Sep 13, 2012

“Goldene Rendlach”

 Eating carrots on Rosh Hashanah is a long-held tradition because the Yiddish name for carrot is “merren,” meaning “increase.” We ask that our good deeds be increased so we find favor with the Ribono Shel Olam. Eating carrots is also traditional at every chasiddishe rebbe’s tisch. The carrots served at a tisch are always sliced into rounds are referred to as “goldene rendlach.” The significance of these “gold coins” is well known among Chassidim—they represent success and wealth to those whom the Rebbe offers the carrots.
Here’s our version of this traditional dish—its’ easy to prepare for Rosh Hashanah and every Shabbos, if you like.

4 large carrots, peeled and cut in ¼” slices
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
½ cup honey

Place carrots in a medium sauce pan, add oil and salt and sauté over low heat until slightly softened; about 30 minutes. Add flour, water, sugar and honey and stir well. Continue cooking over low heat for an additional 10 minutes or until you no longer taste the flour. The sauce will be thick and the carrots should be fairly sweet. You can add more honey is you like.

 The carrot can trace its history back many years, originally having been cultivated in central Asian and Middle Eastern countries. These ancient carrots looked different from those that we enjoy today, featuring shades of purple coloring, from lavender to deep eggplant. About two thousand years ago a yellow-rooted carrot variety appeared in Afghanistan and was further cultivated and developed into a version of the carrot we known today. Both types of carrots spread throughout the Mediterranean region and were adopted by the ancient Greeks and Romans for medicinal use.
It seems that carrots did not become a popular vegetable in Europe until the Renaissance. This was probably related to the fact that the early varieties had a tough and fibrous texture. Beginning in the 17th century, farmers in Europe started cultivating different varieties of carrots, developing an orange-colored carrot that had a more pleasing texture than its predecessor.  In the early 1800’s, due to its growing popularity, the carrot became the first vegetable to be canned. Today, the United States, France, England, Poland, China and Japan are among the largest producers of carrots.
Easy to pack and perfect for dipping in your favorite dressing, the crunchy texture and sweet taste of carrots is popular among both adults and children. Although they are shipped around the country from California throughout the year, locally grown carrots are in season in the summer and fall when they are the freshest and most flavorful. Since the late 1980s, baby carrots or mini-carrots have been a popular ready-to-eat snack food.  These are not a small breed of carrots but rather full sized carrots that have been peeled and cut into uniform cylinders. 
The carrot gets its characteristic bright orange color from beta carotene, which is metabolized into vitamin A.  Carrots are also rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. 
When buying carrots with leaves attached always choose those with fresh bright fresh green leaves.  Go for the carrots without cracks. Do not choose carrots that have begun to soften and wither. Remove leaves immediately if attached, because they rob the root of moisture. Carrots are hardy and will keep longer than many other vegetables if stored properly. The trick to preserving the freshness of carrot roots is to minimize the amount of moisture they lose. To do this, make sure to store them in the coolest part of the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel, which will reduce the amount of condensation that is able to form. They should be able to keep fresh for about two weeks. Carrots should also be stored away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas since it will cause them to become bitter.     Peeling is optional, but more necessary for older carrots. If they become limp, you can refresh them in a bowl of ice water. Whether you bake, boil, fry, puree, sauté or steam them, carrots pack in more vitamin A than any other vegetable but eating too many will actually cause your skin to turn orange.  

If your family does not enjoy simple sweet carrots on Rosh Hashanah, we’ve got some tasty options for you to try. These recipes will become favorites with the picky eaters in your home.

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups finely shredded carrot
3 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup applesauce (sweetened, unsweetened, home-made or store-bought; any one is fine)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 18 muffins cups or spray with an oil and flour baking spray.
 In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and sugar. Fold in shredded carrots.
 In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, applesauce and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir just until well combined.
 Divide batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until tops are puffed and golden.

Carrots also make wonderful garnishes for other foods.  Whether cooked or raw, the bright orange color adds drama to any dish.  Cutting carrots into flower shapes will wake up the plainest gefilte fish. 
Use a julienne peeler to create long shreds of carrots to top soups, pasta dishes and poached fish. 
Use a vegetable stripper to cut notches along the length of a raw carrot.  Once all the notches are cut, cut the carrot into 1 inch slices to create stars.
Use a vegetable peeler to cut long thin strips from a wide carrot.  Roll each strip and secure with a toothpick.  Place in a bowl of ice water for 30 minutes to make professional-looking carrot curls. 

However you use carrots this Rosh Hashanah, we join you in wishing for an increase in all our good deeds thereby meriting a sweet New Year!

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