It is getting a bit late in the year for some greens while others are reaching their peak. I picked up some Ontario spinach and decided to make Spinach a la Creme. Ironically a museum colleague just reminded me today that there were contributors from New Hamburg in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. Florence Boullee was one of these women and this is her recipe.
I washed a handful of spinach rather than a half peck, and put it in a saucepan of water at medium heat for the 20 minutes indicated in the recipe. Once cooked I drained the spinach and chopped it finely before returning it to the saucepan with butter, salt and pepper. I reduced the amount of butter since I wasn’t using a half peck of spinach. While it heated I prepared some toast. I cut the buttered toast into triangles and put a spoonful of spinach on each piece. I did not add the hardboiled egg but I did sprinkle a “suggestion” of nutmeg on top. I made a little white sauce (1/2 flour and 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon cup milk) to go around it. Time to taste.
Florence Augusta Boullee of New Hamburg (Wilmot Township, Waterloo County) was born in 1882 making her 24 when the cookbook was published. She married engineer Edward Charles Richardson in 1911. He was from Perth County just like her mother Margaret Goetz. Florence’s father William Herman Boullee was from Wilmot Township. He was a druggist in New Hamburg and his father (Florence’s grandfather) was a doctor there. Mother and daughter contributed a number of recipes to the Berlin Cook Book.
I happen to like cooked spinach so I was looking forward to trying this recipe (minus the egg). I liked the entire dish better than I expected. The “suggestion” of nutmeg is a great idea. I’ve had creamed spinach and not liked it at all but by placing the white sauce around the toast, it avoids that strange colour and taste. The toast did not get soggy and it was possible to taste each component separately as well as together according to preference. Spinach a la creme is not going to win over the spinach haters. It is possible that Mrs and Miss Boullee entertained sometimes. I can imagine Spinach a la Creme served to a group of women at the Boullee residence in New Hamburg in the early part of the twentieth century. This sort of dish was very popular at that time.
SPINACH A LA CREME
Wash 1/2 peck spinach, put in kettle, add 1 cup water, cover and place on moderate fire and cook for 20 minutes, then drain in a colander and chop very fine. Put in a sauce pan with tablespoon butter, salt and pepper to taste, stir till very hot, arrange on platter small pieces buttered toast, mould the spinach in large spoon, pack tightly and turn out on each piece of toast, place slice of egg 1/2 inch thick on top, with a suggestion of nutmeg sprinkled on top, pour white sauce all around the toast and serve.