Tomato Cobbler: In the Throes of Summer Tomato Love

Telling you that today is the first Friday in 16 months that a 7 a.m. post didn’t publish here feels very meta, as one of my grad school professors used to say. Back in those days, when we were reading heavy essays by literary critics like Foucault, workshopping stories on a weekly basis, being ever surrounded by writers who were writing to other writers about writing, and then talking about it together, as writers, anyone who popped his or her head out of our little world for even a moment would see that meta discourse gets weird. A little too in your head. Analytical. Buried in layers. I had basically decided to avoid it here, no more blogging about blogging, you’re welcome, until here we were this Friday morning without a scheduled post, and so this afternoon I got thinking about the reasons we blog again, right as I scooped out the last bowl of tomato cobbler and ate.

Tomato Cobbler

I made the cobbler Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday afternoon was wet and dreary, the kind of afternoon that begs for warm things being pulled from the stove, but Wednesday morning was different. Wednesday morning was clear and light and still. We’d woken up at 6:45 AM, the way we did every day this week, in order to greet the morning with a walk, the two of us hand in hand and wearing headphones. Then, it had been cool and quiet. Few cars on the streets in our neighborhood. Only one or two other people, out walking their dogs. A couple kids walking to school reminded me that there are kids walking to school, on weekday mornings, even in early August, even in 2013, and that was enough to set my mind racing away from the sounds blasting through my iPhone earbuds. The air smelled clean, like trees. The houses were silent, not yet awake. But it wasn’t until an hour or so later that the sky darkened and the house darkened, and I rose from the sofa where we were working on our laptop screens.

“I’m going to make a cobbler,” I told Tim. Taking stock of this week’s farm loot, I added, “With tomatoes!”

Tomato Cobbler

The thing about making food that is different from writing blogs is that food is always relevant. I won’t love today’s cobbler so much that I don’t want breakfast on Sunday, for example. I won’t cook for two years and, think, Well, that was fun, but now I’ve eaten all there is to make. And nobody says, “I don’t want to cook because too many other people are cooking right now,” the way they do about blogging or book-writing or, sometimes, other creative works. Food is everybody’s. No matter how much we eat, no matter how much we cook!, we still need to do it again. We are people, and this is how we are made. Food is a great Universal. Go to Paris, move to Argentina, sell all your belongings and camp around the country with your kids: You still have to feed yourselves, regularly, over and over again, as long as you shall live.

Blogging, on the other hand, is not so primal. One might argue, perhaps, that creating and beauty-finding are necessary, but blogging? We all know it’s a hobby, a job, a pastime, a lark. Over the last five years of engaging here, with this food-loving audience, I’ve had people tell me everything from “Nobody cares about blogging” to “I don’t care about blogging” to “Must be nice to be you, with so much free time to kill.” I’ve been defensive about blogging and protective about blogging, and yet that same me has regularly shrugged my shoulders, looked at Tim and said, Well, maybe it is time to quit.

Tomato Cobbler

I came to a decision this week, this week of rainy weekdays and tomato cobblers and morning walks, one I reserve the right to go back on but which I’m announcing just the same: We aren’t going to be blogging on schedule here anymore, at least not on the current schedule, each Tuesday and Friday morning at seven. We have an agreement with one of our sponsors to post twice a week, so we’ll still shoot for at least two hellos, but they might be on those days or they might be on others, and they very likely won’t be at the crack of dawn. We will, however, keep cooking and eating and finding joy in it, the way we did Wednesday, the way I’m doing right now,

Speaking of which, I’m in the throes of summer tomato love, which I suspect many of you understand, and one of the best ways to showcase them is with this wildly easy tomato cobbler. If you can make it on a rainy day, all the better.

