Mar 11

If you are coming to my house for dinner, I have one bit of advice; come hungry.  Especially right now as I’m playing with my MATOFC (Mastering the Art of French Cooking) trying to satisfy my yearning to go back to France when my financial reality does not include a ticket.

Recently we had friends over for dinner and the 5 of us dined on French Onion Soup, Spinach and Mushroom Turnover, Baked Chicken with Lentil and Chocolate Pots de Creme.  Our meal spanned two hours and three bottles of wine.  I had cooked all day to prepare the meal and enjoyed lingering over it as I would have in Paris.  Treating each course as an event and eating in moderation so we could try the next taste.

I’ve been quite obsessed with Julia Childs .  Believe me there is a monster post or series coming on this topic but as a teaser;  I believe I know why she didn’t warm up to Julie Powell and neither should we!  My obsession includes reading four books and watching somewhere in the  neighborhood of 12 hours of “The French Chef”  Mostly I’m watching to see Julia in action, but one meal struck me, “Spinach Twins” in which Julia collaborates with Simca and they produce a beautiful Spinach and Mushroom turnover.  I had to make that dish and I was thrilled at how beautiful and tasty it turned out.  Julia made her own pastry dough, I cut myself some slack and used Pepperidge Farms dough from the freezer otherwise I did everything as Julia did.

As with much French cooking, the dish is deceptively simple.  I say deceptively because you could indeed slap this together quickly, but the beauty of French food is preparing each element separately then composing the dish so that instead of one blended flavor (think spaghetti sauce) you get a complete bite with delightful layers of flavor where each component is recognizable and delicious on its own and the combination is a gastronomic delight.

The base of the dish is blanched and chopped Spinach.  Plunge fresh spinach into boiling water for about 2 minutes then immediately shock it in cold water.  This preserves the spinach flavor, and color (we all remember that black oozing mess they called spinach in the school cafeteria, you didn’t like it then, you won’t like it now.  Squeeze out all the water and then chop up the spinach.  Place it in a pot and set aside.  I used one large salad bag and had a little too much use about 2/3 bag if you are concerned about waste, but spinach is cheap and I’d rather have too much than too little.

Quarter and saute 8 oz of mushrooms, set aside.  Dice 1/2 cup of ham and saute it, set aside.

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan dice one onion and sweat it over low heat with about 1/4 cup butter.  Put half the onion in with spinach.

Now comes the Sauce Bouilee.

add 1/2 cup flour to the onion and cook the roux.  Whisk in 1 2/3 cup hot milk.  This sauce is going to be THICK, like paste.  It’s not really a sauce, but a filling.  you want it this thick.  Take the pan off the heat and beat in an egg.  salt and pepper to taste, add a wisp of nutmeg if you like.

put about half that sauce in with the spinach.

Now you are ready to assemble the pastry.

Unroll the dough and coat the inside with an egg wash (1 egg, 1 Tbsp water)

Place roughly half the spinach mixture on one half the pastry sheet

layer in mushrooms and ham

top with a final layer of spinach

Fold the pastry top over, seal the edges, brush with egg wash and bake in a 350 degree oven.

If you have 45 minutes, watch the video.  Julia is just lovely.

One Response to “Spinach Twins a la Julia (Spinach and Mushroom Turnover)”

  1. Oh – ok – I see the sauce bouillée now. Looks wonderfully righ and decadent and perfect for filling a savoury pastry : -) Yum!

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