The Houston Chronicle published one of my recipes today!
It was for Tomato Pie, something I learned to make the summer I turned sixteen. The woman who taught me was named Isabel; she was French, and had come to Virginia that summer to teach at a French language immersion camp I attended.
Only a handful of girls showed up for her cooking class that day. I remember that as she worked, instructing us with practiced hands, she talked - about shops and boyfriends and the bonds shared among women. Isabel seduced us with her honesty and respect: Here was a twenty-something woman, so chic and worldly (despite her unshaven arm pits) trusting us with intimate revelations and treating us as equals.
I couldn't wait to make it for my family when I got home in August; part of me must have believed that it lent me a sense of quiet sophistication, and I felt that I had come home changed, older somehow.
(Ha! Try fatter.)
Fifteen years later, this dish has become a perennial favorite. I've made it for my parents, roommates in college and friends at countless dinner parties; the recipe has been copied down by most of them and incorporated into their weekly menus. It is easy and inexpensive to make, and it pairs well with leftover cold roasted chicken and a simple green salad, a cozy meal at any time in your life.
Isabel's Tomato Pie
Yield: 4 slices (2 servings as an entree or 4 as a first course/side)
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 9-inch pie crust, frozen or homemade according to your favorite recipe
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup Swiss cheese, grated (or 4-5 slices)
5-6 Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350. Spread the mustard evenly along the bottom of the pie crust with the back of a spoon, then repeat with the olive oil.
2. Sprinkle or layer Swiss cheese on crust. Top with one layer of tomatoes, placing the first tomato in the center and moving out in slightly overlapping circles until the crust is covered.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 30 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese bubbles.