Spinach cakes with roasted mushrooms

Spinach cakes with roasted mushrooms

Spinach cakes with roasted mushrooms

I have to admit that I’m fairly superstitious. I always have been. I tell myself that I don’t believe all this foolish nonsense, but in my heart I know I do. I don’t like when a black cat crosses my path (or any color of cat, for that matter, they all seem a little too knowing). I think sometimes superstitions can be harmful, if you’re crippled by a belief that if you do (or don’t do) a certain thing something bad will happen. Or if you blame some unrelated action on your part to something bad that has happened. This is like some sort of insidious mental chain-letter, laced with guilt and a sort of all-powerful powerlessness that does no one no good. A few superstitions of this type are quite mild, and have become such a part of my daily life that I’ve found myself passing them on to my boys. No hats on the bed, no shoes on the table – surely these were begun because people didn’t want dirty shoes lying around where they ate. And some superstitions I actively like, the superstitions that say if you do something good, something good will happen. Often, it’s hard to tell why these superstitions came to be, but it’s fun to guess. And it’s fascinating to see how certain superstitions carry from country to country, with variations everywhere they travel. I love to read about superstitions connected with New Year’s Eve around the world. Twelve green grapes, lentils and greens, round foods, codfish and pigs. I love the fact that each of these comes with a small wish or hope for wealth, health, and happiness. We all want these things, on some level, it’s so human and universal, and it makes sense that we would express it with food, which is the way that we nurture one another, that we keep healthy, that we come together with our loved ones, which makes us happy. I love to think about the food we eat as the embodiment of our wishes and hopes, of the contrary reality that we’re in control of our destinies, but the future is a complete mystery – frighteningly and promisingly unknowable. So I’ve been baking and cooking round things all day, and lentils and greens, and crown-shaped golden foods. And having a lovely time of it. And I’ll present my recipes to you, along with small hopes and wishes for happiness, plenty, and health for you and yours. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Last night I made these roundish green spinach cakes. They’re like a combination of pancakes and spinach souffle – fluffy, comforting, savory, a bit cheesy. And combined them with large roasted mushrooms as well as a sauce of mushrooms, shallots and white wine. Everything is flavored with sage and rosemary, a combination I’ve been using non-stop lately, but it tastes like a wintery holiday to me, so I can’t stop myself.

Here’s Stevie Wonder with Superstition.

Are you superstitious? What superstitions do you believe in? Are there superstitions specifically related to your part of the world?


1 T olive oil
about 4 cups baby spinach
1 clove garlic
1 t dried basil
2 t rosemary
1 1/2 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup (+/-) milk
1 cup mozzarella
lots of freshly ground pepper

butter for frying

Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and herbs, and cook for a minute or two, until the garlic just starts to brown. Add the spinach and stir and cook until wilted. Add a tablespoon or two of water, if the pan dries out. When they’re wilted but still bright, after only a few minutes, set them aside.

In a food processor or blender, combine all of the other ingredients except the mozzarella, and process till smooth. Once the spinach is a bit cooled, at that as well, and process until it’s chopped, but not completely pureed, flecks of green are pretty!! You want the batter to be like a fairly thick pancake batter, but if it’s too thick (more like biscuit dough) add another dash of milk.

Stir in the mozzarella, and season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Melt some butter in a large skillet, drop a ladleful of batter in, and cook as you would a pancake, browning on both sides. I did three at once in my skillet, and made about nine pancakes. Keep them warm in the oven.

THE ROASTED MUSHROOMS

Olive oil to coat
10 oz mushrooms, cut into quarters or large chunks
1 t dried sage

Preheat the oven to 425. LIghtly coat the mushrooms in olive oil, spread in an even layer on a baking sheet, and bake about twenty to twenty-five minutes, till they’re browned and crispy.

THE MUSHROOM SAUCE

2 T butter
1 shallot, minced
1 t rosemary
1 t sage
10 oz mushrooms cut very fine
1 cup white wine
1 t balsamic
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

Warm the butter in a medium-sized sauce pan. Add the shallots and cook till they start to brown and the butter is bubbly. Add the herbs and mushrooms, and stir and cook until the mushrooms start to brown and the pan starts to dry out. Add the wine, lower the heat, and cook till it’s reduced and a bit syrupy. Add the balsamic and about one half cup of water. Warm through, season with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper, and puree in a blender or food processor till fairly smooth.

Serve each pancake topped with roasted mushrooms and a bit of sauce.

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2 thoughts on “Spinach cakes with roasted mushrooms

  1. I do have superstitions, in spite of my rational mind telling itself that it’s all nonsense. Seeing the new moon through glass, for instance, I believe is unlucky. And yes, my car windscreen DOES count as glass! Yet this must be a relevantly recent superstition, since it only ever used to be very rich people who had glass windows (let alone cars).

    [But aren't the words 'seeing the new moon through glass' very beautiful words?]

    When I was a child, my sister and I had a superstition about ambulances. If you saw an ambulance you had to “hold your collar and don’t swaller until you see a four-legged animal”. In the countryside this would be easy as there’d be plenty of cattle and sheep around…but of course ambulances were more often seen in town, where you’d have to look for a dog or a cat…This superstition mostly operated when we were travelling by car.

  2. “Seeing the new moon through glass” IS very beautiful. Might be a good name for a novel, or an album!

    I like to hear about superstitions that siblings come up with together. It’s such a part of the little world that they create. I’m sure my brother and I had quite a few.

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