The festive table at Christmas-time should be a thing of beauty. With a little care and attention, true wonders can be created which please & delight the palette as much as the eye! These florentines are one such thing.
The classic combination of spinach, eggs and salmon is one that cannot fail to impress. It’s packed with flavour, rich, satisfying & decadent; in short, everything a Christmas-dish should aspire to be. This recipe may look complicated, but it’s actually incredibly straightforward. Your diners won’t know this however; they’ll think you’ve been toiling over a hot stove for hours, rather than quickly assembling a few components which can be cooked ahead of time. And besides; even if this were fiddly; if we can’t go to a little effort at Christmas time, when can we do it?!
Due to the incredibly low carbohydrate content, this dish is perfect for diabetics or those on a ketogenic diet. It won’t impact your blood-sugars and in no way has that feeling of being a poor substitute for something higher in carbs. ‘The proof is in the pudding’ however, so I urge you to try this; you’ll quickly see what I mean.
I’ve prepared this dish as a starter, but it could equally be served as a sumptuous low-carb breakfast on Christmas day, or a light supper dish, accompanied by green salad. This versatility is the final string to its bow. Without further ado therefore…
Start by boiling your quails eggs for 2.5 minutes, no longer. You’ll need two per person, so calculate your quantities accordingly. After that time, remove the eggs from the pan and plunge them into icy cold water. This will arrest the cooking process and ensure that they retain their softness. Leave them in the cold water until thoroughly chilled, then peel.
The best way to peel them is to ‘tap’ the eggs all over on your chopping board, then roll them between the palms of your hands, as if you’re forming balls. The shell will then come off in one delightfully easy peel. If you’re truly adept; you can even remove the whole shell in one! Don’t form this as your benchmark however; only true professionals manage this, and the process is not sufficiently enjoyable to warrant all the practice it requires!
The next thing to get on with is to make your spinach mix. If you’re using fresh spinach, you’ll be surprised at how much you need. It has the rather selfish habit of wilting down to nothing! Allow circa 150g per person, which will end up with approximately a large dessert-spoonful per head. As an aside, the spinach-paradox is often how I feel about my weekly food-budget!
Melt a knob of butter in a pan and add your washed spinach. Crush in a large clove of garlic and leave the pan on a low heat to cook through. Crumble in a chicken stock-cube for background flavour and season well. Once the spinach has wilted down thoroughly, pass it through a sieve to remove any excess liquid. Leave this to cool, then stir through a generous grate of parmesan cheese.
The element which binds the whole thing together is a herby cream-cheese. Weigh out roughly 75g per person, then add this to a mixing-bowl. Sprinkle in some freshly chopped herbs (tarragon or basil are good), season well, then pour in a tablespoon of lemon-juice and a good glug of double-cream. Whisk with a firm arm, until the ingredients are all evenly dispersed and the texture is velvety smooth. Taste to adjust the seasoning and then set to one side.
When all is room-temperature; you’re ready to start assembling. Lightly oil a metal cooking-ring (if you don’t have any special rings, then an upturned pastry-cutter will suffice) and place this onto your serving-plate. Spoon a large dessert-spoonful of the spinach mix into the ring and press down with the back of a spoon. Top this with a generous dollop of cream-cheese, piling this into the centre. Do not smooth this yet! Halve your eggs and place the cut-side facing outwards against the edge of the mould. Now smooth and flatten your cream-cheese mix, so that it holds the quails-eggs neatly in place. De-tail your prawns then arrange circa four on top of the cheese layer, to form a solid bed for your salmon. Finally, twist your smoked-fish into a spiral and place it like a candle-flame atop your prawns. Remove the ring carefully, then garnish the whole thing with a squeeze of lemon juice and a few strands of grated zest for colour.
The dish is now ready for service. Your efforts will not go unrewarded – it’s every bit as delicious as it looks!
Be sure to keep reading for more festive recipes over the coming weeks! Check out The Low Carb Christmas for details.
Enjoy this magical season and thank you for reading. Bon ap!