Deep breaths… focus… don’t stress out. These are the thoughts that are going through my head right now as I cook dinner for 16 guests. Eric and I throw two dinner parties each year: a winter BBQ in February and a sit down “Friendsgiving” dinner the Saturday before the actual holiday. It’s something we always look forward to, but the days prior are a bit stressful. There’s the process of finalizing the menu, creating the shopping list, coming up with a schedule for when to prepare certain dishes. Then I spend about 24 hours in the kitchen, banging out all the recipes, marinating the meat (we never do turkey), and making sure we have enough appetizers and booze to keep everyone happy.
And thank goodness for Eric. The guy is a HUGE help. He tends to the bathroom and vacuums the dog-hair covered carpet (it’s impressive the amount of hair that pup leaves behind) and sets the table. AND he makes sure I stay sane. There’s usually a point during the day (around hour 18) where I start to get a little grumpy and start throwing little hissy fits about a variety of things, none of which are rational reasons to get upset. He is also the grill master and takes care of preparing whatever protein we’re serving as the main course.
When cooking such a feast, I try to use recipes that require minimal preparation. There are the peas with orange and mint, decadent cocoa brownies, and now these carrots: buttery, sweet, peppery… utterly delightful. It’s balanced and succulent, and it makes you wonder why you’ve never cooked them like this before.
Keep it simple… relax… breathe. It will all be okay. This is what I’m telling myself as I wait for the first dinner guest to arrive.
Carrots with Caramelized Ginger
2 8-ounce packages peeled baby carrots with some tops still attached
3 tablespoons butter, divided
Fine sea salt
3 tablespoons honey, divided
6 thin slices peeled fresh ginger, cut into matchstick-size pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley leaves
Arrange carrots in single layer in heavy large skillet. Add 1 1/2 cups water and 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bring to boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer carrots to plate. Add 2 tablespoons honey and ginger to skillet and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Boil until juices are syrupy and pale golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon honey, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon ginger sauce over carrots and let stand 10 minutes to cool slightly. Scatter parsley leaves over and serve.