You asked for it and here it is.
Eating dinner the other night, we asked the kids what they would like to eat for their birthdays. This year, I was going to be making them whatever they wanted instead of going out for it. We discussed the merits of this favorite dish and that one. Nicholas mentioned having a pie birthday. Nothing but different types of pie all day long. Including chicken pot pie, apple pie, and pizza pie. Miles wants red beans and rice. Caroline’s favorite foods are shrimp and olives, but she thought having pie seemed like a really good idea, so jokingly I suggested she have shrimp and olive pie.
I should’ve realized that she was going to latch onto the idea and not let it go. It’s the sort of girl she is. The problem is, I don’t know that I have ever heard of shrimp and olive pie. I threw those exact words into Google, hoping there would be a brilliant recipe. There wasn’t. I asked some friends and relatives and mostly got “ew” as an answer with a few helpful suggestions. It was edging nearer and nearer to the date and I still hadn’t had a brilliant inspiring flash as to how this was going to work. Even more so, one brother declared he hated shrimp, one brother hates olives, John is not a fan of olives, but I wasn’t planning on cooking more than one meal. I just don’t do that.
One day, while in the shower, washing my hair, I had the brilliant realization that Mediterranean cuisine had to include shrimp and olives. Right? I consulted my Mediterranean cookbook for confirmation. I didn’t look up pie recipes, just recipes that used both shrimp and olives. I found nothing. I found fish recipes that used olives. Seafood is seafood, right? But at least now I had an idea.
I could see it all in a tomato based sauce, except I don’t think the kids would appreciate that. So I re-evaluated, again.
I was stuck on the idea of a potpie. I found a recipe in Great-Grandma’s book for Never Fail Pie Crust. It’s exactly what I needed because I can make pie crust that tastes delicious, but always have trouble rolling it out. Every pie I make has a patchwork crust. I made the pie crust. It was easy. I divided it into 4 pieces and threw them in the fridge. I didn’t think it was going to win me points on the Great British Baking show, but it seemed to be a pretty decent pie crust. Malleable, decent texture, you know, the stuff you look for in a pie crust. I could immediately tell that it would be much easier to roll out than other pie crust. As long as I floured my counter and rolling pin properly, it didn’t seem like this was going to be a terrible mess.
Now I was just down to the filling. I started with some onions because onions go into these sorts of things. I chopped them up and started sauteing them as I contemplated the contents of my fridge and freezer. I found a bag of frozen vegetables from Trader Joe’s. Misto Alla Griglia. It was a mixture of marinated and grilled eggplant, red peppers, and zucchini. I had been contemplating just putting some random herbs from the garden into the pie, but this made it much easier. I chopped those up into bitty pieces and threw them in with the onions. When that was all nice and the onions were tender, I threw in some flour and stirred. I added a generous splash or 6 of white wine, a bit more butter and realized that I hadn’t added the olives. I was wondering if it was a good idea to just chop them up and add them to the crust, but realized the birthday girl would not recognize them as olives, so I threw big pieces into the sauce. I added some milk to make everything creamy, added my shrimp, threw it all in the pie crust, put the top crust on after rolling out with some Romano cheese (inspired by Beverly Goldberg’s Shrimp Parm) and baked until it looked done.
I don’t have an exact recipe for anything except the pie crust. It’s just not the way I cook.
The question is then, is this good? Should I try this at home? Yes, please do. I was the only one that ate leftovers. The crust didn’t microwave well, but as a concept this worked out really well. Despite everyone claiming to dislike one or more of the ingredients in the dish, everyone ate it without complaining. I could easily see it made more like any British fish pie recipe with some peas and thyme. I recommend not using pre-cooked shrimp because it overcooks during the length of time it needs to be in the oven.
Never Fail Pie Crust
Mix together in a large bowl:
4 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1 1/2 t salt
1 T sugar
1 1/2 cup lard or shortening
Mix well, then add:
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup of cold water
1 T vinegar
Blend well, roll out. Makes 4 single crusts or 2 double crusts. Keeps 2 weeks in refrigerator.