Through a combination of being really lazy and really busy, I haven't been cooking that much at home lately. Or at least anything new or interesting (I mean, how many vegetable pastas do you want to see, right?). So I haven't been posting very frequently, either. Thank goodness for my lunches with Melissa, from Smells Like Brownies, or I wouldn't be posting at all! We made this savory tomato cobbler on a rainy day with terrible lighting, and it was just the right kind of comfort food.
Caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes get bound together with the help of a little flour, and flavored with balsamic vinegar and fresh basil. I love using multi-colored cherry tomatoes, so pretty!
Then the mixture goes into a baking dish and into the oven. We used the same cast iron skillet that we caramelized the onions in.
While the tomato mixture cooks, roll out and cut out some biscuits. The dough, made savory with the help of sharp white cheddar and black pepper, will have been resting in the fridge while the filling was put together. You want that butter cold in order to achieve maximum flakiness. We used whey in place of buttermilk, because we will never run out of whey (so much whey).
Then the biscuits go on top of the cooked tomatoes and back into the oven to bake (ack - terrible lighting!). We had more biscuits than this, but we wanted the pretty tomatoes to show through. Bake any extra biscuits on a baking sheet in the oven alongside (or on the rack below) the cobbler and serve on the side.
When the biscuits are golden, take it out and let it rest for a few minutes before serving, topped with more fresh basil. It's not the fastest meal (25 min to caramelize the onions, 25 to cook the filling, and 20 to bake the biscuits, a little over an hour total), and there is technique involved (caramelizing onions and making biscuits), but it is fairly simple and the results are worth it. It is tangy and sweet with umami from the onions and freshness from the basil, and the biscuits are just right for sopping up the juices. I think this is just the sort of thing that is perfect for feeding kids to introduce them to "grown-up food", or to cheer you up on a rainy Summer day - enjoy!
Tomato Cobbler with Gruyere Biscuits
adapted from Joy the Baker
For the Biscuits:
2 cups flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese (Gruyere would also be good)
3/4 cup cold buttermilk (or whey)
For the Filling:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 lbs cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste (I use much less)
salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Make the Biscuit dough:
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt; add cold butter. With your fingers, quickly rub and break up the butter into the dry ingredients. Some butter pieces will be the size of small peas, other will be the size of oat flakes. Toss in the shredded cheese; stir to incorporate.
Create a small well in the center of the flour mixture; add the buttermilk all at once. With a fork, quickly bring together the wet and dry ingredients - the dough will be rather shaggy. Dump dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough about 10 times, bringing it together into a disk. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the filling is assembled.
Make the tomato Filling:
Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Add olive oil and butter to a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add sliced onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook and brown onions, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute more. Remove pan from heat, add balsamic vinegar and set aside.
In a large bowl, toss together (whole) clean cherry tomatoes, chopped basil, flour, and red pepper flakes. Add caramelized onions and toss together until everything is lightly and evenly coated in flour. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the tomato and onion filling into a square 8×8-inch baking dish. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
Cut the Biscuits:
5 minutes or so before the filling is done, remove the biscuit dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out biscuit dough into a 1-inch thickness. Use a 1 1/2 to 2-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits, dipping in flour as you go to prevent sticking.
Remove the partially cooked filling from the oven and carefully place 6 biscuits atop the tomato filling in the pan. Brush biscuit tops with buttermilk and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reshape and re-roll excess biscuit dough to make extra biscuits to cook separately from the cobbler, or be frozen to use later.
Return warm filling and biscuit dough to oven and bake for another 20 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and cooked through, and the tomato mixture is bubbling.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Tomato Cobbler is best served warm.