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!!

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Cracker cups

paprika cracker cups with membrillo and manchego


When speaking of my quince obsession the other day, I told you about membrillo, a delicious Spanish quince paste. Due to the miracle of quince’s high pectin content, when cooked for a long time at a slow temperature, it makes this lovely firm jelly, that is as pretty as it is tasty.

In Spain they eat it with manchego cheese, a dry, salty sheep’s cheese. The combination is uncommonly good! I decided to make some little cups out of cracker dough, and put a small piece of membrillo and a small piece of manchego in each one. It looks fancy, but it’s also nice because you get the full experience in one bite – sweet & soft, salty, and crispy crunchy. I made these with smoked Spanish paprika. Because 1)I make everything with smoked spanish paprika (I swear, I have to stop myself, sometimes!) 2) It’s Spanish, like the cheese and the quince paste 3) it makes the dough a beautiful pinkish salmon color that goes so nicely with the lovely pinkish amber membrillo!

I simply made a quick cracker dough, and rolled it into little discs that I pressed into a mini muffin tin. I didn’t want them to be too neat and orderly, they look more like little flowers if you just press them quickly together and crimp them randomly with your fingers.

You could use any kind of cracker dough, and put any number of things inside (food-type things, preferably!) Tapenade and fresh mozzarella would be good. Or goat cheese and a little sprig of arugula, or some capers. Whatever you like!

Here’s Bob Marley’s beautiful My Cup to listen to while you make your little cracker cups.
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