We recently spent a long weekend with some good friends at their family’s condo on Oak Island.
It was only about an hour from here, but it still felt like a real vacation. (Thanks again guys, for inviting us.)
In fact, now that I think of it, it was the first real vacation we’ve taken since E was born over a year ago. We’ve traveled to family weddings and that sort of thing, but never just left town with no particular agenda.
Traveling is definitely different with a baby. Even with no place we had to be, it’s not as though we were exactly freewheeling.
We were up and out of the condo first thing every morning, so as to squeeze in as much beach time as possible before E’s morning nap.
The great thing about going to the beach at 8 a.m. is that we had it all to ourselves. Some mornings we were the only ones out there except for the odd dog walker passing by.
I don’t know what it is about going to the beach (where, let’s be honest, I’m mostly sedentary) but I’m always really ravenous afterwards.
This tomato cobbler is something I made for dinner one night at the condo. Paul calls it “stodgy man food.” It’s just the sort of thing I’m in the mood for after a day at the beach: fresh, uncomplicated and filling.
On our vacation, we served this with crisp-tender green beans, potato salad, a green salad and a big bowl of cubed watermelon, all spread out family-style across the big table.
At home, we often eat it with nothing more than a side of cheesy scrambled eggs. This is dinner fare in our house, but it would make an excellent brunch dish too.
The inspiration for this cobbler came from a recipe posted a couple of years ago by Joy the Baker. When I saw it I couldn’t believe I’d never thought of it before. I mean, it’s cobbler — for dinner!
Actually, I couldn’t believe tomato cobbler wasn’t already a staple in homes across the South. It should be.
I made this again a few days ago using a mostly yellow tomatoes, which is when I took the pictures you see here. To be honest, the contrast you get with red ones is a lot prettier, but any tasty tomatoes will work fine.
This recipe is simple enough to throw together on a weeknight but, if you want to make it ahead of time, I would suggest preparing the tomato mixture and then mixing the dry ingredients for the biscuit topping and setting them aside. Just before baking you can add the butter and buttermilk, top the tomatoes with the biscuit dough and slide the whole thing into the oven.
Inspired by Joy the Baker.
I use a soft, winter-wheat flour for the biscuit topping on this cobbler. This type of flour is common throughout the South, where it is typically used for biscuits. Winter-wheat flour has a lower protein content than most all-purpose flour. If you can't find it, you could probably use cake flour instead, since that's also lower in protein, but I haven't tested that. Regular all-purpose flour can also be used in a pinch, in which case you should decrease the amount of flour by 4 tablespoons.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 small onion
- 5 cups roughly chopped fresh tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
- pinch salt
- several grinds of pepper
- a couple of generous pinches of sugar
- 2 cups soft, winter-wheat, all-purpose flour (like White Lily)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
- 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in an oven-proof vessel such as a dutch oven. (Alternatively, you can do this in a skillet and then transfer the mixture to a baking dish, but I'm all about dirtying fewer dishes whenever possible.)
Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent but not browned. Add the mustard, tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar and cook briefly, stirring occasionally, just until tomatoes begin to soften and give off their juices. Set aside.
Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Using your hands, cut in the butter. I do this by rubbing the butter in between my thumb and first two fingers, as if I were snapping. You should be left with small flakes of butter but no chunks.
Add the buttermilk and stir gently, just to combine. The dough will be soft and sticky, almost more of a batter, really.
Spoon the biscuit topping over the tomato mixture and bake, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown.