Do you fancy chilies, ginger, horseradish, or mustard? Or maybe you have a fondness for lavender, aniseed, or caraway? So...what's your sign? I'm not trying to pick you up with a cheesy line, but I might guess that if you love spicy foods you could be an Aries; and if you sometimes start your mornings with a taste of anise in your espresso, you might be a Virgo (and also Italian!).
I'm kind of a sucker for astrology. Every morning I read my horoscope. The cookbook, A Taste of Astrology, by Lucy Ash is my pick for #tbt. From 1988, this book breaks down each astrological sign in typical ways (ruling planet, elements, characteristics, et al), but also includes the flora, herbs, spices, and cell salts for each sign. Ash also writes about the sign from the perspective of the kind of cook and the kind of dinner guest you could be. Of course, it wouldn't be a cookbook without recipes, so you'll find recipes for sides, appetizers, main courses, and desserts.
With the upcoming birthday weighing on my thoughts, I dug right into the Taurus chapter looking for something to try. I wasn't feeling the urge to do anything complicated or time consuming, so I decided to try the Baked Spinach Creams. I even made it twice, since I wasn't entirely pleased with the first try and figured I shouldn't cut too many corners and stick more to the original.
Not that the first attempt was bad, because it wasn't, but I thought it could be a great little dish if I didn't tweak too much. What I learned from the first dish to the second--the right amount of cream is really, really important--and don't skip the pureeing part. You can skip the croutons if you decide that garlic toasted sourdough rounds spread with nduja before being topped with baked spinach cream makes half of an awesome dinner, though.
Baked Spinach Creams
Adapted from 'A Taste of Astrology: The Cookbook'
6 oz frozen chopped spinach
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, one minced, one peeled and whole
5 fl oz heavy cream
2 tbsp Parmesan, grated
6-8 rounds of sourdough from a batard, thinly sliced
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees, In a medium saucepan, add frozen spinach and a pinch of salt, with enough water to cook spinach through, about 5-7 minutes. Drain water from spinach and saute with a tablespoon of the butter and the minced garlic. In a small skillet or frying pan, heat the olive oil and rub each side of the bread with the whole garlic clove. Toast both sides of each slice to preference and set aside.
Add heavy cream to sauteed spinach and mix well. Puree in a food processor until spinach breaks down. In a small baking dish, or two ramekins, pour spinach puree into dish, topping with grated Parmesan, the remaining butter, and a healthy pinch of cayenne. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese melts slightly and spinach bubbles.
Spread on rounds and serve hot.
Note: If you don't want to serve it on toasted bread rounds, you can make croutons with the bread of your choice, about 1/3 cup worth, add them to the pureed spinach and bake it all together.