Category Archives: elegant cuisine

Five Reasons to Fall for Carrots, Again

Lately, I’ve been craving carrots. They’re something I generally don’t crave or even think about, unless I’m having a dire, need-to-lose-five-pounds moment. (I have a carrot and celery temporary weight loss trick that works every time.) It’s surprising to me, that in the last two years, the healthiness and taste of carrots have been up for debate. Here are six reasons why I haven’t lost faith in one of the most underrated and versatile veggies of our time. 

1. It’s pure joy to watch and engineer the transformation of carrots into cakes, soufflés, fritters, salads and any other edible. There are so many fun ways to prepare them. 

Like at Olmsted, the carrot crepe that I woofed down in about five minutes was spectacular. Filled with other veggies and tiny seafood, it was a thing to be remembered and cherished. It was honestly one of the top seven dishes at a resto that I’ve ever eaten in my life. 

Or, like this carrot soup recipe, try it with or without the topping of caramelized onions, homemade bacon bits and scallions, for a creamy and satisfying start to a special occasion meal at home. Perfect for a birthday, anniversary or girlfriends’ brunch.

2. Carrot juice still gives the body a natural and powerful energy boost and a ravishing glow. 

3. The nutritional value of carrots—vitamins A, K, and C, calcium, beta carotene and fiber—promotes overall health and fights disease.

4. As they are one-third of a major French cuisine fundamental, the mirepoix (carrots, celery and onions), carrots have been a mainstay in fine and casual dining for centuries across the globe. Why give up on them now?  

5. They taste divine when you roast them with onions, garlic, fresh herbs and the protein of your choice. The smell that emanates when carrots are roasting is the ultimate ingredient that makes a home feel like a home. 

What We’ve Been Doing for the Last Five Months, Plus My Homage to Café Lafayette: Shrimp Fritters

For nearly five months of lock down, my family and I have enjoyed getting fat from eating too much soul food—not my mom because she eats like a bird and not my son because he loses weight as he gains it. He’s in the Ninja phase.

Also, on our list of quarantine activities are:

  • cleaning
  • fighting like Ninjas
  • completing online learning tasks (now the endless summer packet)
  • working from home
  • reading and watching the news
  • becoming addicted to the news
  • getting sick of the news
  • avoiding the news 
  • loving the videos and pictures of peaceful Black Lives Matter protests across the country

Of course, my all-time favorite activities are cooking, eating great food and hearing how wonderful my food tastes.

During the quarantine, I’ve made a bunch of new things. Among the best is a shrimp and sweet potato fritter. My love for the late, great, and quaint Café Lafayette’s shrimp fritters, inspired me to make it. 

Before the treasured Fort Greene spot, Café Lafayette, closed in 2017, my sister and I spent quite a few Sundays brunching in the living-room sized restaurant. Downing mimosas and Kir Royales. Listening to Nina Simone and other Blues notables. Regrettably sharing one chocolate lava cake, instead of ordering two. 

Café Lafayette was one of OUR places, which meant neither of us were allowed to bring anyone else there. We also agreed that the shrimp fritter—juicy morsels of shrimp laced with crispy shreds of sweet potatoes and carrots—was a remarkable, tasty and satisfying bite. 

My family loved my recreation of this shrimp fritter. Omitting the carrots, I added a bunch of other stuff to add flavor and to “French” it up a bit. It’s definitely lighter, moister and richer than I remember.

Try it and I think you’ll agree that it’s the kind of appetizer that takes the word “appetizer” to whole new level.

For the shrimp and sweet potato fritter recipe and more healthy, French cooking, check out Frealthy, a page for francophiles that love to cook.

Video by Melinda Wright.