Eggs Florentine

I was a picky eater as a kid.  There were foods I knew I didn’t like (mushrooms and eggs) and ones I decided I didn’t like based on the look and sound of them (avocado and cheesecake).  Later, my picky eating was more about knowing what I loved – chicken fingers, ham sandwiches with thinly sliced cheese, chicken Cesar salad – and never, never getting sick of it.  These days I’m more adventurous, but this recipe reminds me of my picky-eating past because my mum would make it when I was very small, and, despite not standing eggs, mushrooms or spinach, I loved it.

Notes: Because it serves a crowd, I don’t make it as often as I did when I lived with four roommates, but save it for occasions like last Saturday, when KP came by for brunch & mimosas.  We tried to make it (mostly) dairy-free for Dave by using soymilk and lactose-free Swiss cheese, and it tasted just as delish as I remember!  If prep time is a concern, I can’t recommend boxed baby spinach leaves highly enough – I go for bunched spinach every time, but stemming 2lb of bunched spinach is apparently something that takes me a very long time to do and I want that time back.  When serving, scoop an egg or two and surrounding vegetables onto toast and dig in.  I’m partial to toasted English muffins, but that’s mostly habit: it’s just as good with toasted sandwich bread.  If you’d like to make it gluten-free, substitute in an alternate flour and try serving it over a smashed baked potato or homefries.

Eggs Florentine

from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 tbsp butter
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp salt
2 lbs spinach, stemmed & chopped
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
3-4 tbsp sherry
1 1/2 cup milk, heated
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
8 small pats of butter
8 eggs
1/2 cup packed grated Swiss cheese
a few pinches of nutmeg
a few pinches of paprika

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1.  Make the filling:  In a large frying pan, melt 2 tbsp butter over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until beginning to soften.  Add mushrooms and 1 tsp salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are completely softened.  Reduce heat to low, and add spinach by the handful, stirring, until all spinach is incorporated and just barely cooked.  Set aside.

2.  Make the sauce:  In a small pot, melt 3 tbsp butter over medium heat.  Use a whisk to incorporate the flour.  Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.  Add sherry and whisk to incorporate; then slowly whisk in the heated milk.  Whisk in mustard, salt & pepper, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until thickened slightly.

3.  Assemble casserole:  In a buttered 9×13-inch casserole dish (or what you have), arrange the vegetable mixture into an even layer.  Top with the butter pats in two rows of four.  Break each eggs roughly on top of each pat of butter.   Using a spoon, carefully cover each egg with sauce until all sauce is distributed in the casserole dish.  Top with the Swiss cheese and a few pinches of nutmeg and paprika.  Leave the casserole dish uncovered, and bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees.  Allow it to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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