What is this delicious "spinach cream" and how can I recreate it?
June 15, 2021 10:10 AM   Subscribe

A Scandinavian brunch place near me offers, as part of their brunch board, a "runny egg with spinach cream." It's a soft-boiled egg in a puddle of green liquid and the spinach cream is so good I lick the container. It's a homogeneous liquid (sometimes a bit of the fat separates out) that tastes like the essence of spinach and butterfat. I'd like to try to recreate it but searching for "spinach cream" brings up nothing but creamed spinach and spinach cream sauces. Are you familiar with this and can help me find a recipe?
posted by rhiannonstone to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
In general restaurant technique, this would likely be a creamed spinach that is blended with a high-velocity blender (like a vitamix or blendtec), and then probably strained but you might have to experiment both ways. Based on the butterfat flavor you taste, I'd guess they mostly use heavy cream rather than cream cheese or sour cream. Maybe some creme fraiche, but heavy cream and maybe a tiny bit of xanthan gum would give you emulsification without muddying the flavor.

I wouldn't be surprised to find, though, that there's actually some kind of onion, maybe chicken stock, and flour in it though. They'd probably say if there was wine as well, but you might start with a recipe like this one and see how close the flavor gets.

Have you tried asking them? It might be that easy.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:48 AM on June 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

A stab in the dark -- stewed spinach eggs minus the garnish? Supposedly this is a traditional Swedish dish.
posted by jabes at 10:48 AM on June 15, 2021

Sounds like what is called "Spenatsoppa" in Sweden ("spinach soup"). A few recipes in Swedish: arla.se, koket.se. This one in English is very similar (although uses milk instead of cream). Those recipes are quite basic - a restaurant might have their own take on it.

I must tell you that this was one of the regular dishes in school when I grew up, and as I remember it it was one of the most disliked ones (The menu was used each month I think)... Probably due to the look and color more than anything though :)
posted by rpn at 10:51 AM on June 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: All the links so far are for recipes that have spinach bits swimming in a creamy base, but I'm looking for a bright green homogeneous liquid.

I agree with Lyn Never that there's probably a high-powered blender at work here, like a Vitamix or even a Robot Coupe, and I guess I'm wondering whether the dish this restaurant serves is a twist on a traditional dish that traditionally is more of a spinach-bits-in-cream thing. So I'd love to hear from anyone familiar with something more similar!

Asking the restaurant is not currently an option.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:36 AM on June 15, 2021

Last week I made a bechamel and then blended in some sauteed spinach and garlic and was taken aback and how good it was. Maybe give that a shot? You'd have to blend it pretty hard and maybe strain in a chinoise or similar
posted by GilloD at 12:09 PM on June 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

I wonder with the clear butter flavor if it might be more of a hollandaise base blended with spinach.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 12:34 PM on June 15, 2021

Best answer: I believe you are talking of what German speakers call Cremespinat. Different recipe. It is indeed delicious!

The classic comfort food combination is eggs, potatoes and Cremespinat.

Google the term and run it through an English translator. Most recipes include onion, butter, some kind of dairy, flour for thickening as well as salt, pepper and nutmeg. Some people use a stock base. It tastes absolutely delicious if you add wild garlic leaves to the spinach.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:51 PM on June 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

Also, most people I know just buy it in frozen bricks!
posted by Omnomnom at 12:54 PM on June 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: OK this is a bit weird. There is a recipe called 'creamy spinach soup' here that is a bright green liquid with a boiled egg in it. At least, it looks like that on google images. All I see on the linked page is a black square.
posted by StephenB at 12:55 PM on June 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

The way to get that green color is going to be with the blender, and it takes surprisingly little spinach to do that - I've accidentally made very ugly sauces that way, so I expect that is your path between "recognizable spinach pieces in sauce" and "stuff that looks like pesto" with no difference in ingredients. It's not more spinach, just more evenly-distributed spinach.

I also know from experience that if you try to use mostly spinach with just a splash of anything else, what you get just tastes primarily like spinach. Even seasoning struggles to emerge past the spinachyness, at those concentrations. It takes substantial amounts of other stuff to offset the spinach.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:06 PM on June 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Elizabeth David has a description of a French recipe where insane amounts of butter are added to spinach gradually at relatively low heat. It's worth trying. Ms. David didn't try it, but she did note that spinach can absorb any amount of butter.

Here (in Denmark) it is traditional to buy frozen spinach (and also kale) very finely chopped. It comes in little compressed balls. In the old days before frozen food, they used the meat grinder for the fine-chopping of fresh spinach, I'm sure a food processor works just fine, but I can see how the meat grinder would get you closer to the consistency you want, if you have one. If you use fresh spinach, you want mature spinach from fields, not baby spinach. Clean it very carefully.
You make a bechamel with a lot of butter and with double cream instead of milk, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and then cook the chopped spinach (or kale) in it till it is completely soft and mellow, and serve with poached eggs and/or smoked salmon. In this case, frozen is good, because freezing makes the spinach sweeter and softer. It is very popular, you can buy the ready-creamed spinach frozen as well (as Omnomnom says), but it isn't fashionable, so I'm struggling to find an online recipe that doesn't use whole leaf spinach or baby spinach or include other fancy stuff. You don't need a lot of the bechamel, you want the spinach to dominate completely. I would experiment a bit with the cooking time. Modern recipes have very short cooking times, and then you don't get the creaminess right.

I have consulted both my great-grandmothers' cookbooks, and the above is what I am used to from one of them. The other may be closer to your experience, I don't know, since I haven't tried it: grind the spinach very finely (three times through the meat grinder), and cook it for 20 minutes in its own liquid. Keep a good eye on it and stir so it doesn't burn. Now, in another pan, make a white roux of butter and white flour, with double the volume of butter to flour (while normally one has equal amounts). Add a bit of cooked spinach to the roux, and then when it is well combined, add the mix to the rest of the spinach. Cook for five minutes and season with salt, sugar and nutmeg to taste. You can add a bit of double cream at this point if you like.

You can definitely include finely chopped onion and/or garlic, and one of the great-grandmother books has a recipe using jus instead of cream which looks interesting.

Another old book I have suggests using a pinch of baking soda in the spinach, which enhances the color. I have never tried this or felt a need for it, but a restaurant might. According to my book, it doesn't affect the taste.
posted by mumimor at 1:08 PM on June 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

StephenB's link looks gorgeous. I will try, soon.
posted by mumimor at 1:13 PM on June 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Elizabeth David has a description of a French recipe where insane amounts of butter are added to spinach gradually at relatively low heat. It's worth trying. Ms. David didn't try it, but she did note that spinach can absorb any amount of butter.

This is what I first thought of, too. Tamar Adler has several variations on creamed spinach, including the above technique in Something Old, Something New: Classic Recipes Revised.
posted by carrioncomfort at 1:41 PM on June 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

True story -

Wife: JiA, your mum's creamed spinach is delicious!
JiA: Yeah, that'd be all the eggs in it.
Wife: What? Don't be silly. You don't put eggs in spinach.
JiA, aware that his mother is the annointed queen of middle-class Hungarian Jewish food: Mum, how many eggs are in the spinach?
JiA's Mum: Oh, not many darling. Half a dozen?
Jia: [looks smug]

It was, admittedly, very good creamed spinach.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:13 PM on June 20, 2021

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