Tag Archives: pie

Deep South Tomato Pie

The end of tomato season is almost tragic.  Not only is this favorite food lying low for four or five months but it’s an obvious sign that summer is over.  Pools are way too cold to dip a toe in.   Cotton nightgowns have been put away and it’s dark out at 6:00 p.m.  I told a friend it makes me feel like Persephone on her way to the underworld.  I hate you, Hades, and your stupid pomegranate, too!  On the upside we have college ball which I’m crazy about.  Plus this is the time of year when Trader Joe’s carries brussel sprouts on the stalk, figs are in season and one can work out outside and not faint from heat stroke.  Tomatoes, though, are not the sweet, juicy apples of love they were just last month.  It’s okay if the last of the tomatoes just don’t have enough flavor because this is the recipe which will make them sing.  Baked with a generous amount of fresh basil and grated cheeses, this pie is heaven served next to a homemade mixed green salad.  Tomato Pie has been around forever in the South and not only makes wise use of the last-of-the-season fruit but is a perennial favorite at baptisms, first communions, funerals, brunches and pot lucks.  I always make two; one for my house and one to give away or take to one of the aforementioned functions.  The pie needs to be enjoyed relatively soon after baking as the bottom will get soggy if it sits around too long, as with any pie.  It can be re-heated but only in the oven.  Heated in a microwave turns this little jewel into a squishy, wet mess.  It’s super easy to prepare and the crust is merely Bisquick and milk mixed together and patted into your pan.  There’s no ice-cold, cubed butter or rolling out involved.  And everybody loves it.  So when you’re craving some ‘maters but Mother Earth has other ideas, try this recipe out.  It won’t let you down and Fall’s injustices will turn into Autumn’s glories!


Deep South Tomato Pie

  • Servings: one 9 inch deep dish pie
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and cut into thin ribbons
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise, Duke’s or Hellman’s
  • about 2 pounds not-so-ripe tomatoes, peeled, sliced and drained on a thick layer of paper towels.  It’s okay if you don’t quite have the 2 pounds but you don’t want more as the ingredients will over flow when the pie is baked.  We’ve all been there!
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° and cover lightly a 9″ pie pan with non-stick spray.  Set aside.
  2. Place cheddar, basil, parmesan and mayonnaise in a medium-sized bowl and mix until completely combined.  Set aside.
  3. While the tomatoes drain on the paper towels, mix the Bisquick with the milk in a medium size bowl until a dough ball has formed.
  4. Dump the dough into the pie pan and lightly grease your hands.  Gently press the dough evenly over the bottom of the dish and all the way up the sides.
  5. Using your fingers or a pastry brush spread the mustard over the pressed pie shell.
  6. Sprinkle tomatoes with the black pepper and layer the tomatoes evenly over the pie shell.
  7. Cover the tomatoes with the cheese mixture and spread evenly.  I find breaking it apart with my hands is easiest.
  8. Bake in the oven for 60-90 minutes until the cheese turns a warm, golden color.
  9. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes prior to serving to make for easier slicing.

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Frozen Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pie…hey, Lawdy mama!


About a week I got the most fierce hankering for some peanut butter and chocolate pie, the kind with a chocolate cookie crust.  And cold.  It had to be freezing.  It’s gotten so hot out that, like Key Lime Pie, a cold, creamy pie with a crunchy cookie crust is most welcome.  I wanted those sweet followed by salty flavors in my mouth and pronto.  Growing up, Dad was the only person in our house interested in peanut butter.  We always had a jar which was rock-hard because Mama insisted it be stored in the refrigerator.  What does a lady from Puerto Rico, who has no idea how to cook or even maneuver through the kitchen, know about peanut butter?  The only time I was even vaguely interested in peanuts was driving to and from college.  My roommate, Cindy, was from Fort Lauderdale.  In fact, we even went to high school together.  Anchor love, roomie!  Anyway, we’d be flying along, always barefooted, probably singing, in her little chocolate brown Toyota on I-75 when we’d catch a glimpse of a giant, beige blob in the sky.  That meant  we were either entering or leaving Ashburn, Georgia and the world’s largest peanut was looming ahead.


We’d laugh and laugh.  I mean, really.  Who cares that much about peanuts?  Well, I’ll tell you what.  I did.   Last week.  Roasted, salty, sweet, chocolate-y, creamy, dreamy, cold…  Bring it!  Perfect for Memorial Day weekend especially since this pie requires being made in advance and there’s no sweaty baking involved.  Slap this pie together and you’ll be a hero this weekend!


This recipe calls for freezing the pie as opposed to chilling it.  Strange, but, although I initially chilled the pie for 24 hours, when my family tasted it they all, and I mean ALL, said, “It’s so good I just wish it was colder.  Can you freeze it?”.  Hell, yeah I can!  And I did.  That’s about all it needed.  The crust can be made with the cookie of your choice.  I like chocolate graham crackers but Oreo’s may be used and are just fine.  I feel Oreo’s make the pie way too sweet but that’s just me.  You could even use Nutter Butter cookies.  Whatever strikes your fancy.  It’s an incredibly rich pie so cut your slices smaller than usual.  To make serving easier, I cut the pie into quarters then cut the quarters into individual portions.  I use the largest chef’s knife I own to cut it after the pie has sat on the counter 10-15 minutes to slightly soften.  After buying the peanut butter cup candies at the store, chill them in the refrigerator before and after chopping so they don’t melt into the pie batter.  The PB mini-cups decorating the edge of the pie are optional.  They look good but were just too sweet for me.  I left them on the edge of my plate.  I had some leftover cookie crumbs and scattered them on top.  And I bought a single serving bag of salted, roasted peanuts, you know… the kind you’d drop in your ice cold bottle of coke if you lived in the South?  Tossed them all over that pie and it was a triumph to behold and perfect for a holiday weekend.  So happy Memorial Day to Daddy and all our veterans.  Have a piece of pie!

