Lunch with the girls yesterday. Eventually talk turns to my blog. As I undoubtedly knew it would. My lovely friend Marianne apologetically tells me that she attempted to cook the Spinach and Three Cheese Pie and ended up with a soggy base. Truth be told I was mortified. I remember writing about how much I dislike soggy pastry in my pies in that particular post. Oh no! I’m literally eating humble pie as I type this.
Thanks for being so forthright and honest and telling me Marianne. So far I have had only positive feedback and really appreciate knowing when recipes don’t quite work. All the recipes featured in this blog are food I love to cook. I prepare these dishes often and while I try to be specific in my instructions, its difficult to cover all bases. Sometimes I have days in the kitchen myself when everything goes pear-shaped. Luckily because I cook these dishes so often I can usually avert disaster and correct things that don’t seem quite right as I go. While I have successfully managed to cook this dish without experiencing the soggy pastry problem, I can totally understand that it can and does happen.
Today I was on a mission to find a foolproof way of eliminating soggy spinach from this dish. The first thing I did was put in a (long distance) phone call to my mother. First thing she wanted me to do is read out the recipe. First comment she made was it’s always a bit risky not to cook the spinach first. Especially if you aren’t going to eat it straight away. Where is the steam going to go? Into the pastry of course! And you know what? The gorgeous Grace said almost exactly that at lunch yesterday. She always cooks her spinach first, and to make sure it’s totally dry wrings it in a clean (I’m betting brand new, just out of the packet) Chux Superwipe towel before adding it to her pie.
So the solution to this problem is quite straight forward and easy to resolve. In the interests of averting any future potential disappointment for any one else looking forward to trying my Spinach and Three Cheese Pie I’ve amended the recipe to use pre cooked spinach. And included explicit instructions on how to dry the spinach before adding it to the pie. I do hope you give it another try Marianne. The flavours are so very delicious.
You can view the amended recipe here.
And one last comment about ovens and baking. It pays to know your oven’s particular quirks and idiosyncrasies Too hot? Too slow? Cooks food unevenly? This will affect the quality of the finished product.
Some ovens even change their behaviour as they age as I found out last year. Needing to replace a faulty grill element on my eight year old oven I called in a technician. While he was attending to the grill, he offered to recalibrate my oven. Huh? I had to ask him to explain what he was talking about. Apparently my oven was too fast and the thermostat had to be adjusted. Another easy fix. Now when my oven reads 180 C it is actually cooking at that precise temperature not at 210 C. Such a nice man, he didn’t even charge me extra. It was all included in the call out fee. Talk about service with a smile!
You can easily check to see if your oven is correctly calibrated by purchasing an oven thermometer from a hardware store. Just heat the oven to 180 C and compare the readings. In theory, if the oven is correctly calibrated the two readings will be exactly the same. Of course, you can always call a technician to recalibrate the oven for you. Next time I buy a new oven I am going to do this just before the warranty expires. I seem to learn something new everyday.