Mark Bittman's Tomato Cobbler
So you know when it's snowing outside (you remember winter, don't you? I feel like it's already right around the corner, but I'm a pessimist like that), and freezing, and maybe it's freezing in your apartment, too? So freezing, in fact, that if you're me, you're wearing your kind-of-ugly red looks-like-a-down-sleeping-bag winter coat inside your apartment just to keep from dieing. That really happened last year, during the winter. But I'm hoping that the genius make-shift insulation that R made out of a box that once contained corn pops and another for dog biscuits will keep the place warm when we get there again this year.
Anyway. On this particular day I'm rambling about, I came across Mark Bittman's recipe for Tomato Cobbler. And in the middle of the winter, when all that's available are watery, tasteless grocery store tomatoes, just the thought of August weather and August produce was enough to make me cry frozen tears. But on that day, I promised myself that once August rolled around, I would have Tomato Cobbler, and it would be made in shorts or a sun dress with tomatoes from a farmers market. Readers? Objective achieved.
My cousin and I made this dish the other weekend during a kind of spur-of-the-moment family gathering at my Nana's house in Connecticut. We bought the tomatoes at a road-side farm stand that we found driving back from a rediculous trail run in one of Connecticut's national parks. You could call it the perfect summer day.
A few notes. First, as is his practice in the 'How to Cook Everything' series, Bittman gives a few variations for the recipe. We took him up on his suggestion of tossing in a couple of ears worth of fresh corn kernels with the tomatoes. But we didn't add a cup of grated cheddar to the topping, and both my cousin and I agree that we wish that we had. Maybe you should give it a try instead.
Adopted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
8 to 10 medium tomatoes (red and yellow if you're lucky enough to find them at the farmers market), cored and cut into wedges
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons butter, cut into large chunks and very cold
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
Kernels from a couple of ears of corn
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional, because I didn't try it, but wish I had)
Grease a 9" pyrex or other comparable baking dish. Oven preheated to 375 F.
Put the tomato wedges and corn kernels into the baking dish and toss them with the cornstarch and the salt and pepper. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, but the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda, as well as a teaspoon of salt, and pulse to combine. And the butter and give it a few more pulses until it looks like coarse sand. Add the egg, buttermilk and grated cheese, if you're using it, and pulse once more, until the mixture comes together like a dough ball. You might need to add a bit more flour if it's too wet, or a bit more buttermilk if it's too dry.
Make sure the tomatoes are spread fairly evenly on the bottom of the baking dish, and then drop the batter by spoonfools on top. You want to make sure that there are some cracks between the dough so that steam can escape from the tomatoes as it cooks.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the cobbler is golden brown and bubbling underneath. It's best to serve this at room temperature, so making it a bit ahead is a good idea.