Carrot and Gruyere Timbales; Bad Eating Habits Spreading….

Carrot and Gruyere Timbales

To all the Americans who thought that the US had cornered the market on bad eating habits:

Good news!

You are not alone.

There is at least one other country that will soon be able to take some of the bad-food-bashing pressure off of your ever-so-broad shoulders.

To all the British who had been participating in said US bashing:

Look to your own.

One of the interesting things about going to the big supermarkets in France during August is checking out the trolleys of all the holiday shoppers.

They're easy to pick out:  It's normally a group of people; could be 2 or 3 couples all shopping together, or a large, extended family.  They carefully discuss every item and debate whether the prices are 'better here than at home'.

In our area, they are, almost always, British.

They're normally dressed casually, in shorts and flip-flops, something a local French person would never go out in public in, let alone to a supermarket or shopping center.

If it's a group of adults, they have lots and lots of wine in the trolley, along with smoked salmon, foie gras, saucisson, stinky, runny cheeses, baguettes…. and usually some nice peaches or apricots, some expensive cherries or strawberries, and a few bars of good chocolate.

Not bad actually.  Everything, except the saucisson and foie gras, is healthy.  Probably not in the quantities it will all be consumed in, but still, not bad.

It's the families with children that always make me look twice… And cringe.

They tend to be large families, both in individual sizes and numbers.

There will be the minimal salute to France with a few saucisson and cheeses in the trolley, topped off with tins of  beans-in-tomato-sauce and white bread,  a dozen or so 2-litre bottles of sugary soda pop and piled high, very, very high, with all the sweets they can get.  Sugary biscuits, cakes, cookies and bars, frosted with more sugary icing.

One such family wandered into the produce section by accident when I was there a few weeks ago.  2 large size adults accompanied by 4 pudgy children.  They were pushing 2 trolleys.  The littlest boy was enthralled by all of the fruit and kept touching the peaches and nectarines, fondling the grapes.  Daddy kept coming over to get him and drag him back to the candy department where the rest of the family had quickly gone.

The little boy kept coming back.

He'd worked his way around to the apples when Mum finally lost patience, and came to fetch him.

I heard this exchange with my very own ears:

Child: Mummy, Mummy, please, can I have an apple?  Please, can we get some of these?????

Mum: No, we're not buying apples, we have enough food.  The trolleys are full.  Here, have a candy.

Child: But, Mummy, I really want an apple!!!!

Mum: I said NO.

At which point she grabs his arm and drags him back to the sweets.

I realize they're on holiday…..  But to deny a child an apple?

They could have gotten a large bag of apples for less money than one of the packs of cakes.

Does anyone else have a problem with this?

Have I been living alone in the French countryside for too long?

I realize that eating 5-a-day is hard for some people, but an apple is a good start….

One of the ways I use to eat more vegetables is to serve them as a first course (in addition to a side dish).   And I love timbales…

Shredded carrots and Gruyère cheese make an interesting combination. The carrot retains a light crunch, and the sweetness pairs well with the slightly sharp cheese. A bit of tomato sauce is all that's needed to finish. Using drained canned tomatoes give the sauce a much fresher flavor than using regular tomato sauce.

Carrot and Gruyère Timbales with Tomato Sauce

Carrot and Gruyère Timbales with Tomato Sauce

 6 oz (180gr) grated carrot – about 2 medium
3 oz (100gr) grated Gruyère cheese – about 3/4 cup
1 egg
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tbs crème fraiche or plain yogurt

Butter two ramekins and line the bottoms with buttered waxed paper (makes getting them out much easier). Put a medium saucepan half full of water on medium-high heat. Grate carrot first, then cheese, using the medium holes of your trusty box grater. Keep them separate, please. When the water is boiling blanch the carrots for 30 seconds, drain and rinse with cold water. Using your hands gently squeeze them dry. You now have orange hands – well done! Beat egg lightly. Add carrots, cheese, mustard and crème fraiche and mix well. Spoon into prepared ramekins. Cover with a circle of buttered waxed paper. Put into a roasting pan with deep sides – I use a metal bread pan, and add hot water (hot tap water is fine) so that it comes half way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 25 minutes at 400F (200C) – they should be set – firm on top. Remove from oven and from hot water. Run a table knife around the sides to loosen. After removing top sheet of waxed paper put a small plate over top of ramekin and flip over. Remove ramekin, and paper from top (formerly bottom) of timbale. Spoon tomato sauce around half of timbale and serve immediately.

Tomato Sauce

1 can whole tomatoes, drained, 15 oz (450 gr)
2 shallots
1 clove garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp basil
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs red wine

Finely chop shallots and garlic. Heat oil in small sauce pan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add along with the rest of the ingredients. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree (either with a blender or immersion blender) and serve on the side.


