Monday, July 26, 2010

Simple Savory Summer Tomato Pies - Mmmmmm!

I feel a bit like the snake from Robin Hood (the animated version) after saying that, but these pies really were simple, savory, summery and scrumptious!  

I'd been turning over the idea of a savory tomato pie in my head for days, and since I actually had a Saturday off (!!!), the Bean (my little sister) and I headed to the farmer's market to pick up some goods.  Before we even left the house, I was salivating at the thought of juicy fruits, fresh veggies, and artisan dairy products.  When we pulled in, I asked the Bean if it was around the back (it's held in the parking lot of a high school football stadium), and she said, "No.  It's over there," and pointed to a tiny corner of the parking lot.  My heart immediately sank:  I'm used to the sprawling Hollywood Farmer's Market or Jan Power's Farmer's Market (not far from the Brisbane city centre) or the Borough Market in London.  Those markets, if you are familiar with them, are absolutely incredible, and if you are in the Los Angeles, Brisbane or London area, GO!

I honestly expected a lot more from hippy dippy Austin.  The pathetic farmer's market (NO heirloom tomatoes or really tomatoes of any kind in the middle of summer) with about 15 stalls made me inquire as to how one becomes a vendor.  Certainly there were a few stalls where I felt, "Seriously?  I/mum/the Bean do that, but better!"  Imagine my surprise when the staff at the information booth told me they were "full".  I kid you not.  Why 15-20 vendors is the limit escapes me, since the variety is not particularly spectacular, and space is certainly not at a premium.  And, for the record, Texas French Breads and Sweetish Hill bakery should not be vendors here.  Besides the fact that is takes all of the artisan out of the farmer's market, I read the rules, and once a business grosses over a certain amount, they are - supposedly - meant to be phased out to make room for the smaller guys.  I'm pretty sure both of these businesses are making more than the whole of the independent stalls combined at their storefronts.  

However, grave disappointment aside (three full loops in under 20 minutes!) we did stumble upon some delectable goat's cheese that was locally made by Swede Farm.  It was just the right amount of tart where you can feel your glands pucker when you eat it, but it doesn't cause you to gag or tears to stream down your face.  I could have sat there and eaten the whole 8 ounces if I didn't know I would pay for it later.  While all of the flavours were lovely, the Texas Spicy was, by far, my favorite.  I'm a big fan, and even bigger consumer of fresh goat's cheese, and this one blew me away.  Soft and creamy with a kick that left you craving more.  Perfection.  If it didn't work out to $20 a pound, I would have bought much more.

After we got home, the Bean and I headed back out to our local grocery store (which is fairly hoity toity and does a lot more organic stuff than it's locations in other neighbourhoods) and picked up some heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and other ingredients to round out the basically nothing we got at the farmer's market.  Once we arrived home for the night, the Bean Ninja'd up a pina colada for me, margaritas for both of us, and mixed herself a Bloody Mary.  B made me a TVR (tequila, vodka, Redbull), but since vodka is still not my thing, the Bean ended up drinking that one.

We spent the evening concocting three different tomato pies (or tarts, whichever you'd like to call them):  Vegan for the Bean, topped with fresh mozzarella for B and mum, and topped with goat's cheese for me (no one else is willing to even give it a shot - their loss!).  I was surprised by just how well the Bean's vegan tart crust held together, and was actually quite glad for the variety, since I know there are plenty of different tastes and diets out there.  

After assembling our pies, things were looking quite promising!

The Bean's Vegan Tomato & Onion Pie

Tomato Pie with Fresh Mozzarella

Tomato & Spicy Goat's Cheese Pie

Next up was into the oven, and on to finishing our drinks!  The Bean decided to whip up a side salad made of - you guessed it - beans!  It was a deliciously creamy (but somehow vegan) combination of Great Northern beans, onions, parsley, grapeseed oil (you can use any kind, she actually only ended up using grapeseed because she thought it was a bottle of extra virgin olive oil!), white wine vinegar and Dijon mustard.  Honestly, her salad was sinfully delicious and a fantastic alternative to the traditional fatty potato salad that you have to worry about killing your picnic or BBQ guests if it's not properly chilled the whole time.  Play around with the ratios until you get the taste you want.  We prefer a strong vinegar/mustard taste, so are probably a bit heavier than you might be with those seasonings.

By the time that was done, the first of the pies was just about ready to come out of the oven.  The Bean's vegan pie was the first to go in, and therefore the first to come out.  While it looked delicious, we soon found out that the bottom wasn't fully cooked.  Just before the Bean was about to scoop out all the filling to bake the crust, we decided to brainstorm a bit before destroying the gorgeous pie:

  1. Her pie had been cooked in a cheap aluminum pan that I reasoned hadn't held the heat as well as our ceramic ones.
  2. While she advised me to poke fork holes in the bottom of mine, she'd forgotten to do so to hers.
  3. Her pie, to avoid being burned through the thinner aluminum, had been baked on the top shelf, and probably just needed some time on the bottom.

    The Bean's Vegan Tomato & Onion Pie Fresh Out of the Oven!

    As the other pies came out (and hers went back in), I noticed that the tomatoes had released a lot of liquid.  However, the crust, even with liquid pooling around it, still seemed crisp so I poured the excess juice off.  In retrospect, I really wish I'd poured the liquid into a jar rather than down the sink, as I have a sneaky feeling it would have been an incredible salad dressing.  

    Other pies hot out of the oven!

    Tomato & Fresh, Bubbly Mozzarella!

    An up-close shot of all the delicious layers of tomato-y goodness.
    Plus, the Bean's white bean salad.

    My goat's cheese and tomato pie - a lovely golden brown!

    Another up-close shot of layer upon layer of the taste of summer!

    Not a bad result for a spur of the moment dinner choice!  What do you think?  Is this something you'd make or does a pie of strictly tomatoes seem intimidating?  I made steak and Guinness pies for B as well, but that's a whole other post.  I think we're going to attack a range of jaffle style pies tomorrow, so I'll save pics of the steak and Guinness pies for that post!

    No comments:

    Post a Comment