Lick your lips and say Mmmmm-Mmmmmm, just to practice, because that's all you'll be sayin' after you taste these little beauties! Cute little individual tarts in their own little container...a little aluminum tin that the mister fought with until he declared these sissy food and refused to eat them. He wanted to remove the tarts from their little tins and stuff pop them into his mouth, one after the other, because they are incredibly good...but the tins were not cooperating and he grew frustrated, "Me want food! Me no want to eat metal!" Little aluminum tins brought out the Caveman in him like I've never seen! If you only knew how tempting it would be to just toss him a bone with raw meat when he drags his knuckles in the door - no utensils, no napkins, no cute little aluminum tins...he'd be thrilled...You know what they say...You can take the Caveman out of the Cave but he'll never be Emily Post...or something like that!
These are the perfect "tea" food - and I did serve them at my High Tea but they are also the perfect appetizer for any meal. Frozen, thawed and cooked chopped spinach is combined with eggs, stuffing mix, Parmesan cheese and spices - flavorful, aromatic and when a heaping tablespoon is put into a pastry lined tin and baked, it turns into a beautiful, golden, two-bite, buttery sensation!
Then comes the orange cream sauce...it's what sets these tarts apart...and makes them art...and if you're smart, you'll dart to the store and load your cart with all the necessary parts, so you can start on these tarts, which you will heart! That was good for me...was it good for you? Let's talk about the orange cream sauce...
After the tarts are baked you make the sauce...butter, orange juice, orange marmalade and cream...this might be considered lethal to you health nuts but I say the fruit in this cancels out the butter and cream so just go with me on this.
Spinach Tarts With Orange Cream Sauce - Adapted from Vineyard Seasons, Susan Branch
1 package (16 oz.) frozen chopped spinach
2 beaten eggs
1 cup herb stuffing (buy a 6 oz. box)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup butter, melted
salt and pepper
24 (3-inch) pastry-lined tart shells, thawed (usually found in the frozen food section, I purchase mine from Big John's Pacific Food Importers in Seattle) or you can make your own. If you can't find the pastry shells and don't want to make your own, see below for another option.
Orange Cream Sauce
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
3 tablespoons cream
To make the Tarts: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cook spinach according to package directions; drain and let cool until able to handle then squeeze as much of the water out as you can, until it is almost dry. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients, adding in only 2/3's of the Parmesan cheese, and mix well. Place a heaping tablespoon into each pastry shell, sprinkle each shell with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake in oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown around the edges. Remove and let cool while you make the sauce.
To make the Sauce: In a small skillet melt the butter. Stir in the orange juice and orange marmalade and bring to a boil. Stir in the cream, reduce heat to simmer and allow to heat through, about 3 minutes, then remove from heat. Strain the sauce to remove the large orange pieces. Spoon about a teaspoon or so of sauce over each tart. Serve immediately. Makes 24. You can make these ahead of time and freeze, allow to thaw completely before baking.
IF you don't want to make tarts, here's another option for you - equally as good, well, almost...after combining all of the ingredients (using all of the Parmesan in the mix and not saving any for the tops), chill the mix for 2 hours. Roll into 1-inch balls. At this point you can freeze them on a cookie sheet and when frozen, store in plastic bags until ready to use. Allow to thaw before baking. If you plan to make and use them right away, after rolling into balls, put on a rimmed baking sheet about an inch apart and bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the balls over and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 30 balls. You can serve the spinach balls as they are, or make the cream sauce to dip them in...either way, dang good...definitely company worthy!