Tomato Cobbler

Makes four to six servings

I went with one of the simplest versions of tomato cobbler filling I could find—just a basic blend of oil, garlic, tomatoes, flour, and chili flakes. For the topping, I pulled out the most recent biscuit recipe I’d tried and loved, from Spinach Tiger. If you haven’t had success with homemade biscuits before, definitely check out Angela’s post—lots of helpful hints and detail.

for the filling:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 pounds fresh summer tomatoes, cubed
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (we used einkorn)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
A few shakes of pepper

for the biscuit topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour (we used einkorn flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
3/4 cup yogurt (I thinned mine out just slightly, so it was just under 3/4 cup, with water to make the difference)

1 or 2 tablespoons yogurt, for brushing

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large, deep skillet, warm the 1/4 cup olive oil. Add sliced garlic and cook for a few minutes, until fragrant but not browned. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a medium bowl, combine chopped tomatoes, flour and red-pepper flakes with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and some pepper. Add garlic oil and toss together well.

Pour this mixture into a two-quart pan, cover and bake for about 30 to 45 minutes, until soft and fragrant.

Meanwhile, begin making the biscuit topping:

Mix together einkorn flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut the butter into this dry mixture until it looks like coarse sand. Then, put the bowl in the freezer. Take 15 minutes or so to clean up the kitchen. Then, pull out the bowl, add 3/4 cup yogurt (see note above about thinning it slightly), and stir well. Once it’s coming together, use your clean hands to form it into a solid ball, kneading it no more than 10 times. Angela says less is more with the kneading. You want the butter to remain in tiny pieces throughout. Stick this in the fridge until the tomato filling is done.

When filling timer goes off, remove dish and raise oven temperature to 450F. Using your hands, split up the biscuit dough into about eight similar-sized pieces. They don’t need to be perfect balls or shapes—Rustic is good here. Dollop the eight mounds onto the dish of baked tomatoes, placing them evenly over the top (note they will spread while baking). Brush the tops with yogurt. Place in the oven, uncovered.

Bake for 20 minutes, but check at 15. The dish is ready when the biscuits are deeply golden, darker than the ones pictured here, as in practically brown. Trust me on this—I originally took them out at “golden” (then, took their pictures, la dee da) and found raw dough still inside. Back in for another five to ten they went. Because of the natural steam of the filling, the bottoms need a little longer to bake.

When finished, set the baking dish somewhere to cool for 10 minutes or so. Then scoop out big helpings into bowls.

About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home,, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

36 thoughts on “Tomato Cobbler: In the Throes of Summer Tomato Love”

  1. Shanna, I have to tell you, I was worried something was wrong when I did not see a post from you this morning! I am glad to hear you are okay and I hope you are feeling peace with your decision to not post on schedule for a while.

    I love the way you describe food as being “universal” and “everybody’s”– I think that is why so many people look to food blogs as a creative outlet– cooking and photographing your food is, comparatively, an easy outlet for creative expression.

    I look forward to seeing you here when you decide to stop in and share! (And I will be making this cobbler this weekend, for brunch on Sunday with my parents. It will be my last hurrah with an oven for a few months as our kitchen is renovated…)

    • Lindsey, You’re kind. One of the reasons I hate blogging about blogging is that I think, Who cares about this? So it’s nice to know you do. : ) PS – Would love to hear what you think Sunday! PPS – Kitchen renovation! So fun! We are, Lord willing, heading that direction after we close on our house next month. So exciting!

  2. And I was just wondering what to do with all those tomatoes from my CSA basket. I’m so glad you turned them into a meal – and with a crust the family will eat.

  3. I get giddy reading and thinking about food being our universal. I started my food blog in January and felt a little insecure, because well, there are SO MANY out there. But then I woke and realized that there can never be too many people sharing and talking about good nutritious foods. And even if no one reads or cares it is so rich for my soul and such a necessary creative outlet while being stay at home Mama in these young years. Thanks for sharing. As always, LOVE what you have to say!

