Victory Spinach

[image: baked spinach]
[image: baked spinach]

This past weekend, I basically begged an invitation from Lydia for something, ANYTHING, to keep my mind off tomorrow’s election. She very kindly invited me over for dinner on Sunday. She and her husband were making miso-marinated flat iron steak, so she asked me to bring a side. I decided on spinach, because creamed spinach is one of the classic sides at old school steakhouses. I didn’t end up using a cream-based recipe, but this was a really pleasant surprise. Using frozen spinach made it much easier. I squished the defrosted spinach in a colander using my hands to get out all the liquid. Wrapping it all in a black kitchen towel and wringing it out would also work (my dad’s recommendation) (otherwise you’ll dye the towel green).

There’s no reason behind the recipe name. I’m just hopeful for tomorrow.


2 lbs frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
4 Tbsp butter, divided (2+1+1)
1 1/2 Tbsp AP flour
1/2 tsp table salt
pepper, to taste
2/3 cup stock
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp assorted chopped herbs (thyme, basil, oregano, parsley—whatever’s lying around) or 1/2 tsp dried Italian herb mix

Butter a 9×9 baking dish (or use nonstick spray) and heat the oven to 375.

In a large saucepan or pot, melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat. When foaming, add spinach. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the residual moisture from the spinach has evaporated. You can tell when this happens by when the spinach starts to stick (if you’re using not a nonstick pan) or by the sound of the sizzle—it will start to sound noticeably different.

Sprinkle the flour on top and turn the heat to low. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly (in a trickle) stir in the stock. Once added, simmer for 1 minute and stir in an additional 1 Tbsp of butter. If you think the mixture seems too thick, add up to an additional 1/3 cup stock. Stir in salt and add pepper to taste (I put in like 8 grinds).

Transfer the spinach from the pan to the baking dish. Carefully mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. In the now-empty pan, melt the remaining 1 Tbsp butter. Add the panko breadcrumbs and herbs. Stir until just barely toasted. Sprinkle on top of the spinach along with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375 until heated through and browned on top, about 30-35 minutes.

Chipotle-Maple Sweet Potatoes with Spiced Pecans

This is what I ended up putting together as our sweet potato dish for Thanksgiving. One word of advice: if you have leftovers, I wouldn’t recommend keeping the pecans on top. They get soft and sad. Scrape them off and just eat them. Then the next time you serve them, chop up some more and re-top.

between 3 and 3.5 pounds sweet potatoes/garnet yams, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup cream
1 Tbsp maple syrup, grade B
1 tsp chipotle powder (or 1 canned chipotle pepper, minced + 1 tsp adobo sauce from the can)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 to 1 cup Spiced Pecans, chopped (depends on the surface area on top of your serving dish how much you’ll need to cover it)

First, make the Spiced Pecans (it says you can use any mixture of nuts in that recipe—for this application, just use pecans).

Steam sweet potatoes in a steamer basket over simmering water for 20 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. (This took me two rounds, but you might be better at fitting in all the sweet potato cubes.)

Empty into a bowl and add the butter and cream. Mash with a potato masher. With a large spatula or spoon, fold in the maple syrup, chipotle, and salt. Taste and adjust for seasonings (not just salt, but the chipotle as well—these aren’t super-spicy, so you can totally add more).

Transfer the sweet potatoes to a serving dish and sprinkle an even layer of pecans on top.

Roasted Creamed Onions

[image: creamed onions]
[image: creamed onions]

This may be my family’s greatest Thanksgiving dish. It is annoying to make but so great to eat. Do not wimp out and use frozen pearl onions. No good. Those bags of pearl onions you see in the store? Don’t use those, either. They are too small and it’ll take forever to prep enough to make a full dish. Cipollini onions are an okay-ish option, but they don’t roll properly and therefore won’t brown evenly. What you really want, and what are increasingly difficult to find (at least in our area), are “boiling” onions, which are white, round, and about 1″-1.5″ in diameter. Good luck.

My parents got the casserole dish we’re serving this in back in the 70s. It’s beautifully retro. C is not for Cookie. It is for Casserole!

[image: casserole dish]
[image: casserole dish]

2 lbs. whole white boiling onions (1-1.5″ in diameter)
Olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup water
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 Tbsp butter
like a quart of heavy cream

Drop the onions into rapidly boiling water for 1 minute. Shallowly trim the root end, squeeze the onion out the root end (they’ll pop out once you apply enough pressure, be quick catching them!), then trim the top and cut an X 1/4″ deep into the root (this keeps them from bursting throughout the rest of the cooking).

Heat the oven to 350. Toss the peeled onions in olive oil to coat and sprinkle with salt. Put them in a roasting pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Roast onions until they are tender, 30–45 minutes (really depends on the size of the onions, though). Check for doneness with a sharp paring knife. Every 10–15 minutes, roll onions around so they get browned evenly.

Place the cooked onions in a frying pan or saute pan large enough to hold them in one layer. Add sugar, white wine, water, and butter. Reduce this to a syrupy state, rolling the onions around to glaze. When reduced, add the cream and thyme. The cream should come halfway up the sides of the onions (this usually takes about a quart for us, it may be more or less depending on the size of the onions and the size of the pan). Simmer until the cream reduces to a sauce-like consistency. Discard the thyme and adjust seasoning (it will definitely need more salt by this point).

Note: can be made a day ahead and gently rewarmed. If the cream sauce becomes too thick, add a little more cream to thin it out (probably could use milk or half and half by this point if you’re out of cream).

Death By Broccoli

A recipe from Karen F.

6-7 heads of broccoli, florets only, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. Velveeta
8 oz. Ritz crackers, crushed
2 sticks butter, melted and separated

Unwrap the Velveeta and freeze. This is the most important step. Once frozen, shred.

Blanch the broccoli for 60-90 seconds in boiling water, then plunge into ice water. Dry thoroughly. This is the second most important step.

Heat the oven to 350. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, Velveeta, and half of the butter (it’s a little tricky stirring it in the baking dish, but if you don’t want to dirty another bowl, go ahead). Empty the broccoli mixture into the baking dish. In the same bowl, mix the crushed Ritz crackers with the other half of the butter. Spread evenly over the top of the broccoli.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until brown and bubbly. You’ll hate yourself by loving it.