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creamed spinach


therdogg
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Perfect creamed spinach- should be easy, why I haven't been able to make any that's really good? Perhaps my problem is that I've never used a recipe- just done a thick white sauce and added chopped frozen spinach and seasonings. I want to recreate a breakfast dish I once had- crepes with a creamed spinach and ham filling and hollandaise drizzled over the top. Plus having a good creamed spinach recipe in my back pocket would be great for serving alongside other comfort foods. Does anyone have a yummy, fool-proof recipe?

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I haven't done this in a long time and the first time I did it was an accident. My mother had grown some great spinach and I was sick of it in salad and plain sauted just didn't do it anymore. I shredded some up and quickly sauted it then I noticed this cup of yogurt cheese in the fridge. (I was in my yogurt making phase at the time and was using yogurt cheese for EVERYTHING.) I stirred some in, grated on some fresh nutmeg and... Hallelujah Hannah! That became my standard. I haven't fooled with that fresh-from-the-garden spinach since, but some variation on that might be worth a try.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Welcome to eGullet, therdogg.

It might be easier to help you out if we knew specifically how your method is failing you. More details on your prep would be especially helpful.

If you're using frozen spinach (I do, too, if I'm short on time or patience), you have to thaw it -- and squeeze it really dry. You can't just add it to the bechamel right out of the freezer, because the water in the frozen product will dilute the sauce beyond recognition.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Yeah, I know to wring the spinach out- my problem is just that the end product doesn't have the right texture or flavor. It's not robustly spinachy (does that make sense)? I've tried using pepper sauce, Worcestershire, nutmeg to season but it still doesnt taste as good as (this is really sad) the Boston Market side my two year old loves. Now, I haven't dedicated alot of time to this (I've made it like three times total in my life) but I thought maybe someone had figured it out; I'm amazed Cook's Illustrated hasn't done this one (tired of overwilted, flavorless creamed spinach? Well, we went through six truckloads of spinach and have it mastered......) but it's not in their archives.

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:wacko: Hi, I am new to this forum, and this topic caught my eye, since I just did a creamed spinach (ad libbed from a combo of different recipes) last night.

We too, just adore the Boston Market spinach, and while mine was delicious, it still didn't measure up in smoothness of flavor... but it WAS really good.

I began by sauteeing a small chopped onion & 1 clove of minced garlic in about 3 TBSP of butter. When the bite was sauteed out, I added a 10 oz pkg of thawed & squeezed dry chopped spinach, and let that sautee for a few minutes. Then I added half of an 8oz pkg of Phila cream cheese, diced into pieces (to melt easily). I stirred until melted & mixed through. Then I just added some whole milk, blended & (someone will "get" me for this one, LOL) sprinkled some Wondra flour, lightly along the entire top & quickly blended in..... til it was the thickness I wanted. Ended by adding salt & pepper & a touch of nutmeg.

It was really good!!! I think cream cheese might be the magic ingredient that Boston Market uses!

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I mentioned this on another thread, but I can't remember which: Laurie Colwin has a recipe for a spiced creamed spinach (with evaporated milk, pepper jack, and jalapenos) in either Home Cooking or More Home Cooking, that really is as good as she says.

New Kid: I agree with you about the cream cheese being an excellent ingredient for this sort of dish. And I like Wondra, too! :biggrin:

therdogg: what proportion of white sauce to spinach do you use? Maybe that's part of your problem, too much sauce to spinach? And if you're making a basic white sauce, do you use the spinach water as part of the liquid? That will bump up the spinachiness some. Although to my palate, the best version is lightly cooked spinach blended with reduced heavy cream -- delicious, but oh so rich. :rolleyes:

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i'm not sure what you'll miss if you thaw the spinach over low heat while you make some becahamel (flavoured with salt, pepper and nutmeg), and then add the spinach to the bechamel (+ perhaps a little cream). mine is never diluted, but perhaps that may be a question of the frozen spinach brand?

christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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Always seems to me that the spinach in much of these spinach recipes is fairly redundant - I mean, cover a fairly mild tasting vegetable in bechamel, or a load of cream cheese and it could be anything!

