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!!

Continue reading

Membrillo scallop shells

Membrillo

Membrillo

Here at The Ordinary, we’re extraordinarily crafty. Give us a few saltines, a length of ribbon and some double-sided sticky tape, and we’ll whip up a three-course dinner, a lovely appliquéd dinner jacket, and personalized individual place-settings for each guest, with their name in a never-been-seen-before font and a hazy picture of their childhood pet that looks as though it was taken in 1976! It’s true! This time of year, of course, we’re gifty-crafty! Crafty-gifty! And this year it’s all about the ball jar. We’re giving everybody on our list ball jars containing breakfast cereal made of tiny artisanally hand-crafted twinkies and oreos and bacon; nutella bacon hot fudge; and a tiny living treefrog in it’s own little ball-jar vivarium, with bacon. Do I sound bitter?!?! Why? It’s because I’m not crafty AT ALL!! I can’t effortlessly make things look pretty and appealing! I’m messy and vague. I can’t think of thoughtful little touches that make everything look stylie and perfect!! I wish I could, but I just can’t. That’s why I was so damn proud of myself when I made these little membrillo scallop shells.membrillo-2 I think they’re so pretty! They glow, and they have a lovely shape. And they’re made of membrillo, which is, of course, quince paste, which is delicious and fun to make and very historical and Spanish. I think they’d make nice gifts, you can eat them as is, or you could pair them, as is traditional, with some manchego cheese. Last year we put membrillo with manchego cheese in cracker cups. Remember? And we used membrillo and some dulce de leche to make alfajores. They slice quite nicely, so you don’t have to stuff the whole scallop in your mouth at once! Here’s how it all went down…I made a batch of membrillo, and I was trying to think which dish I should dry it in, when my eye happened upon my madeleine pan. So I poured the membrillo into that. Two quinces made just enough to fill a standard-sized madeleine pan. Then I put them in the oven to set for a few hours. I let them dry overnight before I tried to pry them out, then carefully cut around the edges with a sharp knife, and scooped them out. I trimmed the messy edges with a pizza wheel. Then I left them in the cupboard for a couple of days to dry even more. And that’s that!! Now if I was a genuinely crafty person, I’d think of some ingenious way to present them. Anyone? Anyone? Martha?membrillo

Here’s She’s Crafty, by the Beastie Boys.
Continue reading

Quince!

membrillo

I have to admit to being somewhat quince-obsessed. I’m fascinated by any fruit that requires a bit of attention before it’s palatable. (I have a black currant bush and a quince bush in my garden, but I haven’t really had fruit from either yet.) It’s such a contrast to the standard American attitude toward fruit, which is that it should be sweet the instant you pick it, and then it should be individually packed in corn syrup and plastic.

So, quince. They’re so odd-looking but pretty, and they have such an intoxicating fragrance when they’re ripe. Plus, they’re elusive. It’s quite a quest to find quince fruit where I live, although you see quince bushes with their crazy bright-pink flowers everywhere in the springtime. A few years ago I pestered the produce people at my local shoprite every time I went. Eventually they got a big batch of quinces. I hope somebody else was glad to see them there!

So yesterday, when my friend Kate gave me a bag containing 5 quinces, it made my day! They were past the first blush of youth, and looked a little grey and furry, but they smelled ridiculously good!

I poached some in port wine with a large apple, and I made a sort of compote to go on my almond cake.

port-poached quince compote

And with the rest I made membrillo, a Spanish quince paste that I’ve tried to make several times over the years with varying results. Well, it worked this time! I haven’t tasted it yet, but I almost don’t care how it tastes! Because it’s so damned pretty. I bought a vanilla bean towards the end of the summer, and I’ve been saving it the way I save really beautiful blank books that are too nice to actually write in. Well…membrillo was worth it! I’ll try to find some manchego cheese to go with it, which is how it’s meant to be eaten!
Here’s Quince, by Sonny Stitt
Continue reading