Saturday, September 19, 2009

Just like that.

And just like that, summer is over.

Well, kind of.

Where I am, between two rows of mountains in Los Angeles, the heat lingers well into October, perhaps a little bit meanly, making a dramatic, drawn out exit. Labor Day is a tearful goodbye; summer waves her hankie from the train, only to return a few days later, hotter and angrier than ever.

Maybe where you are, summer leaves a little goodbye note and tiptoes out quietly, gracefully, almost so you don't notice the transfer between seasons: the nights get a bit cooler, the air becomes crisp, the light slanting through your kitchen window in the morning changes hues and next thing you know you're reaching for a sweater and raking up leaves.

Where I am, summer claws and kicks its way to the bitter end, igniting fires like a jilted lover, sending heat waves, raining ash over our city. She's a drama queen, and, honestly, kind of a vengeful bitch.

Still, goodbyes are never easy, even when you know it's for the best. And summer's end always leaves me feeling a little sad, even a little mournful, and this year is especially difficult. Between work and morning sickness, the good days of summer seemed to pass me by without notice. Other than a couple of weeks spent floating on a lake in New Hampshire, this summer came and went, uncelebrated.

So forgive me for putting on my summer dress and floppy hat and breaking out my sparklers long after the party has ended, but I refuse to let this summer go by without a perfect summer recipe.

And boy do I have one. I might not have had much to offer you over this not-quite-summer, patient readers, but I assure you I'm making up for it with this one.

It's a tomato and corn pie. Tomato and corn: two quintessential summer ingredients, and if you live near where I live, still delicious and available at farmers markets for the next few weeks.

This recipe reminds me of my all-time favorite, my much beloved Mom's Onion Pie, and though nothing will ever come close to mom's pie, this one is in the running for second place.

The crust is made out of biscuit dough... BISCUIT DOUGH! Not wimpy, flaky pastry dough, but nimble, soulful, biscuit dough. The corn is sweet, the cheddar cheese is sharp, the tiniest traces of lemon and mayonnaise are tangy and surprising, and the tomato keeps it all grounded with its earthy tenderness.

It satisfied my deep and urgent need to feel this summer, with each sweet and savory bite.

This may not go down in my history as the summer of picnics and BBQ's, of endless days of beaches and hammocks. But it will be The Summer of Tomato Corn Pie.

And, for those of you who are wondering, all is bliss on the baby front. We've been busy growing, and when I'm very still at night, I can feel the not-quite-so-little one tossing and turning. So besides being The Summer of Tomato Corn Pie, it will also forever be The Summer Paul and I Started Our Family. Not so bad, after all.

Tomato Corn Pie
Gourmet Magazine

One thing to consider as you make this pie - depending on how juicy your tomatoes are, you run the risk of a very soggy pie if you aren't careful. I seeded my tomatoes quite diligently to remove any extra juice, and my pie turned out perfect - juicy but not soggy.

cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4
teaspoons salt, divided
stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 teaspoons melted
cup whole milk
1 3/4
lb beefsteak tomatoes
cup mayonnaise
tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2
cups corn (from about 3 ears), coarsely puréed in a food processor, divided
tablespoons finely chopped basil, divided
tablespoon finely chopped chives, divided
teaspoon black pepper, divided
oz 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 1 piece between 2 sheets of plastic wrap into a 12-inch round (1/8 inch thick). (Or roll out on a well-floured surface, instead.) Transfer to 9-inch glass pie plate, patting with your fingers to fit (trim any overhang).

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.

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.

Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice.

Arrange half of tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, 1 Tbsp basil, 1/2 Tbsp chives, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper.

Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, basil, chives, salt, and pepper, then sprinkle with 1 cup cheese.

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 tsp).

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.


  1. Welcome back, Sara! I love your description of biscuit dough as "nimble." Very glad to hear that everything is going (and growing) well.

  2. Any day you post is a cause for celebration pie. I've seen shouts & murmurs of this tomato pie all summer, but never happier than seeing it here. Keep writing, cooking, and keep us posted.

  3. This pie looks great! Never thought of using this combo. Thanks for the heads up.