French Spinach Turnover

Last Friday and Saturday were crazy days for me. I was to host my sister’s bridal shower beginning at 1pm on Saturday afternoon and I had a lot of work to do come Friday evening. I was really set on making the shower as traditional and awesome as possible. Now writing about the shower almost a week later, I can say I completely accomplished this goal!

I was keen on having all the food homemade, rather than store-bought. I wanted all the guests to go home feeling the love from their food. I swear by this method of cheering people up. I am known for needing my space while cooking in the kitchen and I tell people the same thing every time they pick on me for it, “I have to concentrate on putting my love into the food!” Its understandable, right?

I made 48 homemade chocolate cupcakes with a pink butter cream icing I whipped up. They were sure winners! I also had other family members whip up some delicious meals to bring to the party.

Among all of this delicious, love-filled food, was Julia Child’s French recipe for a spinach turnover. This recipe took the most labour (well worth the labour I should add), it took the most love, the most time, and it also got the best rave reviews from my hungry guests.

In total, the recipe took about an hour to prepare and once prepared, it sat waiting for a couple of hours getting ready to be baked. Once the guests arrived, I plopped the turnovers in the oven for 1/2 hour and they came out ready, warm and delicious, in time for lunch.

I browsed through the pics of the shower, but not one of the turnovers was captured. The picture up top is exactly how it looks though, if you need a reference. I have also posted the original video before if you want to watch Julia.

Here is the recipe:

  • Enough pastry for 2- 9″ crusts (you need dough, not the shells! I bought a package of puff pastry and it worked well, you can also make your own)
  • 9 oz fresh spinach
  • 4 oz mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup diced ham
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 2/3 cup hot milk
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1-2 egg yolks for glazing
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk (I used milk because I forgot to buy cream, Julia uses cream)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

Here is the method:

  • Start by washing the spinach and removing the stems. Plunge the spinach in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain spinach and plunge into cold water. Squeeeeeeeeze out all excess water. Chop up aggressively!
  • Clean mushrooms and chop them up, chop the ham too
  • In a saucepan, saute the mushrooms and ham with the tablespoon of butter. Set aside.
  • In another, larger saucepan, saute the one onion in low heat with a 1/4 cup of butter (no skimping!)
  • Remove half of this onion mixture and place in another saucepan with the spinach. Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes or so.
  • SO! Going back to the onion alone in the saucepan. Add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Whisk in the hot milk and beat quickly until it is a thick paste. Take the pan off the heat, add an egg, whisk right away! Add the pinch of nutmeg.
  • Take about a 1/2 cup of this mixture and stir in with the now cooked spinach. Set the spinach aside.

It is now time to make the sauce to pour on top of the finished dish…

  • In the thick flour/milk mixture you made, add the cream and simmer for ten minutes. Season to taste. Take it off the heat and sprinkle with the cheese to prevent a skin from forming. Before serving, bring the sauce up to temperature again by using low low heat.

Now let’s assemble the pastry!

  • Roll out the dough into a long rectangle. (10″ by 15″) about a 1/4 inch thick. Glaze with the egg yolks
  • Smear a thin layer of the spinach on one half. Leave about a half-inch of edge bare on the dough. Add the ham and the mushroom and then more spinach. Turn over the other half of the dough and pinch edges to seal. Glaze with the egg yolks.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees

For a party, make a few, and cut into thin slices. Don’t forget to serve it with the sauce!

Et Voila!

Bon Appetit and thanks for reading!

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Adventures with Julia Child: French Crêpes

I really need to get a camera and take my own pictures for these posts because I made crêpes yesterday (curtesy of Julia Child) and they were awesome. It could have only been more awesome if I took pictures.

The actual recipe is called Crêpes Fines Sucrées. This recipe comes from the cookbook I am currently obsessed with,  “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.

There is nothing I enjoy more than making French food for my French love, and really learning and perfecting the technique as I go. This food ordeal is my passion and I want to pursue it. Testing out these recipes is a great way to get my feet wet before I jump in the pool (the pool is France by the way).

The batter was very easy to make (the recipe is posted below). I just put all the ingredients in to a blender, in the order they were listed in the book, and blended. Voila! A yellowish, creamy, sauce-like, batter emerged from the blender, ready to be cooked….Non! The batter actually needed to sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Good thing I made this batter before dinner! It would be ready in perfect timing for dessert.

