Galivants Ferry Tomato Pie

Miniature tomato pie

Today’s story actually began earlier this week when my cousin Amy and her daughter drove up from Galivants Ferry.  Just having them visit was a treat, but they showed up with another treat too:  a bag full of produce that Amy’s husband had grown on the family farm.  Vegetables grown in that patch of earth are the best anywhere, according to my late mother.  The surrounding land has been farmed by my family since the late 18th century; in fact, a peach tree brought over from England by my ancestors thrived in the fertile soil for well over a century.  Amy’s branch of the family tree is the last of our line to live there.  All week we’ve feasted on Horry County squash, green peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  Today one lonely tomato remained on the counter–destined for a BLT.  Until I received an email from my sister-in-law Betsy in Wilmington.

I don’t remember Betsy ever sending me a recipe before.  It’s as though she knew about that lone Galivants Ferry tomato that was too good to meet its fate on a common BLT.  Betsy’s friend Lou had emailed her an old-fashioned tomato pie recipe, and Betsy rightly guessed I’d love to have it!  But unfortunately I had only ONE tomato, and the recipe called for three!  With my burgeoning collection of pie pans, ranging in size from 1 inch to 12 inches, this was a problem I could overcome.  I pulled out my stack of 4-inch quiche pans and went to work.

After perusing Betsy and Lou’s delicious recipe, I decided to leave out the onions to please my hubby’s taste buds.  And, to cover all my bases, I looked over at Southern Plate to see if Christy Jordan had any advice for me.  I picked up a great tip there which I’ll get back to in a minute.

Galivants Ferry Tomato  Pie

1 ripe tomato, preferably grown in Galivants Ferry
handful of tiny boxwood basil leaves** (See note below.)
4 to 6 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
3(ish) tablespoons mayonnaise
3 baked 4-inch pie shells*  (See note below.)

Cut the bottom and top from the tomato, and slice it  into six slices.  Now comes the tip from Christy Jordan:  lightly sprinkle the tomato slices with salt and place them in a colander for 10 minutes.  This will cause the tomatoes to be less watery, a characteristic that my hubby noticed with his first bite of pie tonight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the pie shells from the quiche pans, and place the pie shells on a shiny, insulated baking sheet.  Place one drained tomato slice in each shell; trim the tomato slices if necessary.  Sprinkle each tomato slice with a few tiny basil leaves and a scant tablespoon cheddar cheese.  Layer with another tomato slice and another scant tablespoon of cheddar cheese.  Finish by spreading about one tablespoon or less mayonnaise on each pie to completely cover the tops.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pies are bubbly and lightly browned.  Cool the pies slightly and garnish them with tiny basil leaves.  Take a picture right now because they’ll soon disappear before your very eyes.

*For the 4-inch pie shells, make half of my pastry recipe found here.   After chilling the dough, make three balls, each a little smaller than a tennis ball–about 3 oz. dough per ball.  Roll each ball out into a 6 -inch circle.  Trim the tattered edges to prevent tearing.  Gently fold each circle in half and ease pastry into 4-inch quiche pans***.  Gently press the pastry into the pans with your thumb, pressing together any tears****.  Cut off the excess pastry along the rims of the pans using a knife or your thumb. Cut out three 6 -inch squares of wax paper.  Crease each square into fourths.  Unfold the squares and ease the squares down into the pans.  Add enough ceramic pie weights to each pan  to cover the bottom.  Trim away the excess wax paper.  Chill the filled pans for twenty minutes.  Bake the pie shells in a preheated 400 degree oven on a shiny NON-insulated baking sheet for 12 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Carefully lift out the waxed paper and pie weights.  Return the pie shells (without the pie weights) to the oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes longer, or until very, very lightly browned.  Cool.

**Now about the basil!  I adore the variety called boxwood basil.  The leaves are tiny, and the growing habit resembles a boxwood.  I bought one last month at my neighborhood Home Depot.  I also ordered seeds from Burpee, and I have some seedlings in pots on my terrace.   Once you try boxwood basil, you’ll be hooked!

***If you’d like your own stack of 4-inch quiche pans, write to me in the comments section below.  I’ll see if I can order some for you.

****To help reduce the tearing of the pastry, keep the dough, your tools, and the kitchen cold!  Before beginning to roll out the dough, I typically roll my silicone pie mat and rolling pin in clean kitchen towels and place them in the freezer for about 15 minutes.  As I work with the dough, I totally finish with one ball before going on to the next one; that is, I roll it, place it in the pan, pat it into place, and trim the top around the rim before starting on the next pan.  If I’m working with more than 4 pans, I take out a small amount of dough from the refrigerator at a time.  Keeping the dough and all of your tools cool is a key to success!




June 23, 2012   3 Comments

Classic Strawberry Pie

This spring-like weather puts me in the mood for strawberry pie!  Although strawberry season here in South Carolina is still months away, the berries are ripe for picking in Florida. Thanks to my neighborhood Publix (which is headquartered just up the road from the Sunshine State’s strawberry capital), I have more berries than I can possibly eat.  So, I’m going to share with you!

When my family lived in Oviedo, Florida, I looked forward to this time of year.  My friends and I loved to meet up at my house to bake flaky, made-from-scratch crusts before heading out to Pappy’s Patch to pick our own red jewels.  With our berry baskets overflowing, we returned to my kitchen to assemble our delicious pies.

