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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Toast, Toasts and More Toast!

As mentioned in my previous post, my fridge and freezer are both stocked with slices upon slices of sourdough whole wheat bread supplied to my restaurant from Sullivan Street Bakery. I've been in a rush to use up the bag in the fridge before transferring to the freezer becomes necessary. Last night, I attempted to recreate one of my favorite dishes from the Todd English Food Hall--boquerones. (I love them so much that I included them on my birthday dinner menu at the Food Hall last year) I perhaps learned my first lesson in using the finest ingredients possible for your recipes...

my (failed) attempt at duplicating Todd English Food Hall's boquerones

As I was searching for sardines (for another recipe) at my local supermarket, I came across a can of Goya anchovies. So excited to have come across them (I'd once searched my neighborhood desperately for them), I picked up the $1.59 can. As I scanned the supermarket for the rest of the items on my list, I decided to pick up some fresh garlic as well, to (attempt to) duplicate the Food Hall's boquerones.

LATE last night, I began preparations for "boquerones." I thinly sliced, lengthwise, slivers of garlic then placed them into an oven pan and tossed them with a bit of evoo. The garlic toasted quite quickly in my toaster oven which I'd set to 350°. I then drained the anchovies, which I was rather surprised to find that they were quite red in color. After also toasting some of the truccione saré, lightly coated in olive oil, I rinsed and chopped a few small sprigs of fresh parsley. A few short minutes later, my toasts were ready to be dressed with the anchovy fillets.

Todd English Food Hall's boquerones

I excitedly sat down, with a glass of Segura Vuidas, extra dry at the ready, but was not pleased with the final result of my boquerones. The anchovies were so salty, they were nearly inedible. The only thing that kept me going (aside from not wanting to flip all of my painstaking efforts) was the contrast of the off-dry cava. Later that night, I searched the internet for clues as to what I might have done wrong. Apparently, some people soak their anchovies in cold water or milk for up to an hour to remove some of the salt from the anchovies...

Yet, today is a new day.

freshly-roasted grape tomatoes

































Using up the last of the truccione saré in the refrigerator, I decided to finally cook something from my Blue Ribbon Cookbook (received as a birthday gift two years prior). The recipe I chose: roasted tomato, arugula and lemon toasts

sixteen grape tomatoes, nearly ready for roasting

The recipe called for roasted tomatoes, which is included towards the back of the Bromberg brothers' cookbook. The roasting time took just over an hour, but the prep time took just minutes. Slicing the tomatoes and drizzling them with olive oil, salt and pepper was all that was required. I did substitute an ingredient in the recipe though: parsley for arugula. (I figured they're both green, and similar enough) After washing, drying and re-fluffing the parsley, I did a quick, rough chop of them.

... and four toasts nearly ready for plating

Pretty much the only other step in this recipe (other than toasting the bread and roughly chopping the roasted tomatoes) is the extremely easy-to-make dressing of 2 ½ tablespoons of evoo and 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. That's all!

the final product, dressed with a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper

































These toasts were absolutely delicious and paired nicely with the leftover extra dry Segura I'd had in the fridge (although a drier wine would probably have paired better since the tomatoes do have a bit of sweetness to them). And as I expected, the parsley worked out just fine. I think that perhaps the reason I'd been so afraid of cookbooks for so long is that I'd always thought that you had to follow the recipes to a T, otherwise disaster would ensue. (this did happen to me once) But now I know that (for me) it's much easier and better to look at cookbooks as an inspirational guide. But if your fridge, pantry and kitchen is already stocked with every herb, ingredient and cooking contraption known to chef and man--then good for you! In that case: I'll trade you a few of my toasts for some homemade sausages... please?
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