So I put out the call, and you, my lovelies, did NOT disappoint! I have spent my wholelivelongday cooking my brains out and have made my decision. A few comments first:
1) THANK YOU ALL for entering! I loved how each of you chose something that is deeply comforting and gives so much pleasure to the people you cook for--That's the most important part of cooking, and jumping in to join a contest shows bravery, so each of you, give yourself a Merit Badge--you deserve it!
2) Jasmin's Ice Cream Recipe: I do not yet own an ice cream maker, so I relied on the fact she has made the recipe several times in the last few weeks for various family 'dos and just because she really can't help herself at this point, it's like heroin. And it is. It's really really lovely, creamy and tasty, but I didn't make it myownself.
3) Yes, I was going to present these dishes photographed on my good china, but life has been mad as pants this week and the short of it is the china is not yet in the hutch, much less accessible while GingerMan is slaving away up in the city for The Steve. But boyhowdeeee do your recipes look good in just about anything! Photos of most dishes can be viewed here: Recipe Contest!
AND THE WINNER IS: MARI VAN DER HEIDE and her CREAMED SPINACH!
...I love spinach. IdoIdoIdoIdo. I've just never really like creamed spinach, as it is classically presented in barbecue or steakhouses. It's always been a dark, bland watery mass of disagreeable nature. When Mari posted her entry, I believed she was out to get me, because she is Crazy and Dutch. And in her impetuous youth, she learned to cook so she tends not to kill stuff. But I was pretty sure I had told her that creamed spinach is IKKY. But I have journalistic integrity. I have Fairy Pride. I have a Sacred Duty to the Joy of Cooking. I made it first, just in case. Basically, you flash-cook a tonne of FRESH spinach, gently squeeze the water out, so it isn't a runny mess later, then you do up a bunch of fresh garlic and shallot in butter, add the spinach, let the liquid cook down a little more just in case, then add the cream and let that cook down a little bit, adding salt, pepper, and the best thing to happen to dark greens: nutmeg. I dished it and took a bite.
I have to explain sometimes, to people sitting near me when this happens. Sometimes, food is too good. Sometimes it is so, so good that I am filled with joy and happiness and warmth and it leaks out my eyeballs.
I cry when I eat really beautiful food. And this creamed spinach made me cry a little bit. I felt like I met a long, lost friend. I really, really love this dish. Follow the recipe here and please, enjoy it like a hug from a dear friend, or better, enjoy it with a dear friend and hug them. So here it is:
Mari's Prize-Winning Creamed Spinach
2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and tough stems removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat.
Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes
Drain in a fine mesh strainer, pressing with a large spoon to get as much water out as possible
Finely chop and set aside
Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium high heat.
Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the spinach and cook, stirring, just until the liquid is released.
Add the cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and cook until the cream is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.
Remove from the heat and serve immediately.
To everyone, thank you again for entering! It gave me the opportunity to try some new tricks--I've never really made lasagna (well, once, and it's not spoken of...), or molè, and it was a lot of fun! Next week a couple of new recipes for summer fruit!
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