Dinner Tonight: Tomato Cobbler with Blue Cheese Biscuits and some Blogger Love

Blue Cheese Biscuits with Roasted Tomatoes
I’m loving other foodies’ blogs this week.  After signing off of eating out for Lent, this week I decided to make nothing but food from amazing recipes I saw on Pinterest or other blogs I follow.  Today’s main recipe comes from Joy the Baker’s amazing blog.  I saw her recipe for tomato cobbler and blue cheese biscuits on Pinterest and I wanted it THAT VERY SECOND.  The recipe takes almost two hours, start to finish, so I had to save it for a night where we weren’t running around.  That night was tonight and I absolutely loved this dish.  Sweet and tangy roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, sweet basil and peppery, blue cheese biscuits…honestly, I can’t think of a more perfect combination of flavors.

Olive ate an entire biscuit, and a couple tomatoes and declared it, “good.” 🙂  I wasn’t sure if she would, so instead of making this dish the entire meal, I served it alongside some baked, herbed tilapia, inspired by my personal friend and fellow food-blogger, Becky from Apronclad.com.  I typically pan fry fish but when Becky posted about baking it, I thought, “hey, I’m already baking the main course, why not pop some fish in the oven, too?”  It turned out light and simple and I love how the protein in this case, was the side dish 🙂

Baked Tilapia with Herbs
I just thought this was a beautiful dish before it was baked! Here’s the simple method I used.  Thanks, Becky for the inspiration!

Baked Tilapia with Herbs
serves 2 and a toddler

3 small fillets of white fish – cod, tilapia, mahi mahi, etc.
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
snipped fresh herbs – I used thyme and chives, about a teaspoon each
1 tablespoon of butter, cut into small cubes

In a shallow baking dish, spread the olive oil around and place the fish on the oil. Season fillets  with kosher salt and pepper and sprinkle the snipped herbs all on top and around the fish.  Dot the top of each fillet with a couple pieces of butter and bake at 375F for 15-18 minutes, until fish flakes apart easily.  Serve with a squeeze of lemon if desired.

 

Olive inhaled her fish, as it is a bit of a comfort-food item for her by this point.  I make fish every week.  Familiarity breeds comfort.  Serve your kids something covered in herbs enough and they’ll eventually not balk at it. You think your kids wouldn’t eat this meal?  I disagree! I think eventually they would.  I have watched over the past couple weeks as Olive has really come into a “grown-up” phase of her life where she MUST assert her own authority over things at ALL TIMES.  It’s fine, it’s normal, but I can see where this point in a toddler’s development would create a negative environment around food, trying new foods or even just mealtimes in general.  Here’s what we do:  Every meal, whatever we’re having, I put a tiny portion of each component on her plate.  I tell her what each thing is and then I back away.  Don’t even pay attention.  Make small-talk! The only time I intervene is when she hasn’t tried a particular component and I encourage her to.  Not shockingly, this is the only time during dinner she protests.  She doesn’t want to be told what to eat.  Do you?  I really should back off in this area even more.  So we just say she has to taste it.  Or simply smell it!  After a smell or a tiny lick, she will 99% of the time decide to eat it.  We emphasize that she doesn’t have to like it, but we DO want her to just taste.  If she doesn’t like the taste, that’s fine, and she can spit it back out if she wants.  It’s working!

We have had upsets.  We’ve had back tracking.  We’ve had days where the girl will literally only eat a cracker and declare herself “all done” and get up from the table and leave and not even come back for fruit.  We have had days where she cries because I tell her she can’t have dessert first.  Most of the time her fighting is on days where she really doesn’t have much of an appetite.  So I let it slide.  I think the most important thing you can do to get your kids to eat what you serve is to STOP ACTING LIKE YOU CARE.  And more importantly, if they don’t eat it, don’t serve them something else.  Don’t go to the kitchen and short-order them a side of PB&J.  I always make sure there is something on the table I know Olive likes and then the rest is up to her.  It’s tough to watch your kid not eat much at a meal.  But trust me – they make up for it at the next one!

I’ll do a simple repost on the tomato cobbler recipe.  I know several friends who would fawn over this recipe and I hope they will make it this weekend!  Summer Richards, I’m talking to you 🙂
Tomato Cobbler with Blue Cheese Biscuits

Tomato Cobbler with Blue Cheese Biscuits*
serves 6

For the Biscuits:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
3/4 cup cold buttermilk

For the Filling:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 pounds cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and coarsely ground black pepper

To make the Biscuits:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Add cold butter and shortening.  With your fingers, quickly break up the fat into the dry ingredients.  Rub the fats into the dry ingredients until well incorporated.  Some butter pieces will be the size of small peas, other will be the size of oat flakes.  Toss in blue cheese crumbles.  Stir to incorporate.

Create a small well in the center of the flour mixture.  Add 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.

To make the tomato Filling:

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 18 to 20 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 clean cherry tomatoes (no need to cut them), 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.

Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Pour the tomato and onion filling into a square 8×8-inch baking dish.  Place in the oven and bake tomatoes filling for 25 minutes.

