I have a mere three weeks left (not including the week of Thanksgiving) of my first semester at Otis. It’s strange: I feel as though I just got here, and yet it also seems as though my life has consisted of nothing but this. I love our apartment and our cat, and I even enjoy school. I love our gym, the little grocery store by our house, and the coffee shop around the block. But I also can’t wait to go home for the holidays—I’ll get to see familiar faces, bring out cold weather clothes, and eat all the sweets my mom and I plan to make.
Another week has passed, and another birthday came and went. This may come as a shock, but I am not actually 80 years old, but a mere 22. My opinion on the best time to go to sleep may have confused you, but there you are. My whole birthday centered around food (surprise, surprise), starting with coffee and a cinnamon sugar brioche donut in the morning and ending with three scoops of Neveux ice cream in the evening. Don’t worry, we ate savory foods, too. For example, I had a delicious pizza-slash-open-faced-sandwich at Gjelina, which consisted of bacon, a fried egg, mushrooms, and tomato compote on top of focaccia. We loved it so much that we went back for round two less than an hour later.
This year happened to be the first year in my entire life that I had to go to school on my birthday. Instead of getting Veteran’s Day off, we got Voting Day, the previous Tuesday, off. Oh, the injustice of the world. So, for the first time ever, I went to class on my birthday. Fortunately, I had a pretty fun class, Book Structures, in which I got to make a lovely bound book. Then, as Jonji had so obligingly come to campus with me, we zipped off to West Hollywood for tacos and a movie. We saw Big Hero 6, which I highly recommend to anyone. Pixar is so good at creating humorous yet exceedingly touching movies—I don’t know about you but I still haven’t gotten over the beginning of Up.
The best thing about keeping this blog, besides making baked goods “for the blog,” is that it forces me to look at the mundane aspects of my life in a new light. For instance: I have successfully purchased the entire Lord of the Rings series (extended versions, of course)! To be fair, that was hardly a mundane situation—more like a special occasion. I battled a couple buyers on eBay until I finally found mine. Those battles were intense—as the clock ticks down you can just imagine the person on the opposite side of the internet gleefully cackling as they plot to end all happiness in your life. It’s an adrenaline rush, that’s for sure.
One of my birthday presents from my parents was the first Tartine book, the one that shares the famous Tartine bread with its eager readers. I have taken to reading that book before bed as if it were a novel. And yes, I already told you I’m becoming my mom. The book is interesting and entertaining—so much so that it almost makes me want to run off to France and apprentice at a bakery. But, alas, I have too much common sense holding me back.
I’ve been struggling to decide which recipe to post all week: sweet or savory? What with the holidays coming up, sweet recipes are in abundance. Therefore, logic tells me to go with the savory recipe, so that you can surprise all of your family and friends when you bring the only non-dessert item to your festive gatherings. That being said, I may throw a sweet recipe in later this week, since holidays wouldn’t be the same without an excess of sweets.
This particular dish is one of my favorite sides. It’s sweet because of the onions, but it’s also quite good for you due to the copious amounts of spinach. A soubise is basically an onion-based sauce, but in this case it is definitely not a sauce but actually a complete side dish. Don’t be put off by the spinach—it’s camouflaged in two different ways, so you never taste only spinach. And, as always, be generous with your butter and cream measurements.
Spinach Rice Soubise
4 tbsps butter
2 large yellow onions, 1 diced, 1 cut in half and then thinly sliced
2 tsp salt
a few good grinds of black pepper
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1/4 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup basmati rice
4–5 cups spinach
1/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat a large cast iron saucepan or medium dutch oven over medium heat. Place butter in the pan and, once the butter has melted and has begun to sizzle, add onions, salt, pepper, and the thyme to the butter. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions become wilted but not colored, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil a small pot of water. Once the water reaches a boil, add the rice. Let boil for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.
When the onions and the rice are done, add the rice to the onions and stir together. Cover the pot/pan with aluminum foil and then top it with a tight fitting lid. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
15 minutes before the rice is done, boil another small pot of water. Once it boils, blanch half the spinach in the water for 30 seconds and then strain. Quickly transfer the spinach into a bowl of ice water. Squeeze the water out of the spinach and place in a blender or Cuisinart. Blend until you have a spinach pureé—add water if necessary. Thinly slice the rest of the spinach.
When the rice comes out of the oven, take off the lid and foil and mix in the spinach pureé, sliced spinach, and cream. Serve warm.