Wednesday's always been my favorite day at the Reader. With a rolling press deadline of that afternoon/evening, all the writing, copyediting, fact-checking, proofreading, and headline punning has historically been done by Tuesday night, so all that's left to do on the editorial end is check page layouts--a blessing because at that point we were too fried to do much else.
What's kept us going every Wednesday for the last however many years is the time-honored Reader tradition of "donut duty"--a once rigorously administrated system in which two people are deputized each week to bring in fuel for the final sprint. That means a lot of doughnuts, coffee cake, and bagels, sure. (And a lot of spiking blood sugar around noon.) But it's also meant, variously, quiche, salami and cheese, Jenni-O brown 'n' serve sausage, desultory boxes of dry cereal and jugs of milk, peanut butter and jelly, fruit salad, Hello Kitty-imprinted waffles, homemade muesli (complete with an informational handout explaining its Swiss provenance), hotly debated Vietnamese pastries, and some weirdly ubiquitous apple bread.
All that's changing now--as of September 27 our production department is gone.* So for their last Wednesday, we had to throw the best doughnut duty ever: bacon and sausage hot off the George Foreman grill, tissue-thin prosciutto and coppa, brie and talleggio and gouda, bagels and lox. But the piece de resistance was this beautiful tomato-cheddar pie, topped with a basil and cherry-tomato corsage and a scattering of tiny autumn leaves made out of dough. (Click on the images link below for more pix.) Outgoing art director Sheila Sachs stayed up all night Tuesday to make it as well as to sew herself a special new dress to wear on her last day. Her pie skills are obviously only one of the reasons she and her cohort will be horribly missed by everyone still on staff.
Over the weekend she sent us the recipe in an e-mail headed "YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY Tomato-Cheddar Pie YUMMY."
And that pretty much says it all.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup milk
2 pounds plum tomatoes (about 10), peeled and sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil or oregano leaves, chopped
3 scallions, chopped, or 1/4 cup chopped chives
1-1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the crust, place the flour, baking soda, salt and butter in a food processor fitted with a knife blade. Pulse until the butter is cut into small bits. With the motor running, slowly add the milk through the feed tube until the dough comes together and sits on the blade. Remove and divide in half. On a lightly floured counter, roll half the dough into an 11-inch round. Use it to line a 9-inch pie plate.
Layer the tomato slices, basil and scallions in the pie shell. Top with half the cheddar. In a small cup, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Pour over the tomatoes and top with the remaining cheddar. Roll out the remaining dough and place it on top of the filling, folding the edge under and crimping it to seal. Cut three or four slits in the dough so the steam can escape. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until bubbly. (Cover lightly with foil if the crust begins to get too brown.) Remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.
* Several members of the editorial staff are also gone--including me, though I'll continue to contribute to both the paper and this blog as a freelancer.