In 1976, the year I got out of the Navy, I was living in my hometown of Plainfield, New Jersey and working at my brother’s print shop (which, incidentally, is where I printed and self-published my first three cookbooks – long story for another day.)
I was having the time of my life. I grew my hair, joined a food co-op where I cooked for big events, went to free rock concerts in Central Park.
And I took yoga. The yoga instructor was a cool dude and happy to barter lessons for just about anything, so one day I baked him a savory spinach pie.
Weeks passed, then months without any mention of the pie, which I had baked and delivered to him in my favorite tart pan. After about three months I asked if he’d mind giving me back the pan, so he retired to his kitchen and soon emerged with the pan – which had never been washed.
I will spare you the grisly details of that tragic tart pan crime scene. And I apologize for the fact that the only thing this post has in common with that incident is a savory pie. But it still sorta irks me after all these years and I needed to get it off my chest.
So now let’s talk about this show stopper – a big, savory kale pie that will really make a splash at one of your winter gatherings. Wholesome and rustic, chock full of sharp cheeses and sauteed onions and mushrooms, it will remind you of Greek spanakopita but in a crust instead of phyllo. (I essentially stole the recipe – the filling at least – from a great book called Dinner Pies, which I can do since I wrote it. See very special deal below.)
There are several things that set this savory pie apart, but – aside from the wonderful flavor – the one that will grab everyone’s attention is the seeded crust. People will think you’re a genius, an artist, and all you did to create this drama was to sprinkle your pan with a heavy coating of sesame and toasted pumpkin seeds – like I did here – or other seeds of your choosing.
(Note: this seeding procedure will require a good slather of soft butter on the sides and bottom of the pan, so the seeds have something to cling to.)
I used my tall-sided, removable-bottom pan for this pie to maximize the seeded surface area; the effect is less dramatic, less visible, when your sides are a mere 1-inch high, instead of 2-inches the way they are here.
If you don’t own one of these pans I suggest you get one. The height of the sides makes it a little more difficult to get the pastry into the pan, but it’s worth the trouble since the pies and tarts you bake in it look so gorgeous. (Note: you can make this pie in virtually any tart pan, or 9 1/2-inch pie pan, preferably a deep-dish one.)
I cook with fresh vegetables most of the time, but this is one case where I like chopped frozen kale. It’s just plain simpler, cuts down on the prep time, and I find the quality of frozen kale to be quite good.
You will need enough dough for a double crust, so please use any buttery crust recipe you’re partial to. I give you several suggestions below.
All that butter I mentioned earlier, for the sides of the pan? Well, if you’re baking this in a removable bottom pan, please bake the pie on a rimmed baking sheet. That butter is going to melt and leak out of the pan and you don’t want it cascading into your oven and smoking up the joint. If you have parchment paper around, line the sheet with it before putting the pie on top. It will help blot up the butter.
This will be the centerpiece of your meal, and it is best flanked by something a bit sharp, crunchy and lean like marinated vegetables or thinly sliced cukes with a mustardy vinaigrette. A big, crisp chopped salad would also be excellent.
Here’s to a fabulous New Year. Let me know if you do bake this cheesy kale pie, and how it turns out.
This Weekend Only: Two Bucks a Book Shipping
Winter is a great time to bone up on your pie making skills. It’s not as hot or humid as summer, so your pie dough is much better behaved. And these cold, gray days are the perfect time to stay inside and putter in the kitchen, perhaps making some tried-and-true Comfort Food classics.
With that in mind, we’re offering a very special shipping deal on all of the books in our store – but this weekend only.
Here’s how it works: go to our store and browse through the books, pick out those Ken titles you’ve been meaning to add to your cookbook library.
But don’t order the books directly from the store.
Instead, send us an email telling us which books you’d like to order, including your shipping address and how you’d like them inscribed – for you, or for someone else. We’re happy to mail to different addresses if you want a book for your pie making son, daughter, niece or mom – whomever.
We’ll email you a PayPal invoice, and charge you just two bucks for shipping for each title you order.
We’ll ship the books to you via the post office, using media rate, so this offer is for books only. (Media rate takes a little longer, but it’s also less expensive to mail this way.)
This offer ends Sunday at midnight, so get your order in right away. Let us know if you have any questions.
PIE PASTRY NOTES: Use any double crust dough recipe you like for this pie, or the Slab Pie Dough divided into two equal size disks, or two batches of either the Good Basic Pie Dough or Food Processor Pie Dough.