Monday, May 14, 2007

I Know She'll Like it — Someday

So, how was your Mother’s Day? Good? Good.

Oh, mine? Well, let’s see. My kiddo must have decided the best way for me to celebrate my day was to prove I am really a mom. We started off the morning with her licking the bubble solution she spilled off the deck. Following that, was a trip to the petting zoo/farm where she fed the goats and herself the same feed (including the goat slobber), tried the duck feed, and actually ate a few pieces of fish feed. For an aperitif, she licked the spigot in the public restroom, and ate some dirt from my herb garden for dessert. Oh yeah, and a marker. I always forget about the markers, at least until that next diaper change in Technicolor.

“What the … ?! Oh, it was the hot pink one …”

Fortunately, she also ate dinner. Or, not so fortunately, since we capped off the celebration at 5 am Monday with her getting sick in bed. Not her bed — mine. I remember when celebrations ended like this, at about this early in the morning. That was college. Not the same at all. I think I need a day off to recover from the festivities. Mostly, I hope she gets better soon.

It’s times like these that I sit back in stark wonder at the things my child will eat, and then the things she won’t — like the recipe that follows. It’s really good. Someday, she will try it — it’s only had one review — probably when we are past the dirt-eating, spigot-licking, goat-food-munching phase. Probably.

In the meantime, I will hope that just seeing my vegetable creations on her little segmented doggy plate will cement in her mind that vegetables have a section of her plate, and that’s the way a meal should be.

I can hope, anyway. The same way I can hope she forgets how fun it is to dip her hands in yogurt and then clap them together hard.

The recipe is a reinvention of a classic Spinach Artichoke Dip. There are hundreds of versions of this dish out there. I was going to post the best one I’ve ever made, but when I read my recipe, I realized, “Hey, this is really bad for you!”

And it is. It has mayonnaise, cream cheese, sour cream, lots of cheese, all baked, then served on fried tortillas. Hmmm. Not really a vegetable dish at all. So, I took the flavors I loved from the dish and made it new. You can actually taste the vegetables now that your taste buds aren’t doing the backstroke in butterfat.

The other thing I changed is that all the recipes I found used frozen spinach, which often has just about as much flavor as the box it’s frozen in.

Fresh, local spinach survived the odd spring weather we had, so the recipe calls for two large bunches of it. Fresh makes a big difference. Local does as well. You notice that I did not make my own tart dough this time. Hey, it was my holiday! I need a break, too.

Spinach Artichoke Tart in Puff Pastry
1 box (2 sheets) puff pastry, thawed
2 large bunches spinach (to make about 1 lb. Cooked or so)
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/3 cup shallot, minced
2 tbs. Olive oil
1/4 cup half and half
1-1/2 cups Grana Padano cheese, grated (or Parmesan)
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
2 oz. Goat cheese
2 tbs. Pine nuts
black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.°

Wash the spinach, and remove stems. Do not spin dry, but just shake off the extra water. Place in large pot, 5qt. size. You will have to stuff it into a pot, but it cooks down fast. Place the lid on the pan and turn on low heat. This is called “panning” the spinach, which is like steaming it, just using very little water. You will need to turn the spinach a bit in the pot to get it all cooked. When it is just cooked down, turn off heat and allow to cool in a strainer.

While the spinach cools, chop the shallot, and the artichoke hearts. Do your other mise en place (ingredient prep and measuring). When the spinach is cool enough to handle, gather it into a ball and squeeze hard to get all the excess cooking liquid out. Place the spinach on a cutting board and chop.

In the large pot (why get another one dirty?) heat the oil and sauté the shallot until golden. Add the spinach and artichoke hearts and just toss with the olive oil and shallot. Turn off heat. Add the half and half and the grated Grana Padano. Mix in the salt, cumin and a couple turns of black pepper.

Coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Place the sheets of puff pastry into dish. The dough should come up about an inch on the sides, and you will need to just fold over the ends a bit. Spread the spinach filling evenly onto the dough. Dot the top with the soft goat cheese. Sprinkle on the pine nuts.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes until the pastry is golden on the edges.


jen said...

does that send well through the mail? it might, right?

a woman who cooks with shallots is a woman after my heart.

Rachel said...

that looks fantastic. I'm going to have to try it the next time DH is on a business trip (he Does Not Eat Spinach).

I hear you on Mother's Day. DH was on a business trip over the weekend (in a mine, so he really was workin over the weekend, poor fella). So, no sleep in, no breakfast in bed. But lunch at the environmental park's fantastic cafe (most of the food on the menu is sourced from the garden on site. Now THAT's local! And tasty.).

But from a foodie mother's point of view, not a bad day. Jess ate baked beans on toast for lunch (Borlotti beans. Yum). And we had spinach with dinner, and I got a big "Yummy" out of Little Madam for the spinach, so I have hope that leafy greens will be the go.

BTW, Beth, shall we include something on sesame seed allergy? You won't believe it, but in the space of a week, I've run into at least five moms with kids with sesame seed allergy (anaphalitic shock for two of them). How random.

The Expatriate Chef said...

No kidding? Yeah, let's try to cover that. I'd love to find out what's with all the new allergies that are coming out.

Cafe sounds lovely. Mine, does not.

Jen, why don't I just pack a bag of groceries and meet you in Belize? Our kiddos can play on the beach while we sit in the sand and drink a glass of wine.

Janie Hickok Siess, Esq. said...

Thanks for participating in the Carnival of Family Life.

But don't hold your breath on the artichoke . . . I can't stand the things to this day. :-) But I'll take some fresh spinach.

Holly Schwendiman said...

Yes, times and seasons. My son gagged and puked on a carrot last month, hopefully he'll grow out of that. In the meantime we just keep plugging away. The recipe looks delish!

Here via the Carnival of Family Life :)

Laura Rebecca said...

This is a great idea; thank you for submitting it to the RRC! (The round-up is now posted, by the way.)