When Spinach almost brought down the White House!

 

 

 

Florentine 4 croppedSince discovering a certain secret about the U.S. White House, I’ve never been able to look at spinach again without chuckling to myself. It turns out that spinach, the most noble of vegetables, created such tension and scandal under Franklin Roosevelt’s administration in the 1930’s, that it almost brought down the White House!

In fact, the situation got so bad that national headlines blared, ” FDR DEMANDS NEW DEAL – REFUSES SPINACH- CRISIS STRIKES.” FDR was furious when he read this, but who was the cause of this disaster? It was Henrietta Nesbitt, the White House’s head housekeeper.

Henrietta was hired by Eleanor Roosevelt to plan and supervise all meals at the White House, but what ensued was less than desirable. The President and guests complained that the “soup was watery” and that the salads were frequently filled with chunks of marshmallows and canned fruit. Eleanor herself complained one night that the “peas were as hard as bullets” and it was common knowledge that guests invited for dinner at the White House would frequently dine before arriving in anticipation of ‘ghastly repasts.’

Mrs Nesbitt brushed aside these criticisms, saying that the President was only “having one of his tizzy-wizzies.” Heaven only knows why Eleanor Roosevelt didn’t fire Mrs Nesbitt earlier, but she was finally replaced when the new First Lady, Bess Truman, took over in 1945 (Henrietta was fired for insolence when she refused to let Mrs Truman bring a stick of butter to her bridge club’s pot luck luncheon).

So, why am I telling you all of this? To try to restore Spinach’s honor and present a dish that might have pleased President Roosevelt- Eggs Florentine. This is a French dish with a poached egg served on toast with spinach and topped with a creamy Hollandaise sauce. ‘Simple but tasty elegance’ could be used to describe this dish, and we can guess that even Lady Astor would have been pleased as a White House dinner guest.

Most recipes for Eggs Florentine call for the spinach to be thoroughly cooked, but I only steamed mine for one minute to retain the texture. I’ve also placed my spinach and egg on top of a piece of toasted bread, although you could also use an English muffin.

Here’s to the memory of Mrs Henrietta Nesbitt!  

 

Eggs Florentine
Serves 4
A soft poached egg served on top of a bed of spinach and topped with a creamy Hollandaise sauce (FDR will thank you)!
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Ingredients
  1. 4 rashers of thin bacon, coursely chopped
  2. 1 bag of fresh Baby Spinach (6 oz or 170 g)
  3. 4 pieces of toasted bread or English muffin halves
  4. ¼ tsp salt
  5. ¾ cup (6 oz) unsalted butter, melted
For the Hollandaise sauce
  1. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  2. 2 tbsp water
  3. 3 egg yolks
  4. ¼ tsp salt
  5. ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Cook the bacon rashers until crisp, using the microwave or cooked on the stove top. Let cool and chop coarsely.
  2. For the Hollandaise sauce: combine the lemon juice, water and salt in a medium-sized bowl or pan. Add the egg yolks and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, being careful not to let the bowl touch the water. Whisk the ingredients vigorously until the mixture starts to thicken and ‘ribbons’ begin to appear on the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat and gradually add the melted butter while continually whisking - continue until the mixture thickens and then set aside.
  4. Steam the spinach for about one minute or longer until it reaches the desired texture (I used a steamer basket or you could boil the spinach in salted water).
  5. To assemble the dish, place a piece of toast or English muffin half on a plate, top with a layer of spinach and one poached egg, then pour several tablespoons of Hollandaise sauce on top. Top with some ground black pepper and sprinkle the bacon bits around the plate.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/

Smoky Chipotle Eggs Baked in a Skillet

Chipoptle Eggs

I really like ordering eggs at American coffee shops and restaurants. The waitress comes over and asks, “How would you like your eggs cooked, Hun – over easy, over medium, over hard, sunny side up, hard-boiled or scrambled?”

“How about poached, I ask?”

“No worries, poached eggs comin’ right up!”

I’m always amazed at the number of ways you can have your eggs prepared in the U.S. On the other hand, in some other countries we’ve been to, if you say you want your eggs sunny side up, you may get a look bordering on constipation, or if you step over the line and say you want them poached, you may even get run out of the restaurant!

All kidding aside, there’s one more way you can prepare eggs: baked in a skillet on a bed of tomatoes and red beans and flavored with a smoky chipotle sauce. This dish takes less than 30 minutes to prepare but the delicious taste will remain in your mouth long afterwards!

The key ingredient that gives this dish so much zing is the chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce (in a can). The chipotle pepper is a Jalapeño pepper that has been smoked. If you can’t find this product in the supermarket or specialty store, you can just use chili powder. But remember, only use a small amount of the chipotle pepper (I used 1/2 pepper) or you may be running to the nearest fire hydrant to cool your mouth!

IMG_5368

The Method

First, cook the onions and garlic in oil until soft. Then add the tomatoes, red beans, chipotle pepper, malt vinegar, thyme and salt.

Chipoptle Eggs 2

Next, add the grated cheese, then crack the eggs over the mixture, spreading them evenly:

Chipoptle Eggs 3

Then bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

By the way, the next time you want to order eggs at a restaurant, try asking for Eggs cooked in Chipotle sauce– they might even say, “Sure, comin’ right up!”

 P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please do ‘like’ my G’day Souffle’ Facebook page!

Smoky Chipotle Eggs Baked in a Skillet
Serves 4
Eggs baked with beans in a smoky chipotle sauce - it will be on your dinner table in less than 30 minutes!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 onion, diced
  2. 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  3. 1 tbsp. olive oil
  4. 2 cups chopped stewed tomatoes
  5. 1 cup red pinto beans (canned)
  6. 1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (canned)
  7. 2 tbsp. malt vinegar
  8. 1 tsp dried thyme
  9. salt to taste
  10. 3/4 cup grated cheese
  11. 5 - 6 eggs
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 360 F (180 C).
  2. Add olive oil to skillet; sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat until softened.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, red beans, 1/2 chipotle pepper and malt vinegar to the pan and simmer for several minutes. Add the thyme and salt to taste.
  4. Spread the grated cheese on top of the ingredients, then crack 5 - 6 eggs into the pan, spacing them evenly.
  5. Bake for around 15 minutes until the eggs are cooked. If you like the eggs softer, cook for less time.
  6. Serve on individual plates with toasted bread.
Notes
  1. You can use canned chopped tomatoes, but I used fresh tomatoes that I stewed myself.
  2. The canned 'Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce' can usually be found at supermarkets or in specialty stores - use chili powder if you can't find the chipotle peppers.
G'day Soufflé http://www.gdaysouffle.com/