Eggs Florentine

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

This is a classic dish that brings back memories of college days. It makes a great starter or brunch dish and is an enduring favourite with vegetarians. If you stack it all up on an English muffin, you'll create a sort of vegetarian Eggs Benedict. A good mature Cheddar makes a great cheese sauce, or you can give ordinary Cheddar a boost with a little bit of Parmesan.

4 large eggs
250g spinach, prepared, washed and dried
A good knob of butter

For the sauce

40g butter
30g flour
300ml milk
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
60ml double cream
60g grated Cheddar cheese

First, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan, add the flour and stir on a low heat for 30 seconds. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly and bring to a steady boil. Give the sauce a good whisk at this stage and season. Cover the surface of the sauce with a disk of buttered greaseproof paper, which stops a skin forming, and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes, stirring every so often. The sauce has a tendency to catch on the bottom, depending on the thickness and the quality of the pan. If it does, transfer the sauce to a clean pan and add the cream and continue to simmer for a couple of minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it's too thick, then just let it down with a little milk; if it's too thin, then continue to simmer.

Whisk in the grated cheese until the sauce is smooth and re-season if necessary, covering once again with the greaseproof paper to keep it warm while you cook the spinach and eggs.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large saucepan or frying pan and add the spinach. Season and cook on a high heat until it wilts and softens, and then drain in a colander or on some kitchen paper.

While the spinach is cooking, poach the eggs either in an egg poacher or in about 8cm of simmering water. If you're not using an egg poacher, crack each egg into a cup first and slide into the pan. You can cook four eggs at once this way. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until they have set and remove them with a slotted spoon on to kitchen paper.

To assemble, arrange the spinach on warmed serving plates, place the eggs on top and spoon over the sauce.

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