Vet seeks tomato pie, a dish from the 1940s


He returned home from World War II, was given another military assignment and found a food at that new posting that he never forgot. And now, many years later, William W. Grove of Fayetteville, N.C., wants to get together with that dish.

He wrote: "When I came back from the Pacific in 1945, the Navy assigned me to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, N.Y. That is where I met tomato pies in Italian bars, usually 10 cents a slice cut from a big square baking pan. Nothing like today's pizzas. This had a bread-like crust with real tasty tomato and herbs and what else I don't know. If anyone out there remembers, I'd like to make them myself."

Pat Hipszer of Catonsville is sure she has the recipe Grove seeks. Her tomato pie, she says, is based on ones that a student named Rose brought back from New York to classmates at Immaculata College in Pennsylvania.

"I believe [Rose] was a first-generation Italian. She would bring these pies back on a regular basis after vacations," Hipszer says. "Enjoy as we did. It is delicious hot or cold."

Tomato Pie

Serves 4 to 6

1 box hot roll mix

1/4 cup minced onion

2 minced cloves garlic

3 tablespoons oil

1 large can (about 30 ounces) stewed tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon sugar

salt and pepper, to taste

2 to 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Parmesan cheese, to taste

oregano, to taste

Make roll mix according to directions. While dough is rising, saute the onion and garlic in oil. Chop tomatoes and add to pan. Add sugar and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Punch down dough. After it rises a second time, spread on a large, greased cookie sheet. Spread with tomato mixture and with both cheeses. Sprinkle with oregano. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until crust is sufficiently brown.

Pat Hipszer adds that although the oregano, salt, pepper and Parmesan should be added according to your own taste, "I use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Parmesan."

Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "The filling for this was unusual and very pleasant. But I found the bread to be too sweet and soft to make a great crust. See my own favorite recipe for bready crust for pizza on this page."

Reiley's Pizza Crust

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons yeast

1 3/4 cups water

1 tablespoon salt

5 cups all-purpose flour

Use first three ingredients to make a sponge, stirring to mix. Let sit 10 minutes until bubbly. Add the 1 3/4 cups of water and salt, stirring to blend. Begin to add flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. When dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, turn it out onto a flat surface. Knead 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and glossy. Add flour as needed.

Put dough in a greased bowl in a warm place. Allow to double in size. Punch down and roll out as pizza dough on baking sheet, turning up edges to create crust.

Pub Date: 6/24/98

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