Friday, August 8, 2014

Spinach a la Béchamel (or creamed spinach, in my language)

To prove that it's not all cookies and cakes around here, today we are serving spinach.  Spinach a la Béchamel, according to the 1951 copy of The New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking-School Cook Book.

I became a fan of spinach when I planted my first vegetable garden at the age of twelve.  My mom bought me a few packs of seeds and I, having no idea what I was doing, planted every single seed.  The spinach was my greatest gardening success that year and we ate spinach every day for weeks. Prior to that, the only spinach I had tasted was canned and while I could choke it down, it wasn't exactly exciting.  Then I met creamed spinach.  We've been good friends ever since.

I took a few liberties with the recipe.  I minced a clove of garlic and sautéed that in the butter before adding the spinach, then I noticed that the next recipe in the book (Puree of Spinach, French Style) called for the spinach to be topped with almonds (which I forgot to sauté in butter first).  Since I was also baking something else, I put it all in a baking dish and baked it rather than cooking it on the stove for 5 minutes.

Spinach a la Béchamel (Printable Recipe)
slightly modified from The New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1951)

3 Tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chopped, cooked spinach
1 tablespoon flour
pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sliced almonds (preferably sautéed in butter first)

Melt the butter in a skillet and sauté the garlic until it is fragrant.  Add the spinach and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with the flour and then stir in cream.  Pour into buttered baking dish and top with almonds.  Bake at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbling.

chambers stove range
Wouldn't those almonds look nice if they had been browned in butter first?

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