Double crusted pie with roasted mushrooms, french lentils and spinach: The ur Ordinary pie

Ordinary pie

Ordinary pie

It’s national pie day! Who knew? Not me. And yet, strangely, I made a big delicious pie, only last night. And not just any pie, but the ur Ordinary pie, the pie that started it all. I feel like the kitchen gods have left me, lately. They’ve fled the city with their suitcases in hand, not stopping to say goodbye or leave a forwarding address. It’s not just that things haven’t been working out culinarily (they haven’t), it’s not just that things I’ve made before aren’t turning out the way they did last time (they aren’t), it’s that I’m not in the mood. I still want to cook and eat, but I feel sort of foolish and despondent about it. I’ve lost some part of my appetite that’s hard to define. I know it doesn’t really matter – it’s just a dinner or a batch of cookies, there will be plenty other meals, thousands of other cookies, but it doesn’t help that it doesn’t matter. That’s part of the problem! It’s so easy to forget about the importance of ordinary tasks, about the extraordinariness of doing them, not well, but with a full heart. It takes an effort to make these tasks, these inherently necessary and essential tasks, significant as well. I haven’t had the energy to do that, lately, so I thought I’d start at the beginning. Go back to the comfort of making the first thing that gave me deep pleasure to invent and to share. Malcolm and Isaac are crazy, creative artists, but they both have things they draw over and over, that they return to and reinvent from time to time. Little figures, eccentric characters, that show up frequently in their work. They feel good about having invented these characters, they know they can draw them, and it seems to give them confidence to go back and revisit – from that safe place, they can venture off into unknown realms. I would imagine for a musician trying to learn something new, it would be heartening to go back and play the first piece you knew well, the first piece that made you feel confident enough to share with an audience. And so it is with this pie. In making it I remembered the joy of playing with dough, of combining flavors and textures. In serving it to an appreciative audience, I remembered the pleasure of sharing something I’m happy to have made. It’s not much, it’s just a meal, I know it’s trivial in the broad scheme of things. We have to eat, we have to feed our children. I’m starting to remember again why that matters.

Mushroom and fench lentil pie

Mushroom and fench lentil pie

This pie has some of my favorite flavors! The crust is simple, but there’s lots of pepper in it. It has french lentils, which I love.
french lentils

french lentils

And roasted mushrooms, which I also love. I combine these flavors a lot, because they’re my favorites, but this is them in one big package.
roasted mushrooms

roasted mushrooms


Here’s Train to Chicago, by Drink Me, which happens to be the only song I can play on the guitar and sing all the way through.
Continue reading

Deep pie with black beans, greens and pistachios

Beans & greens pie

Beans, greens, and … guava paste!?!?! That’s right! Guava paste! It lends a subtle sweetness and a mysterious flavor to this otherwise extremely earthy dish. I’m going to try to mix it up a bit with the bodega express ingredients. I might try one dish that’s a fairly traditional and accurate application of the star ingredient, and one that isn’t so authentic, but strikes me as a nice combination. That’s the plan at the moment, anyway. As it happens, it’s not unusual to find guava paste paired with cheese in an empanada, and this is sort of a giant, elaborately decked out version of that, I suppose. I would have made them as empanadas, and, in fact, I think the filling might work better that way – smaller and with a flakier crust – but I wanted to try out a new and improved version of my hot water crust pastry, so this tall handsome pie is the result. It contains black beans, kale, spinach, smoked gouda, pistachios for crunch, bread crumbs, sage, thyme, basil, allspice and nutmeg, and, of course, smoked paprika. The guava, which is bright and has a hint of tartness behind all of its obvious sweetness, added a nice balance for all the smokey savoriness. Actually, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of pouring jelly into the hole in the top of a pork pie (although meaty jelly isn’t the most appetizing idea, to me!) And I briefly considered melting the guava jelly down and trying this very practice! I chickened out, though. I think it would have been too sweet.

Anyway, this was very easy to make, and very nice with some mashed potatoes and a crispy salad, and I think it might be even nicer with a flaky paté brisée in smaller empandas. Someday I’ll try that and let you know!

Here’s Johnny Nash’s smooth cover of Bob Marley’s Guava Jelly. Still stuck in my head!!
Continue reading