So, before I continue that story, let me tell you another one. It begins many years back, when I was but a child. I had gone tobogganing with my family on a huge hill nearby my grandmother’s house one winter. Since my grandmother had moved, we had never gone back to the hill, even as kids. Last year, in the February of my sophomore year, I finally went back to that park. It was a Wednesday afternoon; the second snow day I had ever experienced in my life. It was bitterly cold, but the excitement of finally going back to the tobogganing hill was enough to drag my brother and I out of the house.
First, we ate a light lunch at the crepe place and then we headed to Canadian to buy a couple mats for tobogganing. It turned out that we weren’t the only brilliant kids who had decided to use the snow day to embrace the snow; the toboggan aisle was bare. The only remaining “toboggan” (I use this term lightly) was a blow-up Dora the Explorer mat, intended for children under the age of five.
We bought it anyways.
After several near faint spells suffered from hyperventilation, we finally managed to blow the mat up. Self-consciously (would all the other cool kids point and laugh at our childish mat?), gingerly, I sat down and rode the hill. It was fun. Or at least it was until my brother used the mat for the second time and ripped the thing.
Oh no, but that was fine because the Dora the Explorer mat manufacturers obviously foresaw this problem because they were thoughtful enough to include a small square of tape in the package. But then the mat ripped again. We threw it out.
Which leads me back to why I had to go to Canadian Tire to buy toboggan mats: so I could go tobogganing for real and finally cross that item off my bucket list. With a couple hours to kill, hanging out in Canadian Tire in the warmth was a much better option than wandering aimlessly outside. Tammy and I began to comb the cooking section of the store, admiring pans and flipping through the racks of kitchen tools. We came upon a miniature whisk, and I mentioned offhandedly that I had always wanted a mini whisk because it was so adorable.
A week later, I turned seventeen. The next day, Tammy presented me with a card and a long pen-shaped object wrapped in newsprint. It was the mini-whisk, something that I wanted, but would never buy for myself. Tammy knows me too well.
Immediately that weekend, I made a Parmesan Spinach Pie. The mini-whisk, as turned out, was perfect for breaking up an egg for the eggwash.
Double Crust Parmesan Spinach Pie
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 10-12 tablespoons ice water
- 2 300 gram packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed, all excess water squeezed out
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons parsley
- freshly grated nutmeg, to taste.
- 1 egg
For crust, in a large bowl, stir flour and salt together. Cut butter into flour until coarse crumbs form. In a small bowl, stir lemon juice with water.
Gradually add a few teaspoons of water to the flour-butter mixture at a time. Stir and push moistened pastry to side of bowl. Repeat until all flour is moistened. Form the pastry into a flattened ball and fold the dough over itself a few times. Divide into two discs. This will create more layers of butter and pastry and result in a flakier crust. Wrap, and chill for at least an hour.
In a small saucepot over medium heat melt butter. When it is bubbly, add the flour and stir vigorously for a couple minutes until the flour turns a slightly darker shade of golden yellow. Slowly add the milk and cream, stirring constantly to ensure that there are no lumps. Once all the milk and cream is added, stir the béchamel until it begins to thicken. Add the parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Take the béchamel off the heat and then stir in the salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley, and freshly grated nutmeg. Let cool completely.
In a medium bowl stir the spinach, flour, lemon zest, and lemon juice together. Stir the béchamel into the spinach. Stir in one egg. At this point, the filling can be refrigerated for a day or two.
Preheat the oven to 425F. On a lightly floured surface, roll one disc of pastry to 3/8-inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie dish and spread the filling into the pie dish. Roll out the other disc to 3/8-inch thick and carefully align it over top of the pie. Trim the excess dough and crimp the edges to seal the pie. Cut a couple steam vents on the top of the pie. In a small bowl, beat the other egg with a few teaspoons of water until slightly frothy. Brush the pie with a thin layer of eggwash. Pop the pie in the freezer for 15 minutes while you clean up.
Bake the pie for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 375F and continue to bake for an additional 35-45 minutes, until the filling in bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.
Note: if you have excess pie crust, don’t throw it out! Pat it down into a disc and refrigerate for an hour. Then use it to make a simple Blueberry Galette.