Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Green stuff

According to today's horoscope, some great opportunity is supposed to jump into my lap today.  It seems that I may be nervous about it, but that I should just leap anyway.  As long as I am not leaping into this icky green pond at Duke Gardens, I am game.  Bring it on!
I noticed that quite a few of my photos lately have green in them.  Some French Guy's sleeping pouch for instance-
The grass at the Durham Bulls' Athletic Park-
The jar of pistou vert from the Arles market  (I ate some on pasta with a little Parmesan sprinkled on top-  trop bon!)--
The muscadine grapevine that my sister Moo has planted in her yard--
The jalapeño peppers I removed from my pizza at Mellow Mushroom-
The tomato growing on my deck-
The choux de Bruxelles for sale at the market in Arles-
The mint icing on the Mad Hatter's Bake Shop cake that high school-age son's girlfriend shared with us--
And, finally, the spinach I used to make Julia Child's Épinards à la Crème.
I finally got up the nerve to dive in and try her recipe.  I love creamed spinach and have searched for the right recipe for a few years.  This one turned out beautifully!

First, the spinach must be blanched:

Épinards blanchis
for 3 cups of blanched, chopped spinach

3 lbs. fresh spinach
A large kettle containing at least 7-8 quarts of rapidly boiling water
1-1/2 tsp. salt per quart of water
A large colander
A stainless steel chopping knife

Wash the spinach thoroughly.  A handful at a time, drop the spinach into the boiling salted water.  Bring back to the boil as rapidly as possible and boil slowly, uncovered, for about 2 minutes.  Test it by eating a piece.
At once, set the colander, curved side down, into the kettle.  Protecting your hands with a towel, hold the colander firmly clamped to the sides of the kettle as you tilt the kettle and pour out the water.  Still with the colander in place, run cold water into the kettle for several minutes to refresh the spinach.  This will preserve it's color and texture.  Remove colander and lift the spinach out of the water into the colander.
A small amount at a time, squeeze the spinach in your hands to extract as much water as possible.
Chop the spinach with a big knife on a chopping board.  The spinach is now ready for further cooking and flavoring.  (This may be done several hours or a day in advance.  Cover and refrigerate for later use.)
Warning from Julia (and it is so true):  Spinach quickly picks up an astringent and metallic taste if its final cooking is in iron or aluminum.  For the following step, use a stainless steel or enameled saucepan and serve the spinach in enamel or porcelain, not silver.

Purée d'épinards simple

2 Tbsp. butter
A heavy bottomed saucepan (enamel or stainless steel)
3 c. blanched spinach, chopped or puréed
Salt and pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

When the butter is bubbling in the saucepan over moderately high heat, stir in the spinach.  Continue stirring for 2-3 minutes until all the moisture from the spinach has boiled off-- the spinach will begin to adhere to the bottom of the pan.  Season to taste and spinach is ready to use.

Épinards à la crème

3 c. cooked chopped spinach
1-1/2 Tbsp. flour, sifted to remove any lumps
1 c. brown stock, canned beef bouillon or whipping cream
Salt and pepper
1-2 Tbsp. softened butter
A hot porcelain serving dish
Optional:  1 or 2 sieved or sliced hard-boiled eggs

After you have stirred the spinach over moderately high heat with butter and seasonings to evaporate its humidity, as directed above, lower heat to moderate.  Sprinkle on the flour and stir for 2 minutes more to cook the flour.
Remove from heat and stir in two thirds of the stock, bouillon or cream by the spoonfuls.  Bring to the simmer, cover and cook very slowly for about 15 minutes.  Stir frequently to prevent spinach from sticking to bottom of pan, and add more liquid by spoonfuls if spinach become too dry.  Correct seasoning.
Remove spinach from heat, fold in the butter and turn into a serving dish.  Decorate with optional egg.
I used the whipping cream and I did not garnish with eggs.  It was delicious.  I made grilled salmon fillets to go with it.
Julia's recipes may look daunting, but she takes you through each step carefully.  I have learned to read the recipe at least twice before starting.

Bon appétit, all things green!

1 comment:

A Girl in a Apron said...

Yum! Love the green, the recipe, and the muscadine pic! My favorite!