Southern Tomato Pie

July 14, 2017

 I am marinating in a bowl of indecision and angsty confusion - all at once with a thousand things on my GOT TO GET DONE list, and also completely tharn (if you don’t understand that you should read more often) and at odds with getting them done. I know that ‘people’ say that I should just take one little task at a time, but my ability to prioritize even the little things is proving to be a challenge. Hell, even writing is causing me to sit in a locked up state. Even though I have been in limbo, it hasn’t kept me from cooking. I have many things to share… but what should I focus on TODAY? (Do you sometimes wish you had more people to feed?) I guess there are worse problems to have.

Words can come easily, or it can be like putting a duck carcass into a press and wringing and crushing the last drops of juice and blood out. The flighty bats in my brain have been the issue more than wringing out ideas. Lack of focus is the culprit. Let’s try and tweeze out a recipe.

It’s weird, as I have been at home the last week and a half, my appetite during the day has been kind of missing all together, and suppers have turned into late(r) night affairs than I would like. It seems like my circadian rhythms are off and shifting me back to more nocturnal patterns. Is eating dinner at 10 or 11 a bad thing?

Don’t answer that.

I will admit that I have been trying to focus on some less carbohydrate laden meals. Produce at this time of year is spectacular, so leaning towards the more healthy side of things has been a back of the mind theme. HOWEVER, junk food like items can creep into my field of vision from time to time. It happens.

On the way home from Florida of late, a good number of tomatoes were procured from a farmer that had been dealing with the headache of too much rain. His plants did the typical ‘suck up as much water as possible’ thing, resulting in fruit that splits and drops off the vine. This resulted in some surplus that he needed to get rid of quickly. Heirloom Cherokee Purples for $1.00 pound? SOLD. Though unfortunately, picking through them to find ones that were not bruised and split resulted in a lower yield than I would have liked. We also got some regular un-pedigreed tomatoes as well.

Tomatoes got eaten. Tomatoes sat. Tomatoes started to get some black spots. Tomatoes needed to be used.

I had actually been thinking about tomato pies a lot lately. Hey, it’s summer. This is the time to pull out every tomato preparation you can possibly think of. I have had many incarnations, most unfortunately turn out to be soggy affairs. It KILLS the joy that a tomato pie can be. Solution - roast your tomatoes a while ahead of time to eliminate some extra liquid and intensifying flavor all in one go. Putting a layer of crushed up Ritz Crackers in the bottom doesn’t hurt either. (I told you this was going to be a little trashy.)

I did take a lazy person’s crutch and used a deep dish frozen Pillsbury pie shell. Straight in the aluminum pie plate to admit to further shame. It would have been great if I had had some frozen Trader Joe’s pie dough that I could have thawed and rolled into a pretty pie dish, even better if I had made a batch of pate brisee and lovingly nestled it into the same said pie dish. Didn’t happen. To add another layer of lazy to my sad expression of pie baking - I did NOT weight the dough before blind baking. It gives me a little bit of wince, but at the same time I really don’t give a fuck. Concessions sometimes are made. Without huge repercussions either. O I live on the knife’s edge blade of good and evil. And I know bakers will shrink back with a sense of repugnant derision.

Again, this isn’t really a recipe - it’s a simple layered pie of simple ingredients. This topping that goes on before a final layer of crushed Ritz Crackers is the most complicated part of it.

Step one:
Slice several large tomatoes and place on a baking sheet (can be parchment lined, unless you are out). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Put in a 300º oven for a about an hour, until they shrink a bit and get a little bit of brown color around the edges, Take out and sit aside.

 

 

Step two:
Make or bake a deep dish pie crust - weighting or not.

Step three:
Slice and sauté one large onion in a little olive oil until nicely caramelized - seasoned with salt, pepper, and a bit of Herbs de Provence (I really like Victoria Taylor’s). Sit aside to cool.

Step four:
Make trashy topping.
For this incarnation I used:
• 1 Small log of plain goat cheese, softened
• 1 Handful of grated sharp cheddar cheese (what I had in the cheese drawer)
• 1 Really generous handful of parmigiano reggiano
• 1 Small handful of chopped basil
• 3 Tablespoons of Duke’s Mayonnaise
Mix all ingredients well
 

 

Step five - layer ingredients:
• Crush and spread a thin layer of Ritz Crackers in the bottom of the baked pie shell
• Layer of tomatoes
• Layer of onions
• Layer of tomatoes
• Layer of onions
• Layer of tomatoes
• Dollop and spread cheese mixture over the top
• Crush and cover with Ritz Crackers

 

Bake in a preheated oven at 350º for about 40 minutes. The edges will get dark. If too dark for you - cover with foil.

Let rest on a rack for at least half an hour and serve warmish to room temperature.

Eat a salad and try not to let the nature of the pie affect your conscience. It’s some tasty Southern comfort food for the soul after all. Just don’t eat half the pie at one time.

Cheers,
Adrian

 

 

 

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