Of Family, Tomotoes and Cookless Bacon


Editors Note: Who doesn’t love a good family bonding story – and over food no less? ES friend LC has been chronicling her grandmother’s recipes. And when I say recipe, I mean ES-style: ingredient listings, no measurements, no guidance. Luckily, LC’s mom is a culinary professional. Below they tackle Tomato Pie.

I made a comment about my project a little while ago.  My family’s recipes are kept by my grandmother in an accordion file full of scribblings and I have set out to transcribe them. The task has defeated one aunt and one cousin who said that it cannot be done because of the illegible handwriting, intentionally and unintentionally omitted items, and the color commentary (what is a “knuckle” of butter?)

I have spare time and talked my mom, a chef, into updating the recipes and gansie into posting them here for, frankly, additional help.  We made a three course meal this weekend but I will post the recipes one by one so you all can concentrate on the details much better than we could.

We’ll start with cryptic tomato pie. Read about my grandmother and mother’s differing food philosophies, cheating, and one tasty piece o’ pie below.

This is an example of what the recipes look like. This is a competing recipe for the one I used which, um, is missing pretty much everything:


To describe the scene: we cooked at my grandmother’s house. She is not, incidentally, my mom’s mother but her ex mother-in-law, which is not weird at all.  Mom C and I did the shopping in the hopes of substituting fresh ingredients for frozen and actual garlic for garlic powder.

The recipe also called for frozen pie crust but Mom C’s “cheat” was that she already had a delicious pie crust in the fridge. Did I mention she worked in pastry? Could you imagine having a crust in the fridge  just awaiting a pie to be made?!?!

We did, however, not buy enough bacon for the pie and our mother’s day brunch the next day so we had to use Grandmother C’s “cheat”:


Cook-less bacon. The difference in their cheats can tell you a little about their cooking styles: Mom C is a French trained chef. Grandma C had eleven kids and, in her words, “If it says ‘blanche’, ‘char’, or anything like that, I skip it.”

So the dish was already a pretty effective mix of their respective styles. We were appalled, but then we forgot the bacon so we used it. Frankly, it was delicious and easy as, well, pie. We served it at brunch and not one person noticed the bacon was contraband.

Oh, one version of the recipe also had something about puff pastry and egg glazes but we couldn’t figure out how that mixed with the pie crust. That’s why it’s cryptic tomato pie.

Mom C has lifted the mystery in her revised-for-ES recipe below.  She was in a twist about the soggy crust so recommends cooking it beforehand but she, as usual, was the only one who noticed. She also graciously included her pie crust recipe below. You will see the bacon and burned crusty basil on top in the photo. We decided those would hold up better inside the pie and the new recipe reflects that. Grandma C was more worried about its ability to feed an army (serves 6-8).

Next up: Chicken Almondzini.

Cryptic Heirloom Tomato Pie

1    9” pie crust, blind-baked – see recipe below
8    Tomatoes
8 oz.    Bacon, cooked and crumbled (or cookless – the horror!)
1 Tbsp.    Fresh basil
¾ cup    mayonnaise
¾ cup    Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 Tbsp.    Onion, finely minced
½ cup    cheese crackers, crushed
1 cup    Mozzarella cheese, grated

1.    Preheat oven to 350°
2.    Slice 8 tomatoes and drain well.( Salt helps with absorbing the moisture and the taste – LC note) Arrange 5 tomatoes overlapping in pie tin.
3.    Sprinkle bacon and basil on top of the tomatoes.
4.    Mix together mayo and parmesan. Spread on top of bacon.
5.    Sprinkle with crushed crackers.
6.    Layer with shredded mozzarella.
7.    Put remaining (3) salted tomatoes, well overlapped, on top.
8.    Bake for 30 minutes.

Cool pie for 20 minutes before slicing
Serves 8

9” Pie Crust
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups flour
½ cup butter
2 TBSP sour cream

Mix ingredients in blender until they begin to form a soft ball.
Pat into a buttered pie pan.  Line with pie weights or, place a sheet of silver foil over the pie crust and fill with rice.

Bake @425 for 15 minutes. Remove weights or foil and rice and continue baking for another 5-7 minutes.  Let cool before filling with tomatoes.

More Bacon: Recipes, raves and other bacon bits in Endless Bacon.

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  • BS May 18, 2009  

    Wow this is such an ambitious project! Measure-less grandma recipes are the best. And bacon in pie? Hell yes!

  • MaryBeth Mullen May 18, 2009  

    Sounds delicious, and the fact that there wasn’t a food fight is even more inspirational. You drank wine with this meal, right?! Thanks.

  • Maids May 18, 2009  

    Hey, that written recipe has a few more measurements than I’m usually able to give to those who ask for my cooking advice. It even calls for a tablespoon of basil (I would have probably said ‘a few liberal dashes of dry basil’ or ‘half a handful of fresh basil.’ I don’t even own a measuring cup!

  • LC May 18, 2009  

    @MB: we actually drank harvey wallbangers. seriously. more on that in a possible future post.

    and it just occurred to me this I should have called this heirloom tomato pie. sigh. pun opportunity missed. everyone else should make this with heirloom tomatoes.

  • gansie May 18, 2009  

    @LC – we can never resist a good pun around here. title changed.

  • LC May 18, 2009  

    @Maids: weirdly the tablespoon of basil was very clear you can even see it in the recipe above although I’m thinking they didn’t mean fresh basil so much. I assure you. No actual tablespoons were used when preparing this dish.
    @gansie: it is now complete. thanks.

  • Pingback: All By Myself | Endless Simmer - A Food Blog August 4, 2009  

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