I'm sure it's perfectly edible and 'pure', but it's not something I want to be eating. I'm not sure why. Thankfully Fanny also gives instructions, if I am lucky enough to have some real fresh spinach not intended for toddlers, on how to cook spinach, properly of course, to a purée. I do. Orgnanic of course, get me. Can you hear Fanny's voice booming these instructions out, or is that just me? Thick stems should be cut off, and any brown blemished edges TORN (not cut) off before washing under running water. Shake the spinach but DO NOT pat it OR dry it, instead fling it into a large pan over a low flame and stir it occasionally until it collapses. The leaf juices should run freely.
Fanny warns that the very moment the juices 'run' the heat should be increased and the spinach simmered for exactly seven minutes. Once cooked, the spinach must be sieved and the liquor retained, returning it to the pan to bubble down to a 'mere tablespoon of syrupy substance'. It's then folded back into the spinach. I've never taken so much trouble over spinach before, wilting it is as far as I've ever gone, but anything to avoid a pouch of Ella's Kitchen.
To prepare the cocotte, Fanny gives very basic instructions. Fanny uses proper white cocotte moulds, but allows these to be substituted for individual soufflé moulds if necessary. Choosing neither, I proudly butter my cheery seventies dishes rescued from the charity shop instead. In go my my eggs, covered in the spinach mixture, sprinkled with pepper and cheese and finally a dribble of cream. Fanny uses 'top of the milk' but alas this is one treat from the 70's that is no longer readily available. I am really craving it now though. At this stage, I fully expect to bake the eggs, but Fanny does hers on the stove top, in a covered pan with simmering water. In contrast to the cocotte, Fanny gives VERY detailed instructions for the simmering water. It should reach a stage where it 'heaves slightly or shivers, but does not bubble hard'. Fanny says to immediately immerse the chosen container, cover and allow to cook until the egg is only just set. If I allow it cook for longer, it will be my own fault if my yolks are like solid pieces of yellow rock. It's a judgement call. As I tuck in for lunch I discover they are cooked properly, thankfully, and taste so simple and intense of flavour. Perhaps I am just relieved it's not baby food, and that I didn't have any explaining to do down at the chemist.