Don't you just love the sound of Tomato Hand Pies? It's like something your grandmother would make for her bridge club. Or something your great-aunt might take to the church social on a sultry summer Sunday.
We thought these hand pies -- small little bites baked in muffin tins -- sounded delightful. And last week, when heirloom tomatoes showed up in our CSA for the first time, we couldn't wait to try them.
As we said, the idea of Tomato Hand Pies is absolutely lovely. The execution? Not as nice.
The process started with making a simple pie dough -- in this case a pâte brisée made of flour, salt, water and a good dose of butter. We made ours Saturday morning before going to the pool, and left it to cool in the refrigerator.
When we got home and we were ready to cook, we rolled out the pie dough, cut it according to the recipe directions, placed each piece in a muffin tin and then left it to cool in the fridge.
While the dough was chilling, we chopped the tomatoes and onions, drizzled them in olive oil and roasted them for 30 minutes to bring out their flavors. And while that was roasting, we crumbled some feta, and chopped some olives and oregano.
Ready to assemble, we sprinkled a bit of the olive-feta mix into each cup, followed by the tomato-onion mix, and then a dollop more of the olive-feta mix. It was all easy enough.
The first sign of trouble came after the pies had cooled and it was time to remove them from the muffin tins. They wouldn't budge. The recipe hadn't suggested greasing the muffin tins prior to lining them with the dough, so we didn't.
We tried flipping the tin over and knocking on the bottom, hoping to shake them loose. A couple fell out, but the rest stayed locked up tight.
We tried slicing around the edge of the pies to loosen them up, but that just caused the crust to break off into pieces. Ultimately, we resorted to scooping out what crust and filling we could and leaving the rest. But let's face it, we're not above eating them directly from the tins.
So what about the taste? Well, the filling was really good. The olives and feta give a sharp counterbalance to the nicely sweet, roasted tomatoes and onions.
Though the filling was tasty, there just wasn't enough of it! Each pie was a lot of crust with not that much filling. Now, we like a good pie crust as much as the next guys -- and this is a really good crust -- but we just found ourselves wishing for a much higher filling-to-crust ratio.
Also, though this isn't a particularly difficult recipe to make, it's definitely a time-consuming one. Between making the dough, letting it rest, roasting the vegetables for the filling, the one-hour bake time and the half-hour cooling time, these aren't really something you can whip up on a whim.
Would we make these again? Well, as we said, the idea of Tomato Hand Pies is so quaint and lovely and adorable that we might try another attempt -- with some tweaks.
Obviously, we'd oil the muffin tins before putting the dough in. That might be enough to keep them from sticking to the sides.
We might also try using only enough dough for the sides of the muffin tins, leaving the tops open. They'd end up more like eggless mini-quiches, but it might be an improvement.
Any other ideas?
Makes 1 dozen; Serves 6
* All-purpose flour, for surface
* Pâte Brisée (recipe below)
* 2 1/2 pounds medium tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick crosswise
* 1 medium onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano, plus small sprigs for serving (optional)
* 1/3 cup chopped pitted oil-cured black olives
* 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (3/4 cup)
* 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pâte brisée to 1/8 inch thick. Using a paring knife, cut out twelve 4 1/2-inch squares, and fit into cups of a standard muffin tin, leaving an overhang. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide tomato and onion slices between 2 rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast, switching positions of sheets halfway through, until tomatoes begin to shrivel and onion slices are golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Divide half the chopped oregano, olives, and feta among the dough-lined tins. Top with tomato-onion mixture. Sprinkle remaining oregano, olives, and feta on top. Fold corners of dough toward centers. Brush with egg wash.
4. Reduce heat to 375. Bake pies until top crusts are golden brown and middles are bubbling, 50 to 60 minutes.
5. Let cool completely in tin on a wire rack. Tuck oregano sprigs into hand pies if desired.
* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
* 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
1. Pulse flour and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream until dough just comes together (no longer than 30 seconds).
2. If making tomato hand pies, divide dough in half, shape each into a square, and wrap in plastic. If making herb-leek tart, flatten dough into an oblong disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days), or freeze for up to 1 month.