Candied orange peel (orangettes)

Adapted from use real butter

If juicy and sweet, orange is one of my favorite fruits. When I eat an orange I tend to play a little with its peel - I squeeze it and watch the pure orange oil mist bursting into the air. I love this refreshing aroma. I also am very much in love with a dark chocolate. I like it pure or slightly salted, but if I feel for flavored chocolate it has to be the orange flavored one.

Divine carrot & cardamom soup

Adapted from La Tartine Gourmande

I make this soup on regular basis in the winter season, when it gets cold and dark. It’s the perfect comfort food. Lively colors of chopped vegetables (purple and orange) elevate my spirits instantly. Even my 2 year old son, who is normally very fussy with soups, eats this one with a great satisfaction. It is so easy to prepare and also inexpensive that it is almost too nice to be true. No need for a stock is another big advantage of this recipe. When I cook soups which require stock and I don’t have any, I feel pretty bad using some instant thing (even though I use a good one).

But let’s start from the beginning: I was literally digging out some carrots with my bare hands, just a few weeks ago, when I was visiting some friends in Dyssekilde - en ecovillage in North Sjaelland. It is a lovely little oases inhabited by around 200 people who share their passion for healthy lifestyle, ecology and close to nature living in general. Place itself is really hip with its colorful folks and cool eco-architecture.

Anyway, so there I was, in the open field, in the end of November, pulling carrots from the cold soil, in a freezing and windy afternoon. This down to earth gardening experience inspired me to include carrots little bit more in my cooking this season.

Yes! The carrot season is also now! Not only in the spring, when supermarkets starts to sell appealing long and skinny new carrots with their green tops on. The truth is that locally grown carrots are in season from spring to late fall, when they are the freshest and most flavorful.

We don’t think about it a lot, as they are available throughout the year in every supermarket. It is just a carrot after all, not a sophisticated and pricey early asparagus, not even a modest pumpkin which everybody is so devoted to every autumn. Unpretentious carrot is a veg left alone with no special enthusiasm or celebration. 

Here, in the recipe below, is my gratitude: the quintessence of the carrot brought to you in a form of an old good carrot soup, with a modern spicy twist. Honestly, this soup, you are about to cook, tastes heavenly. It gives you much more oral pleasure than you expect from this vegetable ;)

Moong dal pancakes

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey

Indian cuisine rocks. I love it. Such a wonderful flavors and colors! Loads of spices! Healthy, natural ingredients! Fantastic resource of inspiration for vegetarians, but not only. 

One of the staples of Indian cuisine is a broad variety of pulses, for example dried beens, peas or lentils. When I think "dal" usually it is connected with rather long cooking process. The recipe below is quite unusual, as these pancakes are made from the uncooked dal.   

Ginger orange pumpkin seeds

Inspired by Lukashof
Two years ago I had a couple of guests from Austria. I’ve received a yummy gift – a little package of heavenly tasting roasted pumpkin seeds. It was so delish that I decided to keep the empty paper bag, in hope that one day I will try to re-make it from the ingredients list. Eventually, I decided to give it a go. After some experiments I came with a quite satisfying result, which you can see below.

This is so delicious, surprisingly easy and cheap to make. By adding just a few spices I was able to create some extraordinary taste out of rather predictable, yet tasty pumpkin seed. 
This roasted seeds work great as a sophisticated party snack or a healthy sweet treat for kids. (My two year old loves them!). Simply wrapped in a baking paper and decorated with a plain ribbon they make an alternative gift idea with a rustic twist. 

It takes only 15 minutes to make them but the bonus of your work is the gourmet taste in your mouth; really, there is no excuse not to make it, so go ahead and do it - you won’t regret! 

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from David Lebovitz

Carrot cake gives you a wonderful way to smuggle veggies into your diet. However it took me a while to find a perfect recipe for a real carrots-rich cake. I wanted to make an ultra delicious, yet healthy cake with loads of carrots in it. I also wanted my cake to be visually appealing – we do eat with our eyes after all! During my searches I’d bumped into some pathetic recipes calling for 3 medium carrots for the whole cake! That sounds like a carrot cake joke to me, doesn’t it? Other recipes were to rich with overwhelming amounts of butter and sugar. I didn’t want a cake which makes me think I sin when I eat it. Feeling guilt when eating is not what I particularly like. It takes away a joy of consumption. 

Finally, my carrot cake hunt is over. I have an honor to present a wonderfully delicious cake, so good you never would have guessed it’s also quite healthy and definitely not packed with empty calories!