Remove the biscuit dough from the fridge.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out biscuit dough into a 3/4 or 1-inch thickness.  Use a 1 1/2 to 2-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits.  Dip the cutter in flour should it get sticky.  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 reroll excess biscuit dough to make extra biscuits at another time.  (The shaped biscuit dough freezes very well.)

Return warm filling and biscuit dough to oven and bake for 17-20 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 about 15 minutes before serving.  Tomato Cobbler is best served warm.

*posted directly from Joy the Baker’s blog

Chicken Saute with Sweet Potatoes and Rosemary

sweetchick3

 

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My little eater is back.  She had a week of not wanting to eat much at all and being rather scared of texture and new things, but we are officially back in the game.  It’s a relief, really.  I spend the majority of my days figuring out what to cook next.  I will clean up from breakfast and think about what I need to do for lunch.  After Olive’s afternoon snack, I clean up and think of what I need to start for dinner.  I really love it (thank goodness), but when you spend that much time preparing food, you naturally want everyone at the table to consume it.

Our food structure in the day is this:  Breakfast (usually oatmeal with some kind of fruit and milk), Lunch, snack around 3:30-4, Dinner, a little milk at bedtime.  That’s the only times Olive eats.  She doesn’t snack on anything between breakfast and lunch, or between lunch and 4 or between 4 and 7ish.  I really think that when you’re trying your best to get your children to eat a variety of good foods, it’s just shooting yourself in the foot if you let them snack around the clock.  In my (very short) experience so far, when Olive is hungry at meal times, there is rarely a fight over what is served.  She is rarely picky.  I think if she’d had a snack an hour before sitting down, it would be a lot easier for her to reject something new (tonight was roasted beets, pan fried fish and a tomato/bell pepper sauce).  And it’s happened before when she’s had a TON of milk before a meal.  Won’t eat.  Personally, I can’t handle going to the trouble of  cooking and having someone at the table refuse it and then beg for a snack 30 minutes after dinner is over.  The master chef, Fernand Pointe said, “Hunger is the best sauce” and I really love that imagery.  A sauce is a finishing touch – usually the part of the dish that makes it a little indulgent, a little special.  If you are hungry for a meal, everything is just a little more delicious than if you were merely eating because it was mealtime.  I’m not afraid of Olive being hungry.  I think it’s one of the very first lessons in delayed gratification that desperately needs to be instilled at an early age.  So many life lessons are learned by cooking and eating together, and this in my opinion, is one of the most basic.  Wait.  And how wonderful that you have at least 3 times a day to reiterate that important rule.  You wait to be served.  You wait on others before you start eating.  You wait and ask before getting down from the table.  You wait while others are talking before you talk.  It’s beautiful to me how sharing food can teach so much, and not only to children, but to adults as well.

This simple meal comes, once again, from Wini Moranville’s book, The Bonne Femme Cookbook.  A simple chicken dish and the sweet potatoes are an excellent finger food for little eaters.  I choose a baked tomato dish from the book as an extra side for this meal.  Everyone at the table enjoyed it all.  Olive liked the baked tomatoes the least and the chicken the most (but she tried everything) 🙂

sweetchick2

Chicken Saute with Sweet Potatoes and Rosemary
serves 4

2 slices thick-cut bacon
Vegetable oil
2 1/2 tbs unsalted butter
2 to 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice (4 cups)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large shallot, sliced (about 1/4 cup)
1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup Calvados (apple brandy – can be found at most liquor stores) or 1/4 cup apple juice and 1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 300F.
Cook the bacon in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.  Measure the drippings from the skillet and add enough vetetable oil to equal 1 1/2 tablespoons.  Reduce the heat to medium and melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter with the drippings and oil.  Add the sweet potatoes and salt and pepper.  Cook the potatoes, stirring occasionally, until browned and softened, about 15 minutes; add the shallot and rosemary to the pan after 5 minutes.  Transfer the skillet to the oven to keep warm.

Meanwhile, place the chicken breasts, one at a time, between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to 1/4 inch thickness.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.

In another large skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over medium high heat.  Add the chicken in batches and cook, turning once, until no longer pink inside, 6-8 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a large platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the chicken broth and Calvados, taking care not to let the liquid splatter.  Stir with a whisk to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return the pan to the heat, bring to a boil, and boil until the liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup – this should take about 2 minutes, depending on the heat and your pan size; it will take closer to 4 minutes if you’ve substituted apple juice and wine for the Calvados.  Whisk in the cream and cook to a desired consistency.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Crumble the bacon and stir it into the sweet potatoes.  Arrange the chicken on four dinner plates, arrange the potatoes around the chicken, spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve with Tomatoes au Four (recipe below).

Tomatoes au Four

Tomatoes au Four
makes 4 to 8 servings

4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, cored, halved and seeded
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 small shallot, finely minced (about 2 tbs)
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp dried thyme, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly oil a baking dish large enough to hold the tomatoes without too much crowding.  Place the tomatoes, cut sides up, in the baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, shallow, garlic, parsley, thyme and salt and pepper.  Stir in the olive oil.  Spoon this mixture evenly over the tomatoes.

Bake until the tomatoes are hot and the bread crumbs are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.