I seem to remember reading that there are two types of creamed spinach - the kind which actually does contain cream, or at least a 'creamy' sauce, and the kind that is simply spinach that has been slowly cooked for a long time in copious amounts of butter, until it an almost creamy texture - anyone have much experience of this kind?

I am turning to the merits of frozen spinach though, perfectly fine for more robust treatments such as in sag dishes.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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I simply wilt baby spinach in butter with shallots (and perhaps garlic), season, add a bit of lemon, fold in cream. :blink:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Yeah... What Jin said. I wasn't complete in my yogurt cheese post. It was essentially what Jin does except the yogurt cheese replaced the cream. I do cream most often now since I am not into yogurt making. (I WILL get back to that.) The yogurt cheese adds a nice tang. If I wanted a lemon note I would use zest instead of juice.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I want to recreate a breakfast dish I once had- crepes with a creamed spinach and ham filling and hollandaise drizzled over the top.

That sounds like a recipe that is in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

When I make plain creamed spinach, I too, simply boil cream with the spinach until it is reduced to the desired consistency. But if I recall correctly-and it's been about 20 years since I last made it-that crepe recipe is made w/ a Mornay Sauce. Sorry, I don't own a copy or I'd look it up for you. It was a fun recipe-the crepes were coated w/ filling, then stacked into a souffle dish to bake. You cut it into wedges like a cake to serve.

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The Julia Child recipe sounds delicious, although the one I am thinking of is simpler- the crepes are rolled around the hot filling and simply served with sauce on top. It seemed like a good brunch dish, since the crepes and ham/spinach filling can be made in advance and heated.

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Here is a recipe from Bresse as related in Roy deGroot's Feasts For All Seasons on page 534 entitled "Brillat-Savarin's Spinach." It isn't creamed but I thought I would pass it along anyway. The original recipe which was one of the great French gourmet's favorite dishes took 5 days to prepare. According to deGroot who whittled it down to 2 days, this time was necessary for the spinach to slowly expell moisture as to absorb the butter.

Day 1: pick young leaves; wash; drain; chop and put into a glazed earthenware pan with some butter and set over a low fire. cook for 30 minutes, cool and don't taste or touch

Day 2: add another piece of butter about the size of a large walnut and melt into the spinach over low heat. Don't taste or touch.

Day 3 repeat same quantity of butter, timing and avoid temptation.

Day 4 "Beware of a firece temptation. The spinach will be giving out an almost irresistible aroma. Resist"

Day 5 about 30 minutes before serving, a final extra large piece of butter is added to the spinach and the dish is again set over low heat until it is absorbed and the spinach is hot.

,

In the original 5 days of preparation, each pound of spinach gradually absorbed almost three quarters of a pound of butter!

DeGroot's updated recipe: 5 pounds spinach to 1 pound sweet butter

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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That's wicked, Paula.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Oh my, Paula. I had heard of a technique like this but never had seen an actual recipe. Has anyone ever done this? Damn... I am curious.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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DeGroot's recipe appeared in 1966. I never tried it but I never forgot it either. Been meaning to try it for almost 40 years!

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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Soooo... If you were going to try this after thinking about it for 40 years ( :laugh: ) would you go with the original 5 day method or go with the alternate? Is there any salt in there or just sweet butter?

*curiosity juices flowing, nose actively sniffing for a fresh spinach supply*

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Personally I think the dish was meant for slow steady simmer, not speed. Remember Brillat Savarin called for cooking the spinach in a glazed earthenware dish which probably meant over ashes in the fireplace, or on top of an aga type stove. If I ever do it it will be that way.

DeGroot reduced the butter most probably because he was using American butter which has a lot more water in it.

If you want to try DeGroot's method, here it is:

first cook spinach in a big pot on the stove. it should be the largest available soup boiler, preferably stianless or enameled over fairly high heat. wet spinach is thrown in by handfuls. the only liquid used is the water caught in drops in the crinkles of the leaves. Each layer is immediately pressed down into the hissing water with a wooden spoon and failry heavily salted. The operation is continous and should take about 5 minutes..

