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Katie Meadow

Spinach Pie/Spinach Cake

18 posts in this topic

Remember Stouffer's Spinach Souffle? Good, right, in its processed and salty way. And then there's the southern classic Spinach Madeleine which was more homemade and easy, because all recipes called for frozen spinach, but not very healthy for those of us trying to limit our butter and cheese.

 

So now I've been trying the David Lebovitz spinach cake recipe that's all over the place; food bloggers must really like it because an awful lot of them have a verbatim or slightly adapted version. It is healthy, and looks beautiful on the plate cut in emerald wedges. I've made it twice now, once from the original and once from an adapted source, and both times found it rather bland and watery.

 

I want to really like this recipe. Does anyone have success with it and love it? I'm going to try one more time, perhaps not use so much of the cooking juices or make sure the spinach is totally dry after washing or add some tasty herbs. Has anyone tried it using chard or other greens? Maybe spinach just has a lot of moisture?  

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Katie yes, fresh spinach has a lot of water.  You need to wring it out after you cook it or it will cause your cake/pie/quiche to separate when you mix it in.  I haven't made the recipe you are referring to, but have made tons of spanakopita over the years and the drier the spinach, the better.

 

Other greens are also full of water, but spinach seems to have them all beat.

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I've not tried it but I imagine more than bland to be of a delicate flavor which you like or you don't. I don't like this sort of dishes so I never make them. But Italians and French seem to enjoy them very much, if you google gateau or flan de epinard or sformato di spinaci you have tons of recipes. Maybe you can sub the spinach with a vegetable that have more personality, like nettles or try with courgettes, asparagus, broccoli or fava beans

You can also use ricotta, maybe you would enjoy more

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I would also dry out the spinach fully in the pan. You could substitute watercress for part of the spinach, and/or add some herbs; mint is nice with spinach and nutmeg. It might be worth changing some of the butter for a peppery olive oil, and using shallots or onion rather than leek, as this will give a punchier flavour.

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Maybe a mustard green or collard green cake... don't know how it would taste but it would definitely not be bland. :biggrin:


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Yep, that's totally the recipe.

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Remember Stouffer's Spinach Souffle? Good, right, in its processed and salty way.

 

Yup, I love it!  Haven't had spinich souffle for a while, but it seems to be still made...unlike Stouffer's lobster newburg which was just about the best thing ever.  I'd unashamedly say it was my favorite meal.  Does anyone else remember Stouffer's restaurants from the 1950's and '60's?

 

There's no point in trying to make spinich souffle if one can buy Stouffer's.

 

On the other hand Stouffer's lasagna is vile.

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Haven't tried this recipe, but when I use spinach (particularly chopped spinach, whether fresh or frozen) in any sort of pie or quiche type of dish I always press it in a potato ricer to get rid of the excess water. I also press grated potatoes in the ricer if I'm making potato kugel, zucchini and eggplant slices, etc. It can take a while if you're making large quantities, but it does the job thoroughly and makes a huge difference in the final dish. A bit of nutmeg goes very nicely with spinach, as do red pepper flakes. And garlic. Spinach loves garlic.

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Yup, I love it!  Haven't had spinich souffle for a while, but it seems to be still made...unlike Stouffer's lobster newburg which was just about the best thing ever.  I'd unashamedly say it was my favorite meal.  Does anyone else remember Stouffer's restaurants from the 1950's and '60's?

 

There's no point in trying to make spinich souffle if one can buy Stouffer's.

 

On the other hand Stouffer's lasagna is vile.

I do indeed remember Stouffer's restaurants in the 60's. White tablecloth diner food.

 

We'd occasionally go there after church. Open-faced roast tom turkey sandwich....

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I've only read the recipe, not cooked it. I think Annabelle's post upthread is going in the right direction. I would blanch the spinach, drain it, let cool a bit, squeeze it dry in my fists. Then chop it and add it to the recipe with the cooked leeks. Do you have Julia Child's spinach souffle recipe handy? She uses blanched chopped spinach.

 

The other bugaboo in this recipe is proper seasoning. It's hard to tell if you've seasoned properly since you've got a raw egg mixture and most people won't taste that for seasoning. (I wouldn't.) I suggest microwaving a little of the mixture in a ramekin to check for seasoning. It won't taste exactly the same as the finished product, but it will get you in the ballpark for proper seasoning--or any other adjustments with ingredients. A generous amt of parmesan will salt the dish enough and also provide interesting umami to offset any blandness.

 

I do think this recipe is Ok as far as flavors go, but it's got technical  difficulties to work out. If you have a chance, pls tell us how it goes.

