{bits & pieces} With a little savory pie how-to

The weekly “little of this, little of that” feature from Like Mother, Like Daughter!


Sorry for not being sufficiently informative, last week, about this pie. Here’s my best attempt at an answer to your questions:


As I mentioned in the comments, it’s what Lawlers (and née Lawlers) refer to, simply, as Ham and Cheese and Spinach Pie. It’s so very tasty fresh out of the oven, but I think I may even prefer it cold.

I honestly don’t remember how exactly I put this one together (I’m so bad about recording how I make things. I was so extremely proud of myself the other week for actually writing down a lentils recipe I’d developed that I announced my accomplishment to the Artist the following day and he was genuinely surprised/impressed). But it’s so straightforward that I’m sure you can’t go wrong with it (or perhaps you already have this recipe in your repertoire?).

The basic idea is to layer spinach, ham (already cooked; it’s really a fancy leftovers dish), and cheese. My mistake, as you might notice after observation, was that I put the cheese (I used cheddar) on the top and layered the crust right over it. Well, the cheese filled up the cuts in the crust and trapped the moisture inside! (Duh, Deirdre.) So I recommend spinach on the bottom, then cheese, then ham. You could brush some garlic oil over the ham… perhaps drizzle a little egg custard mixture over the whole shebang… but I don’t remember if I did the latter and I know I didn’t do the former. Did I add sautéed onions? Maybe. That’s the best I’ve got.

The crust I use is the paté brisée from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Also simple: essentially just adding chilled butter to a mixture of flour and a little salt (the trick is in the technique, and I’m still learning!). The nice color comes from a brush-on of an egg wash.

I baked it in a spring form pan. This is the one that I have, a wedding gift.

This is definitely an “if I can do it so can you” recipe!


  On eating, conversation, food, and dishes!

  • I related so much to this blog post about Scruffy Hospitality because I definitely feel that I struggle to do half the hosting that I want to do. But it’s true: the perfect polish on your event doesn’t necessarily lead to the most fun had or the best conversation. I will try to take this lesson to heart in our new home (when we get there)!


  • Speaking of hospitality, it certainly helps to have nice everyday dishes, so that there’s no pressure to pull out fine china for just any meal with friends or guests. Attention, brides in the registering process! A helpful guide to Choosing Everyday Dishes from A Place for Us. (I have the soup bowls from the PB Emma collection that she mentions and I love them. I found that the other dishes [cereal bowls, mugs] weren’t quite the right size for our needs, however.)


  • Having friends over for “scruffy” or casual entertaining might mean eating in the kitchen. But don’t the best meals often take place in that setting? It’s interesting, too, to consider how the kitchen – the heart of the home (and, more often than not, the woman in the kitchen) – relates to politics. Check out this NPR article about How Russia’s Shared Kitchens Helped Shape Soviet Politics. Here are Auntie Leila’s thoughts on this piece:

“When I’d read about Soviet life, I was chilled by the accounts of political oppression, the Gulag, and the KGB. But the unbelievable part was the tales of the lines to buy bad bread and the crowded housing conditions. The thought of living your whole life scrounging in a communal kitchen is beyond comprehension to me. Nixon puts his finger on the importance of being able to choose how you make your food (read to the end).”

On illustrations, art, literature, and history!


  • David Clayton (who, as you probably know by now, is the co-author of The Little Oratory) is giving Medieval Art Classes this summer. New Englanders, check this out!




On prayer, a prayer intention, and some TLO notes:

  • Every once and a while, Bad Catholic just hits the nail on the head. In the case, perhaps several nails hit simultaneously. I found it helpful to pin down, in my own mind, what exactly is insufficient about “raising awareness.” The Difference between a Hashtag and a Hail Mary.


  • With that in mind, Please take a moment to visit Blossoming Joy to read about a prayer intention she has for a family in need!


  • Mary at Better than Eden shared a lovely post about her experience reading The Little Oratory and her own little orator(ies) in her home! Wow – beautiful spaces!


  • The Summer in The Little Oratory is underway! A podcast conversation between Elizabeth Foss and Auntie Leila on Chapter One. It’s not too late to join by any means — and we have to warn you, supplies of the book are getting low — a reorder to the printer is in the works!


  • Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum is hosting a giveaway, though, so there’s your chance! If you are hosting a giveaway on your blog, please let us know and we will make sure to spread the word.


~We’d like to be clear that, when we direct you to a site via one of our links, we’re not necessarily endorsing the whole site, but rather just referring you to the individual post in question (unless we state otherwise).~

The Little Oratory on Facebook  — don’t forget the hashtag #LittleOratory in your social media — that way we can all find each other!

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Auntie Leila’s Pinterest.

Rosie’s Pinterest.

Sukie’s Pinterest.

Deirdre’s Pinterest.

Habou’s Pinterest.

Auntie Leila’s Ravelry.

Auntie Leila’s Instagram.


  1. says

    I enjoyed the article about scruffy entertaining and find it is so true that if we worry less about polishing the floor and windows and silver before guests we are more likely to have guests — and isn’t that what Our Lord was all about? Just sitting at table with friends?

    In regard to dishes, I have fiestaware, in all colors, several sets of silverware, to allow for a mixed bunch of about 20 place settings, and a huge basket of mixed cloth napkins. I love seeing all colors of my bowls, plates, napkins and mixed up glassware around the table. It’s a beautiful mess!

    Great post. Lots more to get into. When I catch my breath after dance recitals, I plan to write a post that has been in my head for over a year about decorating our homes with images of Our Lord and saints. It really fits right into the idea of a little oratory…with little altars throughout the home.

  2. Elizabeth says

    Very interesting article about the communal kitchens in Soviet Russia!

