Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sauteed Fresh Spinach...and pizza redux!

Though I appreciate sweets, I really go nuts over savoury foods.  When a small kid I would spend my sweet allowance on Genoa salami and black olives.  My four siblings along with every other red-blooded American kid were gobbling up candy while I was nibbling at a fledgling version of antipasto.  So I never had any problem relishing vegetables, especially the marinated artichokes and roasted red peppers I added to my beginner's antipasto when I reached my teenage years.

Vegetables, especially home-grown, have a depth of flavour that is intense. The spinach I sowed about seventy days ago is now coming in nicely.

Using a sharp knife, cut the leaves off at the level of the soil.

Fresh spinach does not ask for much. Wash the leaves well in cold water, if necessary, several times to get all the grit out, and dry them very well, either in a salad spinner or with a cloth/paper towel.  If the stems are thick and old, trim them off, and either discard or add them first and cook a bit longer than the leaves.  In a large pot, gently saute some garlic, minced or sliced, in olive oil til translucent for about a minute, being sure the garlic does not brown. Add the spinach, stir to coat all the leaves, cover, and simmer for about two minutes. Uncover and stir until all the leaves are wilted and cook about another minute, raising the heat if required.  If there is significant liquid, use a slotted spoon to remove the spinach.

A bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice, or my preference, sherry vinegar, along with fleur de sel, and a pat of butter can be added just before serving. If you want to make a quick, nutritious supper, layer the spinach on some toast or mix it with cooked rice/pasta and top with grated cheese. 

We enjoy home-made pizza almost weekly so I have plenty of opportunities to tweak my recipe.  In addition to the regular topping of tomatoes, Mozzarella, Parmesan, mushrooms, and sausage, I used some left-over bacon.

Instead of using white flour to dust the parchment paper, I switched to yellow cornmeal.

I cranked up the oven heat full blast to 600 degrees F and was able not to faint--a recent spat of cool weather helped.  Also a thick, single-glove oven mitt I bought in Great Britain during my last visit enables me to take on the challenge dealing with such a hot oven.  The long piece of fabric connecting the two mitts protects me from getting splattered or getting a blast of heat.

Not quite the charring achieved by the Pros, but crispy enough.

And I never have to locate TWO mitts when needed!

The cornmeal added a nice toasty flavour, and the higher heat ensured the underneath of the crust to be golden brown and slightly crunchy.

Instead of the usual twelve minutes to bake, it took only seven minutes.  It is not called fast food for nothing!  Professional pizza makers' ovens are set even higher, and it takes even less time to bake pizza to perfection.

In the potager, almost constant rain has delayed transplanting and preparing beds for sowing because the soil is too sodden to be worked.

Seedlings galore waiting for their permanent homes.

So many gloomy days have prevented the strawberries from ripening by mid-May which is when they usually do.

However, the peas, being a cool weather crop, are happy.  Peas, like most veggies, are annuals and therefore programmed to grow fast so they can go to seed, germinating the next generation in a short amount of time.  Knowing this fact is one thing, seeing it in action is another.  I am still astonished to see a flat pea pod be almost full the next day.

Various flowers are content with the rain also.  

Cottage pink

Rugosa rose

Red, pink, and single white roses along with pink gladiolus

Chicago Peace rose, daisies, and the green foliage of asters, Japanese anemones, Irises, and Rose of Sharon 'trees'

Dayo still needs to stay indoors because of a paw injury and is showing a strong preference for nesting.

Dayo in a drawer

Dayo in the box of duvets

À la prochaine! 


How to make pizza
Sowing Spinach