I started my weekend off right: a Friday night dinner with one of my favorite people, my sister Z, at a delicious, tucked-away restaurant downtown, Troquet. There’s nothing quite like a ladies night. We had a little sisterly love fest, fabulous wine and bubbly cocktails:
We even made friends with the couple sitting next to us (bit of a long story; like I said, this place has really good wine):
There was too much amazing food to recount in detail (think truffle pasta, duck confit, and sticky toffee pudding which is the only dessert that can distract me from chocolate). However, the culinary highlight of the evening was my main course of suckling pig (served three ways) which came with…spoon bread. Now, I’d never heard of spoon bread before so, as a bread lover, I was naturally intrigued.
Can you tell which is the spoon bread? If so, I’m impressed because I wasn’t entirely sure until I’d sampled a bite of each. It’s second from the right—and boy was it good.
So Saturday morning I rummaged through a couple of the many cookbooks that I’ve inherited from my mother and discovered that the main ingredient of spoon bread isn’t flour; it’s cornmeal. This means that spoon bread is really just polenta in disguise. And you may know how I feel about polenta. I’m also eager to try any dish involving eggs since I now have a regular supply of freshly laid eggs from my mother’s chickens. Big surprise, then, that on Saturday night, I did a little spoon bread baking of my own.
I found a very basic recipe and decided to spruce it up with cheese and baby spinach. I’m not being cocky when I say it was 100% successful because, well, I’ll be the first to admit that—in contrast to the slightly more finicky yeast bread—spoon bread is kind of hard to mess up.
If you ask me, it should really be called sponge bread (it got its name from the fact that it is traditionally eaten with a spoon; big surprise) due to its soft, foamy texture. The spinach rose the top in the baking process and formed a crispy green layer while the cheese melted throughout and provided a sharp, subtle undertone. And, of course, it tastes a whole lot like polenta, which can only be a good thing.
Spinach & Cheese Spoon Bread
- ¾ cups yellow cornmeal
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup boiling water
- 3 tbsp melted butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ cup sharp yellow cheese, grated
- 1 large handful baby spinach
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Sautee the spinach in a medium sauce pan, coating it with the olive oil and stirring until it is entirely softened.
In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal and salt. Add the boiling water while stirring continuously, then add the melted butter. The batter should be smooth.
In a smaller, separate bowl, whisk together the eggs. Gently whisk in the milk. Add the milk and egg mixture to the cornmeal mixture and whisk together, gradually adding the baking powder. Sprinkle the cheese and spinach across the top of the batter and mix it in gently with a wooden spoon.
Poor the batter into a greased baking dish, about 8 x 8 inches. Bake for 30 minutes or until firm.
The rest of my Saturday consisted of a freezing cold morning at Faneuil Hall and a warm, happy afternoon in the apartment spent—you guessed it—hand stitching. My fingers are a little sore, but I’m powering through. My main focus has been on my reverse appliqué quilt (which needs a better name; I’m still brainstorming). Last night, while watching Inglorious Bastards (oh Quentin Tarantino, I love your movies but they give me some weird dreams), I finished up the zigzag stitching around the perimeters of the reverse appliqué squares:
I also added another layer of reverse appliqué with buttonhole stitching to the central square:
I keep thinking of Shrek’s unsuccessful metaphor for how ogres are like onions while I work on this quilt because I envision it as having many layers, which I build up (or peel away, as the case may be) as I go. It’s an evolving quilt, not one that I have an entirely clear vision of from the start. Those are often the best kinds…
And I sure am addicted to the hand stitching. You know it’s bad when you’re practicing 90 degree power yoga (as I was this morning) and you keep getting distracted by the stitching along the side of your yoga towel:
Yeah, I’m a bit obsessed. Fortunately, I have a wide open day of sewing ahead of me, followed by a double date with my other sister. A weekend of stitching, sister time, and good food; doesn’t get much better than that.