Tomato Pie Y’all – California Style

Homemaking, Recipes, Southen Food

I haven’t felt much like writing lately. But, I have felt like cooking. I’m one of those people who embraces something I’m interested in for a little while and, then, when I feel saturated,  move on to a different project. I wish I was a more habitual person. One of the qualities highly successful share is their ability to adhere to a schedule. The thing is, I find that keeping to a strict schedule squashes my creativity.  I never know when I’ll get the urge to re-paint a wall or make a complicated meal or re-accessorize a room.

So that’s why my last post was about cooking and so is this one and, likely, more will follow. As an homage to these very late summer days, a tomato pie seems the perfect thing for dinner alfresco.

Southern food is my family’s jet fuel.  Although we are California people by location, our strong southern and mid-western lineage means, in a world obsessed with lean protein, steamed veggies and everything sans gluten, we still drink copious amounts of tea (that’s iced – not hot – and preferably sweet). We have not given up chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, slow-cooked green beans with bacon and pecan pie.

I have a slightly California-ized version of southern tomato pie. Any traditional recipe calls for lots of mayonnaise but, instead, I use eggs as a binder which adds protein and makes the final product more quiche-like. If you want an even healthier version still, use only the whites of 6 eggs and low-fat or vegan cheese.

This is such a versatile dish. It’s so easy. It’s great as casual meal, to take to a pot-luck or serve at a shower. I love it paired with grilled peaches drizzled with a little balsamic glaze and some leafy greens tossed with oil and vinegar.

Tomato Pie

Pre-bake a pie crust in a 9 inch deep dish pie pan for 6 minutes at 400 degrees or until the bottom is firm and starting to brown. Slice (very thinly) 4 large vine-ripened tomatoes. Of course its best if they are out of your own garden. If you don’t grow them yourself, buy the highest quality you can find. Press the slices between paper towels to remove as much moisture as you can. Chop two large handfuls of fresh basil leaves, a small handful of fresh parsley and 4 green onions. Grate 2 cups fresh mozzarella (or, if you live in the civilized world, pour the already grated cheese from a plastic pouch).

Start with a layer of tomato slices at the bottom of your crust. Follow with a layer of basil leaves, then mozzarella. At this point, whisk together 3 large eggs, 1/4 cup milk, the chopped parsley and onion plus a little freshly ground black pepper and a generous pinch or two of  salt. Slowly pour the egg mixture evenly into pan allowing it to settle around the veggie/cheese layer. Repeat the layering process on top of the eggs.

Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes clean. Allow to cool a bit before slicing. Can be served either warm or cold.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Fruit Cake, Fall & Pat Altschul

Bravo Television Commentary, Homemaking, Recipes

For those of you who write, you will understand my current predicament. I haven’t written for a while – therefore I can’t write – therefore I haven’t written – therefore….. You get it. Chicken – egg. Chicken – egg.

Now, abruptly changing subjects…

This morning I scrolled through Twitter to find that Southern Charm’s Patricia Altschul recently put out feelers for a great fruit cake recipe with lots of nuts.

As much as everyone wants to hold on to summer, we can’t deny that fall is (almost) upon us. I thought posting my fruit cake recipe might help me mentally prepare for the holiday season ahead and, maybe, help crack my writers block.

I did my very best to perfect this recipe last fall when my life as an empty nester began and I had time to start perfecting things.

This is for you Miss Pat. I hope it does not disappoint.

Nutty Fruit Cake

Base: A good pound cake recipe  (Yes, I sometimes use a box mix). Boxed or homemade, follow cake directions then add Pinches of Cinnamon and Allspice to taste, One Large Egg, 1/3 c Dark Rum, 1/4 cup Brandy, 2 Tsp Heavy Whipping Cream, 1 tsp Soy Sauce

Into the batter, fold 3 Heaping Tsps each: Candied Mango, Dried Cherries, Dried Apricot, Dried Currants, Dried Cranberries, Chopped Pistachios, Chopped Hazelnuts plus 1 c Chopped Pecans and 1tsp Lemon Zest

Bake in a buttered pan according to your pound cake recipe

With a fork or toothpick, carefully pierce top of warm cake several times before adding glaze

