Friday, December 30, 2011

Sformato di Spinaci - A Spinach Flan for you


I love theatre. I adore theatre. It's breathing to me. I've gone from an often-unemployed-but-professional actress to "employed -yay" theatre teacher to "employed - yay" director to "freelance but produced - yay" playwright. I love figuring out the lights, playing with sound, agonizing between words and creating characters. Except when I don't love it and then I start to wax poetical about every other profession in the world (except maybe Toll Booth Operator).

I love blogging. Adore it. Except for those times when there is no time and I think I should be getting something up - only I have nothing to say and last week's cooking was not inspired and I don't want a cookbook deal and the days have been dark and I'm just going to use the stupid flash - ....and I'm trying to understand physics for a play I never should have decided to write ... so I haven't visited anyone....and then ... I just sit and read blogs. And in no time, I'm back to loving blogging.


It's the community. Sometimes you share a story and I nod. Then, you unveil a recipe and I'm bewitched. You awaken a sense memory in me and I need to follow that road. And you do unexpected generous things that don't call attention to yourself - you just do it. An example of your generosity and kindness is this recipe - that came to me through a blogger. If you don't yet know Ciao Chow Linda I beg you to go over there. Make it a New Year's resolution - because this one you will keep!And get ready to cook (and smile).

In November I wrote about a ricotta sformato I had made - inspired by the restaurant Il Cibreo in Florence.
Ciao Chow Linda asked me if I had picked up their little cookbook and I replied, "Sadly no and I regret it."

One week later I received a copy of the pamphlet and attached to it was an Italian postcard that charmed which told me that she sent what she considered the best and the brightest recipes and I need to make the yellow pepper soup (will do). But first I had my heart set on the Sformato di Spinaci (Spinach flan). The recipe serves 8, so I halved it and it sill fed 6. It's a graceful puddle of green. Chef Fabio Picchi states:

"If you didn't have to deal with the difficulty of taking the flan out of the pan, this dish would be remarkably simple. Having overcome this little obstacle, and we shall see how, in my opinion this is a very fine dish and one that is not difficult to make."

Having been forewarned about taking it out of the pan (it is indeed a mass of softness), I thought about doing these in individual ramekins but I wanted to see the texture. Next time I will do the ramekins. But I don't regret doing it in one pan. I'm a sucker for turning vegetables into whispers.




Sformato di Spinaci - serves 8 generously
(I will give you Chef Picchi's measurements and then below - I will give you mine - and yes, the photos were taken with a flash - don't blink)
2 kg. Spinach
500 g. ricotta cheese
3 eggs
about 150 g. Parmesan cheese (freshly shredded)
nutmeg
120 g. - or about 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt - to taste

Spinach Flan - serves 4-6
30-35 ounces spinach
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (could use 1 cup)
2 eggs
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
nutmeg (to taste)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste



Wash the spinach and boil it in very little salt water - just till wilted. Drain it and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop it up and add to a large bowl. (I saved the bowl and put all directly into the food processor.) Add all the ingredients to the bowl. Salt to taste. Then (my favorite recipe direction ever):

"If you have a food mixer, use it to make the mixture as smooth and uniform as possible; if you don't have one - either ask your next-door neighbor to lend you one, or when you chop up the spinach try to chop it up as finely as possible."

Put it in a medium sized baking bowl. The flan should be about four centimeters thick (mine was smaller and 2.54 centimeters equals 1 inch). Spread the mixture taking care to smooth the surface. Put the pan in the oven at 150 degrees C (about 300 degrees F) and leave it for a few minutes - just enough time for a thin film to form on the surface. (I only got a partial film.) Remove from oven, cover with tin foil and then you will need to check from time to time to see if the mixture is starting to swell (yes, Chef Picchio says you can open the oven - no problem - it's not a souffle).At that point, cover it well again and turn the oven down to 100 degrees C (about 212 F - and 215 F is just fine) and leave it for about 40 minutes.

To serve: Cut the flan into rectangular pieces (as you can see my shape didn't hold) and serve (preferably on heated plates) with tomato sauce or with a little melted butter and a dusting of Parmesan. I did the latter.