    • I totally agree, Erin. I was reading a friend’s post yesterday (here) about how she saw cooking, and, by extension, food blogging, as her way of making art, and I thought, Yes. Art is valuable, and while blogging is only one way to do it, it is one way to do it, and I’m thankful for the space.

  4. Oh my goodness. This has to be one of my favorite recipes you’ve posted. I have never heard of a tomato cobbler and I can only imagine how wonderful. I noticed that you used the yogurt instead of buttermilk. I must give that at try. This is so timely with the tomato art festival tomorrow.

    • Angela, Thanks for the great biscuit recipe! I first made them last week, exactly as you’d written, I think, and we loved them. It only made sense to use them in this sort of cobbler! And as for the yogurt, we were out of milk. : ) But it’s good to know yogurt, with its dairy tang, works just as well!

  5. I laughed at the meta reference – I’m in the middle of major meta stuff at uni right now – so many essays about essays… As for the unscheduled posting, and this is going to sound weird, I’m quite glad of the change because then it will always be a welcome surprise when a new post shows up in my inbox. I’ve always known your blogging schedule and figured out the time differences and would cheat myself from the surprise – oh the things that occupy our minds! Happy blogging 🙂

    • Harriet, It’s nice to hear from someone who’s in university now that the meta nature of study hasn’t changed, ha! And I’m so glad you’re glad about the scheduling change. Remembering a blog’s schedule and “cheating” myself of the surprise sounds super familiar to me…. great minds think alike, I guess! You’re right, though: Sometimes it’s nice to be surprised.

  6. I love the idea of a tomato cobbler. I can’t wait to try it! I couldn’t agree more that food is universal, but what I don’t understand is why you put so much stock in other people’s opinions about blogging? Shouldn’t it matter most that you get find value in blogging about food? I hope you continue to share your amazing food and that you realize that there are other people (me!) who find value in what you do.

    • Vanessa, Your question is not unwarranted. I do tend to think about other people’s opinions more than I ought, both because I tend to think about other people’s comforts and feelings a lot and because I worry too much about how I’m perceived. It’s a continual growth process, one in which I move slowly. In this particular case, though, I didn’t mean I’m changing the blog schedule because of what people say; I meant, when you’ve been blogging five years, you’ve heard it all and considered it all and it gets kind of ridiculous to be thinking about it so much. : ) I do indeed find value in blogging about food, but not in the same ways I used to. I suppose that’s a continual evolution, too. Thanks for your kind words.

  7. I must be honest and say that your blog used to be in my bookmarks folder, and I would just visit it multiple times a week to see if you had posted (not aware of your schedule at all, but then again I’m in Europe so 7AM for you is something completely different for me). I’m so happy that I just added it to my bloglovin’ feed last week, so I’ll never miss a surprise post from you again 😉

    Also, I love how you describe food as universal, great insight and way of thinking about it!

    • Sonja, That’s so kind of you, thank you! Happy to have you reading and popping in, and happy to have you on Bloglovin’ (I track blogs there, too, now!).

  8. The things we’ve heard about blogging would make people’s head spin if it was about another career (nursing, teaching, etc.). I don’t get why people seem to think they can comment on OUR choices this way. sigh. That said, I am grateful for all of your writing, and amazing recipes – you’ve definitely enhanced our lives. 🙂

  9. First, I LOVE this tomato cobbler idea and will be making it next week for sure, a new way to enjoy tomatoes is always welcome!
    Secondly, your post made me think that it would probably be a good way to blog, to do it with the same doubtless certainty as we cook.
    It is funny, being a relative newbie to the blogging world, I have been struggling so very much for a regular schedule for blog posts, and with the rest of life in the way, I just haven’t been able to and have felt very poorly about it. (For a while, I thought every food blogger had at least 2-3 posts ahead of schedule). I really love how your posts are very in the moment, it makes them feel very real, accessible and relatable. So I really appreciate this “meta” post, and can certainly understand your need for more flexibility. I know your writing will be authentic and compelling, and I’m grateful for that, no matter when it comes 🙂

    • Helene, For what it’s worth, from a subscriber, I like your not-a-schedule way of posting. I don’t know when your posts are coming, but I know they come regularly, and I think that’s perfect. Especially because I like so much hearing what you say. Thanks for your sweet words here!

