Thursday, 15 December 2011


The Love The Garden blog has recently launched its Christmas Competition, a celebration of the carrot; the competition is to be judged by Niamh Shields of Eat Like a Girl fame.  Click on the LtG link above for more details.

In the frosty gloom of an English winter, carrots are often heaped unceremoniously in dull-brown piles on market stalls and greengrocers' shelves, almost unnoticeable in their muddy mediocrity. The mundane, meat-and-two-veg image of the carrot belies its exotic colour and sweetness, qualities recognised and treasured more perhaps in the middle east and around the Mediterranean than here.   
Scrubbed up, though, this everyday root vegetable vegetable can be transformed into a orange-blossom scented, softly chewy sweetmeat which glows with colour and flavour.  
And it only takes about 30 minutes.

30g       creamed coconut
125g     unsalted butter
150g     semolina
50g       ground almonds
300g     carrots, ground to coarse sand texture
250ml   water
125g     sugar
2tsp      orange blossom water
1tsp      all spice
1tbs      honey
50g       pistachios, crushed to small chunks
             zest of one orange
            dry roast pistachios, crushed.
Melt butter and coconut, then add semolina; stir and then cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, bring water to boil in a separate pan, and then add sugar and orange blossom water; continue to heat until sugar melts.
To the semolina, add the ground almonds and ground carrots, and stir together. Add the all spice, honey and pistachios, and stir together.
Pour the water/sugar mixture over the semolina mixture and stir vigorously.  Continue to cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 4 or 5 minutes, by which time the halva should be coming together and leaving the sides of the pan clean.
Turn out into a lightly buttered dish and leave to cool. Then refrigerate until firm. Cut into small squares to serve.

Serve by itself, with strong coffee.
Or serve with cream or yoghurt into which orange zest has been mixed; scatter roasted, crushed pistachios on top. And sip a glass of mint tea.

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