Adapted from a recipe originally published in The Cuisine of California by Diane Rossen Worthington
3 to 4 medium-sized leeks
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
4 large eggs
1½ cups half and half
1¼ cups finely grated Gruyère cheese, divided
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (or less, to taste)
¼ lb. spinach leaves, uncooked
8 to 10 fresh chives for garnish, snipped into 2-inch lengths
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Trim the root end and the dark green part from the leeks. Split them in half lengthwise and rinse thoroughly under cold water, separating the layers to remove any dirt. Finely chop the leeks.
• Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan, then stir in the chopped leeks to coat. Add the chicken stock, cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
• In a medium bowl, beat the eggs vigorously with a fork. Add the half and half, 1 cup of grated cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir to mix thoroughly, then add the chopped leeks.
• Butter six ramekins on the bottoms and sides. Ladle the custard mixture into each cup.
• Place the ramekins in a shallow baking dish, then add very hot water to a depth of ½ inch or so. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the custard is firm and lightly browned.
• Layer spinach leaves on each of six plates. Run a knife around the edge of each ramekin, then invert and unmold each on top of the spinach.
• Top each timbale with chive snips and a sprinkling of grated Gruyère. Serve immediately.