Summer Carrot Salad.

While wandering around the farmers market on Saturday morning, I encountered a little boy standing in front of a big pile of purple carrots. He was trying so hard to make sense of these strangely-colored vegetables, and both his mother and the man behind the table were indulging his curious questions. I love to see little ones engaged in farmers market culture, so I decided to play along, too. “I think I have to get some of those,” I said to the boy. “Would you pick me out a nice bunch?” He looked back at me with wide eyes and then started to dig through the purple carrots, handing me a bunch that he seemed to have chosen for no reason in particular. I thanked him, smiled at his mother, paid the $3, and went home to make this salad for my family. Goes great with flank steak. A good day.

INGREDIENTS

1 small onion, diced
2 bunches orange carrots, grated to thin, long strips
1 bunch purple carrots, grated to thin, long strips
2 cloves garlic, minced almost to a paste
3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for sauteing the onions
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
parsley for garnish
handful of raw almonds, crushed with the back of a knife

DIRECTIONS

Heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat and add onions and a pinch of salt. Saute until soft and translucent. Set aside to cool.

Combine garlic, the rest of the olive oil, vinegar, cayenne pepper, coriander, sugar, and salt and pepper. Mix well with a fork.

Combine carrots, onion, dressing, and almonds, and toss. Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving. Garnish with parsley and enjoy with steak or burgers as a healthier replacement for cole slaw.

Cayenne Pepper and Orange Brownies.

Remember that Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche movie called Chocolat? About a mother and her daughter who move to a little French town and open up a patisserie? It was a pretty cute movie, but more importantly, it was about chocolate. There’s one scene where a character drinks a cup of hot chocolate with some kind of chili pepper in it, and she loves how exotic and surprising the flavor is. This scene really stuck in my head–what an interesting combo that would be! I’ve wanted to try the chocolate-and-chili flavor duo ever since I first saw Chocolat, and when I decided to make brownies yesterday, I gave it a try. They turned out really well–the tiniest hint of pepper and orange gives these brownies a really deep and complex flavor.

INGREDIENTS

200 g unsweetened bakers chocolate
1 1/4 sticks softened butter
1 scant cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup almond meal (all-purpose flour works too)
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp orange juice
4 eggs, lightly beaten

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a pan over very low heat, carefully melt butter and chocolate until smooth. Don’t burn it!

In a separate bowl, combine cocoa powder, almond meal or flour, baking powder, and sugar. Stir in the melted butter and chocolate and mix well.

Add cayenne pepper and orange zest and juice and combine.

Add to batter and stir until smooth.

Pour into greased pan and bake for about 25 minutes. Cool 1 hour before cutting into them. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy with a frosty glass of Blue Moon and an orange wedge…yum.