Magic Carrot Custards
Adapted from Vegetable Heaven
Preparation time: 1 1/2 hours (15 minutes of work)
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
As these fragrant custards bake, they turn a
creamy shade of yellow on the outside and a beautiful deep rust
color on the inside. It's like magic.
- Serve these for light supper or a brunch,
with toasted baguette and a big green salad.
- Use fresh carrot juice (the kind you find
in a deli or health food store refrigerator), rather than canned.
Or better, yet, press your own in a juicer, if you have one.
- Custard keeps well if stored in a
tightly-covered container in the refrigerator, and can be reheated
in a microwave at a low power. (However, the color will not
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups minced onion
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried sage
4 cups fresh carrot juice
1 cup milk (lowfat or soy okay)
A little melted butter or oil spray for the ramekins
1 medium-sized carrot, julienned and lightly steamed
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a folded kitchen towel
neatly in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Grease or
oil-spray 4 12-ounce (or 6 8-ounce) ramekins, custard cups, or
ovenproof bowls, and place them on top of the towel.
- Melt the butter in a skillet or sauté pan over medium
heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sauté over
medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until soft and
- Stir in another 3/4 teaspoon salt, the garlic, and the herbs,
and sauté for about 2 minutes longer. Add the carrot juice,
bring to a boil, then turn the heat way down. Simmer uncovered
until the carrot juice is reduced by about half. This should take
10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Combine the eggs and milk in a medium-large bowl, and beat
slowly with a fork. (If you beat it too vigorously, you will
incorporate air bubbles, and the custard won't be as smooth.)
- Place a fine sieve or a cheesecloth-lined strainer over the
bowl, and strain in the carrot juice mixture, pressing all the
liquid from – then discarding – the solids. Gently stir
together the egg and carrot mixtures until thoroughly blended.
- Stir from the bottom one more time (the custard separates
quickly as it stands), and immediately ladle it into the ramekins.
Pour hot (not boiling) water into the baking pan until it reaches
halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, or
until just set.
- Remove the ramekins from the pan, let them cool for 5 minutes,
then loosen the sides with a dinner knife, and unmold onto a plate.
Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, garnished with steamed,
julienned carrots and sprigs of fresh, flowering thyme and/or
purple sage blossoms, if available.