Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Little Spinach and Carrot Ramekins

Here's a question for you.  Do you find it difficult to talk about food and cooking to your non-foodie friends?  I find it nearly impossible.  In fact, it's about as awkward as talking about politics and/or religion. 

Here are just a few of the conversations that I've had lately.

Friend A:   "Kim, what did you have for lunch today?"
Me:    "Spinach and Carrot Ramekins."
Friend A:    "What the hell did you just say? Can't you just eat a sandwich like a normal person?" 

Friend B:   "So, do you cook every night?"
Me:  "No. Tonight I'm just making frozen pizzas and salad from a bag." 
Friend B:   (in a very accusatory tone) "Okay, so are you saying that frozen pizza and salad from a bag is not cooking?  Because if that's the case then I guess you're telling me that I never cook. Is that what you're telling me?"
Me:  "Well, I guess what I'm saying is that I'm making pizza and salad, but I'm not really cooking anything." (this conversation ended badly)

Friend C:  "Hey Kim, I'm on my way to the mall.  Wanna come?"
Me:    "I can't. My oven's preheating and I'm in the middle of pureeing carrots and baking veggie ramekins."
Friend C:   (big pause)  Um, okay....I'm sorry. Did you just say no to the mall?"  

All these conversations happened just this week.  I'm beginning to think that I speak another language or something.  Anyway, I thought I would share for several reasons.  First and foremost, I know you will all understand.  Secondly, it's actually pretty funny. And lastly, I have a feeling that some of you, if not all of you, have had similar conversations at one point or another. 

I chose these spinach and carrot ramekins because I've never really made anything quite like them before.  You basically make a carrot puree and add bechamel sauce and Parmesan cheese to it.  Then you blanch spinach, chop it, add bechamel, and more Parmesan cheese.  Lightly beaten egg is added to both the spinach and carrot mixture and the ramekins bake for about 45 minutes in a bain marie.  The preparation is a little bit fussy, but the end product is really pretty and definitely makes for a fun and unique main course with a nice salad on the side.
Little Spinach and Carrot Ramekins
Adapted from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros
Makes 10

Tessa says, "I use little individual ramekins (about 2-1/2 inches wide at the top, 1-1/2 inches across the bottom, and 1-1/2 inches high).  They look good in this size and are perfect servings for all-size humans.  These are baked in a bain marie so they stay beautifully moist."

4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
5 cups loosely packed spinach leaves

Bechamel Sauce:
4-1/2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups milk, warmed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground nutmeg

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350F and butter ten little 1/2 cup ramekins.  Cook the carrots in boiling salted water until they are soft.  Lift them out with a slotted spoon, puree, and put into a bowl.  Add the spinach to the boiling carrot water, and blanch for a few minutes until it is all wilted and soft.  Drain, leave until it has cooled enough to handle, and then squeeze out all the excess water.  Chop up finely and put in a separate bowl.

To make the bechamel, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, then begin adding the warm milk.  It will be immediately absorbed, so work quickly, whisking with one hand while adding ladlefuls of milk with the other.  When the sauce seems to be smooth and not too stiff, add salt, pepper, and a grating of nutmeg, and continue cooking, even after it comes to a boil, for 5 minutes or so, mixing all the time.  It should be a very thick and smooth sauce.

Pour off any water that has collected in the bottom of the carrot bowl, then mix in 10 tablespoons of the bechamel along with half of the Parmesan.  Stir the rest of the bechamel and Parmesan into the spinach.  Taste each bowl, adding extra salt, pepper, or nutmeg if you think it's needed.  Add half the beaten eggs to each bowl, and mix them in well.

Divide the spinach mixture among the ramekins.  Rap them firmly on the table to flatten the mixture, then divide the carrot puree among the ramekins.  The mixture should just fill the molds.

Put the ramekins in a roasting pan and add enough hot water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the molds.  Move the pan to the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the molds are puffed, golden, and firm.  turn the oven off and leave the pan in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Remove the ramekins from the pan, run a knife around the rims then turn them out onto plates.

Theme: Orange Skies


So, how about you?  Have you had any interesting or awkward conversations about food or cooking lately?


  1. I smiled reading your post...I had to start a blog because I could potentially bore my friends to tears. I needed an outlet (laugh).

    My close friends get it and put up with my foodie chatter and responses like yours, they are so used to it....They have become immune.

    Now, I have an organic garden plot...I may be pushing my friends over the edge now (laugh).

