by Sara Mead
So, I took Ezra’s complaints about the cherry tomato cobbler recipe he tried as a personal challenge to figure out how to make it work. Since he’d kindly shared some of the cobbler leftovers with me, I felt like I had the tools to think about how to produce a more satisfactory result. And I think I did!
Here’s what I did:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
For Topping: In large bowl, combine:
- 3/4 cup + 2 T flour
- 1/2 t salt
- 2 t baking soda powder (oops! I wrote the wrong thing, but I used the right thing).
Using a knife and pastry cutter, cut in a slightly overfull T shortening (Crisco) and a little bit more than 1 T butter until thoroughly mixed and crumbly.
Stir into crumbly mixture 1/4 cup minced herbs (I used tarragon and chives), 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere, and a good amount of fresh ground black pepper.
Set aside while you make the filling.
Chop one onion and several cloves garlic. Cook in about 1 T butter until soft and transparent. Move into separate bowl to cool.
Thinly slice a handful of basil leaves.
Halve 2-3 pints cherry tomatoes. Toss with:
- 6 T (1/4 c plus 2T) flour,
- 1 1/2 t salt,
- the sliced basil leaves,
- a whole bunch of fresh ground pepper
Mix in onion and garlic mixture.
Pour into large glass baking dish.
Return to bowl of biscuit topping you previously made. Pour in 1/2 c milk and stir the minimum amount necessary to mix (do NOT overstir or knead biscuits!). Drop in spoonfulls onto top of tomato mixture in baking dish.
Bake about 50 minutes. The trickiest thing about this is it’s a little hard to tell when the biscuits are actually completely cooked, because the melted cheese makes them seem a little gooey even when they’re done.
Let cool sufficiently that you don’t burn your tongue.
Eat! It’s yummy!
I think I felt compelled to remake Ezra’s cobbler because cobblers are something I make a lot and know I do well. I don’t have the patience or skill to cook well, but I am a good baker, and cobblers–along with biscuits, chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate cupcakes–are a dish I feel I can take pride in. So I wanted to see if I could make a savory cobbler work.
To cobble together my own take on cherry tomato cobbler, I started with the recipe Ezra used. While I could see the appeal in the recipe, I thought it had two flaws: As Ezra mentioned, the cherry tomato filling came out too sweet and lacked complexity. But I also thought the biscuit topping had some shortcomings–and the fact that the original recipe used a combination of oil and yogurt confirmed my suspicions. I thought the filling issue could be resolved by a) using more humdrum cherry tomatoes, rather than the sweeter (and for regular raw eating, tastier) heirlooms, and b) adding some more seasoning and savory flavors to the tomato mixture. This Martha Stewart tomato cobbler recipe pretty much gave me a plan for achieving part b. The only change I made was that I left out the sugar, because I was concerned about making it too sweet. Even without the sugar, the results were plenty juicy.
For the biscuit topping, I used my go-to biscuit recipe from the Joy of Cooking, but, pulling from Ezra’s recipe, added the herbs, pepper and gruyere after cutting in the shortening.