Monday, September 29, 2014

tomato cobbler.

Sometimes I stumble across a recipe that gets printed and added to my ever-growing pile of things I want to make at some point.  This pile is rather large and ominous looking.  It’s something I imagine will never end up fully tackling as the pile will always grow faster than I can cook but I will continue to chip away at it (and I will obviously continue to add to it). 

Other times, I come across a recipe that makes me want to stop everything and cook it right now.  These recipes never see the pile. 

This recipe is one of those. 

I stumbled across this cobbler recipe last Monday.  My initial fear was that cherry tomatoes had already left the farmers market and I wouldn't be able to make it and I would be forced to wait an entire year (these are my big fears). 

Lucky for me, cherry tomatoes were found. 

This recipe is September (or everything I want to eat in September).  Late season tomatoes get cooked down in a cast iron skillet and then dotted with goat cheese and herbs.  Tender and flaky biscuits are baked a top the whole thing resulting in the most insanely delicious thing I’ve had in a long time.  It’s warm and exudes all the qualities one looks for in comfort food but it also manages to be bright and fresh (something most comfort food is not).  The boy and I scarfed it down last night and then returned for seconds.  This will be on heavy rotation until tomatoes disappear.  

Tomato Cobbler
Recipe adapted from Leite's Culinaria

There is probably a Southern woman rolling over in her grave because I am saying this, but I hate rolling out biscuits.  I much prefer the biscuit plop.  I like to think misshapen biscuits have more character.  

For the biscuit topping

¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons (120 grams) whole-wheat flour (can use all-purpose)
3 ½ tablespoons cornmeal
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
4 tablespoons cold buttermilk (only 3 ½ tablespoons if you use all-purpose)

For the tomato filling

2 – 2 ½ pounds red and yellow cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Leaves from 8 to 10 thyme sprigs or 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
Healthy pinch freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water (optional)
6 ounces (170 grams) soft goat cheese, crumbled

Make the biscuit topping: Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Dump in the butter cubes. Using a pastry blender, work the butter until you have pea- to lima bean-size pieces. (If you have particularly cold hands, you can use your fingertips.) Drizzle in the buttermilk and toss the mixture with a fork until it’s evenly moistened and begins to come together into a ball. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Break off golf-ball sized balls of dough, flatten them ever so slightly, and place them on the baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  You should have about 12-15 1 – 1 ½ inch biscuits at the end.  Place the biscuits in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours (or in the fridge for 6 hours if your freezer is as filled as mine. (You can also stash the biscuits in a resealable plastic bag and freeze them for up to 3 months to simplify throwing the cobbler together at the last minute easy. You’ll want to allow them a little extra time to thaw a little after taking them out of the freezer and before baking them.)

Make the tomato filling: Crank your oven to 350°F (180°C).

Toss the cherry tomatoes, olive oil, half the thyme/rosemary, salt, crushed red pepper (if using) and pepper in an ovenproof skillet. (I used a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and it worked marvelously.) Cover the skillet and cook on the stovetop over medium-high heat until the tomatoes begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover the skillet and continue cooking until all the tomatoes have burst slightly and released their juices.  Top with half the goat cheese. 

Remove the biscuits from the freezer/fridge and generously brush the tops with the egg wash (if using). Place them on top of the tomato mixture in the skillet, spacing them 1 – 1 ½ inch (2 1/2 centimeters) apart.

Bake the cobbler for 25 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and dot the remaining goat cheese between the biscuits, covering any exposed tomato mixture. Return the whole shebang to the oven, bump up the heat to 450°F (232°C) and continue baking until the top is nicely browned, about 10 minutes more. Scatter the remaining thyme over the top and serve the cobbler warm or at room temperature, scooping the cobbler straight from the skillet at the table. If you’re like me, you’ll want to gild each serving with an extra crank or so freshly ground black pepper. The cobbler is best eaten the day it’s made. (Like it could ever make it to another day.)

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