Friday, September 21, 2007

Tomato Pie

Okay, so you've made sauce, filled your freezer, eaten a caprese salad every day of the last week ... just what do you do with those tomatoes?

This recipe won't use up your entire stash, but it's a nice lunch or dinner idea. The leftovers reheat well too.

The idea is to make the top and bottom crust out of biscuit dough. You layer tomatoes, cheese and herbs as the filling. Bake and eat. It's easy and if you're fearful of biscuit-making, it may ease your anxieties on that front too.

The recipe I use has been lifted from Laurie Colwin's book More Home Cooking (more on that below).

Tomato Pie

Biscuit Crust
  • 2 cups flour ( I used 1 cup each of white and wheat flours for this batch)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4-6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (more butter makes a richer crust)
  • 3/4 cup milk
(I'm writing this for the non-biscuit makers out there - the biscuitophiles among you know what to do.) Fear not. Biscuit making will take you five minutes. I swear.

Put the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter into little cubes and toss them into the flour. Toss the butter cubes (with your hand) around until they are coated in flour.

Now you're going to "cut in" the butter. Some people use knives, a pastry cutter (special equipment alert) or such implements to do this, but I use my hands. With your clean hands (you've already washed them right?) reach into the flour and butter and rub the flour into the butter cubes: pull some flour/butter onto one hand and then rub rub rub more flour and butter into that hand. As you rub, let the flour and butter fall into the bowl. You're rubbing the flour and butter together. The goal is to have a crumby-crumbly blend of butter and flour. Trust. This isn't that hard and some people get all freaked about it. Your great-grandmother did this and that was way before the age of Cuisinart and the Food Network.

When the flour and butter are blended and what's in your bowl looks shaggy and breadcrumb-like, stir in the milk. You will end up with a wettish biscuit dough.

See. Five minutes. Or so. Now you can make the pie ...

Tomato Pie Construction
  • 1 batch biscuit dough made with 2 cups flour (see above)
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, sliced
  • handful of herbs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (parmesan, cheddar, romano, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Pat half of the biscuit dough into a 9" pie pan or baking dish. It is easy to do this if you dampen your hands with cool water: the dough won't stick.

Layer sliced tomatoes over the biscuit dough. Sprinkle chopped herbs and cheese over the tomatoes. Dollop little squiggles of mayo over the top of that (to be honest, I don't think this does much, but Laurie says to do it, so I do).

Take the other half of the biscuit dough and flatten it over the top of the tomatoes. Depending on the size of your dish, you may get a full top crust or a more cobbler-type top. This dish was bigger, so I laid smaller pieces of the dough over the top and let the tomatoes peek through.

Bake for about 30 minutes. Let sit 5-10 minutes before eating; those tomatoes will be hot!

You can also make this with canned whole tomatoes (1 large can, drained) when you can't find good fresh ones. The textures are different, but the flavors are great.

More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin. This book and its predecessor, Home Cooking, are composed of essays Laurie Colwin wrote for Gourmet magazine in the nineties. They are comfortable, cozy books, sometimes a wee bit too cutesy I'll admit, but they are great to curl up with for inspiration or companionship. Nothing in these books is outside the ability of a beginning cook and Laurie is nothing but reassuring.

Both are actually still in print, praise be. Find Home Cooking and More Home Cooking here. The recently released collection Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant is named after an essay of Colwin's.


Julia said...

with your (has vapors) hands? (/has vapors)

My pastry professor just suffered a fatal heart attack.

Of course, he really liked egg mcmuffins, so this may not have been causal.

Sunday Cook said...

Get over it darlin'- God gave you hands fer a reason - get in there and cut in the buttah.

Hands are way more fun than a pastry cutter or food processor. Seriously, give 'em a chance.

Betty C. said...

I loved Colwin's essays for Gourmet, but don't have any of her cookbooks. I believe she died an untimely death, sadly...

Sunday Cook said...

If I did this right, this is a link to Colwin's obit in the New York Times. She died almost 15 years ago. I still use her books at least once a month.

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