Did you know that recipes using spinach and cream are often referred to as “Florentine”? I did a bit of research on the name and found that there is some association with a woman in Florence, Italy in the 1500’s who introduced the Count to a dish with spinach in it…and that was the beginning of spinach dishes being referred to as “Florentine”.  Just happy to know there’s a connection with Italy…and Florence.

Florentine Flowers

I’m not in Florence…but in northern Italy where I’ve been trying some new recipes lately and wanted to share one with you. I was trying to find an appetizer for Easter dinner when I came across a recipe online which was the inspiration for these flower-shaped bundles.  (I know Easter’s still two months away but I’m putting together an Easter menu for a magazine which means we have to get the info to press long before the holiday arrives.) The original recipe used a mini muffin tin–which I didn’t have–so I adjusted the the recipe to create a dish that can be served for lunch with some girlfriends. My neighbor, Mariangela, came over for a meal with us and I made them for her…she was duly impressed. Larry, my good husband–being a real man–wasn’t a big fan. So I think it’s a girl thing. I hope you’ll try them…and then let me know how you like them. I didn’t end up using the idea for my Easter appetizer, but I’m going to serve them again to some friends, along with some a light soup and Grated Carrot Salad.

To make these “flowers” start with 12 slices of deli turkey or ham. Mine were sort of oval shaped, and I found that they needed to be roughly six-inches round to fit well into the muffin tin. So I just whipped out my kitchen shears and…

 

…trimmed them. I thought I was making a circle…but the photo seems to show that it’s more of a square.

The pieces you trim off can be diced up and added to your filling, or saved for a sandwich, or nibbled on…there are many options!

Meanwhile, either before or after you trim the deli meat, mix together the filling. We didn’t take any photos of that as it really wasn’t too unusual: Soften some cream cheese with a little milk, add the remaining ingredients (grated cheese, Parmesan, onion, garlic powder and salt) as well as the cooked and drained spinach. Oh, and the diced up trimmings of the deli meat, if you’d like to put it in. Place about 1/3 C. of this mixture in the center of the deli meat.

Now I can see that I really did cut the meat into a circle…do you see it?

Now, gently lift up the edges of the meat around the filling…

….and set it into an ungreased muffin tin. If the edges of the meat flop out, sort of press them into the filling a bit.

You want the edges to be scalloped to look like flowers.

Aren’t they so cute? Now you pop them into a 350° F (180° C) oven for approximately 15 minutes or until the edges of the meat are tinged a light brown and the filling it heated all the way through. With cheese in the filling, I found it’s best to let them rest a few minutes to cool a bit. This helps the cheese to firm up a bit. It’s quite easy to lift them out of the muffin tins using a large serving spoon, but they are delicate, so be gentle.

We’re all a bit delicate, aren’t we? Let’s be gentle with each other as well. I hope you’ll invite some girlfriends over for a lunch and enjoy some Florentine Flowers.

Ciao!

Debbie

Florentine Flowers

Yield: Makes 12; I generally serve 2 to each person

Florentine Flowers

Ingredients

  • 20 oz./600 g frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed out to remove all water
  • 8 oz./200 g cream cheese
  • 2 T. milk
  • 2 C. (8 oz./230 g) grated cheese (Swiss, Gouda, Provolone or cheddar)
  • 1/2 C. (40 g) Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. grated or finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 slices of deli turkey or ham

Instructions

  1. Thaw spinach at room temperature for several hours, or in a glass bowl in the microwave. You may also heat it in a saucepan, though if it's hot it is more difficult to squeeze it out so you'll need to allow time for it to cool a bit before squeezing it. Unless you're using chopped spinach, use kitchen shears to cut the thawed spinach into smaller pieces.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, cream the cream cheese and milk.
  3. Add the thawed, thoroughly drained spinach, and the remaining ingredients, except the turkey/ham. Mix well to combine.
  4. Trim the turkey or ham to approximately 6-inch/15 cm. circles. This doesn't have to be precise, but I found this general size works best with standard muffin tins. Trimmed "scraps" may be diced and added to the filling if desired or have a nibble yourself.
  5. Lay a slice of turkey or ham on a plate and place a scoop of the spinach filling in the center, about 1/3 C.
  6. Gently lift the slice into a muffin tin, pressing the edges into the filling a bit, if necessary, to keep them from falling out.
  7. Bake at 350° F (180° C) for approximately 15 minutes or until the edges of the meat are tinged brown and the filling is heated through.
  8. If you allow them to rest for 10 minutes, the filling will firm up a bit, making them easier to remove from the pans. Use a large serving spoon to scoop each "flower" out of the pan and onto individual plates.
http://ciaofromdebbie.com/blog/step-by-step-cooking/florentine-flowers-step-by-step/

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