Allow to cool in the pot until it can be handled. By handfuls, squeeze out juice through fingers

chop until finely cut

Place in a cast iron saucpean with tight fitting lid placed over medium heat and add 3 to 4 tablepsoons butter, leave 10 minutes

stir gently with a wooden fork

dig a hole in the center and check whether there is any loose melted butter on the bottom. If not, add more butter, about 1 -2 tablespoons. The whole operation is extremely flexible.

leave it cover for another 10 minutes, stir and check before adding more butter then cool and refrrigerate.

next day: simply reheat and rebutter and repeat, leave covered on simmering heat for 30 minutes checking every 10 minutes to test how much loose butter is left on the bottom of the pan

there is a limit to the amount fo butter which the spinach will absorb on any one day...

the third day: about 2 hours before serving, bring to room temperature. simmer for 30 more minutes, covered

more butter is added gradually,up to a maximum absorption

but this time one must be careful that there is no excess in which the spinach might swim to the table

check for salt; l pound butter, 5 pounds young spinach leaves and crystal salt serving 8

So what have I been doing these past 40 years? Well, I used to follow a recipe inLa bonne cuisine de Mme Saint-Ange which worked quite well: dry out spinach in a little butter; take off the fire, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg; sprinkle with some flour; mix well; and put over the heat for just a few minutes. Take off the heat, add very thick cream or reduced milk, stirring, then put back on the heat and bring to a boil. Cover and let cook very slowly until flour is well cooked, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add knobs of butter without letting the mixture boil and serve at once after checking seasoning.

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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i did a column on that recipe a couple of years ago and couldn't remember where the recipe came from (i did remember it was brillat-savarin, but couldn't find it anywhere). after the fact, responses came flooding in. i think the statute of limitations on this has run out, so i'm including some of the letters:

The spinach recipe that you recall ("The Amazing Shrinking Leaf," Feb. 3) has always fascinated me. It comes from M. F. K. Fisher's translation of Brillat-Savarin's "The Physiology of Taste."

--LOUISE PINCUS

Pacific Palisades

*

A complete description of the method for the five-days-and-pound-of-butter spinach can be found in Roy Andries de Groot's "Feasts for All Seasons" (Knopf: 1966).

--MARILOUISE M. ZAGER

Los Angeles

*

The recipe incorporating the pound of butter was originated by the late Fernande Point, owner/chef of Le Pyramide restaurant in Vienne, France.

--JOHN CACAVAS

Beverly Hills

*

The spinach recipe in question can be found in "The Husband's Cookbook," by Mike McGrady (Lippincott: 1979). This is really a good book.

--NANCY MANDOKY

Venice

*

Editor's Note:

It took some sleuthing, but with the help of our resident food historian Charles Perry, we finally tracked down the recipe. It has been reprinted many times, including all of the above examples. Most notably, in his "Feasts for All Seasons," published in 1966, De Groot (who may have been a better writer than a historian) reprints the entire recipe in a somewhat heightened version of Brillat-Savarin's words before offering an alternative method. The problem with authenticating it is that though it is usually credited in a general sort of way to Brillat-Savarin, it does not appear in his only book on food, "Physiology of Taste." The earliest instance of the story we could find was in Elizabeth David's "French Country Cooking," published in England in 1951. According to David, the recipe comes from Jeanne Savarin, who published the recipe in the weekly magazine La Cuisine des Familles, in August, 1905.

(edited to include the original recipe, as translated by david)

"The Abbe Chevrier, contemporary of my great-great-uncle (Brillat-Savarin), left a reputation in Bresse for being the perfect gourmet; he and Brillat-Savarin were the best friends in the world; the Abbe, however, did not always disclose his culinary secrets to Brillat-Savarin.

"Amongst other delectable things, Brillat-Savarin was excessively intrigued by the spinach cooked in butter of the Abbe Chevrier. 'Nowhere,' he used to say, 'does one eat spinach, simple spinach cooked in butter, to compare with his. What can be the secret?' Brillat-Savarin's mind was finally put at rest; he discovered the famous secret. Here it is.

