Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy birthday to the tomato lover!

For his birthday this year, Joe insisted he didn't want any gifts, but he would love it if I would cook him something special, something I hadn't tried before. I thought it would be fun to make pasta for the first time ever. Fun, in its way, but it turns out I'm not so good at making pasta. Thankfully, wonderful Joe salvaged the ravioli with his mad pasta-rolling skillz, and we did manage to enjoy a delicious crab & shrimp ravioli in a champagne cream sauce as our main course for the evening. Dessert was mini macadamia cheesecakes, which we couldn't even eat because of our level of stuffed-ness after dinner, and then I forgot to put them out at the July 4 bash (sad, since there was absolutely nothing to eat at the July 4th bash - ha!).

The show-stopper, though, and the dish that Joe truly can't stop talking about (many of the July 4th guests got to experience photos of this stuff - but no samples), was the tomato corn pie. Rich, juicy, tangy deliciousness. I don't even like tomatoes, and I really did enjoy this pie. Not as much as Joe, though. I've been instructed to 'hold on to this recipe', just before I was informed that this will be the new Joe's-birthday-meal-tradition. It's a good pie.


It was a bit of work. I'm feeling pretty good about my pie-dough-making skills. The dough here is flaky, biscuity, crispy, yummyness. The recipe comes from Gourmet, by way of Smitten Kitchen. As she noted at SK, there is a ton of liquid which oozes out of the pie upon taking that first slice. You can reduce that by removing the juice and seeds when you slice the tomatoes, but that's a tasty loss, and Joe was happy to sop up the drippings.



Tomato and Corn Pie

Adapted, barely, from August 2009 Gourmet’s adaptation of Laurie Colwin’s and James Beard’s versions

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons or 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 teaspoons melted
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 3/4 pounds beefsteak tomatoes
1 1/2 cups corn (from about 3 ears), coarsely chopped by hand (my preference) or lightly puréed in a food processor, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives, divided (I skipped this)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
7 ounces coarsely grated sharp Cheddar (1 3/4 cups), divided

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 3/4 tsp salt in a bowl, then blend in cold butter (3/4 stick) with your fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. Add milk, stirring until mixture just forms a dough, then gather into a ball.

Divide dough in half and roll out one piece on a well-floured counter into a 12-inch round (1/8 inch thick). Either fold the round gently in quarters, lift it into a 9-inch pie plate and gently unfold and center it. Pat the dough in with your fingers trim any overhang.

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. If your kitchen is excessively warm, put the second half of the dough in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice.

Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water 10 seconds. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to cool. Peel tomatoes, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick and, if desired, gently remove seeds and extra juices. Arrange half of tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, one tablespoon basil, 1/2 tablespoon chives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and one cup of grated cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, basil, chives, salt, and pepper. Pour lemon mayonnaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round in same manner, then fit over filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching edge to seal. Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and brush crust with melted butter (2 teaspoons). Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes, then cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do ahead: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warm, about 30 minutes.

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