holidays

Brown Butter Roasted Carrots with Currants

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I'm not one to plan out my recipes. They usually come to me as I'm browsing the produce section; though, more often than not, nothing formulates until I'm in the kitchen. With these roasted carrots, however, I knew exactly how I was going to prepare them. It may seem a bit over-the-top, but there's a reason everyone goes bonkers for all things "brown butter." There's a richer, deeper (often described as "nutty") flavor and it really comes out when you cook vegetables this way. But if you're worried that this dish might be too rich, don't be. The lemon juice and zest, the sweet currants and the earthiness of the carrot greens keep it balanced. With that said, these feel like special occasion carrots, best saved for the holidays. 

BROWN BUTTER ROASTED CARROTS WITH SAUTEED CARROT TOPS AND CURRANTS

Yield
6 servings

Ingredients
12 carrots, with carrot tops attached
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tsps lemon juice
1/8 cup currants
Lemon zest
Salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Remove carrot tops from carrots and thoroughly wash both in water. Dry and then coarsely chop the greens. Set aside. Cut the carrots in half lengthwise and then cut the into 2-3 inch pieces. 

3. Melt the butter in a large, oven-safe saute pan set over medium heat. Give the butter an occasional swirl and cook until it's brown and smells nutty, about 8 minutes. Add the carrots to the pan and, using a long spoon, carefully coat them with butter. Season with salt and transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 20 minutes, giving them a quick stir after 10 minutes. 

4. Remove carrots from the oven and, using tongs, transfer the carrots to a bowl, leaving the majority of the butter in the pan. Return the saucepan (with the butter still in it) to the stove set over medium heat. Add carrot tops and cook, tossing occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add in lemon juice and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for another 30 seconds, until greens have wilted.

5. Transfer carrot tops to a serving platter and then top with roasted carrots. Sprinkle currants over the carrots and finish the dish with lemon zest.  

Oysters with Grapefruit and Meyer Lemon Mignonette

I keep trying to rack my brain, but I honestly can't remember the first time I consumed raw oysters. It's quite possible I had one as a teenager, but I'm pretty sure I was in my twenties (maybe after meeting Eric) that I had my first experience with these bivalves. Now, however, I'd list them as one of my favorite foods. Some of my favorite food memories revolve around oysters. Being served the Oysters and Pearls at The French Laundry (paired, of course, with a glass of Champagne) when we celebrated our first wedding anniversary and Eric's 30th birthday. Or the Kumamoto oyster with cucumber mignonette at O Ya (during my birthday dinner). But, mostly, I prefer my oysters treated with a little squeeze of lemon, maybe a small spoonful of mignonette. Ideally, a platter will be consumed outdoors, overlooking a body of water. However, that's not always possible (As I type, it's snowing. Hello winter!) and we've taken to shucking them at home, often slurping them down over the kitchen sink. It's not elegant, but it does feel intimate. Sometimes that's how romance is, right? :-)

While oysters are wonderful on their own, there are some simple ways to accentuate their robust ocean flavor. A little acid does a lot to make them pop. For this mignonette, I've combined two types of seasonal citrus, grapefruit and Meyer lemons, to make a simple dressing to spoon on top. 

Oysters with Grapefruit and Meyer Lemon Mignonette

YIELD
12 oysters

INGREDIENTS
12 oysters, shucked
1 large red grapefruit, segmented
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh chive
Coarsely ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
Chop the segmented grapefruit sections into small pieces and transfer to a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Add the Meyer lemon juice, Champagne vinegar, salt, chive, and black pepper. Give it a quick whisk to combine.

Before eating, top an oyster with the grapefruit and Meyer lemon mignonette.