Sunday, May 19, 2013

Went looking for cheesy and ended up with a ricotta, spinach and mint terrine

I mentioned in my last cooking post that I'm no cook. The kitchen is probably the room I spend the least time in. This is something I'm trying to change. My wife insisted suggested that I start taking care of dinner one night a week to give her more time to work on her Mommy Blog. Now she did note that she didn't care if all I did was pick up fast food or ordered pizza, she just wanted one night out of the Kitchen. I've decided to take the opportunity to step up and actually learn to cook more than Kraft and scrambled eggs. This week I ended up cooking a terrine. Before starting this quest I had no idea what a terrine was.

I'm a big cheese fan. A huge cheese fan. I eat a lot of cheese. So step one for deciding what to make this week was to google recipes with lots of cheese. This led me to the 100% Canadian Milk website: All You Need is Cheese. After browsing the very appealing graphical spread of recipes I found a recipe for Ricotta, Spinach and Mint Terrine. The picture for this recipe just looked awesome. It listed 2.5 cups of cheese in the ingredients and mentioned under 2 hours prep and cooking time. Googling "terrine" I learned that it's basically a loaf that's similar to a pate. This one was egg and cheese based and my wife and I love quiche and frittata so I thought it would be a good fit for our family. Now I will admit mint seemed a bit odd, but what the heck, lets try it.

Awesome Canada Beef tablet holder.
So we grabbed ingredients from our favourite local interdependently owned grocery store: Remark Farms. Reviewing the recipe I noticed something I missed. A 1 hour cool down in the fridge. Wow, I guess I really should read these things closer before rushing off to buy ingredients. Due to this I started getting ready as soon as I got home from work.

One of the first steps was to set up the awesome Canada Beef tablet holder we received at the first ever Food Bloggers of Canada Conference. This thing is great for cooking with. Besides holding up your tablet at a good angle (portrait or landscape) it also includes a washable stylus so that you don't get your tablet all messy with food bits.

One of my helpers.
I gathered, cut and prepped all the ingredients and had them ready to go before I started cooking. I had a couple little helpers for this one that really speed up the process. Especially pulling stems off of fresh mint and spinach and cracking eggs.

Not being very experienced with cooking I try to follow recipes exactly and don't like to mess with them at all. In this case I stuck with that. We did have one small change and that was due to not having unsalted butter in the house. I just ended up using regular and putting less salt in later. For everything else I followed the recipe.

All the ingredients gathered.

My first roadblock was when I had everything in the mixing bowl. This thing was thick! So thick that it actually bent the whisk I was using to stir. At that point my wife came to the rescue with an antique hand blender she inherited from her grandmother. That made things much easier. Now it wouldn't be me in the kitchen if something didn't go wrong and well it was that blender that caused the problem. I'm sure you can guess what happened. It took over half an hour to clean up.

It wouldn't be me in the kitchen if
there wasn't at least a small disaster.

Moving on from there things seemed to be going really well. I learned that fold the spinach doesn't mean fold in half and place into the goopy mess by hand thanks to my wife. I also learned that a dry toothpick doesn't mean not moist but rather no stuff stuck on it. The big eye opener for me though was that recipes don't include downtime, and this recipe had a lot of downtime. By downtime I'm talking about things like "wait for X to cool" After wilting the spinach and mint I had to wait for it to cool. After pulling the baked terrine out of the oven I had to wait for it to cool. I then had to put it in the fridge for an hour to let it cool. None of this cooling and waiting is listed in the hour and fifteen minute time this recipe said it was going to take. This made for a very late dinner for the kids.

Once everything was said and done I ended up with a really appealing looking terrine. I was amazed by how much it actually looked like the pictures on the 100% Canadian Milk website. It took about two hours more than I expected but the house smelled great and the food looked great. At one point my wife came in and decided to bake up some fresh local asparagus as she thought my meal needed a side.

Out of the oven

My final step for this meal was to choose a beer pairing. My wife and I recently returned from an anniversary trip to Toronto and while there we picked up a fridge full of new beers to try. At first I debated grabbing something thick and rich and chocolaty. A strong porter perhaps. Something to off set the mint. Instead I decided to go for something lighter with more hops than malt and grabbed an Amber Ale: Grand River Plowman's Ale.

So how was it? It was good. Not great but good. For something with 2.5 cups of cheese in it I expected a much stronger cheese taste. Especially when half a cup of that is something as strong as Parmesan. Then there was the mint. The mint was just odd, especially for a main dish. I even double checked to make sure this wasn't meant to be an appetizer or hors d'oeuvres. Nope it say "Main" It wasn't bad, it was just odd and the more you ate of it the more the mint taste seemed to grow. The beer choice was also good but not great. The Plowman's was very hoppy for an Amber Ale. It had a lot of Pale Ale qualities that were a bit overpowering.

My youngest daughter loved it devouring three slices. My oldest didn't seem to like it much though she said she did, she only had one slice but ate a ton of the fresh asparagus. My wife had pretty much the same opinion I did.

If I ever tried to make this again I would play with it a bit. I would probably double the amount of spinach and add some more stronger cheese. Maybe some swiss or sharp cheddar. I think I would also go with my original beer idea of a porter. Overall we had a decent meal, I learned a lot more about cooking and my wife got time to get caught up on some work. A good night in my books.

FYI: In case you missed the link above, the recipe I used can be found here:


  1. Well 1. Yes, you should be cooking at least 1 night a week to help your wife. I always tell my hubby you can help out on this now, or wait until I give up on the lot of you and you are doing it all all the time. Now he knows that I wouldn't but doesn't want to tempt me ;)

    2. Under 2 hours prep and cooking time when you are new to this might be a bit daunting. You might want to look for "easy quick meals" or something like that.

    3. The blender wasn't the problem ;)

    1. Thanks for the comment Shari,

      Re: 2 - yeah quick and easy is what I will be looking for in the future. Plus improving my reading skills so that I notice things like 'let cool' and realize how long that takes.

      Re 3: yeah I guessed that ;)

  2. Wow sounds like quite the process, and glad to hear you took the opportunity to cook up some new foods rather than take an "easy way out" and just grab a pizza every time. Happy ABC FRIDAY!

    1. Thanks for the comment Strawberry,

      My daughter's love you, even if the youngest can only say Strawberry Cake! ;)

      So far it's been going well, did up a Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole last night that turned out really well. And didn't take hours and hours to make.