" 'On Wednesday (for Sunday) choose your spinach, young leaves, neither too old nor in flower, of a good green and with their middle ribs. In the afternoon clean the spinach, removing the stalks and wash it carefully. When it is tender, drain it in an enamel or china colander; drain out as much water as possible by pressing the leaves firmly down in the sieve; then chop them finely.

" 'Now put them in a pan (enamel or glazed earthenware) with some fine fresh butter and put on to a very low fire. For a pound of spinach allow 1/4 pound of butter. Let them cook gently for 30 minutes, then take them off the fire and let them cool in the same pan. They are not to be served today.

" 'Thursday: Add another 1 1/2 ounces of butter to the spinach, and cook again for 10 to 15 minutes over a very low fire; again leave them to get cold; they are not to be served yet.

" 'Friday: Exactly the same operation as the previous day; the same quantity of butter, the same length of cooking. Do not be tempted.

" 'Saturday: Again the same operation as Thursday and Friday. Beware of temptation; the spinach will be giving out a wonderful aroma.

" 'Sunday: At last the day for your expected guests has arrived.

" 'A quarter of an hour before you intend serving the dinner, put the spinach again over a low flame, with two good ounces of butter, for 10 to 12 minutes. This time, take them out of their pan and put them in a warmed vegetable dish and serve them very hot.

" 'In the course of five daily cookings, your pound of spinach has absorbed 10 1/2 ounces of butter. Such was the Abbe Chevrier's secret.' "

David then notes: "As well as the 10 1/2 ounces of butter the spinach has absorbed, it has also reduced to practically nothing. It is certain that the butter does give the spinach a most delicate flavour, but it is advisable to cook at least 2 or 3 pounds if all this performance is to be gone through. The recipe is not one to be taken too seriously."

Edited by russ parsons (log)
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Mwahahahaha.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Oh my... All of these recipes with obscene amounts of butter are haunting me. I think some time back there was one for very slowly scrambled eggs with a ton of butter. I recall saying that I was going to try that and report back. (Haven't done it yet, but I intend to.) There are similar ideas on the brussel sprout thread. I am detecting a theme here in my thinking. Either that, or the butter industry is sending me subliminal messages. :laugh:

*checking cholesterol... hmm, still good... proceeding to add 3 pounds of butter to the grocery list.*

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I want to recreate a breakfast dish I once had- crepes with a creamed spinach and ham filling and hollandaise drizzled over the top.

That sounds like a recipe that is in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

When I make plain creamed spinach, I too, simply boil cream with the spinach until it is reduced to the desired consistency. But if I recall correctly-and it's been about 20 years since I last made it-that crepe recipe is made w/ a Mornay Sauce. Sorry, I don't own a copy or I'd look it up for you. It was a fun recipe-the crepes were coated w/ filling, then stacked into a souffle dish to bake. You cut it into wedges like a cake to serve.

While we're on the subject of the obscene, I want to add that I know exactly what Julia Child recipe you were talking about, marie-louise. It's called a "mound" of crepes a la Florentine. I made it once, several months ago, and not only does it include 3 cups of Sauce Mornay to be poured over the mound, it includes alternating spinach/Mornay and mushroom/cream cheese layers between the crepes. We're talking here about an ENTIRE PACKAGE of cream cheese.

Julia describes the mound as "amusing," and I thought it looked rather ugly, until I cut a wedge out of it. It's actually quite beautiful when you can see all the layers. My wife loved it. I couldn't eat more than a few bites, it was so rich.

Edited for grammar.

Edited by SethG (log)

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Being of the school that says "there's no such thing as too much butter", I have made both the spinach and the scrambled eggs with lots of butter. The eggs were heavenly (I served them in a cream puff "dish") but I was not impressed with the spinach because the long, slow cooking developed its bitter flavor.

I make my creamed spinach with Bechamel and BACON, sometimes with fresh spinach but usually with frozen chopped spinach squeezed and not cooked further before adding to the sauce. Better the next day.

Edit: On request, have posted this recipe in the eGullet files.

Edited by ruthcooks (log)

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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