Tomatoes
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Mary O'Brien's Tomato Pie
(Laurie Colwin)

 

 

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"A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins..."
~ Laurie Colwin


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Still Life with Tomatoes and Flowering Basil in a Vase
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Mary O’Brien’s Tomato Pie


`
More Home Cooking:
A Writer Returns to the Kitchen

by Laurie Colwin, 2000, HarperCollins

from "Tomatoes"

 "There are very few things mankind cannot live without... But life as we
know it would be unimaginable without the tomato... Every time you turn
around the tomato is giving its wonderful flavor to something...
A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins...

"I have never yet encountered tomatoes in any form unloved by me. Often
at night I find myself ruminating about two previously mysterious tomato dishes, which I was brazen enough to get the recipes for. One is Tomato
Pie and is a staple of 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.
The pie has a double biscuit-dough crust, made by blending

2 cups flour,
1 stick [1/2 cup] butter,
4 teaspoons baking powder,
and approximately 3/4 cup milk,
either by hand or in a food processor.

You roll out half the dough on a floured surface and line a 9-inch pie
plate with it.
Then you add the tomatoes. Mary makes this pie year round and uses
first-quality canned tomatoes, but at this time of year [when tomatoes
are in season] 2 pounds of peeled fresh tomatoes are fine, too. Drain
well and slice thin two 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes, then lay the
slices over the crust and scatter them with chopped basil, chives, or
scallions,
depending on their availability and your mood. Grate 1 1/2
cups sharp Cheddar
and sprinkle 1 cup of it on top of the tomatoes.
Then over this drizzle 1/3 cup mayonnaise that has been thinned with
2 tablespoons lemon juice and top everything with the rest of the
grated Cheddar.
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 the pie at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes.
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-degree F oven until it is hot...

"It is hard to describe how delicious this is, especially on a hot day with a
glass of magnificent iced tea in a beautiful setting, but it would doubtless
be just as scrumptious on a cold day in your warm kitchen with a cup
of coffee...
In this world of uncertainty and woe, one thing remains unchanged:
Fresh, canned, pureed, dried, salted, sliced, and served with sugar and
cream, or pressed into juice, the tomato is reliable, friendly, and delicious.
We would be nothing without it."


Featured Archive Recipes:
Laurie Colwin on Red Peppers
Laurie Colwin on Potato Salad
Laurie Colwin's Roast Chicken
The Tantalizing Tomato


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