 

P.S. I remember Stouffer's restaurants also. In my high school days, my girlfriends and I went there for ice cream cones.

 

ETA: Oops, just read your note about limiting cheese. So much for parmesan. (Are you sure you won't reconsider?) Try adding some chervil and/or sorrel for more flavors besides spinach.


Edited by djyee100 (log)

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I'm with djyee about tasting uncooked eggs in the mixture. 

 

The photo accompanying the piece looks a bit deceiving.  It appears that the spinach is sitting atop a crust of some kind.  The recipe is a little vague so I can imagine multiple attempts to get it "right".

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I'm with djyee about tasting uncooked eggs in the mixture. 

 

The photo accompanying the piece looks a bit deceiving.  It appears that the spinach is sitting atop a crust of some kind.  The recipe is a little vague so I can imagine multiple attempts to get it "right".

In the comments someone questioned this "crust" and David explains it as egg that settles on the bottom.

On another note, if you read between the lines, David also aeems to have an issue with insufficient seasoning and twice mentions using a pork product to boost the flavour.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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Thanks, Anna.  I didn't bother to read the comments, so I'm glad you did!  I, too, noticed that he mentioned the lack of seasoning or the lack of an aggressive seasoning twice.  I would imagine that if this cake were to be served with ham or another cured meat that it would serve as a foil to the meat.  If it is meant to stand alone or to be the main, then the seasoning could be kicked up or the cake could be accompanied with a sauce or coulis.

 

I take issue with this recipe serving 10!  Ten mice?  Ten children who hate green food?  I'd think "serves 6" would be more accurate.

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Thanks, Anna.  I didn't bother to read the comments, so I'm glad you did!  I, too, noticed that he mentioned the lack of seasoning or the lack of an aggressive seasoning twice.  I would imagine that if this cake were to be served with ham or another cured meat that it would serve as a foil to the meat.  If it is meant to stand alone or to be the main, then the seasoning could be kicked up or the cake could be accompanied with a sauce or coulis.

 

I take issue with this recipe serving 10!  Ten mice?  Ten children who hate green food?  I'd think "serves 6" would be more accurate.

 

It is intended as a brunch recipe. David notes at the page on his blog where the recipe appears that Parisians are invariably hung-over come brunch-time; this, I feel, explains the small size of the serving, as some more substantial and less vegetable food will be both required and preferred.

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Thanks for the many suggestions. I will make it again, with some adjustments and increased seasoning. I believe I took the recipe from Sweet Amandine's blog. She does not note that it is too wet, nor does she comment on lack of flavor, but she does note--and I agree-- that it is indeed better after a day or two. We are still eating it. There seems to be endless amounts of it, but of course I think that's because it is less than perfect. 

 

She warns that the recipe makes more that will fit into a deep dish 10" pie plate, which I also found to be true. I would say it would easily feed 8, maybe 10, depending upon how central to the meal it will be. I don't know if DL's original recipe calls for a sprinkle of parmesan on the top, but Amandine does. It could be that some added to the puree would help boost flavor as well. I did use a generous grating of nutmeg.

 

Yes, what looks like a crust is a thin layer of egg that forms on the bottom. I'm after a fairly simple vegetarian pie (I have a lot of vegetarian relatives, so I'm always looking for stuff I can feed them) so I wouldn't add pork to it. I suppose I eat lot more chard than I do spinach; the flavor of fresh baby spinach is pretty delicate and might get overwhelmed by meat or smoky flavor, but once the kinks are worked out, it could be a very nice side dish. It is an incredibly lovely color, and does hold its shape well, and appears flexible when it comes to serving temp--always useful.

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...I don't know if DL's original recipe calls for a sprinkle of parmesan on the top, but Amandine does. It could be that some added to the puree would help boost flavor as well.... I'm after a fairly simple vegetarian pie (I have a lot of vegetarian relatives, so I'm always looking for stuff I can feed them) so I wouldn't add pork to it....

 

Just a note: traditional Parmesan is not vegetarian, as it contains rennet, which is an animal-derived coagulating enzyme. Vegetarian alternatives are available, and of course a lot of people who don't eat meat will still eat animal derivatives.

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...I don't know if DL's original recipe calls for a sprinkle of parmesan on the top, but Amandine does. It could be that some added to the puree would help boost flavor as well....

 

I reread the recipe. Yes, DL's original recipe says to only sprinkle parmesan on the top. Yet when I first read it, I thought parmesan was added generously to the spinach puree to make it taste good. My wishful thinking, what can I say?

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