In lieu of apologizing, how about I just tell it like it is: it's been a pretty long time since I've hung around here at Red Ramekin.
Although this space has always been a sort of creative haven for me to come and tell stories of heroic whole grains and demure spring vegetables, I decided to take a little break from blogging a few months ago, when other endeavors and changes began to take up more than their fair share of my time and mind space.
Luckily, though, my time and mind have been much freer lately, and I'm oh-so-happy to be making my triumphant (and anxiously anticipated?) return to blogging, obsessive Google reader trolling, and all of the other things that go along with telling the stories that bubble out of my wee kitchen.
But, in case you're wondering what I've been up to in the interim, here it is: I completed 200 weekend hours of yoga teacher training and became a certified yoga teacher, I started teaching/assisting two Sunday yoga classes (so much for Sunday evening cooking extravaganzas), I logged a few too many late nights at the office, I decided to quit my day job (prompted by a few too many late nights at the office), I began planning for my upcoming move to San Francisco, and I got engaged(!!) to the best sous-chef a girl could ask for. Aware of my ambivalence towards less-than-functional things like diamonds, Jonathan proposed with a pristine copper pot. Aren't you jealous?
Yes, it's been a fun ride so far, and the fun has really only just begun. In a little more than a month we'll be heading due West, copper pot in tow, to see what kinds of adventures, both food- and life-related, we can dig up. And we'll be planning a wedding to boot, which sounds like quite the adventure in and of itself as far as I can tell.
In the spirit of beginnings, how about a recipe for this carrot salad that I whipped up during some recent weekday afternoon? I made it thinking I'd spice up our regular Indian repertoire, and it's a great way to use those cute little carrots that are popping up right about now.
Feel free to use it as a fresh beginning to a nice meal, or you know, as the fresh beginning to a new life. Yes, it may just be the most versatile carrot salad I've ever eaten.
I went the extra mile here and roasted my cashews with a freshly-ground spice mixture. But then again, I don't have a job and can do stuff like that at 4pm on a Wednesday if I want. A nice alternative is to give the cashews a light toast in a skillet and just use the spice mixture to season the assembled salad to your liking.
As for the coconut, well, it's not exactly essential. It does, however, add some nice visual contrast and lightens up the overall carroty-ness of the dish. Besides, I had a bunch of fresh coconut in my fridge and what else was I supposed to do with it?
Given the Indian-inspired flavors in this salad, it pairs quite well with a homey bowl of dahl and rice, but I'm sure it would go well with more substantial proteins, as well. Enjoy!
Carrot-Coconut Salad with Spiced Cashews
4-5 large or 6-8 smaller carrots
3-inch chunk fresh, raw coconut
small handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 c. raw cashews
1 tsp. each coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and fennel seeds (or substitute 1/2 tsp. each of the powdered versions)
1/2 tsp. poppy seeds
~2 tbs. egg white
salt and pepper to taste
Make the spiced cashews: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using the whole spices, toast all seeds in a skillet just until fragrant, about 5 min. Use a mortar and pestle to grind the spices to a powder. In a small mixing bowl, mix the cashews, egg white, and about 2 tsp. of the ground spice mixture (or use the pre-ground spices). Add a pinch of salt and pepper and stir everything until the cashews are coated with the spices. Spread the cashews on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until crunchy and fragrant, but not burned, about 8-10 min. Let cool slightly, then chop coarsely and set aside. Grate the carrots using the larger holes of a box grater or food processor grating blade. Set aside in a medium mixing bowl. Use the small holes to grate the chunk of coconut and add to the carrots. Add the chopped cilantro and cashews to the carrot mixture, and stir gently to combine. Dress with the juice of 1 lemon, and season with salt and pepper. Add some or all of the remaining ground spice mixture to taste.