Chef Fabio Picchi's wonderful instructions on serving:

"I would advise you to carry out all the operations in the kitchen. To extract these rectangles without breaking them you will need to use rectangular spatulas: press lightly on two opposite sides, ease the pieces out and deposit them on the plates. If you need to use a finger to salvage a situation verging on disastrous, this will be understood, forgiven and justified even by the Hague Tribunal."

So there you have it - my flan - spread. The family didn't even look at the shape-shifter. They just ate. And sighed. Sighs tell a lot.

I thank you for all your kindnesses during the previous year. And I thank you for your blogs - your artistry and your nourishment. Food is necessary. Sharing elevates it. We are programmed to eat. We are also programmed to create. It's all somewhere in our DNA which is why we are a community. Buon Anno, friends. May 2012 bring you joy. And when it does - note it: in your blog, on a post-it-note attached to your computer or jotted down on the calendar. So no matter where you are on a given day - you have knowledge of the joy.

62 comments:

Pegasuslegend said...

My dear blogging friend, I wish you all the happiness in the world in 2012 Happy New Year ... as always I look forwarding to reading your witty words of wisdom and amazing writing. Hoping for good health and continued success to you ... Happy New Year!

Lynda said...

A bright and Happy New Year to you Claudia; I enjoy your posts and food so much!

Proud Italian Cook said...

You're amazing Claudia, best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2012!

Joanne said...

Blogging itself is fun, but it really is the community - the support, the ideas, the inspiration - that keeps me coming back for more. Thank you for being part of that for me! This flan looks amazing. So unique.

Happy new year, chica!

Mister Meatball said...

Buon Anno!

Rosemary said...

I'm one of those weird people who could eat spinach any ol' way, raw, steamed, pureed, creamed, -- this flanlooks terrific! (And Chef Fabio is intriguing, too.) I'm so glad to have you in my little blogging world, Claudia. Happy, happy New Year!

Kathy said...

Claudia, Loved your post...my son-in-law has a theater group called Naked Stage on the East End of Long Island. He has such a passion for his work.
Love your Spinach flan...sounds so delicious, and looks wonderful Wishing you the Happiest of New Years!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

I held my breath as you described how you loved the theater, then breathed a sigh of relief when you said you also love blogging. For a moment there I thought we were going to lose you.

Spinach will make you strong and healthy like Pop Eye. Happy new year Claudia.
Sam

My Little Space said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU & YOUR FAMILY TOO! Enjoy & have a great time, Claudia.
Best wishes
Kristy

Kristen said...

I love reading your posts because they are always about so much more than food...and yet the food is wonderful, delicious, comforting. I wish you a bounteous and healthy new year, Claudia!

The Mom Chef said...

Oh Claudia, I had a foolish grin on my face while reading this entire thing. What a treasure. Over the past year, your love for theater has definitely peeked through the lines of this blog. It's been wonderful to read about it.

I love Chef Fabio and will have to find him and hug him. His way of writing would make me read every single line.

The flan looks fantastic. I would love it and refuse to share it with family!

Happy New Year, Claudia. Looking forward to 2012 with you!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Claudia - You are such a good writer. It's always a joy to read your posts ... and then to read the shout-out to me made it extra special. I'm glad you are a friend in the blogging world and that you enjoyed the recipes. And someday soon, I too will make that spinach flan.
ps . yes, those instructions about "borrowing from your neighbor" were just precious.

Rebecca Subbiah said...

love spinach and your right once you get reading food blogs its makes us so happy love this community so happy to be part of it

hugs and happy new year

Torviewtoronto said...

we will like this delicious flan looks wonderful
happy new year to you and family

Tina said...

I am in 100 percent agreement when it comes to blogging!
This recipes is something quite unusual and special. I have never seen anything quite like it. The blend of spinach and cheese no doubt is a tasty treat. Thanks for being so supportive in 2011 and I have enjoyed your posts and look forward to having you as a friend in 2012! Happy New Year!

Catherine said...

Dear Claudia, My kids would adore this dish. They both love their spinach. (must have been the Popeye cartoons!)
I wish you the very best for the New Year. Lots of love to you my friend, Your friend, Catherine xo

Anne said...

