I at any point in time have a running list of recipes I want to try, and while it’s a fluid list, with items constantly being added and falling off as I forget about them/lost interest, some have been gathering dust on that list for eons. Case in point: Laurie Colwin’s Tomato-Corn Pie, which I’ve read about approximately a hundred times (Laurie’s Home Cooking and More Home Cooking take up permanent residence beside my bed – they are the epitome of comfort) and have truly meant to make every single summer since I first read MHC, but never have. Laurie describes – as part of a story about a woman named Mary O’Brien who owned a tea shop called Chaiwalla in Salisbury, Connecticut – a pie built in a biscuit crust, thickly layered with tomatoes, corn scraped from the cob, basil, chives and grated cheddar, then topped with lemon juice-spiked mayo, topped with another biscuit crust (which is rolled thin, so it’s not too doughy) and baked. Every time I see a glut of ripe tomatoes, I think to myself: I really ought to make that tomato pie. But then I don’t. Because really, if you’re going to bother making a late-summer pie from scratch, oughtn’t it be peach, cherry, or plum?
I’m happy to report that I’ve finally scratched this off my to-make list, and jettisoned that teeny sliver of space that particular intention has been occupying for the past decade or so. I wonder what I should put there.
One word stuck in my head as I was eating this pie: glee. With every bite I envisioned myself jumping up and down and clapping with it. It is the perfect summer pie. (And if you’re really a pie fan, you can still serve fruit pie for dessert.) The corn remains crisp, the cheese doesn’t overwhelm. You could take or leave the basil. I have Deb to thank for her advice to go ahead and peel the tomatoes, and even juice them, lest the bottom crust become unbearably soggy; I went one further and replaced the beefsteak tomatoes with Romas, which are meatier and have less juice to begin with. To those of you who like me, may scoff at the suggestion to peel tomatoes, let me say this: some things are worth the effort.
Tomato-Corn Pie with Biscuit Crust
adapted from Laurie Colwin, by way of SmittenKitchen (although this is mighty close to Laurie’s – or Mary’s – original)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 lbs. Roma tomatoes
2 cups corn (from about 3 ears), cut from the cob
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp. chopped chives
salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups grated old cheddar
In a bowl or the bowl of a food processor, blend the flour, baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt. Add the butter and blend with a fork or pastry cutter (or pulse in the food processor) until blended, with pieces no bigger than a pea. If you’re using a food processor, transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add the milk and stir by hand just until you have a soft dough.
Divide the dough in half (with one half just slightly larger than the other) and roll the larger piece on a floured countertop (or between two pieces of waxed or parchment paper) into a 12″ round; transfer to a pie plate and gently fit it inside without stretching. Trim any overhang.
Preheat oven to 400°F with the rack in the middle. Whisk together the mayonnaise and lemon juice.
Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water for 30 seconds; immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to cool. Peel tomatoes, then slice crosswise 1/4-1/2″ thick and gently remove the seeds and extra juices (you don’t have to be too diligent about this part). Arrange half of tomatoes in the crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, half the basil and chives chives, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and one cup of grated cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, basil, chives, salt, and pepper. Pour lemon mayonnaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 12″ round and fit it over the filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching/crimping the edge to seal. Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and if you like, brush crust with a bit of oil or melted butter.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, unti lthe pie is golden and bubbly. Serve warm, or cool to room temperature.
Do ahead: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warm, about 30 minutes.