Tag Archives: carrots

The Jew-Factor: Just Follow the Matzo Crumbs… Passover Carrot Cake

Photography by Asia Upward, Styling by Ali Nardi

Except there are no matzo crumbs.

Being a Jew in Australia is both comical, and a little difficult to swing.

Here’s an example of the comical: Many Aussies assume that because I am Jewish, I am an expert on the Jewish religion– even though I am more of a Jew by heritage if you catch my drift. A friend wrote Anders an email when she returned from a trip to NYC: “While we were in New York, there were all these Jewish people dressed in traditional clothing going into these makeshift rectangle rooms. I think they were celebrating something? And the young boys were going around asking people if they were Jewish. Does Ali know what they were celebrating???”

The Difficulties: It’s not that I feel unwelcome or anything. It’s just that there isn’t really much of anything Jewish going on if you are a “casual Jew” like myself (something like a half-blood from Harry Potter, who grew up celebrating all Catholic and Jewish Holidays but never really tied any religious significance to either). So it’s hard to keep up with Passover, Yom Kippur, Chanukah. It’s also difficult to find egg noodles to make kugel with, and this is the real tragedy of it for me.

Being a Jew has always been a bit like wearing an accessory in my case–something I identify with to a certain extent and enjoy having as an extra flourish, but not something that I defined myself by…. until that is, I started living abroad and until I met Anders. In New York I am one of many who get called out while in the NYC subway: “Are you Jooeesh?” Here, it’s more of a novelty, because I am the only Jew most of my Aussie friends have ever encountered, or rather, known personally. And whether or not I chose to tell people doesn’t make a difference, as Anders has made it a well-known fact. It’s cute… sort of.  I didn’t understand how widespread the word was until people were leaving bacon just off of my plate (I do not keep kosher for the record). My favorite bit though is when Anders told his father I was Jewish before his father met me, and he said “Well don’t hold it against her!”

But like I said, no one I know has an issue with it. For the most part, they just didn’t grow up with it as part of their lives. During December holidays in Brisbane, there was no such thing as saying “Happy Holidays!” It’s just, “Merry Christmas!”

Bottom line: it’s good that people have a curiosity to know what it’s all about. I just wish I knew so I could tell them!

I feel like I should participate a bit in this inherited culture though, even without mom and dad and the olds here to organize Passover. I gotta represent! So this year, I have decided to do a mini Seder on the second night of Passover (tomorrow). In Brisbane, finding Passover products just wasn’t happening. But now we are in Melbourne, where the possibilities are endless (and the laksa is amazing!). Sure enough, there is Carlisle St. in Saint Kilda, an area that feels a lot like Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, about 45 minutes away from me via bike. So I took my wheels on an adventure yesterday, and got the necessary bits for passover. Matzo meal to make matzo balls, matzo bread (this is also nice to have in the house to snack on), and red horseradish (my favorite). The rest I can find at Vic markets tomorrow.

I also made a Passover Carrot Cake (flourless) that we can enjoy at the mini Seder and throughout the week, because I like having something sweet around that is nutritious enough to eat as a meal. I’m not a big fan of chocolate, and the typical flourless chocolate cakes at passover are too sweet and heavy for my taste, but I love a good carrot cake.

I’ve adapted this recipe from Elana’s Pantry. I’ve spiced it differently, added dried figs, and since I originally posted this, I have altered the frosting, as her cream cheese frosting didn’t really do it for me and can now give you an awesome cream cheese frosting recipe! Also, I simply don’t use gave in my food.

Instead of doing a two-layer cake, I do a one layer cake, and then make the rest into cupcakes, or do them all as cupcakes as a sweet snack to have during the  week– no frosting when going for the snack idea! (You might notice two are missing in the photo. Photographer Asia Upwards dog Bear got to them when we turned our backs for a second!)

