Spinach Spread

This is a very rich, cheesy, garlicky savory spread. It can be served as an appetizer or party spread, but it needs to be eaten hot while the cheese is soft and spreadable. It goes well with complex red wines such as merlot, cabernet sauvignon or red Zinfandel.

Thaw the spinach in a strainer, then squeeze as much water out of it as you can. Grate the jack and mozzerella into a large bowl. Sweat the onion in the olive oil over medium low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and stir briefly, then add the onion and garlic to the cheese. Soften the cream cheese in a microwave oven. Microwaves vary, but in mine I use 1 minute at half power.

Add the cream cheese, Parmesan, spinach and hot sauce to the other ingredients. Combine by using your hands to knead and fold the mixture until all the ingredients are uniformly mixed. This is sticky and messy, but fun.

Use shallow ramekins or other oven proof serving dishes. Spray with vegetable oil and fill with the spinach mixture. Top with bread crumbs (see below). Drizzle clarified melted butter over the top and heat in a 400°F (200°C) oven until the top is golden brown and bubbly.

Serve while hot with small, thinly sliced toast, using butter knives for spreading.

Ramekins can be prepared ahead and refrigerated. Cover with plastic wrap after the butter hardens. To store for longer than a day or so, move to the freezer.

Unused spinach mixture can be tightly wrapped and frozen for later use.

Bread Crumbs

Use old or stale bread if available. A good Italian or French bread works well. Slice and toast the bread to light brown. Grate the toasted bread in a blender or food processor until very fine. For each cup (250 ml.) of grated crumbs add 1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) garlic salt and 1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) Parmesan cheese.

Unused bread crumbs can be stored in sealed containers in the freezer.

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