Comfort food for rainy days

This weekend was the winter farmer’s market and I picked up some gorgeous buttery baby potatoes, baby sunchokes, walnuts, and fuji apples. As soon as I got home, I sliced up the sunchokes and pan-fried them with garlic and rosemary. There’s a distinctive sweetness to sunchokes that gets me every time. I’m going to boil the potatoes, smoosh them with the palm of my hand into little medallions, and then roast them in the oven with olive oil and rosemary. The fuji apples are ridiculously crisp and sweet, and I have yet to smash open the walnuts – but I can’t wait!

A friend gave me some organic carrots and vanilla (talk about extravagance), so I did what any normal person would do and made a four-layer carrot cake with cream cheese-vanilla icing. The icing tasted so vanilla-y and creamy – remarkably like vanilla ice cream – that I ate more than a quality-control portion while waiting for the cake to cool.

I used a recipe from my newest cookbook, indulge by Claire Clark (the pastry chef at The French Laundry) and boy, was I impressed. The cake was really fluffy, moist and light, and she incorporates finely shredded coconut for an interesting textural addition.

The recipes themselves are remarkably reliable; this is the second one that I’ve tried and they’ve both given me a decent product. Some fancy-shmancy cookbooks, particularly those from well-known chefs or restaurants, tend to give half-assed recipes so that you can’t replicate what the author does. Now, Claire’s carrot cake is probably better than mine – but for a cookbook recipe, it was pretty kick-ass.

Now, had I thought of it at the time, I would have cracked open the walnuts, candied them, and then put them on the sides of the finished carrot cake.

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