alabama week with a flourish of Eugene Walter. Today’s entry is from his book, Hints & Pinches. It is my favorite type of book, an abecedary filled with herbs and spices from the mundane (salt) to the unusual (day lilies) and everything in between. The plants are presented with a botanical history as well as a social history dotted with folk tales, Southern story telling and humor.

The book is jam packed with medicinal cures, jazzy condiments and unusual recipes such as: Hamburgers with Tequila, Southern Belle Ice Cream, ‘Possum’s Passion, Elderberry Ketchup, and Hellfire Mustard. Walter’s recipes feature his years of collecting recipes from throughout the South and his years of globe trotting that add an international flair to his recipes.

In keeping with Walter’s advice, here is a wonderful variation on a carrot salad. There is nothing better than pulling fresh carrots from the garden, adding a bit of garlic and a touch of vinegar and making a light summer salad. Here is a complex variation of that simple salad.

As for advice on preparing the carrots Walters states emphatically:
"NEVER PEEL CARROTS! The flavor and nutritional value are immediately beneath the skin. Soak in cold water, scrub lightly with a straw brush, flick off any obtrusive specks of earth. That’s what fingernails are for."

North African Carrot Salad

1 pound fresh carrots (scrubbed, cut in quarters, longwise)
3 or 4 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon pounded cumin seeds
pinch of coriander seeds
wine vinegar
hot red pepper
parsley to garnish

Cook carrots with salt, sugar, garlic about 12 minutes. Drain, sprinkle amply with vinegar, a little more salt, cayenne pepper to your taste. Sprinkle coriander seeds on top, garnish with sprigs of parsley.

Don’t forget to check out more on Eugene Walter at Lucindaville.

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