Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Laurie Colwin's Tomato Pie

Some days I just need a Laurie Colwin fix. There is no other way to describe it. Depending on the kind of day I’m having, I might need to stop everything I’m doing and read Happy All the Time—I don’t know why, but I never tire of Guido, Holly, Vincent, and Misty. Other days simply an essay out of one of her food books will do. Although a “quick fix” can often lead to a binge of a dozen or more essays in a row, or as in the case of last week, everything being dropped so that I could sit on my kitchen floor and read Home Cooking from cover to cover, appreciating “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant” just as much on the twenty-somethingth reading as I did on the first. And of course, reading Laurie is inevitably followed by the need to make one of her recipes. This time: Tomato Pie. It was one of the first dishes I taught myself to make as an adult living on my own, and yet I still got a thrill last week (more than twenty years after I first made it) to think that I—yes me!—actually baked that thin, flaky buttermilk crust filled with tomatoes. I know that first loves are often romanticized over the years, but this is one that honestly stands the test of time.

Tomato Pie
adapted from More Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin

Making the crust:

• 2 cups unbleached bread flour
• 1 stick butter
• 4 tsp baking powder
• ¾ cup buttermilk

Rub the butter into the flour and baking powder with your fingers. When the butter is well blended, add milk until you have a not-too-sticky dough. Roll out half the dough on a floured surface and line a 9-inch pie plate with it.

Making the filling:

• Two 28 oz. cans chopped tomatoes, drained
• Chopped basil, chives and/or scallions (I sometimes use all three)
• 1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar
• 1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use crème fraiche), thinned with 2 Tbsp lemon juice

1. Lay tomatos over crust. Scatter with basil, chives and scallions. Scatter half the cheddar. Drizzle yogurt/lemon mixture. Top with the rest of the cheddar.

2. Roll out the remaining dough, fit it over the filling, and pinch the edges of the dough together to seal them. Cut several steam vents in the top crust and bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.

(This dish is very good reheated at 350 degrees until hot the next day.)

Tomato on Foodista