Photo courtesy Suvir Saran by Ben Fink.
When the stars align just so, I'm able to carve out some time and head over to Suvir Saran's and Charlie Burd's American Masala Farm on the border of New York and Vermont for a few relaxing days of cooking, eating, and bonfires in the company of the farm's alpacas, lamas, and all manner of chickens with names like Tina Turner, Celine Dion, and Whitney Houston.
This is one of my favorite recipes from Suvir's latest book, MASALA FARM: Stories and Recipes from an Uncommon Life in the Country. The simplicity of a buttermlik crusted pie with summer tomatoes and good cheddar cheese makes this a lovely dish for brunch, lunch, or dinner. It's also wonderful to make ahead of time as it gets better as it chills overnight; just reheat gently. If tomatoes aren't in season, substitute whole peeled tomatoes, such as those by Lucini.
FOR THE BISCUIT CRUST
- 2 cups/255 g all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoon/85 grams unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup/180 ml milk
FOR THE PIE
- 2 lb/910 g Roma tomatoes or 2 (25.5-oz/715-g) jars of Lucini plum tomatoes, drained and pressed between sheets of paper towels papers to remove excess moisture
- 2/3 cup/165 g mayonnaise, store- bought or homemade
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives or dill
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups/220 g grated aged cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- To make the crust: Place the flour, Herbes de Provence, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until there aren’t any pieces larger than a small pea. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and pour in the milk, stirring until the mixture is shaggy and no wet spots remain. Knead just a few times to create a ball of cohesive dough. Use a knife to divide the ball into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other.
- Place the larger dough ball on a long sheet of plastic wrap or baking paper and cover with another sheet. Roll the dough out into a 12-in/30.5-cm circle that is about 1?4 in/6 mm thick, then place the circle on a baking sheet and refrigerate it for 20 minutes. Repeat with the other dough ball, rolling it out to a 12-in/30.5-cm circle (it will be thinner than the first), and then placing it in the refrigerator to chill.
- To make the pie: Reheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/gas 6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and place a large bowl filled with ice water next to the sink. Slice a small X in the bottom of each tomato and then plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes to the ice-water bath, adding more ice as it melts. Remove the tomatoes from the ice-water bath and place them on a paper towel–lined plate to drain, then peel and slice them into 1?4- to 1?2-in-/6- to 12-mm-thick rounds (if using canned plum tomatoes, skip this step). Carefully remove the seeds and set the tomatoes aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and Herbes de Hebron, and set aside.
- Remove the thicker dough circle from the refrigerator and peel off the top layer of plastic wrap, using the bottom sheet to transfer the crust to a 9-in/23-cm pie pan. Trim any overhang to just 1?2 in/12 mm over the edge of the dish. Brush the dough with the olive oil, and then arrange half of the tomatoes in overlapping layers in the bottom of the crust. Sprinkle with half of the basil and chives, season with salt and pepper, and finish with an even layer of 1 cup/110 g cheese. Layer the remaining tomatoes over the cheese, sprinkle with the remaining basil and chives, season with salt and pepper, cover with the herbed mayonnaise, and finish with the remaining 1 cup/110 g cheese.
- Remove the other rolled-out crust from the refrigerator, peel off the top sheet of plastic wrap, invert the dough over the top of the tart, and peel away the remaining sheet of plastic. Fold the overhang under the edge of the bottom crust and crimp the edges to seal. Brush the top of the crust with the melted butter. Bake the pie until the crust is golden, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool, for at least 1 hour, before serving warm, or let cool for longer and serve at room temperature.
Date Published: September 25, 2013
All recipes have been tested by the KimSunée.com Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.