In the past, I learned interesting things to do with crepes, although I never actually made crepes, I would watch chefs and other cooking fiends crepe up a storm in the kitchen on numerous occasions! If I could recreate their flare for crepes than this night was going to be awesome!

Just as planned, the crepe batter ended up being ready right when dinner was finished. I told my boyfriend that I was going to go make the dessert and he blew me away with a surprising fact. Little did I know that I had a master crepe flipper, with years of experience, on my hands! Oh la la! C’etait bonne chance! (It was good luck!)

As he laddled, buttered, and flipped, I prepared fresh whip cream (3/4 cup 35% cream, a teaspoon or so of sugar, the less sweet the better) and cut a lemon. I heated another pan, threw in some butter (not a literal throw), added some lemon juice (go light on this or your lips will pucker like a fish), a tsp of sugar and a cap full of rum. I quickly tossed the competed crepe in the pan, flipped it, flipped it again out on a plate, added a dollop of whip cream, and served. Délicieux! This topping variation is not a Julia Child recipe, just to let you know.

Mais (but), although this variation was awesome, I would like to let you know that it wasn’t the best way to eat the crepes. My FBF showed me just to sprinkle some sugar on the crepe, and role it up. With a dollop of whip cream, this variation was divine! It was a lot more simple but I was really able to appreciate the taste of the crepe itself. This is the real French way!

All in all in was a complete success. I do recommend, though, that if you are to make these yourself, a personal French boyfriend master crepe flipper will come in handy!

Julia Child goes on to say that the crepes made by that batter are good for Crepe Suzette (and than she provided a recipe). This is not a feat I am ready for yet, but updates will surely come along with my growing kitchen courage.

And now, let me present to you, Julia Child’s Crêpes Fines Sucrées!

Crêpes Fines Sucrées

(Light batter)

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Tb granulated sugar
  • 3 Tb orange liqueur, rum, or brandy (I used rum and it was yummy!)
  • 1 cup flour (scooped and levelled)
  • 5 Tb melted butter
  • A blender
  • A rubber spatula

Place all the ingredients in the blender in the same order they are listed. If ingredients stick to the side of the jar, scrape with the spatula. Blend and leave in fridge for at least two hours.

If you don’t have a blender: Work egg yolks into the flour with a wooden spoon, beat in the liquids by droplets, then strain the batter through a sieve.

Heat up a pan, add some butter, ladle a small amount on to the pan, heat through, flip and heat on other side. You want the edges to be a little crispy. Just repeat this until the batter is finished.

Bon Appétit!

Food is my passion!

And I don’t mean just eating it although eating it does give me a feeling of satisfaction that few other things can match. But I mean cooking! And learning about food and trying new things and giving people  pleasure from my food! I believe I mentioned this in me “About Me” section of this blog.

Right now I am at work. I have time to blog at work and this is just one reason why I love my job! In order to push this boredom out of the way I have decided to research cooking schools in France. When I get there my first plan is definitely not going to be searching out all the cooking schools and immediately registering. I will have to be smart and find a job first to actually be able to stay for the entire year. I would love to have a job where I could be mentored by a French chef or baker who is completely passionate, who has wanted nothing more than to teach a young foreigner his trade in order to pass down his legacy and widen it to other countries! But that little dream of mine is no guarantee and my heart will not break if I’m immediately unable to find it. All things in life lead somewhere great so I know however I begin my adventure over seas, with a little faith and some patience, I’m sure I’ll reach my ultimate goal of learning this language and cuisine!

But maybe, at a later date, I’ll want to attend cooking school. So my curiosity has lead me to this research:

Le Cordon Bleu – MY DREAM SCHOOL!!! Why oh why does everything great cost so much money? I’m sure that an investment into this school will pay off 1 million fold but how could I get there in the first place?

A lot of these school are simply for travelers looking to fill their leisure days. This is NOT what I am looking for. I’m looking for accreditation. I’m looking for a career! (Not necessarily stating that this WILL be my career).

Here is another one:

Relais & Chateau – But again, it doesn’t look like they have a full program.

Hmmmm, maybe I’ll find more leads when I’m there. But Le Cordon Bleu!!! I wanna go!!!!