The Epic Summer Culinary Challenge 7: This Is The End?

…in which I say goodbye to summer with a new recipe: Masa Tomato Pie.

Here we are folks. It’s the end of the summer. Ok, summer might still last a few weeks for most of you, but I’m leaving tomorrow to go work on a project that will transition right into the school year, so I’m bidding adieu to the summer with this article.

It really has been a fun adventure. I’ve tried new recipes, made a few things up myself, and marginally increased my photoshop skills (from non-existent to very poor). And I’ve enjoyed having all of you along for the ride.

*author’s note: by “all of you,” I’m of course referring to my 12 weekly readers. This site has very extensive analytics, so I know exactly how many of you like my posts on Facebook and never actually click on the link*

*author’s other note: apologies, I shouldn’t be venting at y’all. You’re the ones who actually click through AND read each post. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you*

So now comes the time that I should be shutting this whole thing down. It’s the end of the summer, I fulfilled my personal goal of cooking something new every week, but now it’s come to an end.

But you know what?

I’M NOT LEAVING!

Regardless of how many (or few) readers this blog might have gained, I’ve really enjoyed challenging myself to cook new things and to come up with creative ways to write about it. And I’ve heard really encouraging feedback from those 12 of you weekly readers. So I’m gonna keep this going!

So just keep an eye out! While this post will finish up the Epic Summer Culinary Challenge, and the original goal I set out to accomplish, I’ll continue posting updates to The Epic Culinary Magazine.

But for now, on to what really matters:

The Food

One of my favorite summer recipes is a tomato pie. I LOVE tomatoes, and I think a tomato pie is the perfect way to let some fresh tomatoes shine.

*author’s note: second, of course, to the classic white bread, Duke’s mayonnaise, and sliced tomato sandwich. That will eternally be the best medium for a fresh tomato*

Unfortunately, since having to go gluten-free a few years ago, I’ve struggled to find a recipe for a decent gluten-free tomato pie. With the abundance of gluten-free cookies in grocery stores, sweet gluten-free pie crusts are pretty easy to put together. But savory pie crusts are tough.

For this recipe, I came up with the idea of making a crust out of masa flour. Masa flour is the corn flour most commonly used in making tortillas. It’s also occasionally used as a pie crust when making tamale pie. I decided to test it out with a tomato pie recipe. Here’s how it works:

*author’s note: to all you gluten eaters out there, this one is for you too. Masa is a delicious and very affordable pie crust option. This is a recipe for anyone, gluten-free and gluten-ous alike*

For the crust, you will need:

  • 1/2 pound (1 1/2 cups) masa flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or water for a vegetarian recipe)
  • 3 0z (1/4 cup and 2 tbsp) Crisco
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Step 1: In a large bowl, combine the flour and your broth/water. Stir thoroughly.

Step 2: Beat together Crisco, salt and baking powder with an electric mixer until whipped.

Step 3: Add masa to the Crisco mixture 1/4 at a time, beating thoroughly each time. Should result in a very soft mixture.

Step 4: Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Step 5: Unwrap dough and re-whip, adding a tablespoon of broth/water until returned to its original soft texture.

Step 6: Press into a 12" cast iron skillet. Be sure to press up the edges. Should be a medium thickness, you don’t want this crust too thick or thin. Take a note from Goldilocks and experiment until it’s just right.

For the pie filling, you’ll need:

*author’s note: full disclosure, this is taken pretty much directly from Garden and Gun’s tomato pie recipe, which actually comes from Drew Robinson of Jim ‘N Nicks, but cooking is kind of like hip-hop. It’s all about sampling to come up with something new. And nobody else came up with this crust/pie combo*

  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 lbs heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 oz fresh basil chiffonade
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup masa flour
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper

When I was prepping this recipe, I went to the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market and found some really beautiful heirloom tomatoes, but you could sub in any tomato as long as it’s good and fresh. No refrigerated tomatoes allowed in this recipe!

I also spoke to the people at the Farmer’s Market cheese counter (my favorite place in the world) and got a goat cheese specifically known for a good crumble. They recommended Bûcheron, which ended up being great. Just make sure you don’t end up with a very soft chèvre. It could make the recipe a little more difficult.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400˚

Step 2: Place your tomatoes slices on a layer of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt on both sides, then firmly press another paper towel on top. Leave at least 30 minutes. This is going to get some of the excess juice out of your tomatoes and keep your pie from getting too soggy.

Step 3: Sauté shallots and garlic with 1 tbsp of olive oil until tender (about 3 minutes). Take a second to appreciate how good it makes your house smell, then stir in the mustard and set that all aside.

Step 4: Layer about half your tomatoes in your masa crust, then add some pepper.

Step 5: Spread your shallot mixture over the tomatoes as evenly as possible. Evenly is a relative term here. Just make sure you don’t have any big clumps of shallots anywhere.

Step 6: Add the goat cheese and half the basil. Again, get it as even as possible.

Step 7: Add the remaining tomatoes, top with pepper and remaining basil.

Step 8: Mix together the masa flour and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Sprinkle evenly over the pie.

Step 9: Top with the remaining Parmesan, then drizzle with olive oil.

Step 10: Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the edges of the crust start to turn gold and the Parmesan topping hardens.

I’m telling y’all, this is unlike any tomato pie you’ve ever had. I mean, obviously you can’t go wrong with this filling, but the masa crust is perfect. It’s light and fluffy while also having a satisfying cornbread texture, and it holds up perfectly to the tomato juice.

I don’t like to brag on my own recipes, but I might have stumbled onto something great here.

*author’s note: Obviously I actually do like to brag on my own recipes. Isn’t that the whole point of having a blog?*

No entertainment recommendations this week, just my sincere thanks for anyone who has read this blog over the summer, especially to those who have reached out to me about it and encouraged me to keep pushing myself to try new things. It’s truly been a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to keeping it going.

Y’all come back next time, ya hear?

Thanks for a great summer! If you have any recipes or ideas you’d like me to try out in the future, leave them in the comments or Tweet @hears_a_who. And if you missed an earlier entry, find them all over at The Epic Culinary Magazine!!!!