If you are a parent and you live in the Seattle area, chances are you have heard of Caspar Babypants. Mr. Babypants is the alter ego of Chris Ballew, otherwise known as the lead singer of The Presidents of the United States of America and also former schoolmate of mine. (He was several years ahead of me so while I knew who he was, he had no idea I existed.) Caspar Babypants has four CDs of music out that are extremely unique in that kids and adults alike know and love the songs. I will get them stuck in my head for days. My kids know the words and whenever we see him around town (he does frequent and free shows), I am always amazed at how the kids just dig him.
One of his songs is called “Baby in a Corn Tree” and has the lyric, “Baby in a corn tree, wants to wear a poncho, flying through the river on a steaming hot day.” It makes no sense but it is catchy. So catchy in fact, that whenever I contemplate making or eating corn, this very lyric pops into my head. Seeing as we are barreling down the path to full-blown corn season, this could be a problem.
It’s worth it though, having a children’s song lyric that makes no sense stuck in my head for the next month or so, if it means I can eat things like this pie.
I had a, uh, moment last night with my husband over this pie. I made it because I have been wanting to ever since it came out in Gourmet (sniff), because I needed to test it for some upcoming classes, because it sounded so incredibly good to me, and because I thought Randy would love it. A tender crust, tomatoes, fresh corn, herbs, sharp Cheddar cheese – all right up Randy’s alley, especially the corn part. But no. He liked the crust but thought the filling needed more “oomph”. What exactly have I created here? Randy is, of course, welcome to his opinions and is generous with his praise when he likes something, but disappointed because of lack of “oomph” in a homemade savory pie on a Monday night? People, can I get an amen here?
For the record, in my opinion, there was no lack of oomph. It’s summer and that means that good ingredients speak for themselves. There is no need for a thick custard filling when tomatoes and corn and herbs are at seasonal perfection. The crust is super easy to make and is perfect for this particular pie – not too crust-like, more like a biscuit. I wondered why a bit of mayo thinned with lemon juice made an appearance here but it was a perfect bit of creaminess without being too heavy.
As much as I loved Gourmet and as much as I miss receiving it in my mailbox every month, their recipes often seemed overly fussy to me. I have streamlined this one a bit to make it more of a weeknight meal.
One Year Ago: Holly B’s Fruit Scones
Two Years Ago: Zesty Tofu Wraps
Three Years Ago: Pasta with Cauliflower and Peppers, and Walnut Pesto
Tomato and Corn Pie
Adapted from Gourmet
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1¾ tsp. salt, divided
¾ stick cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, plus 2 tsp. melted
¾ cup whole milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise (DT: I used low-fat)
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, or more as necessary
2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes, sliced crosswise ¼-inch thick, divided
3 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cobs
¼ cup chopped fresh basil, divided
2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1½ cup sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and ¾ tsp. salt, then blend in cold butter (¾ stick) with your fingertips or a pastry blender until is resembles coarse meal. Add milk, stirring until mixture just forms a dough, then gather into a ball.
Divide dough in half and roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface, into a 12-inch round. The dough is pretty sticky, so be sure to keep moving it around the surface and sprinkling lightly with flour as needed. Roll the dough over the rolling pin and unroll it into a 9-inch pie plate. Pat into place with your fingers and trim any overhang.
Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice. You want a thick pourable consistency, so add more lemon juice if necessary.
Arrange half of the tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half the corn half the herbs, ½ tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Repeat with another layer of the same. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Pour lemon mayonnaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round in same manner, then fit over filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching edge to seal. Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and brush crust with melted butter (2 tsp).
Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes, then cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.