Monday, October 24, 2011

Fun Playing With Garden Tomatoes in a Cobbler

This post is a few weeks late, but we still have some luscious garden tomatoes ripening in the house, and basil in the garden - hopefully some of you do also (or can still get from the farmers' markets) - because this recipe is so good, we made it four times in two weeks!

I stumbled upon Tomato Cobbler on Seriouseats.com, here. The recipe originated with cookbook author Lisa Fain, and can be found in her book The Homesick Texan Cookbook.  Ms. Fain rightly wondered if cobbler, traditionally a sweet ending filled with fruit, would work as a savory when made with garden tomatoes and cooked in a cast-iron skillet. After sharing the recipe with Bob, he turned it into even greater deliciousness with a few garden tweaks. 

He first followed the recipe exactly. The prescribed ingredients are as follows:

1 pound tomatoes, peeled, cored, and diced or 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, drained
1 jalapeño chile, seeds and stems removed, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon lime juice
Salt and black pepper, to taste
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup whole milk

which yielded this:


Here is is served up for dinner with some of our Breychak's Farm Sausage, from the grill:


We devoured it, but felt we could do better. We also skipped the cast iron skillet, concerned about the tomatoes reacting, and used a three quart All Clad Chef's Pan. So in some ways, this post is about the process of playing with food, and how by being unafraid to experiment, you can sometimes improve someone else's recipe.

For the second incarnation, Bob doubled the amount of tomatoes to 2 cups. He also added some garden corn kernels and reduced the liquid in half. This version was more delicious, but a little too wet:



By the time we made it a third time, for my parents in NY, we'd decided to cut the tomato back to 1.5 cups and to substitute garden basil for the impossible-to-grow-in-Northeast Ohio cilantro. Perfection!



We made a triple-size batch of the cobbler for our friends in Jamaica Plain Co-housing, but it was devoured by our 30+ guests before I could snap a photo of it!

So, the next time you have garden tomatoes and basil (and perhaps corn) on your hands - give this amazing dish a try. It works as a side (as seen above) or drizzle with cheese of your choice and melt to make it a one-pot meal (I enjoyed the leftovers from the first one that way, with cheddar).

1.5 pound tomatoes, peeled, cored, and diced
1 jalapeño chile, seeds and stems removed, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped basil
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon lime juice
Kosher Salt and black pepper, to taste
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
.5 cup whole milk (we used 2% from Snowville Creamery)
Fresh corn off the cob

To make the cobbler:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Toss together the diced tomatoes (together with their juices - don't let them get away!), diced jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and lime juice. Add Kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

3. Melt the butter in a 2.5-3qt. oven-safe skillet or Chef's Pan, on low heat. Once the butter is melted, remove the pan from the heat.

4. In a bowl, bring together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and Kosher salt. Add the milk and stir. Add and stir in corn, if using. Pour the batter over the melted butter in the skillet. Do not stir the batter. Spoon the tomato mixture on top of the batter and again, do not stir. Bake for about 30 minutes, uncovered, and remove from the oven when golden, brown and delicious!

Fun playing with garden tomatoes, corn and basil never tasted this good!

2 comments:

  1. Nancy, your blog is always gorgeous and interesting thanks for all the routes to good eats you have researched and shared. I was surprised at how good all the photos looked, especially the first one cooked in the cast iron, I had been taught tomatoes in cast iron would be a disaster, that looked remarkably good. I would have thought it would be discolored and metallic tasting. Any theories on why it worked so well with this recipe? I love your beautiful and interesting blog, thanks again for all the tasty experiences we have enjoyed due to your writing! Karen Patton and family

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  2. Actually, although the original recipe calls for cast iron, and the photo in the Seriouseats post I linked to shows that - we used our 3 qt All Clad stainless chef pan for all but the triple batch (that was cooked in a disposable aluminum hotel-size pan).

    I posted a comment similar to yours on the Seriouseats post, but have yet to see any response.
    Thank you for the kind words!

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