Spring Seedlings

It really is ridiculous how happy I am having fresh herbs to cook with again. And I am days away from a first salad harvest from the garden. What's that, you'd like a tour? I'd be delighted. It's still all babies and I need to mulch it as soon as Jeeps can give me grass clippings. But anyway, come along and look.

Spinach and radishes on the left. Carrots on the right, which need thinning, which is an OCD job I loathe, but it's the nature of the beast.  

Next bed over, I'm growing fennel. Fennel fennel fennel, I planted like 24 bulbs of it. LOVE fennel. Last night I sauteed chicken sausage with red onions, yellow peppers, cherry tomatoes and zucchini. And right at the end I ran out, clipped off a bunch of feathery fennel tops, clipped another bunch of fresh parsley, chopped it all up and stirred it in. There wasn't a scrap left.

On the right are broccoli seedlings surrounded by radishes. I companion-plant whenever possible, and I read that these two go well together. So I made a grid of radish seeds and planted the broccoli inside the boxes. On the other hand, the same source said, rather vehemently, not to companion-plant fennel with ANYTHING. So if the whole garden should fail, we all know why.

Pea plants are starting to climb. Nearly a third of this crop, which was planted near the tulips, was wiped out by a vicious pack of voles. We've declared war with bait and snap traps. Killed five of them in one day. And I enjoyed it.

For dinner tonight we were having burgers on the grill, but on the side I sauteed red onion and garlic in olive oil, then added a can of drained, rinsed cannelini beans and let it cook on low about ten minutes. Then I added half a bag of baby spinach and some chopped parsley. I'm kind of a parsley whore.

Bouquet by Panda. I love handing her scissors and a mason jar and saying, "Pick something for the table." Usually she just has at it, but tonight I did give specific direction because my columbines are in bloom, and these purple ones look pretty with the chartreuse leaves of a golden bleeding heart. She arranged it beautifully though.

(Sigh)...I love spring.

Spinach Pie

When I think Spinach Pie I immediately think Spanikopita. Until I saw this on Stacey Snacks.

I guess technically this is a quiche but whatever name you call it, this was so easy, and so delicious.

Easter Spinach Pie (from Stacey Snacks)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 packet Lipton Vegetable or Onion Soup Mix (Stacey used vegetable; I had onion)
  • 1 cup of cubed Gruyere or Swiss Cheese
  • 10 oz package of frozen spinach, thawed, excess water squeezed out
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved (my own addition)
  • 1 frozen pie shell

Mix all together and fill the pie shell. Bake 40 minutes at 350. Can be served hot, warm, or room temperature. Can be the appetizer, the side, or the main course. Stacey advised, and she is right, to not add any salt whatsoever because the soup mix is so heavily seasoned. The next time I make this I may experiment with half the soup packet, or at least try the vegetable mix.

Creamed Spinach

At the famed Smith & Wollensky's steakhouse in New York, the creamed spinach is to die for. The steak almost becomes an after thought. Almost.

This is one of the few instances where I make a side dish for the precise reason that the kids will not eat any of it, which makes more for Jeeps and I. It's great not only as a side dish, but as an interesting appetizer. Make a big dish of it and serve with slices of bread, toasted or plain. Creamed spinach on toast is a treat.

Creamed Spinach

  • 1 bag baby spinach (seems like overkill but trust me)
  • 1 cup milk (any kind—whole is naughty, skim works fine, anywhere in between is inconsequential)
  • 1 tsp peppercorns (black, white, red, melange—whatever you have. I had white)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (this is the essential ingredient, don't skip it)
  • 2 tbsp half-and-half
  • 1 medium onion, diced

Combine milk, peppercorns, bay leaves and cloves in small saucepan. Warm over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain into small bowl or measuring cup, set aside. Discard solids.

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in milk mixture. Whisk another 3 minutes until sauce thickens. Stir in salt, white pepper, nutmeg, and half-and-half. Set aside, covered.

Heat remaining butter and a splash of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 bag of spinach; cover skillet momentarily until leaves wilt. Add the other half bag. Turn with tongs until all leaves are wilted. Pour sauce over spinach, stir to combine.  



Those kids don't know what they're missing. And I'm glad to keep it that way.