Glaze: Heat 1/2 stick butter until it’s very slighty browned. Immediately whisk in 3 Tsps dark brown sugar, 3 Tsps Dark Rum, 2 Tsps Sherry, 3 Tsps Tangerine Juice, 1 tsp Tangerine Zest. Remove from heat when sugar is dissolved. Spoon over cake

Allow to cool and slice with a sharp knife

 

Enjoy

 

Ten Traditional Things Every Wedding Registry Should Include

Homemaking, Modern Manners, Weddings

I’ve recently had the opportunity to inventory some family heirlooms that have been stored at my grandparents home for decades. Among the items I unwrapped were stems of delicate crystal my great-grandmother received for her wedding (circa 1899) which made me so happy. I have several stems at my house but one was broken a few years ago and I had no idea more existed. The discovery was a most happy surprise.

I brought those goblets home with me to live with their kin and I left several interesting pieces of crystal and china on display at their home. Although they passed away in the 1990s (when they were in their 90s), my maternal grandparents left their house to my parents and it has become a vacation home of sorts for family and friends. Finding treasures from generations past really linked me to my heritage and me think about things young couples can acquire together that will start their own home and legacy. Here’s a list of ten things that should be on everyone’s registry.

1. China

2. Crystal

3. Silver

These first three items are the Holy Trinity of wedding gifts. Times have changed and entertaining has taken a casual turn but every proper home needs china dinnerware, crystal stemware and sterling silver flatware (I had my silver pattern picked out when I was 8 years old). Not only do these items make holiday tables sparkle but they elevate everyday life.

My paternal grandmother has used her sterling and china everyday her entire life (she just turned 101) and it’s always made a simple dish of ice cream or casual lunch seem special. There is no reason to reserve your formal pieces for formal occasions. Sure a few pieces will break and need to be replaced here and there but life is short. Use the good stuff.

4. A Mixer

A good mixer is the single best thing you can acquire to start your kitchen appliance collection. Bread can be toasted in the oven, coffee can be picked up at Starbucks but a heavy-duty mixer will do a lot more than mix cake batter. It can blend fresh juice, mix the perfect mashed veggies, whip up baby food and you can add attachments over time that will master a number of cooking tasks.

5. Single Old Fashioned Glasses

Crystal or glass, a single old-fashioned glass is the best vessel to start the proper bar. Except wine or champagne, it will elegantly hold any number of drinks your guests might request from nearly any cocktail to a simple club soda or soft drink. The next glass to acquire is a double old-fashioned glass that can be used for water, iced tea, lemonade as well as taller cocktails.

6. Champagne Flutes

Champagne requires a flute so even if your crystal stemware collection doesn’t include flutes when you’re stating out, make sure you have some inexpensive flutes among your barware. You can pick up a set at IKEA for about $10.00 and keep them on hand until you invest in pieces that match your crystal stemware. Keeping glasses crystal clear by hand washing and hand drying them will make them sparkle and look more expensive.

7. Beautiful Guest Towels

Even if you’re young and still use your college towels in your own bathroom (I think I had been married at least ten years before I discarded the college bath towels that had my name printed on them – insharpie.) We started out using them in our bathroom, then as make-shift painting tarps and finally, rags. Make sure you display lovely guest towels in your guest bath and have a couple of sets of decent towels for any over-nighters.

8. A Butter Dish

A pretty butter dish is a must for a formal table, makes the kitchen table pretty and looks nice when you open the fridge too. There are lots of inexpensive varieties out there if you don’t receive a crystal or china butter dish as a wedding gift.

9. Good Salt & Pepper Shakers

For large formal dinners, my mother sets her table with individual, crystal salt and pepper at each setting. For a table up to six guests, one set in sufficient but if you are expecting more, a set at each end of the table is optimum.

10. Mixing Bowls, Measuring Spoons, Tea Towels…

Every gracious bride/groom; bride/bride; groom/groom should include inexpensive staples on a wedding registry. Not every guest is in the financial position to send a place setting or sterling serving piece.

There has been an attitude among marrying couples that expects a wedding gifts financially on par with the cost of a guest’s attendance at the wedding. This philosophy shows nothing but entitlement and a huge lack of manners. If you spend $300 per person on your festivities and hope every gift will cover that cost is absurd.

Make sure you register for inexpensive everyday things like casual placements, cookbooks, everyday coffee mugs, wooden spoons. A guest on a budget will appreciate the opportunity to purchase something you want that won’t break the bank.