  10. Every time I make blogging “rules” for myself (schedules, number of posts per week, etc) it seems to take a little bit of the joy out of it for me. It’s a hard thing to navigate.
    Hope you find a way that works for you.

    • Hi Tara, It’s so nice to see you over here. : ) I appreciate your take on this especially, as you’ve been blogging a while and have probably seen it all, too. I said to Tim last week, Sometimes I don’t feel much about blogging, and that’s when I knew something had to change.

  11. Shanna, when I saw the first part about blogging about blogging my heart stopped. I thought one of my favourite food bloggers was about to up and leave the internet and extinguish the brilliant light that is her writing about life, love, food, and grace. Then my heartbeat returned, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
    Free yourself from your schedule. We, your readers, will be here to consume your words whatever day they may appear in our inboxes.
    🙂 Enjoy your summer tomatoes; that cobbler looks delicious.

    • Way too kind, Amy, but thank you. Grateful for your generosity and grateful to have people like you reading. That’s what’s fun about blogging. I hope it’s always that way.

  12. I love your thoughts on food. It explains why, in between my attempts to make all kinds of other art and to create in other ways, it is always food that I eventually come back to. It seems an endless tunnel to be mined.

  13. I totally support your decision to leave the schedule behind – once I stopped trying to shoehorn my life into my blog (“I must make two really delicious things this weekend so that I can blog about them next week!”), I was able to really live and I think it’s far more interesting to read about people who are really living than anything else. This recipe is what food blogs should be about – the food that we eat when we eat it. I hope you find the decision as liberating as I did!

  14. Thank you for the timely dinner idea and the beautiful writing. I’m very grateful for your reliably enjoyable posts…whenever they show up! I made this tonight with my glut of summer produce and added corn and peppers in with the tomatoes and sprinkled a bit of cheddar on top of the biscuits. So good and easy to pull together! Looking forward to trying the simple tomato version soon too.

  15. Hey shanna, I understand the pressure of having to have a fixed blogging schedule, which sometimes makes blogging seem more like an obligation instead of a well-loved passion. I had my heart in my throat for a bit when you mentioned that you were considering the possibility of quitting, but then I was relieved when you finally said you’ll still post at least 2 times a week!

    I know it’s hard work, but do know that so many of us readers enjoy your writing so much (you’re really one of those inspirations I put down my work to read), and so, please know we really appreciate your time and effort in blogging.

    BIG HUG TO YOU! Love you!

  16. I made this today for an evening picnic/concert at the park, and I just wanted to come back to tell you how much we loved it. So delicious, a big hit with everyone. I made it with spelt flour (I have yet to order some einkorn, I really want to try it) and European style yogurt that was fairly thin, so dough was on the sticky side, I probably could have gone with slightly less yogurt, but I sprinkled a little extra flour and that did the trick. Such a comfort, flavorful summer dish, I can’t wait to make it again. The baked tomatoes in the oven have such an intense flavor, just delicious. And also, I wanted to say how much I appreciated how you laid out the recipe. Following it was so relaxing, because I knew I could trust your guidance on the logistics of it (like clean up the kitchen while in the freezer, etc.) I really love your recipe writing style and want to follow your example for my recipes as well. Anyway, a wonderful experience from the empty pan to the empty bowl 🙂 Thank you.

  17. Change is good, and it’s inevitable. Whatever works for you guys. As much or as little as you wish to post will be enough, and it will always be good.

  18. I feel like this cobbler is such a warm, comforting kind of meal…I’m so intrigued! I’ve tasted a bit of tomato PIE before, and it was so good…I bet a cobbler would be similarly amazing!


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