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La Belle Cuisine
Mary O’Brien’s Tomato Pie
More Home Cooking:
A Writer Returns to the Kitchen
by Laurie Colwin, 2000, HarperCollins
are very few things mankind cannot live without... But life as we
it would be unimaginable without the tomato... Every time you turn
the tomato is giving its wonderful flavor to something...
world without tomatoes
is like a string quartet without violins...
"I have never yet encountered tomatoes in any form unloved by me.
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
The pie has a double biscuit-dough crust, made by blending
stick [1/2 cup] butter,
teaspoons baking powder,
3/4 cup milk,
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.
tomatoes. Mary makes this pie year round and
tomatoes, but at this time of
year [when tomatoes
are in season] 2 pounds of peeled fresh tomatoes are fine, too. Drain
and slice thin
28-ounce cans plum tomatoes, then
slices over the crust and scatter them with chopped
on their availability and your mood.
Grate 1 1/2
cups sharp Cheddar and sprinkle 1 cup of it on top of the tomatoes.
this drizzle 1/3 cup mayonnaise that has been thinned with
2 tablespoons lemon juice and top everything with the rest of the
out the remaining dough, fit
it over the filling, and pinch the edges
dough together to seal them.
Cut several steam vents in the top
bake the pie at 400 degrees F
for about 25 minutes.
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
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
In this world of uncertainty and woe, one thing remains unchanged:
Fresh, canned, pureed, dried, salted, sliced, and served with sugar
cream, or pressed into juice, the tomato is reliable, friendly,
We would be nothing without it."
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