When Chicago's weather took a turn for the 60's, I momentarily retreated into my soup-making ways and caramelized a pot of onions, threw in some wine, beef and chicken stock, threw in some toasted bread and broiled some cheese on top. I react in strange and delicious ways to changes in the weather, I'll admit.
My first batch of french onion soup actually went over quite well and the four custard dishes I bought at the outlet stores were officially deemed "useful" rather than "frivolous". (Soon to be "sublime" after I get around to America's Test Kitchen's chocolate souffle!)
The unbelievably simple recipe for the soup was borrowed from The Pioneer Woman. Go try it if you're feeling a little down about Fall's early onset.
This week I was determined to get my hands on some sweet corn since I all but missed the season last year. Luckily, our CSA supplied us with 5 ears and some killer tomatoes. Right around the same time, my much adored, Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for tomato corn pie.
I was sold, but when I scrolled down to the ingredients, the 1/3 cup mayonnaise gave me pause. Yep, I've never baked a pie in my life and the one thing I worried about is one of the most common ingredients in American refrigerators.
I'm not sure what it is about mayonnaise. The texture, the color (or lack thereof), or the creamy tanginess that puts me off. My most memorable and horrific "dare" from childhood sleepovers was when my sister and her friend tried to get me to eat a pretzel dipped in mayonnaise. It may sound harmless, but choking on that gloppy, creamy mess haunted my taste buds for years. I've only recently been able to take a light smear of mayo on sandwiches.
I pushed through my fear, having cooked with mayo recently and finding it palatable when masked by a list of other ingredients.
Using a food processor to make the dough and Andy to help chop, slice and dice, we put this baby together in under an hour. Luckily we'd seen Alton Brown peeling tomatoes the night before on Good Eats, so sailing into that uncharted territory went incredibly smoothly.
Andy gave this a solid B and I'd go with a B+, though we both had seconds. It tasted a bit too acidic to me, and I would reduce the lemon juice if making it again. Trying it the next day afer reheating in the toaster oven, though, I'd rate it as an A- or a solid A. The flavors blended much better after sitting overnight and the weird acidity I experienced was gone. I did peel, seed and squeeze the excess juice from our tomatoes because I don't like a soggy bottom crust, which worked well.
I'd make this again, but would probably play around with the filling a bit more. The buttery, biscuit pie crust was amazing, with Andy and I fighting for last bites of the crust. If you've got the ingredients in season (read: right now!), it's a great one to try.
Tomato Corn Pie
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons or 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 teaspoons melted
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I'd use just one if serving immediately)
1 3/4 pounds beefsteak tomatoes
1 1/2 cups corn (from about 3-4 ears), coarsely chopped, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
7ounces 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 (or in the food processor) 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 one piece on a well-floured counter or between two sheets of plastic wrap into a 12-inch round (about an 1/8 inch thick). Transfer it into a 9-inch pie plate and gently unfold and center it or, if you’re using the plastic warp method, remove top sheet of plastic wrap, then lift dough using bottom sheet of plastic wrap and invert into pie plate. Pat the dough in with your fingers trim any overhang.
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle, and put the second half of the dough in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice.
Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water 15 seconds. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to cool. Peel tomatoes, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick and, if desired (for a non-slimy bottom crust), gently remove seeds and extra juices. Arrange half of tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, one tablespoon basil, 1/2 tablespoon chives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon 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-inch round in same manner, then fit over filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching edge, decoratively if you must, to seal. Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and brush crust with melted butter (2 teaspoons). 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.
Do ahead (which I recommend): Pie can be baked 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warm, about 30 minutes.