Membrillo, manchego and spinach pie

Membrillo, manchego, and spinach pie

Membrillo, manchego, and spinach pie

Hello, extraordinary Ordinary friends, and welcome to your sunday playlist!! We treated ourselves, over the holidays to a few new CDs, and one of them was Stop and Listen by the Mississippi Sheiks. It’s a beautiful album! They play country blues – guitar and fiddle – but it has a real jazzy sophistication as well. I’d known about the Sheiks for a while, but I’d never heard a whole album, and we were completely delighted by it! Instrumentals, beautiful rhythms you can just imagine people stepping out to, and lovely, mysterious moody lyrics. Many of the songs will probably be familiar to you as covered by other artists, but these are the originals! One such track is Sitting on top of the World. I’ve loved this song for decades, and I wrote a story about it when I was in my early twenties. I can’t find the story or I’d share it with you – you’re spared the agony of wading through my juvenilia! I love the spirit of the song – the hopeful sense that trouble and worry are over, and he’s moving on. I’ve been thinking about these kinds of songs, and discovered that some of my all-time favorites fit this description. Maybe you’ve had hard financial times, bad relationships, or just unspecified trouble, but you’re moving past it, you’re not going to worry any more. I love the way that the songs themselves lift you out of the worry and woe. So that’s our subject this week – “I ain’t gonna worry no more.” Our poster child for this week, of course, is the song by Sleepy John Estes. Nothing says “I ain’t gonna worry no more” like a kazoo!! I’m just getting started on the playlist – I think it’s going to be a big one! And it is collaborative, so please add your own. As ever, instrumentals are welcome. If it sounds to you like the music is hope triumphing over trouble, it belongs on our list!!

And this pie – lovely flaky, savory, a touch of sweetness – is based on the classic combination of membrillo (quince paste) and manchego (salty Spanish cheese). I decided to combine them in a pie (everything tastes better in a pie!!). And I thought spinach would be nice with them, because I like spinach with an element of sweetness. The quince paste is quite sweet, so a little goes a long way, and be sure to chop it finely. I used my membrillo scallops. If you don’t have time to make membrillo or can’t find it, you could substitute guava paste, which is available in most grocery stores. Or you could leave it out altogether and the pie would still be delicious!!I made the pie in the shape of a rectangle, because I was thinking of the Spanish empanada gallega, but you could make it in a circle, or oval, or any shape you like!!

membrillo manchego pie

membrillo manchego pie

Here’s Our Playlist!!

THE CRUST

1 1/2 cups flour
1 t dried sage
1/2 t salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
1 stick unsalted butter, frozen

Mix the flour, sage, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Grate in the butter, mixing with a fork as you go, until you have a coarse, crumbly texture. Add enough ice water to make a workable dough (start with about 1/2 cup). Knead lightly, make a slightly flattened ball, wrap in foil, and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.

THE FILLING

10 – 12 oz baby spinach
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t fresh rosemary, minced
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
pinch nutmeg
1 cup grated manchego
about 1/4 cup membrillo, cut into small slivers or chunks
2 eggs, beaten
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the rosemary and garlic, and fry for about half a minute, then add all of the spinach with a dash of water. Cook until wilted but bright – it should only take a few minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix the ricotta cheese with the manchego, membrillo, all but 1 T of the eggs, and nutmeg. Chop the spinach fairly finely, and stir that in as well. Season with salt and pepper.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Preheat the oven to 425.

Lightly butter a small baking sheet or cake pan. Roll out 3/4 of the dough in any shape you like. Spread the filling to about 1 inch from the edge. Roll out the remainder of the dough in the same shape, and place it over the top of the filling. Roll up the edges to form a seal. Brush with egg, poke with a fork in a few places, and bake for about half an hour, till it’s puffed and golden. Let it cool for a minute before slicing.

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