I always look forward to your blog with your stories, travels and recipes. Thank you so much for sharing.
Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Magic of Spice said...

I adore anything spinach and anything ricotta...delicious combination of flavors!
Happy New Year Claudia, may 2012 bring you and your family much joy, hugs

Heather @ girlichef.com said...

Oh, I love it! I have met some fabulous people blogging that I am proud to call friends. This was such a great post...and that spinach flan- yum! Happy New Year to you, Claudia :D

Natasha Price said...

I love the idea of this savory flan, it sounds excellent for sure! Happy New Year to you!!!

Vibey @ Yumbo McGillicutty said...

Vegetables as poetry. As it should be. Happy New Year!

Jann said...

This flan is perfect for any occasion~I love spinach and all the ingredients you have added here! HNY!

Reeni said...

I don't want to blink for fear this flan may disappear! That would make me sad. If only it could reappear in front of me. That would make me glad. Just the way visiting you here or seeing one of your uplifting comments on my blog does. Wishing you only the best for the New Year! xoxo

Sonia said...

Hi Dear,
The spinach dish is one of my fav and seems so perfect to start the new year on a healthy note. Wish you and ur family a fabulous year and enjoy cooking appetizing delicacies. Thanks n Regards, Sonia

Jeannie said...

Oh that looks delicious with all the cheese involved, it can't be anything but delicious huh! Happy New Year to you Claudia:)

Angie's Recipes said...

It's new year, and it's time for some healthy yet tasty recipes. This is exactly the one that fits the category.
Happy New Year,Claudia!
Angie

Beth said...

What a lovely post. I'm on my way to check out Linda's blog!

OysterCulture said...

This looks and sounds just delicious, I love spinach and ricotta, and together they are magic.

Miri Leigh said...

This dish sounds like a wonderful way to spruce up some spinach- thanks for sharing. And Happy New Year to you and your family!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A scrumptious, I'm sure! Nice post.

Happy New Year and all the best for 2012!

Cheers,

Rosa

That Girl said...

I have to agree that the blogging community makes it all worth while.

Lizzy Do said...

Such a fabulous post...my mom said something similar to "we are programmed to create." So true. And here I find an incredible recipe from Il Cibreo (where hubby claims to have had one of the best meals of his life!). I must try this...and I love the idea of ramekins!

Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris said...

Those that follow you know about your immense love for theatre, and blogging...
Great flan! Happy 2012!

Kelly | Eat Yourself Skinny said...

This sounds amazing, love your recipe! Happy New Year! xoxo

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

This is a wonderful way to eat spinach, Claudia! Perfect for the new year where vegetables will rule in my diet. :) It was so nice of Linda to forward the cookbook to you and I know you will enjoy it!

You are one of my blogger treasures! A happy and healthy 2012 to you and your family.

Amy said...

This sounds delicious! I am loving all the spinach and cheese goodness going on here, and I feel like I need to make something similar soon! Hope you had a wonderful new years and best wishes in 2012!

Sook said...

I like spinach more and more as I get older... This looks so healthy and yummy. Happy new year!

tasteofbeirut said...

My best wishes for 2012 Claudia and may you enjoy blogging forever since we certainly enjoy reading your adventures in the kitchen and elsewhere.

FOODESSA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FOODESSA said...

Claudia...I truly believe that for those of us that blog about the love of food preparation and eating it with such zest...completely get how you've been feeling about posting.

I continually say to my close ones how sometimes I wish my daily routine and paying profession would not always get in the way of my favourite light-hearted culinary blog place ;)

How nice for you to have received this recipe by snail mail(so rare these days. Thanks for sharing a savoury dish that I'm sure to put my hands on in the near future;o)

Speaking of futures...here's wishing you the very best of what this Newest year will bring.

Ciao for now,
Claudia

Kim said...

Happy New Year, Claudia! I love your spinach flan, such an inspired way to serve spinach.

Looking forward to all your recipes in the new year.

Lyndsey said...

