6 Quick Ways with... ToastMay/June 2012
Imagine a world without toast. When you were growing up, where would your boiled egg have been without soldiers? Where would your parents have slathered their jars upon jars of marmalade and jam? Where would peanut butter and Nutella nestle? And foie gras would be absolutely lost without crisp-edged brioche, and an Italian meal loves a good bruschetta to get it off to a lusty start.
Toast is a culinary vehicle – but what an important vehicle it is. It carries so many of our most beloved foods to our mouths, and provides its own textural... crunch!... for interest. There’s no end to what you can do with toast. Here are some of our fave ways with toast. Keep in mind that “toast” covers a host of shapes and sizes – it’s not just a square piece of bread popped into the toaster at breakfast. It can be anything you want, any time of the day or night.
1. Garlic, Mozza and Tomato Toasts
This works best on toasts made from a baguette, because all the elements are mostly the same size and shape. But, you can always cut tomato and mozza to fit the size and configuration of your toasts. Rub your toasts with a garlic clove, then drizzle with a rich, fruity olive oil. Slice ripe tomatoes – the best you can find at your fave grocery – as thick as you want. Get some succulent buffalo mozzarella from your fave Italian grocery and slice it thick or thin. First, lay the mozza on the toast, top with the tomato, sprinkle with salt and pepper and lay a fresh basil leaf on the tomato. Mmmm...... spring!
2. Rich and Richer
Be sure to eat these toasts with a clean green salad made with Belgian endive, cucumber, arugula, crisp sweet apple and toasted walnuts. Get a large, flat Turkish-style bread or pizza round and toast the bottom side under the broiler until golden. Turn it over and top the untoasted side with thin slices of ripe avocado. Top the avocado with lots of crumbled gorgonzola or roquefort or other creamy bleu cheese. Toast under the broiler until the cheese melts and runs all over the avocado. Remove and slice into wedges. Serve while still warm and nicely ooooozy. And don’t forget the salad!
3. Potted Pecan Shrimp
This just sounded great, from The Rest of the Best and More from The Best of Bridge Cookbooks. Spread it thickly on your toasts. In a medium bowl, combine 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened, 1/4 c. finely chopped celery, 1/4 c. beer, 4 t. grated onion, 1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 t. dry mustard. Blend well. Stir in 1-1/2 c. chopped cooked fresh shrimp and 1/2 c. toasted, chopped pecans. Pack the mixture into a crock or other serving container, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour for the flavours to marry, then slather generously on your toasts.
4. Asparagus Mascarpone Toasts
Blanch slim asparagus for 2 minutes, drain thoroughly and pat dry. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Smear your toasts with a mixture of mascarpone cheese and grated parmesan. Lay the asparagus however it best fits overtop the mascarpone. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with a fruity olive oil and bake about 15 minutes until crisp and golden. Sprinkle with more parmesan.
5. Caramelized Onion and Mozzarella
Mmmmmm, creamy soft cheese, sweet/sour onion and crunchy toast – how sexy is that! For adults only. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan, and sauté a whack of thinly sliced red onion until soft. Sprinkle with sugar and balsamic vinegar, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are darkly caramelized. Remove from the heat and let cool a bit. Make your toasts and brush one side of each with a halved garlic clove. Top the toasts with torn bits of buffalo mozzarella, that you got from your fave Italian store, and about 1 T. of the onion mixture – you want more mozza than onion. Sprinkle with a little Maldon salt and baby arugula. Eat while the onion is still warm.
6. Welsh Rabbit
You can’t talk about toasts without mentioning Welsh Rarebit, or Rabbit, as everybody called it as kids. This is an adult version. Melt 2 T. butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat, then add 2 T. flour and cook, whisking, about 1 minute until the flour is a bit golden. Slowly add 1/2 c. of your fave ale or porter, plus 3/4 c. half and half, whisking constantly. Whisk in 1 t. dry mustard, 1 t. Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 t. salt, a good grind of pepper and 6 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded. Simmer over moderate heat while whisking until the “rabbit” is smooth, about 5 minutes. Whisk in a dash of hot sauce, if you like. Remove from the heat and pour over your toasts. Eat at midnight while watching the mysterious Dean Caine movie Lost. Serves 4.