One of the best way to experience regional home cooking is to prepare recipes from community cookbooks. These cookbooks represent an organization’s best efforts to support various social causes while preserving local flavors, cultures, traditions, cooking styles and trends. What’s more, they’re all bound together by strong values and plenty of wisdom. One of my favorites is the original River Road Recipes by the Junior League of Baton Rouge. The series (there are now four books and an interactive edition of the first) is a true reflection of generational Creole, Cajun and Deep South cooking from home kitchens all over South Louisiana. Many recipes from that series have become family favorites and holiday essentials. Spinach Madeleine is one of them.
If you like Creamed Spinach, you’re gonna love Spinach Madeleine. They’re similar in that they both have a rich flavor and velvety texture. What sets Spinach Madeleine apart is its subtle kick of jalapenos and cayenne. It also contains cheese. But unfortunately the jalapeno cheese roll called for in the original recipe was discontinued by Kraft. So the Junior League updated the recipe with regular Velveeta and fresh chopped jalapeno peppers. I use Mexican Velveeta instead of the regular Velveeta/fresh jalapeño combo. And while it’s most commonly served as a side, Spinach Madeleine is equally delicious plated as a dip for chips or as a sauce for pasta or grilled fish. Happy Holidays!
Spinach Madeleine Recipe
2 10-ounce boxes frozen, chopped spinach
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup reserved spinach liquor
8 ounces Mexican Velveeta, diced
1 teaspoon Lea & Perrins (Worcestershire sauce)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Prepare spinach according to package directions; drain and reserve liquid (spinach liquor). In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add flour, stirring constantly, until a white roux is achieved. Do not allow flour to brown. Add onions; cook stirring frequently until tender, about 3 minutes. Gradually stir in evaporated milk and reserved spinach liquor. Add cheese, Lea & Perrins, garlic powder, celery salt, black and cayenne peppers and salt to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted. Stir in spinach and continue cooking until heated through, 3-5 minutes. Transfer spinach mixture to a serving dish; serve immediately. Spinach Madeleine can be made a day in advance, covered and refrigerated. When ready to serve, bake uncovered at 350 degrees until bubbly, 15-20 minutes. Serves 4-6.