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Spinach a la Wohl

In my bachelor days I was a regular guest at the large Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts hosted by my good friends Kit and Billy Wohl. Kit is the author of Arnaud’s Cookbook, and the series Classic New Orleans [Desserts, Appetizers, etc.]) Kit would divide the kitchen down the middle: cooks and burners on one side, talkers and wine drinkers on the other. I was usually recruited to wash and chop spinach (on the talker side–we usually had actual chefs in attendance). It would go into an ever-evolving creamed spinach recipe that was always part of the dinner, although it never tasted the same twice. Here it is from one particularly good batch.

  • 4 10-ounce bags fresh spinach, picked of stems, washed well
  • 1/2 cup of half & half , whipping cream or milk
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 stick melted butter or margarine
  • 1 package of Boursin cheese with garlic and herbs
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the spinach in a large saucepan over low heat with just the water that clings to it after washing. Cook until completely wilted. Squeeze out excess water.

2. Put the spinach in a large food processor and chop for ten seconds. Add all other ingredients, one at a time, except sour cream, salt and pepper. Puree. Add more cream if looser texture is desired. (Watch it: one time it got the texture of baby food when it was pureed too much, though it still tasted great.)

3. With a spatula, load the spinach into a butter-coated saucepan. Reheat slowly, stirring to prevent scorching. Remove from heat stir in sour cream. Season to taste.

If you want to be fancy and have the oven space, reheat in the oven with a grated cheddar cheese topping. Or do like we did one Thanksgiving: turn it into a soufflé by folding in stiff egg whites at the end (let the mixture cool to lukewarm first), and baking it for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serves about twelve.

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