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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Green tomato, broccoli & cornmeal upside-down cake

This is variation of the broccoli/cornmeal upside-down cake as invented by Clothilde, and enthusiastically adopted by so many other food-bloggers. I first tried it last year, with huge success, and keep it in my current repertoire. It's healthy, light but tasty and portable. In fact, next time I might try making it in a muffin-tray, so I can take individual portions to work for a snack.
This recipe certainly is fiddle-proof. I made a few modifications this time, which haven't seemed to to ruin the recipe. I didn't have any yoghurt, so I just used milk with a little extra cottage cheese. Incidentally, did you know that you can make your own cottage cheese by adding 2 teaspoons of vinegar to a pan of milk over heat? I learnt that reading Lynn's blog, when she was making this very recipe too!
Most obviously, I used this as a vehicle to use up some more of my copious amounts of green tomatoes, and I think it worked well. I've been constantly surprised how not awful unripe green tomatoes taste. In fact, they're downright tasty! I lined the cake tin with these first, before adding the broccoli, and some choppsed spring onions I had malingering in the vegetable crisper (definitely no longer crisp). I decided to add a layer of grated cheddar cheese before adding the batter....cheese = yum.
With the batter, I decided to use up the rest of a tub of black olive tapenade, and added it to the wet ingedients, which gives a nice flavour to the cakey part. So, you see, it seems you can do practically anything to this recipe, and it still works out great!
Read on for the recipe:

Broccoli and Cornmeal Upside Down Cake
This is taken from Chocolate & Zucchini, as Clothide's Master Recipe (the urtext!). As demonstrated, you can alter lots of things with it!

-One head of broccoli
- 200 g (3/4 C) cottage cheese
- 125 g (1/2 C) plain yogurt
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 C yellow cornmeal (polenta)
- 1/2 C whole wheat or all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- a handful of brown raisins
- a handful of walnuts, toasted and chopped
- salt, pepper
(Serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a starter or side.)

Wash the broccoli and cut it into florets. Bring some salted water to a boil in a large saucepan, add in the broccoli and let simmer for 8 minutes, until cooked but not limp. (This is my favored cooking method for broccoli, but you can steam it if you prefer.) Drain and run cold water on it to stop the cooking. Set aside in a colander to drain thoroughly while you take the next steps.
Preheat the oven to 180°F (360°F). Grease a 20 cm (8-inch) cake pan, unless it's nonstick.
In a medium mixing-bowl, whisk together the cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs and oil, and sprinkle on salt and pepper. In another medium mixing-bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour and baking powder. Fold the liquid mixture into the dry mixture until just combined (the batter will be thick). Do not overmix, it's fine if it's still a little lumpy.
Arrange the cooked broccoli at the bottom of the cake pan. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle on the walnuts and raisins. Pour the batter evenly over the broccoli, and smooth it out a bit with a spatula.
Put into the oven to bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is
golden and crispy. Let rest on the counter for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the pan to loosen the cornmeal crust, cover the pan with a serving plate, and flip quickly (protect your hands with a kitchen towel of course) so the cake lands, broccoli-side up, on the plate.
Cut in wedges, preferably with caution and a sharp knife, so as not to smoosh the broccoli. Serve warm, at room-temperature or cold. Reheat leftovers for ten minutes in the oven if you wish to revive the crispiness of the crust.


  • That's it! I HAVE to try this one! Looks fabulous Niki!

    By Blogger Zarah Maria, at 4/07/2005 10:47:00 pm  

  • Niki - I've been regularly making this recipe, too, since I first read about it. Everyone (except my broccoli-hating brother) loves it. The green tomatoes are an interesting touch. I was thinking of adding red and yellow peppers to my next batch.

    By Blogger Nic, at 4/08/2005 12:21:00 am  

  • Niki - will this end up being Clotilde's best known recipe? Now that the snow is finally melting here I am planning to plant some tomatoes in my backyard. Will definitely try this variation.

    By Blogger Ana, at 4/08/2005 01:15:00 am  

  • Im with Zarah Maria- i have to try this out! Yet another way to eat yummy broccoli (and I like the addition of cheddar!)

    By Blogger T, at 4/08/2005 03:15:00 am  

  • mmm looks great! and healthy too!

    By Anonymous gwenda, at 4/08/2005 04:22:00 pm  

  • i love how you change the original around! it looks delicious. making a muffin version of this is a great idea.. gonna have to try it out!

    By Blogger Emily, at 4/10/2005 01:47:00 am  

  • I need a really good way to eat broccoli, and this sounds like a winner. Again, when those tomatoes start showing fruit, I'm trying this, as well.

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 4/10/2005 04:21:00 am  

  • Hi everyone; there are many yummy ways to eat broccoli, but this is one of the best I think. AND the recipe allows you to play around with it so much. If you haven't made it yet, I order you to go out and do so! If you know and love it (and yes, I reckon it is Clothilde's best known) then I congratulate you!
    PS - Stephanie, another great way with broccoli is dry frying it in a pan, so it becomes a little charred, then dressing it with some olive oil. Yum!!

    By Blogger Niki, at 4/10/2005 01:16:00 pm  

  • green tomatoes, mmm, I've never tried them. Maybe I can convince my mom to let me pick some from her garden before they ripen.

    Did you try making the cottage cheese, BTW?

    By Blogger Lynn, at 4/15/2005 04:03:00 pm  

  • Hi Lynn - no I didn't try making the cottage cheese this time, as I had some in the fridge, but I'm really keen to try it next time. It sounds like a great scientific experiment to make in your own home!

    By Blogger Niki, at 4/17/2005 12:13:00 pm  

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