Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Spinach Roulade with Roasted Sweet Red Pepper Sauce

The first time I tried this outstanding recipe, I was certain it would fail. Not only did it not fail - but it was a huge success! If you’re seeking a spectacular first-course appetizer to wow dinner guests, this is it! You may feel the urge to give up, partway through. Don’t! With the help of Ron’s photographs, Ill lead you through this, step-by-step. Assuming you follow the recipe and method exactly as written, nothing will go wrong.

This make-ahead recipe is challenging - but well worth the effort. It can be prepared two days in advance of a special-occasion dinner, so you won’t feel pressured or stressedWhile it isn’t essential to prepare a sauce, this Spinach Roulade takes on gourmet proportions if you circle each slice with Roasted Sweet Red Pepper Sauce.

Spinach Roulade with Roasted Sweet Red Pepper Sauce: 

To Prepare the Roulade:

¼ c. water
One 10-½ oz. (300 g) frozen, chopped spinach
1 tbsp. butter (no substitutes)
4 eggs, separated
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
⅛ tsp. nutmeg
4 tbsp. commercial, shake-on Parmesan cheese, divided
8 oz. (250 g) brick-style cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp. light cream
1 roasted red bell pepper (“capsicum”), halved, stemmed, seeded, and blotted dry (see Note)

Trim enough waxed paper to fit a 14x10-in. (36x24 cm) jelly roll pan (see Further Note). Set aside. Bring unsalted water to the boil in a small saucepan. Add spinach, bringing water to boil again and cooking 2 min. 

Cook frozen, chopped spinach quickly ...

Drain and cool in mesh sieve, squeezing excess water from spinach. 

After draining in sieve, cool and squeeze dry

Add cooled spinach to wide-based blender with butter and 4 egg yolks. Purée, scraping down sides of blender goblet as necessary. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Chill 10-to-15 min. 

Purée at high speed in blender

Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. In medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold in chilled spinach mixture until well combined. 

Spinach-egg white mixture will form Roulade base  

Pour into waxed paper-lined pan, smoothing top with wide spatula and spreading almost to edges of paper. Place Parmesan in shaker bottle with large holes or slots, shaking half over top of spinach mixture (see One Last Note). Bake 12 min., until sides of spinach are solid but centre remains slightly soft.

Pour into jelly roll pan lined with waxed paper

Smooth surface with wide spatula

Sprinkle with half of Parmesan 

While mixture bakes, sprinkle remainder of Parmesan over a second, larger sheet of waxed paper. 

Shake Parmesan onto waxed paper

Also while mixture is baking, beat together cream cheese and light cream until smooth. Set aside. One more thing: Slice roasted red pepper into lengthwise strips about ¼-in. wide. Set aside.

When hot Roulade emerges from oven, cool 1 min. before inverting over second sheet of paper with Parmesan. 

Invert hot Roulade over paper
sprinkled with Parmesan

Peel waxed paper from top of Roulade 

The Roulade will be pliable, but surprisingly strong. Carefully insert small, sharp paring knife between the hot Roulade and corner edge of top baking paper, separating the two. Working the knife along the paper as needed, slowly peel back the paper. As you uncover the delicate, still-moist Roulade, lightly rest your hand on it to ensure it doesn’t break. Haste makes waste: Take your time with these steps. 

Spread the cream cheese evenly over the now-cool Roulade

Ron spread the cream cheese to help me out

Working parallel to short ends of Roulade, stagger rows of roasted red pepper over cream cheese. Staggering rows will allow distribution of pepper throughout sliced, finished Roulade

Stagger slivered, roasted red peppers
parallel to narrow end of Roulade

Roll spinach-cream cheese mixture from narrow end

Starting at a narrow end, roll Roulade tightly before wrapping in cello paper and chilling several hours or overnight.

Wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight

To serve, unwrap and trim away uneven edges. Slice Roulade into ¾-in. pieces. Transfer to serving plates, ringing with Roasted Sweet Red Pepper Sauce, if desired. I spooned the sauce around the Roulade; next time I’ll use a squeeze bottle to apply a little less sauce.

My taste-testers gave this high marks!

Note: You may also use a jar of well-drained red pimientos, cut into strips and blotted dry. If you decide to make the optional Roasted Sweet Red Pepper Sauce to decorates the plate for this Roulade, be sure to roast two red peppers, using one for the strips in the Roulade, and one for the sauce. 

Further Note: My jelly roll pan is 15 in. long, which nonetheless worked very well. Because waxed paper is a little thinner and more pliable than parchment paper, I do not recommend using parchment in this recipe.

One Last Note: Using a shaker bottle ensures lump-free, even distribution of Parmesan.

To Prepare Roasted Sweet Red Pepper Sauce:

1 whole red bell pepper (“capsicum”), halved, stemmed, and seeded
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
⅛ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. granulated sugar
¼ c. Chinese plum sauce
2-to-3 drops red food gel

Up to one day before use, set oven to broil with rack in upper position and oven door ajar. Brush peppers with olive oil. 

Brush seeded red peppers with olive oil

Broil 20 min., skin-side up, until charred and blistered. 

This is the look you want. If you have gas stove burners,
seeded peppers can also be roasted over an open flame 

Transfer to well-sealed plastic container and allow to “sweat” 30 min., until almost - but not entirely - cool (see Note). Peel and discard the burned skin. 

Peel away skin ...

In a regular or hand blender or small food chopper, buzz the skinned red pepper and its juices, the garlic clove, vinegar, salt, sugar, plum sauce, and red food gel until no chunks remain and mixture is perfectly smooth. Refrigerate until needed. This quantity yields about ½ c. sauce. Place Spinach Roulade onto appetizer plate, spooning Roasted Sweet Red Pepper Sauce around edges.

Further Note: It is far more difficult to remove the charred skin from a cold pepper. Be sure your roasted pepper remains warm after sweating.

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