I've long wanted to try this recipe for Tomato Pie. I first read about it in Laurie Colwin's More Home Cooking. Colwin first had it "...at a tea shop called Chaiwalla, owned by Mary O'Brien, in Salisbury, Connecticut. According to Mary, the original recipe was found in a cookbook put out by the nearby Hotchkiss School, but she has changed it sufficiently to claim it as her own."
So it looked delicious and not that complicated so here we go, and you're going to make it with me! Preheat the oven to 400 and let's go...
So the pie is a double-crust pie and you can make your own crust. I used a Trader Joe's pre-made crust. Be sure to bring it to room temperature 30 minutes before you start putting the pie together. I didn't do this which put a slight crimp (cough) in my plans but it was fine in the end.
You need 2 28-oz cans of whole peeled tomato. "Drain well and slice thin," says the recipe and I had a feeling "Drain well" was going to be the make-or-break factor of this pie. So I drained the whole tomatoes in a colander in a sink, and then after slicing them, put them back in the colander to drain more, pressing down on them a little. Either way it's a soggy business.
Grate 1 1/2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese.
Chop about 1/4 of whatever fresh herbs you have to hand. All the basil is dead in my garden but I had parsley, chives and a couple sprigs of oregano so that's what I chopped
Put the bottom crust into the pie pan. Arrange the drained, sliced tomatoes in the bottom. Sprinkle herbs on the tomatoes.
Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese. Whisk together 1/3 cup mayonnaise and 2 tablespoons lemon juice and drizzle on top, followed by the rest of the cheese
Put on the top crust and crimp. And shut up because crimping pie crust is right up there with making gravy for me. I suck at it.
Slice some steam vents in the top crust and into the 400 it goes for about 25 minutes. Within 5 minutes you'll notice a really great smell coming into your kitchen. At about 10 minutes I noticed the edges of the crust were browning pretty quickly so I covered them with some foil.
After 25 minutes, take pie out of the oven and set to cool on the curved shelf of your kitchen pass-through window which your architect designed with the express purpose of cooling a pie thereupon.
"The secret of this pie, according to Mary, is to reheat it before serving, which among other things ensures that the cheese is soft and gooey. She usually bakes it early in the morning, then reheats it in the evening in a 350 oven until it is hot."
So it was delicious and different. I thought the bottom crust still came out soggy so next time I'm going to borrow a trick from quiche making and put a layer of cheese down first on the bottom crust; this creates a vacuum seal to keep the tomato juices from doing that thing they do.