Sunday, November 25, 2012

Spinach Squares (Fingers)

Libby's* Spinach Fingers (like a crustless quiche)

The night before, leave out to soften and thaw, respectively:
        1/2 to 1 stick butter (I use 6 T = 3/4 stick)
        two 10-oz packages frozen chopped spinach
I often use one 16-oz package, alone or with ~4 oz (2 stalks) chopped celery. Frozen broccoli, chopped or florets, is a good variation.

A few hours before, if you think of it:
        1/2 lb cheddar (grate it cold, then leave it out
                   to reach room temperature)
Also, take out of refrigerator to remove the chill
        6 eggs
        24 oz small curd cottage cheese (room temp is better)

Now to make the fingers:
Squeeze that thawed SPINACH in handfuls to make it as dry as possible. (Broccoli is much harder to squeeze, so the final product is a bit wetter.) Put in small bowl and set aside.

In large bowl, mix with spoon
        that BUTTER
        that COTTAGE CHEESE
        that CHEDDAR
Blend in, one at a time
        those EGGS
Mix in by handfuls, twiddling to separate
        that SPINACH (or broccoli, or either plus chopped celery)
Stir in
        3 rounds of 2 T flour each (6 T all together)
                   (use matzo meal during Passover)
        "seasoned salt" says Libby
Instead of 'seasoned salt,' I use nutmeg, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and pepper. I just sprinkle them on top of each round of flour so they are a nice but not solid dusting. I use no salt because I find the cottage cheese and cheddar salty enough.

Bake in a greased 9 x 13 pan at 325, 1 hr till firm and slightly brown on top (convection oven at 300 for 45 min is OK but doesn't brown). Cool a bit and cut up for serving/freezing. Libby calls this recipe "spinach squares" but I tend to cut narrow rectangles ("fingers") for New Year's Eve parties. I cut big squarish rectangles (12 per pan) for breakfasts.

"Good reheated. Freezes well." says Libby. YES! I make up about 3 batches for big parties a week or more ahead of time, then cut up and freeze. I reheat, in the microwave or whatever oven is going, in batches as needed, straight from the freezer. A breakfast portion, microwaved straight from the freezer, is ready in 2-2.5 min.

laptop versions: rjm 8/25/93, rev 12/4/01, 12/16/02, 6/1/04, 10/29/06
rev/post 11/25/12

Libby is my father-in-law's wife. She has given me a number of great recipes over the years. Stay tuned for her Apricot Bars and Cocoa Brownies (a good cake-y alternative to my fudge-style Killer Brownies which come from a recipe I found on a box of unsweetened chocolate years ago).


R3A2 Hummus
 from The South Beach Diet

1.  A DAY OR TWO BEFORE if you think of it, open your can of
       sesame tahini
to see if the oil has separated.  If it has, stir gently until reincorporated.  I use Joyva brand tahini which comes in 15 oz. cans.  Unless the can has been used very recently, the oil will be floating on top of very dense sesame paste.  Stirring is difficult, time-consuming and requires care: the oil splashes out if you stir too vigorously.  With a full can, I have spent maybe 45 minutes or more on this step. I start by chipping away at the hummus with a table knife, then stir with a wooden spoon.  When I make the whole recipe a day or two before - which is a good idea because the hummus tastes better after it has been refrigerated for at least a few hours - then I do all the steps at the same time.

2.  Drain into a measuring cup the liquid from
          1 can (15 oz.) chick peas

3.  Cut up coarsely and add to Cuisinart (with chopping blade installed)
          4 oz. (about 1/2 medium) yellow onion
          3 cloves garlic (or less)

4.  Squeeze and measure, then add to the Cuisinart
          about 1/3 lemon to make 2 T.  juice
If you don't have a fresh lemon, 2 T. bottled lemon juice is fine.

5.  Add also to the Cuisinart
          1/2 cup of that well-stirred TAHINI
          the drained CHICK PEAS (but not the liquid)
          2 tsps olive oil
          2 tsps cumin
          1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or 1/8 tsp ground red pepper
The original recipe called for ground red pepper, but I like to use up the packets of red pepper flakes the pizza people always put in the paper bag with the napkins and extra parmesan.

6.  Add to taste, unless like me you think the canned chick peas are salty enough,
            1/2 tsp salt (optional)

7.  Pulse the cuisinart until everything is blended.  To reach the consistency you want, continue to pulse, adding
            by tablespoons,
that reserved chick pea LIQUID, if needed, and
            possibly a bit more OLIVE OIL
to reach the consistency you want.  I like it grainy myself, made a bit creamier with a little of the chick pea liquid.

8.  Refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight or longer before serving.   This hummus is pretty tasty right away, but chilling definitely improves the flavor.  The secret is the cumin.
laptop versions 1/28/05;6/19/10 rjm; rev/post 11/25/12