Claudia, wishing you the best in 2012! I enjoy coming here and it's so interesting seeing other's look on blogging. I do enjoy it and started out just wanting a place to document my recipes for friends and family that live out of town. What a surprise when I discovered this wonderful blogging world that makes it all worth it.

Peggy said...

I've seen spinach flan pop up in my Google reader quite a few times in the past couple of weeks - I think it's a sign that I need to get on it myself!

Juliana said...

Happy New Year Claudia!
This spinach flan looks delicious with ricotta and Parmesan :-)

Cucina49 said...

Claudia, I enjoy hearing about others' life in the theatre--it's life to me too, which I frequently remind myself when I'm awake at 2 a.m. wondering what it's going to take for my actors to remember their lines/play well with others/take the direction I've given them. On another note, the flan looks amazing! I love spinach and suspect that I would love this too.

Mary said...

There are some voices that simply won't be quiet and yours is one of them. I mean that in the best possible way. I would love to see the performances you directed and you words here captivate me. I imagine your plays would enchant as well. The flan looks wonderful. I hope you had a wonderful holiday and that 2012 brings only good things your way. Hugs and blessings...Mary

Roz said...

Claudia, I thank you too, for the incredible joy that you bring in my day whenever you stop by my blog to chat. You have the most incredible gift with words and your cooking is incredible also! I wish you so much joy in the new year and always, dear friend! Buono Anno e tu, bella amiga! Baci, Roz

Mari @ Mari's Cakes said...

Hi Claudia! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year Day! Wish you the best. Interesting way to prepare spinach :) I love the gingerbread house too!
Hugs

Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. said...

This is a wonderful post, Claudia! I love our community and I know for me, all of you are an inspiration! I don't normally like flan, but this spinach flan looks really delicious!

natalia said...

Che buono Claudia !!I love spinach sformato and I should try it with the children ! Send you all my love !

Katerina said...

Blogging community is very strong and doesn't let you get away that easily. The flan looks very healthy and appetizing. I have tried to make something similar so I am keeping this to try it! Have a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year!

lostpastremembered said...

Great little recipe and story. It is amazing how fellow bloggers just pep me up sometimes... like your comment today... so happy it brought back memories. Mine of Lobster Newburg were pretty sad... this was a game changer!

About the spinach... I always wonder if different varieties give different results... like the dark really curly spinach and the tender young stuff. Bet it would be better in those ramekins!!!

Happy New Year!

Cake Duchess said...

"It's the community. Sometimes you share a story and I nod. Then, you unveil a recipe and I'm bewitched. You awaken a sense memory in me and I need to follow that road. And you do unexpected generous things that don't call attention to yourself - you just do it." Your words are beautiful. I had to quote so I could read again while writing my comment.You could write any book, my talented friend. I appreciate your friendship, support,love of Italian every thing. Thank you.mille grazie.xo buon anno.

Bunny said...

I loved reading this Claudia. Thank you! Happy 2012!

Erica said...

What a wonderful dish to use spinach!My husband would love this flan!Happy New Year,Claudia!

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

This sounds absolutely delicious and features some of my favorite food and flavors! Bookmarking now :)

SKIP TO MALOU said...

Happiest New Year Claudia! It's always a joy reading your posts... sometimes I even come here for the writing more than the food LOL! but kidding aside, I'm glad that I belong in this food blogging community to inspire and to get inspired.
May 2012 bring you more reasons to celebrate.... cheers!
malou

Sandra said...

Oh this dish look amazing, absolutely amazing! Love the way you made it and I also love this post!!!! Congrats to you on all your success and Have a very Happy, Healthy and even more Successful 2012!!!!!!

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

Happy New Year Claudia! I look forward to getting to know you more this year. :-)

Spinach flan is a new dish to me, but I'm very curious to give it a try!

easyfoodsmith said...

Great post! Enjoyed reading it.

bellini said...

I enjoyed the video about Betty. If I had anyone to sit down to the table with it would be her.

Monet said...

What a wonderful dish to ring in the New Year! I adore spinach and I'm always looking for new ways to use it. I am happy to have more time on my hands...hopefully it means I can create something just as delicious as this in the week ahead. Many blessings and much love from Austin. Thank you for sharing with me!