Tomato Pie with Ricotta, Pesto, and Bacon

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I’m obsessed with fresh tomatoes. I usually spend at least a third of my budget on tomatoes whenever I visit the farmer’s market. And usually I just get them home and eat them sliced with kosher salt. But recently I’ve been thinking of other applications for fresh tomatoes aside from the usual go-to’s like caprese salad or tomato sauce. And then it hit me – pie! A cheesy pie!!! Mmmm.

I layered ricotta cheese (whipped with egg and pesto) with thick fresh slices of tomatoes and crumbled bacon, all topped with fresh mozzarella cheese to create a sinfully delicious and comforting meal that could easily feed 6 if not 8. Perfect for a chilly fall evening. Serve with fresh hot crusty bread and a salad – it’s divine. And if you’re a vegetarian, you can replace the bacon with some sauteed spinach and garlic… but do you really not want bacon? I don’t think so.

Before I give you the recipe, a brief word about pie crust. I have long been an advocate of Pilsbury refrigerated pie crusts. They are delicious and can usually be found fairly inexpensively, particularly around the holidays. However, I recently have become obsessed with making my own pie crust just because it’s on my list of things I want to get good at making. For this pie I used a recipe I found in a book I have called Pastry Cook by Catherine Atkinson. The results were pretty remarkable, but I would still not hesitate to go the Pilsbury route if you’re not feeling that ambitious. I don’t really want to spend blog space on pie crust, but if you’re looking to take the leap into homemade, I would start with Ina Garten’s Perfect Pie Crust. That bitch can make some pie.

Whatever you do, it’s tomatoes, bacon, and cheese – it’s not going to be bad!!

Tomato Pie (Recipe PDF)

Candy Bar Pie

In my second video recipe I show you how to make a delicious (and wickedly sinful) treat that your friends will freak for but will take you no time at all to prepare. Candy Bar Pie is a phenomenally versatile recipe that I hocked from my roommate. Her grandmother would always make it with Cadbury chocolate bars, which is decadent and amazing, but I take it a step further and say you can use any candy bars you like. Whatever you use. the same tasty rich results will follow. Mmmm.

Now, even though in the video I tell you to freeze the pie for 4 hours, you can easily get away with only 1, but I will say that the longer it freezes, the easier it is to cut and eat. Also, you’ll hear me comment on some “leftover bits” when I scoop the mixture into the pie crust. Sometimes when the hot chocolate hits the cold Cool Whip, it will seize up and harden before it gets a chance to blend – that’s ok. You’ll find it gives the pie wonderful texture. And come on, it’s a pie made of candy bars – what else do you want?

Promise me one thing: you will make this pie only when you know for SURE you’re feeding a crowd with it. It’s scary how fast you can mow through half a pie all by yourself… not that I would know…

Candy Bar Pie (Recipe PDF)

Crust Knots

I’m an unapologetic user of store bought refrigerated pie crust. Correction – I’m an unapologetic user of PILLSBURY refrigerated pie crusts. Unless it’s Thanksgiving when everything is extra special and over-the-top and you just have to make the crust lest you desecrate the fictional sacred tradition of our puritan ancestors, then yes I’ll make a pie crust… but let’s be serious, even then no one would really care or likely even notice (at least no one at my Thanksgiving table). If there is any downside to using a refrigerated pie crust, it would be that one winds up with a lot of excess crust. Though now that I think of it, you can hardly call this a downside. I mean who doesn’t want extra pie crust? And come on, the starving artist wastes nothing, particularly a chance to get creative with pie crust dough. And that’s just what I’ve done.

When making the blueberry pie I posted about earlier this week, I wound up not only with extra pie crust, but a ton of extra egg wash, which I feel like is also something of which one always has too much. So, while my pie was baking, I pulled out a baking sheet and got to work on the extra dough. I broke up the dough into 2-inch strips and sort of wrapped each strip around itself into a little knot-shaped bundle. I then dropped all of the knots into the bowl of leftover egg wash and tossed them gently. Then, they were  plunged into a bowl filled with cinnamon and sugar and tossed to coat (I use a 2 to 1/2 ratio granulated sugar to cinnamon). After giving the baking sheet a spray with non-stick spray I arranged the knots onto the sheet and threw them in the oven with the pie. Once they were browned and crisp, I removed them from the oven and brushed on a bit of melted butter. Yes. Instant tasty treat – no waste, no extra fuss, totally resourceful, and totally addictive. And the really good news is you can bake these at whatever temperature you’re already baking at, just keep an eye on them for doneness. Yummm!!!!

You know, this is inspiring me to explore other ways of using pie crust that isn’t crust for pie. I feel like the possibilities are endless…. any other ideas out there?