What do eggnog and cream of spinach have in common? According to The best chef student Richard Blais, the festive combo is perfect for adding a unique twist to a traditional festive garnish.
“It makes sense and this is why,” Blais tells Yahoo Life. “Eggnog is usually seasoned with nutmeg or winter spices and when I make spinach cream without eggnog, it has quite a bit of nutmeg in it. The spinach cream obviously has cream too, so it’s almost like a trick to do. cream of spinach without going through the process of making a roux and finding the winter spices you could put on it. “
When I saw Blais’s Instagram post sharing the recipe, it was clear that I was nervous about the combination of two flavors that had kept my brain separate for over 40 years. However, after speaking with the chef, I decided to try the recipe in my own kitchen.
The ingredients are simple: store bought eggnog, heavy cream, pecorino romano cheese, butter, onion, and spinach. Blais says her number one tip for recreating the dish is not to skimp on those leafy greens.
“As with any spinach dish, you need a lot more than you think,” he says. “It will take a couple of bags of spinach to feed a couple of people. And you want chopped spinach that you can make with a knife, but it will be easier if you use a food processor.”
With my finely chopped spinach, I went on to follow Blais’s recipe: sauté an onion in butter, combine eggnog and heavy cream, and let the entire mixture simmer and thicken on my stovetop before adding the cheese. The result was … delicious.
“Depending on the eggnog you’re using, you’ll want to have a cook’s instinct to make sure it’s not too sweet,” Blais cautions, “which means cutting it up with some other dairy or using a lot of spinach or just a little bit of eggnog. You’re going to get some sweetness from the eggnog, which may be the challenge in this recipe, but you’ll also wonder, is it creamed spinach? Is it saag paneer? It almost has an Indian twist and is one of my favorites. “.
Indian food is one of me favorites, and Blais was right with his description of the flavors on the plate. The creamy nutmeg-dyed spinach concoction would taste just as delicious served with ribs for Christmas dinner as it would on rice with a side of samosas.
For those who avoid dairy, Blais shares another favorite way to make creamed spinach, straight off the menu at Ember and Rye, his Carlsbad, California restaurant.
“Parsnip puree,” says Blais. “For me, parsnips have this kind of winter spicy vibe. They also replace dairy. I try to be as healthy as possible. When you use pureed parsnip or celery root or cauliflower, it’s a good way to eliminate all or most dairy “.
Blais recently opened another restaurant in Orlando, Florida, Four Flamingos, where, as with his cream of spinach eggnog recipe, he likes to think of creative ways to use the ingredients for purposes his guests may not have considered. The menu includes frozen oysters with pearls of spicy hibiscus sauce, for example, something Blais says adds to a standard seafood dish in an interesting way.
“The hot sauce is quite traditional to go with oysters, but adding hibiscus to the hot sauce makes it a little more regional, local and themed,” he says. “We have a swordfish dish that has black lime with black pepper and garlic in it – it’s really just a lemon pepper mix. Instead of using lemon, we use black lime because the flavor is deeper and earthier.”
When adding spices, nutmeg, or otherwise, to a traditional dish, Blais says to think of ways to change textures or flavors to create something different. After all, when you do, you can create a new family favorite.
“My kids loved the eggnog with spinach cream for the little sugar in it,” she says. “Usually they didn’t eat creamed spinach, but they loved eggnog with creamed spinach, so believe it. I’ll say, believe it.”
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