Tomato tart more evidence the living is easy

San Luis Obispo - The TribuneOctober 9, 2012 

With our great influx of out of town visitors, I have been enjoying all the conversations learning about their backgrounds and what appeals to them about our fair village. A couple from San Jose mentioned making lots of fresh tomato sauce from the bounty of their first home garden crops, and I shared my tips about cooking for one person and making use of “tag ends” of various veggies.

For instance, if you use half of a large onion, cut from the top end and save the hairy root end — it will last longer wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge. When cutting the nice green tips of scallions for your salad or enchiladas, save the cluster of bulb ends and stand them upright in a glass of water on the windowsill. The roots will continue to grow, and so will the green tips, providing you with a continuous supply of tender snippets for your omelette.

While watching the Marine Band’s magnificent performance at Pinedorado, Doyle Souders, a part-timer from Sunnyvale, recognized this Culinary Columnist sitting next to him, and recommended his wife’ s famous tomato pie. As we talked, heads whipped around in amazement, a sure sign we needed the recipe for all our readers. So, courtesy of Cynthia (Cindy) Souders, I present you with an entertaining guest columnist, almost verbatim:

Summer Tomato Tart

Crust:

1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. snipped fresh basil

1/2 cup shortening

1 8-oz. container French onion dip

Filling:

5-6 tomatoes, sliced and drained (beefsteak, heirloom, etc.)

2 tblsp. shredded fresh basil (or more to taste)

3/4 cup mayo

1-1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients; cut in shortening-like pie crust with a pastry blender (or two forks). Add dip, and mix in. Press into the bottom and sides of an 8-inch glass pie plate and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile slice and blot the tomatoes well between paper towels. Layer one-half of tomatoes in the tart shell, sprinkle with basil and finish with the second half of the tomatoes. Mix the mayo and cheese and spread over the top layer. Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes (don’t underbake). Makes six servings.

“This recipe was given to me about 20 years ago, and became an instant family favorite. We usually serve it with a grilled tri-tip and fresh corn on the cob, for a lovely summer meal. To ensure success, you will want to use fully ripe summer tomatoes to really enjoy the flavors.

“Don’t be afraid of this recipe if you shudder at the thought of making crusts — there is no rolling out, as the dough is mixed and dumped into the pie plate. No technique is necessary, but I tend to make the bottom of the crust rather shallow and the sides thicker and high above the plate, as you would for a regular pie crust (that way the crust gets nice and crispy around the edge).”

As to what has drawn them to Cambria: “Doyle and I purchased our ‘Sea Escape’ home on Marine Terrace in 2002. Although part-timers, we relish the weekends and holidays practicing ‘The Art of Doing Nothing’ with family and friends. The highlight of an afternoon may be enjoying the gorgeous sunsets — which I refer to as ‘diamonds on the water.’

“We have also fallen in love with the glamour and history of Hearst Castle, and enjoy many of their fundraising events. By far, our favorite weekend is Labor Day and the Pinedorado. The parade is a slice of middle America that just has to be experienced. So, we help set out the white tablecloths and bud vases at Madeline’s, while chef David unselfishly whips up omelettes for all of us; and we wave our flags and hold up out “10” paddles, cheering on the floats, bands and participants.

“What a way to start your morning! The patriotism in Cambria is unlike anything we have ever experienced, and we continue to be amazed by the musical talent and showmanship of the Marine Band. But, alas, all weekends have to come to an end, so after indulging in pastries from the French Bakery, prime rib eyes from Soto’s, and seared ahi at the Black Cat Bistro, we have to say good bye — but only until the next weekend. Who could ask for more?”

Consuelo Macedo’s column is special to The Cambrian. Send your personal recipes to her c/o The Cambrian, 2442 Main St., Cambria CA 93428; or email to cambrian@thetribunenews.com.

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