Thursday, October 11, 2012

Green Tomato Pie

It's an annual tradition for me to make green tomato pie from unripe fruit. I usually have a bumper crop of green tomatoes. This year I had just enough for one pie.

Green tomatoes have a tart flavor very close to apples with a slight hint of a ripe tomato undertone. Where tastes and smells can resemble each other, the undertone is a hint of how the tomato leaf smells to me. Tomatoes are also known as pomme d'amour or "love apples" since they were thought to be an aphrodisiac. A little fruit history digression for you.

Back to the pie. For the filling, the tomatoes must be green without any hint of ripening. Don't use fruit that lacks shine in their skin. Since I grow mostly cherry-size tomatoes, I cut mine into quarters and toss into a 2 quart saucepan with honey or sugar or other favorite sweetener. I like to use a mixture of brown sugar, granulated (white) sugar, and cinnamon as my base. I squeeze a little lemon into it, finely grated fresh ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg. Rummaging through my spice drawer, I rediscovered "grains of paradise" and added a few pinches as well. Grains of paradise are the seeds from Aframomum melegueta,a plant in the ginger family. The ground seeds resemble black peppercorns in appearance and taste with a slight hint of citrus. Heat the mixture over medium heat. The tomatoes will lose their bright green color as they cook. Adjust the seasonings to taste once the tomatoes are fully cooked.

I used Thomas Keller's basic pie crust recipe from ad hoc which I like to call his "do-able" cookbook. While I am more than happy to enjoy the food made from the French Laundry cookbook (or better yet, in person at the French Laundry), I don't have the patience for even attempting the recipes myself. I'll leave that to my husband. There's no need to have two of us cooking like that. Anyway, here's a quote from the recipe.

...I believe that feeling comfortable making a pie dough is one of those essential skills any cook should have...

Well, my dough wasn't a disaster but it wasn't going to wow anyone either. Not that I'm making an excuses, but my 3 year old did help with the dough. He couldn't help holding the dough when we pulled it from the fridge. The crust is his favorite part of the pie--who wouldn't agree?! I brushed on a light egg wash just before it finished baking.

The final product. Green tomato pie...a farewell to summer.

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