Chess Pie in the House…both Chocolate and Lemon!


I don’t often make pies because I’m not crazy about them.  But every now and again I get a hankering for a taste and recently that resulted in not one but TWO pies.  And both from Bill Neal’s “Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie”.  That cookbook is a baking treasure trove.  It’s out of print but I’m fairly certain you can still get it.  Anyway, chocolate chess and lemon chess were the pies I baked.  Which one’s best?  Well, you can’t compare the two…you just can’t.  It would be like comparing two children and we all know how wrong that is.  Chess pie is a Southern classic, rich, sweet and intense.  Vanilla and/or nutmeg is the traditional choice, chocolate the rich choice and lemon, oh lemon, probably the South’s favorite.  Lemon is my pet, my treasured pie if I have to pick; the juice and zest adding such depth to the soul of the custard.  It makes me moan.  But don’t despair.  Chocolate is sinful, too.  A small amount of bourbon or rum flavors the custard and raises the desire for another bite to scandalous proportions.  Chess pies improve with a day or two in the refrigerator before serving.  Lemon and vanilla chess pies always includes cornmeal in the recipe, however, it is never found in chocolate.  I always serve these pies cold, with or without whipped cream, but always cold.  Of course, a store-bought crust may be used but if you have a favored recipe these pies will make the pie shell positively sing.  Possibly because it’s such a simple pie but you’ll take note and appreciate everything that makes a crust made by hand special.  I know none who don’t love chess pie.  And this pie is worthy of being a hostess gift, (she can tuck it into the back of the refrigerator and enjoy it the next day while having a post-party chat on the phone with you), or is perfect to take to the house of a friend who’s lost a loved one.  Chess pie says “I love you”, “I’m so sorry for your loss” even “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings”.   But whatever the reason you prepare this, that pie will make everyone happy!



Lemon Chess Pie

  • Servings: one 9-inch pie
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 partially baked 9-inch pie shell
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • not enough freshly grated nutmeg to measure


  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Beat the eggs lightly, beating in the sugar.
  3. STIR in the salt, buttermilk, cornmeal and melted butter until smooth.  Flavor with lemon zest and juice, and nutmeg.
  4. Pour the custard into the partially baked pie shell.  Place in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325° and bake until the custard is just set, but not puffed-about 35 minutes. (Mine takes about 10  minutes more.)



Chocolate Chess Pie

  • Servings: one 9-inch pie
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 partially baked pie shell
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon or rum
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler.
  3. Beat the eggs lightly.
  4. Toss the sugar, salt and flour together and stir into the eggs.
  5. Add the cream and the melted butter and chocolate.
  6. Flavor with the vanilla and whiskey.
  7. Pour into the partially baked pie shell and bake for about 35 minutes or until the custard is set and has a slightly crusty top without excessive puffing.



The Best Key Lime Pie



My best friend, Dana, hates most pies but give her an ice-cold slab of Key lime pie?  There’s no denying it.  Key lime pie is a dream to swoon over.  Cold and tart while at the same time velvety sweet it’s a hit every time it’s served.  And this is the recipe you want to serve for Memorial Day weekend.  Why?  Because this recipe is simply the best.  It’s as good if not better than the Key lime pie at a world-famous Miami crab house.  Oh, yes it is!  The recipe is ridiculously easy but as it calls for so few ingredients one has to stay true to product.   Substituting will just NOT give you good results.  So please resist the temptation to maybe use fat-free condensed milk or something other than butter in your pie crust.  This recipe has been tweaked a bit by me but is pretty close to the original printed in the 1968 Miami Herald’s “Food with a Florida Flair” cookbook.  I reduced the number of yolks from six to three and upped the amount of Key lime juice from 1/2 cup to 2/3.  I’m most definitely NOT a traditionalist when it comes to my Key lime pie.  I much prefer a graham cracker crust over pastry and don’t even talk to me about meringue.  Not on any pie do I want that weepy mess.  But I WILL happily take a bit of freshly whipped cream.  I like to chill my pie overnight to make sure it sets well and I freeze the whole pie for a good 15-20 minutes prior to serving so every slice arrives cold and firm.  Have a great Memorial Day weekend!


Key Lime Pie

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed Key lime juice, that’s about ripe 20-25 Key limes
  • 1 baked and cooled 9-inch graham cracker crust pie shell
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Using a hand mixer beat the egg yolks for 5-10 minutes or until they’re pale yellow and quite fluffy.
  3. Add the condensed milk and mix well.
  4. Slowly add the Key lime juice and hand mix it in until just combined.
  5. Pour into the pie shell and bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes.  If you double the recipe to make a deep dish pie bake for 25-30 minutes.
  6. Let cool then chill in the refrigerator at least 8 hours, better overnight.
  7. Freeze pie for 15-20 minutes prior to serving.

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 5 ounces graham crackers, that’s one of the three packages in standard boxes
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  1. Process crackers in food processor until you have fine crumbs or make them by hand by putting the crackers in a large, heavy-duty plastic bag and hitting them with a rolling pin.  An empty wine bottle works well, too.
  2. Mix the cracker crumbs with the sugar then butter and mix until well combined.
  3. Pour the crumb mixture in your pie plate and gently press crumbs into the bottom of the plate and up the sides making sure the  crumbs are even.
  4. Bake the shell at 350° for ten minutes.