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A new must-have from Deborah Madison

Vegetables 101

Who’s your favorite expert on cooking vegetables? For so many of us, it has long been Deborah Madison, she of The Greens Cookbook, Local Flavors, the landmark Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and more. As a gardener, former farmers market manager and chef (with cooking chops honed at Chez Panisse and Greens), Madison knows her produce and what to do with it.

In her latest book, Vegetable Literacy, she aims to bring us closer to her level of knowledge by helping us think about the subject in a new way. It’s a must-have book for anyone interested in plant-based cooking.

Madison paves the path to literacy with delicious recipes, illustrated in a luscious-meets-rustic photographic style. Plenty of cooks will skip all the botanical and gardening information, as fascinating as it is, and merely get to work envisioning and making their next meal.

Success awaits.

Carrot Almond Cake
With Ricotta Cream

For the cake:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

11∕2 cups finely ground blanched almonds or slivered almonds (skinned)

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

3∕4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

11∕4 cups unbleached cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1∕4 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1∕4 teaspoon almond extract

scant 2 cups grated carrots, preferably yellow

confectioners sugar, for

For the ricotta cream:

1 cup whole-milk ricotta

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons honey

grated zest of 1 lemon

For the cake: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Melt the butter and let it cool.

Combine the ground almonds, lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar in a food processor. Pulse until well incorporated. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with a little butter, then dust the sides with some of the almond-zest mixture, shaking out excess.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Combine the eggs and the remaining 3∕4 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on low, then high speed until pale, foamy and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low; add the remaining almond-zest mixture, the almond extract and the flour mixture, beating until well incorporated. Pour the cooled butter over the batter and quickly fold it in, followed by the carrots.

Scrape batter into the pan, smoothing the surface. Reduce heat to 350 degrees; bake until cake is springy to the touch in the center, lightly browned and beginning to pull away from the pan sides, about 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan, then slide the cake onto a platter.

For the ricotta cream: Combine the ricotta, sour cream, honey and zest by hand or with a mixer on low speed, until smooth. The cream will thin as it sits, forming a nice sauce.

Just before serving, dust the cake with the confectioners’ sugar. Serve the sauce alongside. Makes one 9-inch cake.

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