Savory pies and tarts

Mexican Chicken Pie

My friend Roberto Santibañez, chef owner of Fonda restaurants in New York City, suggested this combination when I asked him about a chicken pie with Mexican flair. Chicken and vegetables are cooked in a tomato and chile salsa from the Yucatan called chiltomate, then topped with a cornmeal and cheese dough before baking. Though the habanero is a classic for this, serrano or jalapeño could be substituted. Sour cream harmonizes well served alongside.

Leek and Mushroom Quiche

The sweet flavor of slow-cooked leeks complements the woodsy scent of mushrooms especially well in the creamy custard of this quiche. Although it might be delicious to use some fancy wild mushrooms in this, I’ve crafted the recipe with the white cultivated mushrooms available everywhere. I would definitely prepare the leeks and mushrooms the day before to cut down on the last-minute rush. Since they both need to cook slowly for maximum flavor, cooking them separately actually saves you time. This is a perfect appetizer for an elegant dinner.

Argentine Christmas Eve Empanadas (Empanadas de Vigilia)

These spinach empanadas make a delicious alternative to the typical meat-laden ones and are traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve, a day of abstinence from meat in Catholic countries. Traditionally, these are deep-fried, but I decided to bake them—it’s easier, and they turn out much less rich.

Summer Vegetable Pie

This pie came about when my friend Nancy Nicholas shared some of the produce from her Long Island garden with me. I had a couple of several kinds of vegetables, and not having enough to make a full dish from just one type, I combined them. You can add and subtract at will as long as you keep to the same weight of vegetables so you’ll have the right amount of filling for the pie. This pie is excellent on its own, but it’s also a handy side dish for simple grilled meats or fish.

Summery Tomato Tarts

Perfectly ripe tomatoes, cheese, and herbs are a great combination, so much so that I think I’ve done at least three recipes featuring them before. This time around, though, I decided that the combo needed revamping, because I wanted to be able to serve the tart completely cooled as well as fresh from the oven. That ruled out cheeses I’ve used in the past, like Gruyère, Cantal, or mozzarella, all of which get rubbery on cooling. Fresh cow’s or goat’s milk cheese is perfect—but because I don’t like how goat cheese dries out when exposed to the oven’s heat, I hid it under the tomatoes.

Spinach and Bacon Tart

Tart fillings made from greens such as spinach are always difficult to salt properly: too much and the tart’s inedible, too little and you risk expiring from boredom after a forkful or two. Adding bacon to this spinach filling helps, because the spinach itself then may be very lightly salted since you’ll have little bursts of salty bacon flavor in every bite.

Spinach and Bacon Tart from BAKE

Perfect for a warm weather lunch or supper this tart can be baked early in the day and served at room temperature or reheated. If you're not a bacon lover leave it out and start with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil or butter to cook the onions. I'm really excited about the olive oil dough that's at the end of the tart recipe. You need no more equipment than a fork to make it and it's a dream to roll out - it's a little elastic like pasta dough and since it's made with oil there's nothing to melt or soften while you're working with it. I'm using it a lot in the all-new pastry book I just started working on.

Spinach and Bacon Tart from BAKE