Scallops Florentine

Florentine describes dishes served on a bed of spinach, topped with Mornay sauce then baked. This method is equally good with oysters, or with filets of sweetbreads, fish or chicken dipped in egg and breadcrumbs then fried in butter.

lb. sea scallops      1T. butter 1T. flour     cup chicken broth      cup heavy cream
     tsp. grated nutmeg     tsp. powdered mustard     dash of Tabasco or cayenne    
pinch of saffron      salt to taste (if broth is unsalted)

lb. fresh spinach*   1 clove garlic   1 anchovy fillet   dash of nutmeg   pinch of black pepper

cup fresh bread crumbs    butter for dotting     4  large scallop shells

Melt the butter in a 1-quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour and continue stirring until it is golden. Add broth and cream all at once. Raise heat and whisk the sauce until it bubbles. Lower flame and add nutmeg, mustard, Tabasco and saffron. Keep whisking until sauce is very thick; the scallop juice will thin it. Remove the pan from heat and add the scallops. Let cool.

**While the sauce cooks, put inch water in the bottom of a 2-quart saucepan. Add garlic, anchovy, nutmeg and pepper. Cover and bring to a simmer over med. high heat. Add the spinach, well washed, drained and chopped. Reduce heat, cover, and cook until spinach is tender (app. 1-2 minutes). Discard the garlic. Drain the spinach in a sieve, pressing to remove all juice.

Divide the spinach equally between four shells. Spoon the scallop mixture on top, sprinkle with bread crumbs and dot with butter. Place them on a baking sheet and put it in a pre-heated 425 oven. Bake until golden. Serve immediately with a dry white wine. (Serves four as an appetizer.)

*Frozen spinach may be substituted. It will require a longer cooking time. (approx. 15 min.)

**This is an excellent way to prepare spinach, whether as part of another dish or served alone. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice adds zest.  A spoon or two of Mornay makes it creamy. Grated hard boiled egg on top makes it a beautiful sight. Place it between sheets of filo with feta cheese, bake, and you have spanakopita, a Greek delight.