New Year’s Day dinner Madeline style

Published 12:01 am Saturday, December 29, 2012

The end of the year has come and with it we need to get our greens and black-eyes peas cooking. We all could use a little luck next year! In looking for a green recipe I happened to hear about a lady at our church named Madeline who has become famous with her spinach recipe that was published in the River Roads Cookbook, published by the Junior

It wouldn’t be New Year’s dinner without black-eyed peas.

League of Baton Rouge in 1959. The recipe was created at Green Springs Inn in St. Francisville, La., by Madeline Neville Wright. This dish is served as a side dish, or stuffed in a tomato as a main dish. Madeline wanted a sophisticated name and decided to use her own.

I bought a copy of the River Roads Cookbook the other day, and after 50 years, it is still being reprinted.

The late food writer Craig Claiborne praised this cookbook saying, “If there were an Academy Awards for cookbooks, the Oscar for the best performance would go hands down to River Roads Recipes.” This was long before the James Beard awards.

Now “Spinach Madeline” has some gooey Velveeta cheese, but I decided to use the Velveeta cheese with jalapeño peppers, and added some fresh jalapeño peppers also. Originally Madeline made the recipe with a rubbery roll of jalapeño cheese, but that is no longer made by Kraft. I am sure you could use some better cheese, but why not just try the original just once.


Spinach Madeline

2 packages frozen chopped spinach

¾ teaspoon celery salt

4 tablespoons butter

¾ teaspoons garlic salt

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons chopped onion

6 ounces Kraft Velveeta

½ cup evaporated milk

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh jalapeño peppers

½ cup vegetable liquor

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Red pepper to taste

Cook Spinach according to directions on package. Drain and reserve liquor. Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.

Add flour, stirring until blended and smooth, but not brown. Add onion and cook until soft but not brown. Add liquid slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.

Cook until smooth and thick; continue stirring. Add seasonings, peppers, and cheese, which has been cut into small pieces. Stir until melted. Combine with cooked spinach.

This may be served immediately or put into a casserole and topped with buttered bread crumbs. The flavor is improved if the latter is done and kept in refrigerator overnight. This may also be frozen.

This works well as a dip for that New Year’s Day party as well. Spread it on your favorite cracker.


After your “Spinach Madeline,” make a wonderful black-eyed pea and barley broth. This soup is simple and low in calories. I found this recipe in a new cookbook called, Southern Comfort, by Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing. They met working in New Orleans but went to New York to hone their skills in the restaurants there. They have come back to the Bayou state to open Longbranch in Abita Springs and then Mila in New Orleans. This new cookbook is a collection of recipes they have created and developed along the way.

Black-Eyed Pea and Barley Broth

Makes 4 servings

8 cups water, divided

½ cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup shiitake mushroom caps, sliced ¼-inch thick

¼ cup finely diced carrots

¼ cup diced shallot

¼ cup diced celery

6 cups Mushroom Stock, recipe follows

¼ cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

1 cup thinly sliced green onion

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil over high heat. Add black-eyed peas, and simmer about 30 minutes or until tender, skimming off foam that forms on the surface as needed. Strain peas, and set aside.

In the same saucepan, bring remaining 4 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add barley, and simmer about 20 minutes or until tender. Strain barley in a colander, and rinse well under cold running water. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over high heat until it smokes. Add mushrooms, and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrot, shallot, and celery, and sauté for another minute.

Add mushroom stock, cooked peas and barley, soy sauce, salt, and pepper, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in green onion, and serve.


Mushroom Stock

1 pound button mushrooms (can use a combination of different mushrooms)

10 cups water

Wash mushrooms well, and place in a large saucepan. Add 10 cups water, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 1 hour or until liquid is dark and flavorful. Strain mixture, discarding solids, and let cool.

Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks or freeze up to six months.