THE Pi Day Pie…that almost caught my apartment on fire.

20130314_201810I realize that Pi Day was March 14th, but due to my busy last couple weeks of finishing up papers and finals and watching game after game of March Madness basketball during my spring break, I am just now getting around to telling the story of this delicious pie that almost burnt down my quaint Corvallis apartment and required a trip from the fire department (And no, unfortunately the firemen were not hot…I know that’s what you were thinking :)).

Procrastination was starting to get the best of me during dead week so I found myself browsing my favorite sites for pie recipe ideas. I stumbled upon a tweet from Bon Appetit Magazine that read, “Pie Pi Pie Pi Pie.” I couldn’t resist their enthusiasm so I clicked on the link and was quickly faced with the option of savory pies or sweet pies. It was quite the debacle, as I have a serious sweet tooth, but I decided to mix things up a bit and opted to view the savory pies slideshow. When I got to number six, I knew I had found a winner with the Tomato and Cheddar Pie. Described as their new summertime staple, I looked out the window, saw some sunshine and decided to go with it. It seemed somewhat more complex than most of my other recipes, but I was up for the challenge and after inhaling the final product, I would say it was worth it.

Now you are probably wondering where the fire department plays a role in this savory bliss. Before I walk you through the process of assembling the pie, I will tell you the frightening, yet now funny little tale. It was just an average Thursday night, watching the Blazer game, doing homework and celebrating Pi Day. I set the alarm on my phone for 20 minutes, thinking I would check the pie about half way through the cooking process. About 7 minutes in, I started to smell smoke/burning, but didn’t really think anything of it. A couple minutes later, I looked over and the window of the oven appeared to be bright red and orange. I hopped off the couch in a flurry, opened the oven door, made an embarrassing noise of utter shock at the sight of the entire oven element on fire, literally flaming. I completely panicked, reached for my cell phone and for the first time in my life, dialed 911. When the operator asked my emergency, I was simultaneously turning off the oven, worrying about the fate of the pie and choking on all of the black smoke.

The kind operator informed me to get out of the house and wait for emergency responders to show up at my door. As I hung up the phone, the fire seemed to be going out, I was able to remove the pie and I couldn’t decide what was more embarrassing…waiting on the porch for the fire truck to arrive or the fact that there was no fire anymore. Three rugged firemen quickly made their way inside my apartment, began opening windows, setting up a giant fan to get the smoke out of my house and educating me on putting the pie plate on a cookie sheet in order to avoid juices dripping out onto the oven element (I usually do this, but for some reason didn’t think it was necessary this time). Let’s just say a valuable lesson was learned and all was well because I was able to salvage the pie, which I was probably more concerned about than I should have been.

I highly recommend making this delicious savory pie…and maybe you will be lucky enough to allow it to cook the entire time without a visit from your friendly fire department! Here is the recipe and step by step process…Enjoy!

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Filling

  • 2 pounds large ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar (8-9 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan (1/2 ounce)
  • 1 scallion, trimmed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornmeal

Preparation

Crust

  • Whisk first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in butter until coarse meal forms and some small lumps remain. Stir in buttermilk and knead gently with your hands until dough forms. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for 1 hour.

Filling

  • Lay tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with 2 layers of paper towels. Place another 2 layers of paper towels on top of tomatoes. Let stand for 30 minutes to drain.

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  • Preheat oven to 425°. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to an 11″ round. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Invert dough onto pie dish. Carefully peel off plastic wrap.
  • Toss both cheeses in a medium bowl until evenly incorporated. Reserve 1/4 cup of cheese mixture. Whisk scallion, mayonnaise, dill, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

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  • Sprinkle cornmeal evenly over bottom of crust, then top with 1/2 cup cheese mixture. Arrange 1/3 of tomatoes over cheese, overlapping as needed. Spread half of mayonnaise mixture (about 1/3 cup) over. Repeat layering with 1 cup of cheese mixture, 1/2 of remaining tomato slices, and remaining mayonnaise mixture. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese mixture over, then remaining tomato slices. Sprinkle with reserved 1/4 cup cheese mixture. Fold overhanging crust up and over edges of tomato slices.

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  • Bake pie until crust is golden and cheese is golden brown, 35-40 minutes (check crust halfway and tent with foil if it’s getting too dark). Let pie cool at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours before slicing and serving.
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