The first is a contribution from Carolyn.
Spinach Gratin with Hard Boiled Eggs
If you want, you can also sauté some chopped onion, and/or minced garlic and parsley to mix in with the cooked spinach and béchamel. Without these aromatics, a cleaner flavor of the spinach comes through.
prep time: 20 minutes cook time: 1 hour
serves 6-8 (could halve recipe, and use smaller baking dish)
- 3 pounds of fresh spinach, cleaned (or 24 ounces of frozen spinach, thawed and drained)
- 2 cups of milk
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or 3/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg if you aren't starting with a whole nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more to taste
- 1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese (about 1 ounce)
- 6 hard boiled eggs
- 3 to 4 Tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
- Olive oil
2. Heat milk in a medium saucepan until steamy, set aside. In a separate saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour, whisking the mixture until smooth, about a minute or two. Remove from heat. Slowly pour in the hot milk, whisking the whole time so that the mixture is not lumpy. Continue to whisk until there are no lumps. Return the pan to heat and let heat to a simmer, continuing to whisk to keep the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The béchamel sauce will thicken as it cooks. Sprinkle in the ground nutmeg and black pepper.
3. Stir the thickened béchamel sauce into the bowl of spinach.
4. Grease the inside of a 2-quart gratin pan or casserole all around with a little butter. Pour the spinach béchamel mixture into a gratin pan, and even out the surface. Sprinkle the surface with the grated Gruyere cheese. Slice the hard boiled eggs in half, and arrange, cut side up, on the surface of the spinach mixture. Press into the spinach mixture so that the cut side of the eggs are level with the spinach. Sprinkle with 3 to 4 tablespoons of seasoned bread crumbs. Drizzle the top with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. At this point you can make the gratin a day ahead and chill until ready to cook to serve.
5. Bake, uncovered, in a 375°F oven for 25-30 minutes, until nicely browned.
*****************Winter Potato Salad
The second is more an inspiration than a recipe. The way I remember it, in the late winter of 2008, I was running up against a cooking block. Not too motivated, repetitive simple meals etc...
AND THEN, there came a cosmic combining of flavors from the root cellar and pantry shelves. And the variations on it kept me entertained for weeks. It's basically a cold season potato salad. The base is cubed potatoes and hard boiled eggs. Then the dressings varied between oil and mayo based, as well as levels of spiciness. My favorite includes small chunks of dill pickles (capers could be substituted). If you're up for trying it, just think of a dressing that you enjoy with a notable flavor, and chances are it will pair well. The mix of hot and cold is fun too, between the just drained potatoes, and the chilled eggs.
The possibilities are Egg-ceptional (little shout out to my brother who despises puns)!