Note: This cake is flourless (almond-meal), and can also be made dairy free by swapping out the melted butter with your oil of choice (I recommend coconut oil, or the original recipe calls for grape seed oil).

carrot cake 2 Asia

Flourless Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Elana’s Pantry

  • 3 cups blanched almond flour (DO NOT use Bob’s Red Mill. It is too coarse)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ cup honey or agave nectar
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 3 cups grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup raisans
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried figs
  • 1 cup walnuts (plus a few extra for decoration)

Frosting

  • 1 cup creamcheese (about 250 grams)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 stick (115 grams) butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease two 9 inch cake tins, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, using your fingers to break up any clumps of almond meal.
  3. In a seperate bowl, mix together eggs, honey and melted butter. Stir in carrots, raisans, figs, and walnuts.
  4. Mix wet ingredients into dry, and divide batter evenly into cake pans.
  5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. If the top starts to brown too quickly, cover with foil. Allow to cool before removing from cake pans.
  6. For the frosting: With an electric beater, beat cream cheese until smooth in a  medium bowl. Add butter and honey and beat until smooth and fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat cream until you have a nice thick whipped cream (don’t let it go to butter!). Combine with cream cheese mixture. Store in Fridge for up to a week, and store in freezer after that. To revive it, just beat it til smooth again.
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Pandora’s Spice Box and My Version of Carrot Soup

Besan cheela, homemade paneer cheese, naan, and curry galore, I’m having a ton of fun cooking Indian food at home (and trying to get those curries up to restaurant standards–a big challenge). The spice guy at the market is getting used to me showing up without my list and talking me through the spices I need (does anyone know where I can find celery seed in Brisbane?). The thing is, no matter how many spices I buy, the next project that peaks my interest needs several that I don’t have. And thus, the small spice rack has become a long and colorful spice shelf.

Searching for spice heavy recipes, I discovered the vegetarian blog Lisa’s Kitchen, and thought I would mention it, as it really is a lovely blog. You can learn a lot about spices from her as she cooks mostly Indian food, and she has some really creative vegetarian ideas. Her food is very grain and starch heavy, but of course, I can pick and choose what I want to try without going overboard. Also, Indian food in Brisbane is expensive and not good enough to be worth the splurge, so making it at home is a priority, and it’s nice to have a guide!

The rainy summer season is approaching, but a few soup-worthy cold days have swept through, and with the horrible hurricane back home, comforting soup was in order. With the kilo of carrots I bought at the green market, I decided to make an Indian-inspired creamy carrot soup that would be hearty on a cold day, but could also work chilled on a hot day, in case the humid heat should come back (which of course, it did). It’s not the traditional Indian food I’ve been cooking lately to get a solid base so I can “cook blind”, it was simply a craving for carrot soup and Indian flavors, and this is what it turned out to be. We really enjoyed it will a swirl of tangy greek yogurt.

Carrot Soup:

By Alexandra Nardi

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 tblspn fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • thumb-size piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • black pepper
  • 2 lbs. carrots, scrubbed clean and chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 cups veggie stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Yogurt and fresh mint to serve*

*Special equipment: immersion blender (regular blender or food processor will also work)

**Depending on the season or my mood, I like to switch up the garnish for this soup. Chopped toasted almonds, pistachios, pepita (pumpkin seeds), parsley, or cilantro (coriander) leaves are also good options.

  1. Heat a large pot and add olive oil to coat bottom. Add first 5 ingredients plus a few grinds of black pepper, and cook for several minutes until garlic starts to brown (chop in larger chunks so it doesn’t cook too quickly) and spices are very fragrant. Stir and scrape bottom of pot frequently to avoid sticking.
  2. Add carrots and onion, and turn heat to low. Cook until they are very tender and onions are nicely browned, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add 4 cups veggie stock and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Cover and allow to simmer til carrots are very soft,  30-40 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup coconut milk and allow to simmer for five more minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, and blend until smooth and creamy. Serve with a swirl of yogurt and chopped mint.