We’re back with another installment of Pass the Cook Book Club, and as much as I loved last month’s recipes, this month’s may have been even better! I jumped back into the group fray a few months ago joining this club, and have been loving it. You can read more about the group here, but the basic idea is that each month Kita, our fearless leader, selects three recipes from one of the cookbooks on her shelf and then everyone in the group makes and posts about one of them.
This month’s selection was The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. You guys know Deb, right? She runs the wildly successful Smitten Kitchen blog. It’s long been a favorite of mine, not only for the great recipes, but in large part because I think her writing is so wonderful.
The three recipes selected this month were cheddar swirl breakfast buns, these tomato scallion shortcakes, and a s’mores layer cake. In past months I’ve struggled with choosing just one, but this time it was pretty easy. I’d actually already previously made the cheddar swirl breakfast buns, and spoiler alert, they’re awesome so put them on your to-do list! You guys know I love a good dessert, so the s’mores layer cake was tempting, but since it’s just two of us here, I really need an occasion or excuse to make a layer cake and just didn’t have one. Tomato scallion shortcakes it was!
If you’ve ever made strawberry shortcake, think of these tomato scallion shortcakes as a savory twist on the same idea. The biscuit is unsweetened and includes green scallions for extra flavor. Instead of a strawberry topping, we’re using a simple tomato salad here. And finally, a savory whipped goat cheese is the finishing touch.
The most exciting thing about this recipe for me was that I got to use tomatoes from my very own garden to make it! I grew tomatoes last year but the squirrels helped themselves to nibbles of just about every one before I could enjoy them. This year I decided to keep the tomato plants on our deck rather than in the yard hoping the squirrels wouldn’t be brazen enough to touch them there, and it’s worked! Tracey 1, squirrels 0
The simplicity of this recipe really allows the ingredients to shine. I think fresh summer tomatoes are a must here – the often bland grocery store options just wouldn’t do the dish justice. I’ve only had goat cheese a few times and find its tanginess a little aggressive, but it worked here. Texturally the topping was just like whipped cream too – so light and fluffy! These tomato scallion shortcakes make a wonderful lunch – in fact, the day I made the recipe I delivered the components to my mom at her office so she could enjoy the shortcakes too. I’m already itching to make them again – just waiting on my tomato plant to produce enough fruit to make it happen!
Tomato Scallion Shortcakes with Whipped Goat Cheese
from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
2 cups pls 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 cup cold whole milk
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
pinch of sugar
pinch freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb (about 1 1/3 cups) cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
Whipped Goat Cheese
3 tablespoons cold heavy cream
4 oz goat cheese, softened
2 scallions (green parts only), thinly sliced, to garnish
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the add and use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter until the pieces are no larger than small peas – the mixture should look like coarse meal. Mix in the scallion, and then add the milk, stirring just until a rough dough comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently pat the dough out to 3/4-inch thickness and using a 3-inch round cutter, cut biscuits from the dough (don’t twist the cutter, use a straight up and straight down motion). Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches of space between them. Gather the scraps and cut more biscuits until you have 6-8 biscuits.
Bake the biscuits for about 14-15 minutes, or until they has risen and are golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and set aside while you make the remaining components.
To make the tomato salad: Whisk the oil, vinegar, salt, sugar, and pepper together until well combined. Add the tomatoes and gently toss until they are coated in the dressing.
To make the whipped goat cheese: Add the heavy cream to a medium bowl, and use a whisk (you could do it with a hand mixer) to whip the cream vigorously until soft peaks form. Add the softened goat cheese and continue whisking until the mixture is light and fluffy.
To assemble: Split the biscuits in half. Top each of the bottom halves with some of the tomato salad and then a dollop of the whipped goat cheese. Garnish with scallions. Serve immediately.
Makes 6-8 shortcakes