Monday, August 22, 2016

Sweet Spinach Custard Pie with Apples and Pine Nuts (PIE CONTEST WINNER)

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts
Husband-Tested in Alice's Kitchen
Makes One 10-inch pie OR One 9-inch pie and One 8-inch tart
Winning Entry for the Lost River Market & Deli Annual Pie Contest 2016

Well, my friends, I entered the annual pie contest at our local food co-op this year.  I wanted to make an unusual pie.  When I had received Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts cookbook years ago from my parents as a birthday gift I had marked this particular pie recipe because the photo made it look so scrumptious. (I must add that this book has NEVER failed me when making pies.)  This contest was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.  I made it and didn't get to taste it until the contest began. (It was a blind tasting.) Customers who dropped in at the store that day tasted the pie and voted.  And, to my surprise, I won!  Make this pie for a very special occasion.  I think it would make a lovely Thanksgiving dessert.  The original recipe called for a 10-inch pie pan.  I don't have one of those, but there was so much filling, I was able to make a 9-inch pie and an 8-inch tart.  The pie was for tasting and the tart was for a silent auction to benefit the local food pantry.  It went for $25.00 :-)

Quote from Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts: “This pie has a custard filling.  The combination of spinach with pine nuts and apples is unusual, but very good, especially when nutmeg and cloves are added.  This dessert is baked as an open-faced pie with a sprinkling of sugar, but a lattice top would be attractive.”

1 unbaked Perfect Pie Dough shell, chilled
2 pounds fresh baby spinach, washed
2/3 cup pine nuts
1¼ cups heavy cream
1¼ cups milk
½ vanilla bean
½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar, divided
3 whole large eggs plus 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 medium tart apples, peeled cored, and thinly sliced (I used Granny Smith apples.)
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves

Steam the spinach leaves over boiling water for 3-4 minutes, until wilted but still bright green.  Remove from the heat, pat dry, and when cool enough to handle, chop coarsely.  Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes, until the nuts are lightly toasted.  Let cool.
Combine the cream, milk, and vanilla bean in a heavy saucepan and let simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove the vanilla bean.
Using an electric mixer, beat ½ cup sugar with the eggs and egg yolks until light and fluffy.  Add the hot cream/milk mixture in a slow, steady stream, beating continually.  Strain the mixture into a large mixing bowl (one with a lip will help when pouring.)  Stir in the spinach, apples, nuts, nutmeg, and cloves.  Pour into the pie shell, sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tablespoon sugar on top, and bake 55-60 minutes, until filling is set and the pastry evenly browned.  Let it cool a bit before cutting.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Variation:  For a more savory spinach pie, substitute a large pinch of cayenne pepper for the Tablespoon sugar sprinkled on top before baking.

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