If you live north of Florida, you’ll have to visit the produce market before you make your pie today.  However, you’ll want to keep this recipe handy.  When strawberry season arrives in your area, round up some pals, pick some berries, and bake some pies—together!

Here’s the pie my friends and I made with those fresh berries from Pappy’s Patch!  This photo and the one above were taken by Patricia Cates.

Before you head to the patch or market for fresh berries, let’s make the pie crust so it will have lots of time to cool before you add the filling.  Here’s what you need to get started:

For the recipe only, click here.  Keep scrolling for the recipe + tips and step-by-step photos.
Pastry Dough for a 9-inch Pie Crust
11 ¾ ounces Pillsbury All Purpose Flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter All Purpose Sticks*
4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons ice water

*In a future post I’ll address the issue of margarine, baking sticks, and butter.  I have lots to write!  But for now, suffice it to say that it’s important for you to use a product which is 79% to 80% oil, containing 11 grams of fat per serving.  Oh, I can’t help myself:  I’ve just got to give you some advice right now!  Train yourself to read margarine/baking stick/spread labels.  Please promise me that you will do this each time you shop–forever.  If you’re buying a product for baking, 79% oil is the absolute minimum you should buy.  Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox and get back to the recipe—for now.

In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and salt; pulse once to mix. Add the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter All Purpose Sticks (margarine); pulse about 10 times, or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Strain the water before measuring to remove ice.  Add the water, sprinkling around the top of the flour mixture.  Pulse 10 more times, or just until the pastry begins to form a ball on one side of the work bowl. Don’t over-process the pastry.  Turn the dough out and press it into a disk.  Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to three days.

Weigh the flour for best results.

Cut all purpose sticks (margarine) into pieces before adding to work bowl.

Pulse flour, salt, & all purpose sticks (margarine) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Strain ice water before measuring–ice in the pastry dough is not a good thing!

After adding water, pulse about 10 times, or until the dough pulls to one side and begins to form a ball.

Turn the dough out and press it into a disk.  Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to three days.

Turn the chilled disk out onto a lightly-floured surface.  For best results, keep the kitchen as cool as possible during this step so that the pastry doesn’t become too warm to hold its shape. Roll the disk into a 14-inch circle. Trim the uneven edges of the circle with a knife. Using a bench scraper, fold the pastry in half.  Gently transfer the pastry to a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan and unfold it.  Press the pastry into the pan with your thumb.  Trim the overhang with a knife. Line the pastry with wax paper, and fill it with ceramic pie weights or dried beans.  Chill for 30 minutes to four hours.  Chilling the dough yields a flakier crust.

Dust the rolling surface lightly with flour; sprinkle a few teaspoons of flour on top of the pastry dough.

Roll pastry dough into a 14-inch circle; trim ragged edges with a knife to prevent tearing.

Ease the pastry into the pan.

Use your thumb to gently press the pastry into the pan.

Trim the pastry dough from the edges of the pie pan. I use a steak knife for this task.

Crease a large square of waxed paper and place it on top of the crust.

Fill the crust with ceramic pie weights or dried beans.  This step is important!

While the pie crust is chilling, roll out the pastry scraps and cut into miniature strawberry shapes.  Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, poke holes on each cut-out to resemble the bumps on strawberries.  Place the shapes on a waxed paper-covered pan, cover with plastic wrap, and chill. If you’re short on time, skip the cut-outs.  Your pie will be beautiful without them.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Bake the weighted, chilled pie shell for 12 minutes; remove the pie shell from the oven.  Carefully remove the ceramic pie weights and the wax paper by gathering the corners of the wax paper and lifting up.  Moisten the back of each cut-out with a drop of water and press them around the edge of the pie shell. Bake the pie shell for an additional 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool completely.

All it needs now is the filling (and a fork)!


Strawberry Pie Glaze

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
1 (3-ounce box) strawberry-flavored Jello

Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a saucepan; add the water; mix with a wire whip until well combined.  Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it bubbles and becomes translucent–about 8 to 12 minutes.  Remove from the heat and  stir in the Jello; whisk for a full two minutes to completely dissolve the gelatin.  Pour the mixture into a tempered glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Chill for 30 minutes to an hour.  If the mixture becomes too firm to pour, microwave it for a few seconds.


Classic Strawberry Pie

1 9-inch pie shell, baked and cooled
1 recipe Strawberry Pie Glaze
2 quarts fresh strawberries

Remove the tops of the strawberries and wash them under cold running water.  Drain the strawberries in a paper towel-lined pan.  Slice the berries, and blot them completely dry with a paper towel.  This important step prevents the pie from becoming too watery.

If you skip this step you’ll have strawberry soup!

Pile the berries into the pie shell.  Gently spoon or pour the cooled filling over the berries.  Refrigerate the pie for 30 minutes to one hour before serving.  Garnish with mint and enjoy!

Pile those babies in.

Here’s the pie I made today!

I think my husband had a taste!









February 29, 2012   6 Comments

The Blog is Finally Here

I’ve finally added a blog!  Check back on Leap Day, February 29, for my first “real” entry.  Strawberry season is in full swing in Florida, so  I’m going to show you how to make a delicious strawberry pie!

February 27, 2012   1 Comment