    You keep doing what you do...Cooking is awesome and your friends know it.

  2. And I've never had anything like this - but will now! Pizza and bagged salad are facts of life and have their enjoyable place. But you're right - it's not exactly cooking. It's called "heating and dumping."

  3. Could have written that post, Kim. Your terrines look amazing!

  4. Call me abnormal, but I'd rather this than a sandwich for lunch.

    I drive my friends crazy because when it gets close to dinner time, I'm antsy to get home and cook. I get lots of sighs and eye rolls.

  5. Haha um...yes. Every time I mention anything I'm cooking to any one of my friends and they say they're getting take-out. Awkward silence ensues.

    or on ANY date when the fact that I cook inevitably comes up and the guy asks what I cook. Long story.

    LOVE these ramekins! So veggie-full.

  6. I can completely relate, and I find the conversations as annoying as my friends do. I save the grief and just don't go too much into the details.

    This looks like an awesome way to use carrots.

  7. I find that my non foodie friends think I'm just plain ol crazy! LOL! These look amazing. Sooo much better than a plain sando!

  8. Haha--love the conversations! I've been teased about animated I get when I talk about cooking and food!

    So, these ramekins look interesting and I'm curious as to whether you'd make them again. Or whether your kids tried them? I think my kids would run the other way! :)

  9. That was hilarious, Kim! And so true. I've been stopped by a coworker while at Fresh Market, I was carrying around fennell and shopping. "What's that?"
    "Huh. What are you going to do with it? Eat it?"
    A quizzical look on their face. I'm thinking, Really?
    The carrots and spinach make a pretty combo there. Festive!

  10. LOL...I think I have had most of those conversations myself. I have friends who have gourmet kitchens and don't cook...never turned on the oven for anything other than frozen pizza (or fresh ones to heat up from the pizza chains) and who have stacks of ordering menus from every restaurant within 20 miles. Seriously. I am a lone reed. LOL. Your ramekins look very pretty and healthy!

  11. Haha, interesting conversations! Your carrot and spinach ramekins looks wonderful! Sounds delicious with the bechamel sauce.

  12. LOL, your post cracked me up! I am glad my friends love food like I the taking pics of it that is a whole different story! Lovely dish.

  13. That is hysterical. I feel the same way. I think the girls I work with think I'm a nerd because I have a blog and it's about food! The spinach and carrot ramekins look wonderful!

  14. too funny! I have the same exact conversations.

  15. Did you say bechamel and more bechamel? I'd stay home to make AND eat these too! They look incredible! I can totally family REALLY thinks I'm crazy because I'd rather be home cooking then anywhere else in the entire world.

  16. Ah yes, I get that too. In fact, only to my very closest friends and family do I discuss recipes. and even then, I see a blankness fall over their faces. :)
    But the ramekins were worth the comments, Kim. They look wonderful.

  17. Ha! I have had lots of conversations like that.
    When my neighbours talk gourmet - they talk about what they add to their KD.
    A little while ago I brought my leftover risotto di zucca to a class. The teacher asked what it was and when I told her - she said "Yeah, we just call that rice surprise".
    Ah well.
    Love the ramekins - so cute! They look wonderful.

  18. haha! i once offered to throw a lunch party for a friend's birthday. i asked her what she wanted and she said peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. it almost ended our friendship, haha, jk, but seriously...

    i totally get it. or i'll start talking enthusiastically about the BEST thing i just made/tried and my friends will look at me crossed eyed because they don't get what the big deal is.

    these ramekins are a big deal though, oh my gosh, DELICIOUS! what a gorgeous way to get your veggies in, and a satisfying lunch. way better then a sandwich ;)

  19. Your little carrot/spinach pots look lovely!
    And well i recognize youre story too, but most of us did i see. People don't really understand if they don't share the cooking/baking passion with you;)

  20. I disowned my non-foodie friends for that reason, ha ha.

    Cute dish, wonderful presentation. I have to try that with my ramekins.

  21. I have that conversation more times than I can count. They act like I am strange but then they turn around and call me when they actually do want to know how to cook something. ;-)

    These look fabulous--I love the color.

  22. I just stick to politics, anything food related is too frustrating. That said I'd like to come over for lunch, these ramekins sound delicious.

  23. Precisely the reason I am only friends with foodies. Okay, not many are as "hard core" as I am, but honestly...they all get it! Or they get me, at least. These are awesome, I love the color layers!


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