Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Picnic Series: Tomato Hand Pies

It's summertime. The temperature is rising, but still has not gotten to the annoying heat that makes you want to become best friends with the AC; a breeze is lightly blowing, still allowing for that hat to stay on your head, while pushing the clouds away to reveal a blue sky. There is a tree-shaded spot on the grass overlooking the Charles River. In other words, it's the perfect scene for an afternoon picnic.

I'm not trying to brag about yesterday, but in a sense I think it is something to brag about. Around 4 p.m., six of us headed towards the Charles River Esplanade to finally have the picnic that I've anticipating for weeks.

I spent the morning and early afternoon cooking. It was exhausting, I'm not going to lie, but it was well worth it. The back ache and sore feet paid off when I was sitting on the esplanade enjoying a well deserved banquet.

I will post the recipes in different posts because I think each deserves it's own moment of glory (or at least this first recipe does).

These individual pies are delicious. Time-consuming? Yes, but they will impress your taste buds and leave you wanting to make them again. Also, they're perfect for a picnic since they require no cutlery; yet they still taste as if they were from a restaurant's main-course menu. Enjoy!

Tomato Hand Pies (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 1 recipe Pate Brisee (recipe below)
  • 2 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, cored, sliced 1/4 inch thick crosswise
  • 1 medium onion, quartered lengthwise, sliced crosswise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • S & P
  • 1/3 cup pitted black olives, chopped
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, carefully roll out dough into two 1/8 inch thick rectangles. With a pairing knife, cut 12 4-inch squares of dough. Line a muffin tin with squares, carefully pressing them down and to the sides; leave overhang. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Arrange tomato and onion slices on two rimmed baking sheets and drizzle with olive oil. sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes, until tomatoes begin to shrivel and onions become golden, switching sheets halfway. Let cool completely and transfer to a bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
  4. Reduce oven heat to 375 F.
  5. Divide half of the olives and feta cheese among the muffin cups. Top with 2 tablespoons of the tomato and onion mixture, if there is more left, distribute it evenly. Add remaining olives and feta to each muffin cup. Fold corners of dough towards center.
  6. Whisk egg yolk with water and brush pies lightly. Cook pies for 50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and insides are sizzling. Cool completely on rack before removing from tins.

Pate Brisee (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4-1/2 ice-cold cup water
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Add butter and mix with hands, pressing pieces with flour mixture to create a coarse meal.
  2. Slowly add half of the water and mix dough until just incorporated. Do not over mix. If more water is needed, add in small portions.
  3. Separate dough in two. On a floured surface, shape each into squares and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour (or freeze up to one month).

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