Kitchen Tip:  to line timbales cut a square of wax or parchment paper a little bigger than needed.  Fold it in half, and in half again, and again, and again, always keeping the point of the triangle the same. When you can't fold it any more cut the edge opposite the point the length of half of the circle you want – unfold. Voila!

Apologies to all healthy eaters and shoppers of both countries….

18 thoughts on “Carrot and Gruyere Timbales; Bad Eating Habits Spreading….”

  1. Oh gosh, that’s awful. It’s one thing when parents give in to their kids begging for candy, but it’s another thing entirely to deny the kid an apple and make him eat candy instead! Makes me a little sad about where the world is heading. Sigh.
    In the meantime, the timbales look great! Can you get canned cherry tomatoes where you are? They are my favorite in quick tomato sauces like this one. The brand I use is La Valle, which I think is imported from Italy.

  2. Holy…candy over apples? The Brits are going to protest but this is a snap-shot…smarten-up parents.
    Katie, the Timbale Queen strikes again!

  3. Holy Cow, IMAGINE refusing to buy a child an apple! My mother would have killed for a kid like that! We were always whinging for candy and chips – and were always sternly refused. I look back thankfully, now, but I wasn’t very nice about it back then… 🙁

  4. Of course when we were in France earlier this year, we bought wine to take home, bought one small cheese to eat there, and got dried sausage to take home (which border patrol took because it is illegal to bring meat into the USA). These are all things we cannot get in the USA. But, I do understand wanting veggies and fruit, as it seems Burgundy and Champagne restaurants did not serve up veggies and fruit. When we got home to the USA, we did a semi-cleansing diet of fruits, veggies and a little sushi.

  5. She said “no” to an apple? I’m floored to be honest with you. I only hope that she was having a bad day and temporarily lost her senses. And the French don’t wear flip-flops to the market? God, here in San Diego, people wear flip-flops EVERYWHERE, all the time. I like casual dressing, but not all the time, you know?

  6. Let’s see when we did the French canals with two other couples we always had breakfast on the boat and alternated lunch or dinner off the boat. So we shopped for two meals a day. Never bought any wine: the newly weds had spent 10 days shopping for wine in every vineyard they could get into.
    We generally bought fresh fruits, some veggies, smoked salmon, foie gras, stinky, runny cheeses, baguettes…. and jars of small bite veggies . . . mostly finger foods. And none of even had any flip flops.
    Maybe that mom was speaking in tongues . . .
    Katie this timbale is so good looking, it’s hard to believe it’s as easy as you make it sound. Must try this one.

  7. Cant’ imagine a child WANTING an apple, and the mom REFUSING – when all parents want to do nowadays is have children wanting apples and rejecting candy.

  8. Joanna, canned cherry tomatoes? Never knew such a thing existed….I bet they would be good. I like using them in summer, and I freeze them for sauce…
    Ulrike, Yeah, Jamie is trying – he may need help, tho~
    Peter, and they WERE on holiday, but still…
    Long reign timbales!!!
    Zoomie, I always loved apples… but had a paper route so could buy my own candy ;-))
    Scott, are you sure you weren’t in the Vendee last week??
    Maggie, it really was crazy! Had they been speaking French I would have assumed I misunderstood!
    HungryEngineer, I love timbales, they can be made with almost anything… and are so easy!
    Lannae, I think the French eat so many veggies at home, and they are relatively inexpensive, some restaurants don’t serve a lot.
    Susan, French women dress casually when they’re in the garden, but I’ve never seen my neighbor farmer’s wife looking sloppy – even when feeding the chickens. It is really easy to pick out the tourists.
    Tanna, but people who cruise the canals are exceptional!
    Sra, it was pretty bizarre!

  9. Can’t stop laughing… hahahaha. Another one of those countries who mocks the Americans but has similar problems is mine – Canada. It isn’t as bad in adults but it is becoming a big problem in children and it is those same attitudes. Disgusting.
    I love the look of your timbales though! I have never made or eaten them before but they are calling to me. Joining in the chorus with my never used ramekins… make these, make these.

  10. Mmm, those timbales look fantastic! definitely one to bookmark. As for other people’s chopping trolleys… it’s a source of perpetual amusement to me and Nick. It seems the rest of the world (in East London anyway) fills their trolleys with sugary breakfast cereal (the English have a VERY strange and unnatural relationship with breakfast cerleal…), fizzy drinks, prepared chicken Kievs, cheap sausages and yoghurt drinks which they believe will keep them healthy despite the rest of their diet. Oi vay. Nick and I have this trolly piled high with fresh fruit & veg and (gasp) actual RAW meat! It’s hilarious.

  11. Jeanne, I remember in Ireland seeing trolleys full of tinned beans in tomato sauce, white bread and sweet biscuits…. Made we ill just looking at it! – Oh, and diet sodas…

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