Summer Brunch, Had Me a Blast: Cilantro-Scallion Bread and Tomato and Corn Pie

My family seems to always end up with an excessive amount of food when we get together, so Tom and I made a deliberate effort to streamline the menu when we hosted our most recent cousins' bunch. The first item I decided to make was a Bon Appétit recipe for Cilantro-Scallion Bread. I had been waiting for an opportunity to make these rolls since seeing the recipe pop up in my Facebook newsfeed. I am one of those people who can't get enough cilantro. And fortunately brunch was scheduled at a reasonably late hour, so I had time to bake the bread in the morning before everyone arrived.

To make the dough, you mix together all-purpose flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, and rub in chilled dough with your fingers. Then using the dough hook, you add in an egg, egg yolk, and yeast that has been activated in warm water with a little sugar and salt. You knead the dough until it's smooth; I added a few extra tablespoons of flour because the dough was too wet. I let the dough rise until doubled and then rolled it out into a large rectangle.

The dough was very easy to handle. I rolled it out on parchment without any additional flour, and it didn't stick at all. Then I spread on a mixture of chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, sesame seeds, and olive oil; rolled up the dough into a cylinder; cut the cylinder into 12 rolls; and brushed the cut surface of each roll with oil before baking.
I thought the rolls looked great coming out of the oven, and when I tried one warm, I thought it was so delicious. Scallion was definitely the predominant flavor, and I loved the crunch from all of the sesame seeds. The bread seemed like a cross between a scallion pancake and a buttery dinner roll. The recipe notes that these are best served warm and I whole-heartedly agree; the rolls had cooled to room temperature by the time we served brunch and they were markedly inferior to the fresh-from-the-oven version (although still quite good). I should have refreshed them in the oven.

Tom was making bacon and a Spanish tortilla for the brunch, so I decided to round out the menu with fresh fruit and a Tomato and Corn Pie. The pie was an easy choice after seeing the beautiful tomatoes and corn at the farmer's market the day before. Plus, I was intrigued by the recipe because it has a bottom and top crust made from biscuit dough, not pastry dough.

The biscuit dough is a mixture of flour, baking powder, salt, butter, and milk. You divide the dough in half and roll out the two halves to form the bottom and top pie crusts. The dough was very sticky and it was difficult to roll out the crust and transfer it the pie pan. Once the bottom crust is in the pan, you arrange layers of peeled, sliced tomatoes (which I seeded to try to cut down on the amount of liquid) on top, followed by fresh corn (which I didn't bother pureeing), basil, chives, salt, and pepper. After a second set of layers of vegetables and herbs, you sprinkle on a cup of shredded cheddar cheese, followed by lemon mayonnaise (just mayonnaise mixed with fresh lemon juice), and more cheese. Then you add the top biscuit crust, cut some steam vents, and brush the crust with melted butter before baking.
The pie looked terrific when it came out of the oven, and it had cooled to room temperature by the time I served it. The tomatoes gave off a lot of liquid during baking, and the bottom crust was quite soggy -- it was almost impossible to remove intact pieces of the pie from the pan. Nonetheless, the pie was delicious. I was expecting the tomatoes and corn to be held together with stretchy melted cheese, but the cheese and mayonnaise had transformed into more of a light sauce. But the cheese contributed a ton of flavor, along with the basil and chives; the seasoning was perfect and really enhanced the tomatoes. The biscuit crust was also very tasty and a nice change of pace. I would absolutely make this pie again, but perhaps I would oven dry the tomatoes first to try to reduce the amount of liquid.

Normally everyone leaves our house with a large carryout container of leftovers, but I think Tom and I got it just right this time -- at the conclusion of the meal everyone was pleasantly full and my cousins left empty handed!

Recipes: "Cilantro-Scallion Bread" from Bon Appétit and "Tomato and Corn Pie" from

Previous Post: "Off to the Races: Scallion Pancakes," March 6, 2015.