Èpinard Maude

08aPlatebzLOA kindofa fancy name for Louisiana-style creamed spinach (nicely seasoned with zippy pepperjack cheese and stuff and absolutely none of that nutmeg malarkey).

Also an hommage to my first car, a spinach colored totally terrible AMC Hornet, previously driven by a little old lady (true!) and so, named by me: Maude. Seemed fitting, somehow.

Bad car notwithstanding, this spinach is most excellent!

02aSPinachbzLO01aGarlicRollsbzLOI found the basis for this recipe on the website of a seasoning blend company and thought it looked interesting.

So I made it.

But…

I had thought it called for rather a lot of the seasoning blend, so I cut that way down and proceeded to make the spinach.

There was a decent dish in there, I knew it, underneath all that too salty overseasoned mess of a casserole. So, I chucked the seasoning blend, went to my own spice cabinets, and set to work…

01cCrumbsbzLOINGREDIENTS
•1 (16 oz) bag or 2 (10 oz) boxes frozen chopped spinach (I used baby)
•1/2 cup liquid from squeezing the spinach
•1/2 cup diced onion, tomato and parsley*
•3/4 tsp celery salt
•8 oz Pepperjack cheese, shredded
•4 tbsp butter
•2 tbsp flour
•1/2 cup heavy cream (you can use milk)
•2 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce
•1/2 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
•Breadcrumbs or crushed butter crackers

SherryPeppersbzLORecall the Garlic Parsley Rolls from Friday? Pop any that are leftover into the bowl of your food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until you have a batch of nicely seasoned, home made breadcrumbs.

Transfer to a freezer bag, seal, and stash in the freezer until needed.

02cSpinachStrainbzLOA note on the Sherry Peppers Sauce: if you don’t care to make a batch, feel free to substitute a couple of tablespoons of decent sherry – none of that “cooking sherry” stuff – and mebbe up the amount of hot sauce added, to suit your own taste, of course.

Cook the spinach according to package instructions (I find the ‘wave is easiest), then transfer to a sieve set over the spinach cooking bowl and strain out the excess liquid from the spinach. I ended up with just the half cup I needed. Set the spinach aside and whisk the spinach cooking liquid together with the half cup of cream.

04cAddCreamSpinachJuicebzLOMelt the butter in a pan over low heat, then stir in the flour, stirring until nicely blended into the butter and the mixture is golden. This, my friends, is a roux.

Add the onion, tomato, and parsley and cook until tender – about eight minutes.

Note: I used this mixture because I had some in a jar in the fridge that needed using. Feel free to use only diced onion, if it’s more convenient.

06cCreamedSpinachbzLOWhisk the spinach liquid-cream mixture into the veggies a little bit at a time, to avoid a lumpy sauce.

Add the seasonings Sherry Peppers and Cajun Power Sauce (or Sherry and your preferred hot sauce) and cheese, stirring until the cheese has melted.

Stir in the cooked spinach, and cook over low heat until warmed through.

Give it a taste and add addtional salt and or pepper if you think it needs it. I thought it pretty terrific as is, so left it the heck alone.

07aEpinardMaudebzLOYou can serve this as is, but it will be much better if you allow it to cool down and stash it in the fridge overnight to allow the flavors to really develop. It’ll also give you a kickin’ side course for the next evening’s dinner (party? holiday feast? See where I’m goin’ here?) with little to no effort on the day of.

The next day, about an hour before you plan to serve, heat your oven to 350º and remove the spinach from the fridge.

07cBakedbzLOCover the spinach with a layer of the breadcrumbs you made and stashed in the freezer before you ever started working on the spinach (or crushed butter crackers) – there is no need to dot the top with additional butter; trust me, there’s more than enough going on here – and pop into the oven, uncovered, to bake for 45 minutes.

Your Èpinard Maude will come out with a crispity golden brown top and a bubbling, cheesy (in the best way) filling that will be hard to resist.

Trust me, you will not miss the nutmeg.

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