Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In the Diminutive

There's something strangely bewitching to me about really tiny things. I recall devouring The Littles book series as a kid, drawn to their little world. Thumbalina? Loved her and her walnut shell bed. One of my favorite pastimes was playing with my dollhouse. You see, Barbies were too big.

My dollhouse was beautiful, a two-story masterpiece. It was handmade by an old carpenter in Kansas City. It was a gift for my fourth birthday and the last dollhouse he ever built, as he died shortly after he completed mine. That dollhouse was the center of much of the entertainment in my childhood. I would play with it for hours and hours, but there are other funny memories, including a broken window from an unauthorized game of indoor baseball and a Playboy stashed by the neighborhood kids under the removable roof.

I still have it. The dollhouse, I mean. Well, it's at my parent's house in South Carolina and my niece now plays with it. But each time I'm back for a visit and walk by the dollhouse, I find myself drawn to it. I kneel down, open up one of the petite doors and feel pure wonderment pulsing through my veins. There are so many captivating — and tiny — delights inside. I was particularly fond of the kitchen and dining room areas, endlessly organizing the canned goods in the pantry or setting the table for a formal dinner party. Upon reflection, I guess I was a bit of a foodie even when I was four.

It makes sense that this enchantment with all things miniature has transferred to the food world as well. I mean what is cuter than baby corn? Well, I can tell you. It's baby carrots. Not the machine-formed orange nubs we get in the grocery store, but authentically diminutive carrots. I saw a bunch at the Farmers Market last weekend and couldn't resist snapping them up. All these recipe ideas began jumping through my mind. I wanted to showcase these beauties though. In the end, a simple roasted dish won out and I must say did one fine job of presenting these Lilliputian veggies. While they may be small in stature, they're big on flavor and simply irresistible.

Roasted Baby Carrots with Za'atar
by Food Network Magazine

2 lbs fresh baby carrots
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
2 tsp za'atar (create your own with 1/3 cup dried thyme and 3 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds)
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon, juiced

Preheat over to 450 degrees. Toss carrots with olive oil to coat lightly and salt and pepper. Roast until browned, 15 - 20 minutes. Toss with za'atar, parsley and lemon juice and serve. Yields: Serves 4 as a side dish.

1 comment: