How I learned to chill out and make a pie crust

I was kind of a weird kid. I was fascinated by the kitchen and the preparing of good food for as long as I can remember. It seemed like alchemy, like magic, to me, how you could take a few  ingredients, mix them and simmer or roast or bake and turn them into this thing that would bring your people to the table to share food and love and time. I wanted to cook, and cook well. So I studied. I spent Saturday afternoons watching cooking shows on PBS (these were pre-Food Network days) and dreaming of my someday kitchen in my own little house. It was on one of these shows, a southern cooking show with Nathalie Dupree, that my love of making pie was born.


Many a decent cook has feared pie. It’s that crust–too tough, too soft, too sticky, too dry. There are so many things that could go wrong. But I remember very clearly Ms. Dupree putting my every pie crust fear to rest with a simple statement. That’s just a couple of dollars worth of ingredients. If you mess it up, just try it again. Think of how much your husband spends on golf clubs and greens fees and just throw the bad crust out and try it again. Of course, I was ten at the time, and didn’t understand the golf reference, but a light bulb went on in my head. What’s the worst thing that can happen? I have to scrap it and start over? Small price to pay for the joy of creating a culinary masterpiece to be shared with family and friends. I started making pies, and I’ve been conquering fun and delicious cooking techniques ever since.


When I saw this recipe for a Roasted Tomato Tart in Dupree’s Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, I thought it would be the perfect homage to that early inspiration for savory pie month. I had a bowlful of the last of the fall harvest of tomatoes, so I threw them in the oven with a splash of olive oil until they had cooked down and intensified in flavor. I made a simple butter-laden pate brisee, filled it with goat cheese and the roasted tomato, topped it with parmesan and baked it until golden. It was divine. Give it a go, or try any of the recipes in this comprehensive tome. I think you’ll agree that there’s no need to fear the pastry.

Roasted Tomato Tart

1 8 or 9 inch piecrust
1 ½ c grated or sliced fresh mozzarella, soft goat cheese, or other cheese, divided
1 recipe Oven Roasted tomatoes
2-3 T chopped fresh basil, thyme, oregano, or marjoram (I used a bit of basil salt I made over the summer)

Prebake the piecrust in a tart pan or free form and set aside to cool

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Layer the bottom of the piecrust with the cheese, reserving ¼ c for the top. Add teh tomatoes, speading evenly over the cheese. Move to a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and return to oven for a few minutes. Add herbs if desired. Allow to rest 5 minutes before cutting.


One response to “How I learned to chill out and make a pie crust

  1. Pingback: Summer Meal Roundup | Just Browsing·

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