Thursday, March 27, 2008

*you say tomato, i say coronary.

Before I tell you the story of how I turned a perfectly nutritious vegetable (sorry, Reagan, fruit) into a saturated-fat bomb, I have an announcement to make. BIG news. There's been an invention you all should know about. This brilliant idea is useful at retail establishments, theme parks, and gambling venues, as well as providing a tool for tithing or creating permanent plastic record of your friends' hideously ill-advised facial hair. Also, you can memorialize your beloved rodent.

Has there ever been a more useful tool? Swipe, PIN, done. OR, you could write a check. But I'll be standing behind you in line, giving you the K-stare whilst you load 11 types of red meat (plus deli turkey, but only because you have a COUPON, which is another piece of paper I could do without. Either it's on sale, or it's not. Why require proof you read the ad? It's merchandising, not a scavenger hunt.), a gallon of milk, and nerve pills onto the conveyor belt. I'm thinking maybe if your nerves are shot you should consider eating less cow. Not that I have anything against bovines, per se, I just figure general health might mean mixing a few ingredients in with all the ... flesh.

But I digress. Always. The rambling POINT is, why why WHY write a check? Because that's just going to mean the first-timer at the register is going to need managerial assistance, and you're going to ask who to make it out to even though you're STANDING INSIDE THE WINN-DIXIE, and the infuriatingly unattended children behind me will decide that's just long enough to put all the Trident in their basket, which ... well, when "mom" came back, that was kind of funny. Banshee children were very proud. But then you're going to have to painstakingly REWRITE the check because first-timer can't understand how to make the coupon work and he's going to have to call for the 17-year-old manager again and OH MY GOD NOW THE COUPON WENT THROUGH AND YOU JUST SAVED ONE GODDAMN DOLLAR AND I'VE SPENT 23 MINUTES STIFLING THE SILENT SCREAM. I just wanted to pay for my double-volume bottle of wine and get the hoo-hah out of there.

Because I'd just spent my last $12 on hooch, I had only the contents of my kitchen to sustain me. And by that I mean a couple of big tomatoes and old tofu curry. No, I don't really still have that in my fridge. That would be gross.

The tomatoes weren't exactly August fresh, so I decided to look for a baked tomato tart recipe. But every one I found called for refrigerated or frozen dough. So I decided on a Southern Living-endorsed tomato pie. I had Bisquik! AND, the expiration date was only ... oh. 2005. Now I have two questions.

1. Was that really the last time I made sausage balls?
2. When I became a homesteader on the Woodside, did I really move a mostly empty box of baking mix?

Yes. And so it would seem. But a true Renaissance woman, a culinary MacGyver such as myself, makes do. So I decided to do the unthinkable: make pastry.

Oh, pick your jaw up off the floor. I had an almost-successful cookie baking experience. I'm practically Sara Lee.

That recipe, the pastry one, came from the Joy of Cooking.

It started simply, with flour, salt, ice water, and enough butter to make my mother cringe.

I was halving the recipe, because the JoC one is for making fancy-pants pies that have tops and bottoms. I was making a topless pie, and you KNOW that means math. I added the butter to the flour, mixing it with my fingers until the bits were around the size of peas. Or until the bits were random and I was bored.

I managed to keep things straight until it was time to add the ice water, but then ... I was absentmindedly around six tablespoons when there was supposed to be three.

My bad.

I buttered and floured a pie plate

and rolled out the dough.

This was actually dough-rolling attempt #2. The first time it became the consistency of paste, at which point I had to scrape the whole thing off the cutting board with a knife, add more flour, and start over. I guess those extra tablespoons make a difference. So my apologies to my neighbors. I don't usually talk like that. At least not at that volume.

The dough went into a cake pan (I don't own a pie plate), and got poked with a fork, lined with foil, and topped with another pie plate. This, it seems, is called "blind baking." Or, in my case, the blind leading the blind.

Into the oven for ... oh, I don't know. Ten minutes? Give or take? The heat from my oven kinda warped Henrietta the timer. She's no worse for the wear, just a little coqeyed.


When it came out, it got a sprinkling of Parmigiano.

And then it was time to assemble the insides.

Mayonnaise, dijon (homemade Dijonnaise!), sliced tomatoes, Parmigiano, salt, pepper, and chopped onions. I mixed the mayo, mustard, and cheese, then layered tomatoes, dried basil and onion. Topped with more tomatoes, basil, and onion, and then smeared with the fatty cheesiness.

Baked for an oddly specific 24 minutes at 400.

Then I held my breath, cut into the pie, and ...

yums! I just lost three years off my life. But I only had a small slice. I couldn't justify any more, it seemed too decadent. I think if I made it again I'd put the dijonnaise between the layers and then top the pie with the cheese. There was something just a pinch unappetizing about the consistency. But it tasted like heaven. Heaven with the promise of triple bypass.

They say red wine is good for the ole ticker. Serving suggestion: a nice Barolo and insalata di Lipitor.


at: 7:41 AM said...

HA! I'm in love with your blog. Also ... Bisquick expires???

K. says:
at: 10:37 AM said...

who knew? i think it's because the active ingredient (baking powder) loses its pep. and then there's the hydrogenated oil. it has a long shelf life, but it won't last forever.

kind of like crisco. right, mom?

at: 8:13 PM said...

I Laughed out loud (which I recently learned is a popular text message in the form "LOL") reading your cooking story. It had a special significance for me since I have very vivid memories of you and your brother begging for tofu from your mom who regarded sugar, white flour and butter in the same category as arsenic.

K. says:
at: 2:53 PM said...

begging for tofu? that will not be happening again any time soon, my friend. when the apron strings were cut i flew instantly into a pile of cheetos. and i have stayed there since.



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.