My daughter Juno is home this weekend the stresses of uni and her highly complex social life got all too much and so she's here for some quiet study, an assessment marathon, and for my cooking. Her top request at any time is for spinach pie.
Spinach pie has been a family 'traditional dish' for three generations, not a long tradition I know, but at any family gathering spinach pie is ordered and mum whips one up. My brother Owen also makes a version so does my sister Meg, each of us putting our own spin on the spinach (joke) and all jostling quietly, competitively for the prize of 'best spinach pie'. Mum I think, is winning. Mum's pie wins because none of us have the bold, brazen hand of adding dairy goods (of such quantity!) in our recipes like she does. A good amount of cheese is necessary to win the taste race (fat and salt are yum!). Mum's pie is super cheese laden and topped with a golden crust of butter puff-pastry and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Two at least are needed at a family lunch. My brother's pie is also cheerfully cheesy but with a dash of chilli and enough pepper to sink a ship, again this spinach sits in a case of puff pastry and is a good spicy contender of the spinach-pie race. My sister and I are probably the more unreliable (but entertaining?) contestants in the 'traditional dish' stakes, her's can be made with anything green, including beetroot leaves and will come cheesy (or not), in fillo (or not). Meg is a resourceful cook (a trained chef no less) with a frugal touch of 'make do with what's in the fridge' and a good dash of 'artful magic' at making anything taste delicious. I'm sure she even made a version once with homemade labne instead of cheddar, her cooking is always good. Mine is lean on cheese (honestly humans weren't designed to eat cows milk) and will consist of vast amounts of green stuff, sometimes brown rice (Hunza pie style), sometimes chilli, sometimes nutmeg, but I am wildly experimental with my pastry. Hidden inside my pastry are a variety of ingredients not usually destined for a pie base, a handful nuts and oats wizzed into a paste with a dash of olive oil, salt and perhaps a tablespoon of red wine, or parmesan, or goats cheese and herbs along with wholewheat flour and chia seed, the results range from 'heaven' to 'unusual flavoured cardboard'. It's not surprising that my kids usually ask for Odgie's (their name for my mum) pie, which I whip up with a little more dairy constraint than mum and I hide inside the mix just a few pepitas and chia seeds for health's sake...I am a hippy-peasant at heart.
And so here we are...the house is quiet except for the tapping of keys on the laptop, my daughter is third slice down, no longer a sobbing mess, but happily working on assessment number two, the Spinach pie has worked it's magic once again.
Mum's well loved recipe is enclosed...
Happy cooking! Beth