    I stayed with a friend in Lithuania a few years back. She’s born in the early 1970’s and has lived in the same Soviet flat all of her life. The apartment struck me as spacious; 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and large living room. The kitchen however, was tiny in a way that seemed odd, given the size of the other rooms. I asked her about this, and she explained to me that the state wanted to discourage the family unit to spend too much time together. Shared meals are central to family time.
    The idea was that mom and dad took off to work in the morning, young kids were brought to nurseries, older kids to school and each would have their breakfast and hot lunch there. In the evenings, the family would only eat some bread.

    The interesting thing is, that pretty much the opposite happened. City families would go to their datsja’s in the countryside every weekend and have large gardens there. They would bring home their harvest to their tiny kitchens in the city and everybody in the family would help preserve the fruits and veggies. Thus grew a very strong do-it-yourself food mentality that lasts until today, 25 years after the end of the Soviet era.
    During the week I spent at my friends’ apartment, we ate homegrown veggies and fruits every day. The lemonade, bread and various dairy products were homemade and we had honey from the beehives in the datsja.

    Now this family is by no means poor (both parents have master degrees and good jobs) and Lithuania is a member of the European Union nowadays. My friend told me that most people still do this because it’s fun and it brings the family together.

    It strikes me as ironic that the very thing the Communist Party tried to achieve totally failed, all while that exact same thing happened in the free West. People had big and shiny kitchens from the 1960’s onwards, but used these kitchens less and less. Sharing a daily meal together is not the norm for families anymore, let alone growing, harvesting and preserving food together. Mom and dad take off to work in the morning, the young kids go to nurseries, the older kids to school. Even in the weekends there are sports events, dates, other outings… to go to separately.

    Perhaps freedom isn’t just about being able to do and have everything you want.

      • corina says

        I enjoyed very much this week’s links! I found very interesting the one regarding the soviet communal kitchens; although I have experienced the Romanian communism until the age of 10 (when the regime ended), I never knew the reasoning behind the small kitchens in the apartment flats. As an adult I have read that one of the early goals of the communist party was to destroy the family, but my personal experience was that in some respects they got the opposite effect.
        Regarding the use of the kitchen, women used to cook homemade meals, make cakes and biscuits and other homemade sweets, buy produce in summer and early autumn to make preserves, jams, fruit compotes and stuff like that. I know that my mom and women her age still do it, while I see that my generation has lost this knowledge.
        I totally agree with Elizabeth’s comment about the succes of the communist view in the West, especially Western Europe. I have married an Italian and live in Italy and while there’s still a very strong culture of the family meal, the habit of homemade food and pasta, as well as the one of preserving food, were almost totally lost, at least in the Northern region were we live.
        One last thing I want to share: I am visiting my parents in Romania with my children and my 5 years old daughter, whom I have always considered a picky eater, totally enjoys the fruit jams and compotes that my mom has preserved. She even asked me to write the recipe down and to learn to make a certain cherry compote she particularly enjoyed! I was so glad to see this new appreciation of food prompted by the Romanian experience :)

  3. Ona says

    Just wanted you to know I just wrote a review on Amazon….I love your beautiful book! I’m working my way thru it slowly, there”s a lot to ponder there! Many thanks to all of you for the work you do!

  4. Kari says

    I, too, use fiesta ware now. We got 5 place settings for Christmas and are slowly (it’s a bit expensive) adding place settings. I hope to have a complete set of 10 soon since we use the salad plates for kids plates. I love being able to mix and match and if one something breaks, I can replace it with any other fiesta ware color…not having to worry about matching. The only problem is sometimes the girls will complain about not having their favorite color ;) I think it really ties in with the scruffy hospitality-it doesn’t have to match and the colors are cheerful and fun!

    • says

      I often find pieces fairly inexpensively on Amazon — not place settings, but individual pieces. I like some of the pieces that don’t come in place settings, and I don’t use the mugs, so I buy all separately. Another bonus to using the mixed colors — my husband’s mother and both brothers’ wives have fiesta ware as well, also mixed colors, and when one family member needs extra pieces for big parties, we can borrow. It’s great. We never use paper products any more. :-)

  5. Susan (DE) says

    Thank you SO much, Deirdre, for the ham/cheese/spinach pie help!! I am sure we will try it sometime. Looks good. SO pretty, the way you made it! I will have to try the crust recipe.

    Again, thank you for your time. Loved the pictures of Finnabee…some time ago by now. Would love to see her pretty little face again sometime. (smile, hint, smile)

  6. says

    Ok, I just put this pie in the oven! Although I used different meat because I was just cooking what I had on hand. Cannot wait to try it! I’m guessing at temperatures and times :-) Thanks Deirdre! Maybe I’ll have time to read the links later (I ran across the article about kitchens during Soviet times already, fascinating!).

  7. Mrs. B. says

    Deirdre, I must say that the links you included in this installments of B&P are simply outstanding – truly one of my favorite B&P ever!
    It doesn’t hurt that I am a quiche person – you may have made mistakes, but from the pictures that pie just says EAT ME!!

  8. Valerie says

    Reading about communal kitchen and through the comments is so informative! Thank you!
    I am a baker at heart, always made cakes, quiches and tourtes( like the savory pies) and as a true French person can quote at least half a dozen of pastries in one breath. I have stopped recently because one of our son was diagnosed with Celiac disease. I have been trying to gather some courage to attempt baking again gluten free and the picture of your pie is definitely helping! Oh, and there is hope that my son will know his basics in terms of French pastries as my aunt sent me a link to this gluten- free patisserie: http://www.helmutnewcake.com/patisseries/
    ” Pate brisee” here I come!

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