I do love a live cooking contest. Whether it is an actual cook off or simply a bring it and get judged event, they are loads of fun. The best part is that the competitors bring their A-game. You get the opportunity to try other recipe that people think are wonderful (and they were) and meet your competition in person, which rarely happens with recipe contests that you simply send in a recipe and wait to see if you have won anything.
About mid week last week, my friend Susan sent me link to the pie contest and it took me about half a minute to decide that I should enter it. 250+ mini pies? Oh sure, why not. So I searched my pie recipes and chose the most local, seasonal and Summer pie I could come up with, my Tomato Caprese Pie. However, the original recipe has a lattice crust and I was not weaving a lattice top on 250 mini pies…..come on now, I know I am obsessed with cooking and contesting but even I have my limits!
Here’s a picture of the original recipe–and if you want the original recipe, just search for Tomato Pie in the search box:
So, in spite of the heat wave, I made 15 batches of parmesan pie crust on Thursday, roasted countless pounds of tiny tomatoes sliced what seemed like a ton of gorgeous ripe tomatoes, locally sourced the rest of the ingredients and forged on. And thank God for my Mom and super boyfriend Tim, we got it all done by about 1:45 early Sunday AM……..
I believe at nearly 2:00 am the count was 278……and there were so many people at the event that I started dividing the pies in two half way through the event for two reasons: people were getting full and I was afraid I would run out of pies!
I was so thrilled to compete on Sunday in The Food Experiment’s Pie contest that was held at The Middle East in Cambridge. There were so many great sweet and savory recipes–I wish I got to try them all! Some people wore costumes, some had great table decor and others kept it simple and let the pie speak for itself. The great brother and sister team next to me came up with an amazing tiny French tart, a Pissaladiere, which was made with onions, olives and anchovies with an herbs de provence butter crust that was delicious beyond words…well maybe there was a word….amazing.
I wish I wasn’t so busy doling out nearly 300 servings of pie so that I could have taken more pictures.
Check out the totally cool vintage fabric tablecloth that my friend (and vintage fabric dealer and coincidentally the person who told me about this contest) loaned me for the event. I had a big bouquet of fresh basil and kept is simple.
In the end, I didn’t end up winning one of the big prizes but I really felt like a winner no matter what. The guys that produced the event, Nick and Theo (who were cooking competitors themselves) did an amazing job and made it a totally fun and rewarding day all around and if they do it again next year, you can count me in! Thanks Guys and congratulations to all of the winners!
Here is the recipe to make about 24 cupcake sized Rustic Summer Tomato Caprese Pies—you might have to adjust the amounts for the fresh ingredients a bit, depending on the size of your tomatoes.
Rustic Summer Tomato Caprese Pie
For the Crust:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup frozen butter, cut in small pieces
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, divided
6 to 8 tablespoons ice cold water
For the filling:
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Italian herb blend or dried oregano, divided
2 pounds heirloom tomatoes
1 tablespoon tapioca
1/2 cup prepared nut free basil pesto (I make my own)
½ pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in to small slices
2/3 cup julienne sun dried tomatoes (not oil packed)
1 cup panko crumbs
Salt & pepper to taste
In the bowl of a food processor (or by hand, or with a fork, or a pastry blender) combine flour and butter until butter is incorporated and the size of small peas. Blend in 1/4 cup cheese. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing if you are using the processor until dough forms a loose ball. Divide in half, form into two discs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour or until ready to use–this step can be done a day or two in advance.
When ready to bake pie, preheat oven to 300.
Toss cut grape or cherry tomatoes with oil, one tablespoon herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Roast in preheated oven for 1 hour until lightly browned and caramelized, shaking pan occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.
Increase oven temperature to 350. Line 24 muffin tins with grease proof liners and set aside.
Slice heirloom tomatoes into ¼” slices and lay flat on a kitchen towel to remove some of the moisture. Lay another towel on top and press down lightly. Cut in to small pieces to fit in cups.
Divide pie crust in to 24 equal portions and roll in to 4” circles. Sprinkle tapioca on to crusts and top chopped sun dried tomatoes. Layer a fresh tomato slice over sun dried and then about 1/2 teaspoon pesto. Top pesto with sliced cheese and another layer of sliced fresh tomatoes. Top with one or two roasted tomatoes.
Mix panko crumbs with remaining parmesan cheese and herbs. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon over roasted tomatoes. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until crust is golden brown. Allow to cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 24 servings.