Spinach on the Ninth Day

Spinach leaves

Spinach leavesOn the Ninth Day of John St. John: The Record of the Magical Retirement of G. H. Frater, O.’. M.’., Aleister Crowley refers to himself in the third person. “12.20. He has walked, reciting the Ritual, to Dr. R— and H— for lunch. They have forgotten the appointment, so he continues and reaches Lavenue’s at 12.4 after reading his letters and doing one or two necessary things. He orders Epinards, Tarte aux Fraises, Glace au Caf, and 1/2 Evian. The distaste for food is great; and for meat amounts to loathing. The weather is exceedingly hot; it may be arranged thus by Adonai to enable John St. John to meditate in comfort. For he is vowed solemnly ‘to interpret every phenomenon as a particular dealing of God with his soul.’”

“Epinards” is French for Spinach. Crowley does not specify how it is prepared. Following are a few options one might find in Paris.

Epinards a la Crème (Creamed Spinach)

  • 3 cups cooked chopped spinach (about 3 lbs fresh spinach)
  • 1½ tbs flour, sifted
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbs butter

Bring a large pot of salted water (1/2 tsp salt per quart of water) to boil. Add spinach and boil until spinach is almost tender, about 2 minutes. Drain.

Rinse spinach in cold water, then separate into small amounts and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop spinach with a big knife, or puree in a food processor.

In a large pan over high heat, melt butter until it bubbles.

Stir in the spinach and cook on high until the water has evaporated.

Lower heat to medium and sprinkle on the flour. Stir for 2 more minutes,

Remove from heat and stir in ⅔ of the cream by the spoonful. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the spinach from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

If the spinach becomes too dry, add more cream.

Season with salt and pepper, then serve.

Ẻpinards Sautés (Sautéed Spinach)

  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 10 oz baby spinach
  • Salt
  • Freshly Ground Pepper

Heat a large skillet. Melt the butter, then add the olive oil and chopped shallot. Cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Serve warm

Soufflé aux épinards (Spinach Soufflé)

  • 1 1/2 tbs plus 4 tablespoons softened butter, divided
  • 3 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lbs spinach, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 tbs all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 3 eggs, separated

Brush the inside of a large soufflé or deep casserole dish with 1 1/2 tablespoons of softened butter. Sprinkle the buttered surface evenly with Parmesan cheese and set aside the dish.

In a large saucepan, sauté the spinach until it wilts and the juices have evaporated. Preheat the oven to 375 °F. In a separate medium saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat and stir in the flour and salt. Cook the flour, whisking constantly, for 30 seconds. Add the milk to the flour and cook, still whisking constantly, for about 4 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the spinach and continue cooking over medium heat for 1 minute. Season the mixture with black pepper and nutmeg.

Whisk ½ cup of the hot spinach into the egg yolks, and then add the egg yolk mixture back into the hot spinach, stirring to completely incorporate. Beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Stir one-third of the egg whites into the spinach, and then fold the remaining egg whites into the mixture. Spoon it into the prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes, until the soufflé is puffed up and cooked through.

 Recipes adapted from The Food Network and Julia Child.


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