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“Toast” For Dinner

3 Oct

I did something on Sunday night that I haven’t done in years. I cooked something, note for note, from a recipe from the Food Network. Wait, that’s not quite true. I cooked two things, note for note, from two recipes from

Allow me to explain.

onions on toast

On Saturday morning I woke up kinda early and aimless, so I tottered out into the living room (I hate mornings) and turned on the tv. I don’t quite know how it happened, but somehow I got sucked into watching Tyler’s Ultimate. Now, to be sure, this was no attempt at trying to deduce whether Bill Buford‘s right or wrong, this was simple, brainless tv-zombie zoning out. But then again, it wasn’t.

Tyler Florence can actually cook. He can chop onions really fast and not cut his fingers off, a skill which indicates a long history of chopping onions and means someone has done their time as a peon in a professional kitchen.

But, he’s also kind of annoying both in print and on tv. He has a certain character trait that I sometimes worry I have too. It involves being in your 30s yet sometimes talking like you’re in your early 20s, inserting the word “like” into sentences a lot, using kinda faux surfer slang (and the word kinda) and allowing boring, flacid adjectives to slip out while trying to describe something you’re very excited about. These are the things that make Tyler annoying.

But, I repeat, the man can cook.

Unlike the original Tyler’s Ultimate (which I always dug) where he would travel around the world looking for the best way to cook something, this show is all about cooking at home. The episode I caught was Tyler’s Ultimate Shrimp Scampi.

And may I indulge in a quick aside? Thank you.

No one should actually eat shrimp scampi. Strike that. No one should eat shrimp scampi unless it’s made with the very best shrimp. Come on America, wake up! Shrimp are kinda nasty (see, there’s that word again), especially the shrimp that are commonly available for sale at the local mega-mart, frozen, previously frozen or possibly even already cooked. They’re not suitable for consumption. So don’t. If you feel the need to make this scampi recipe, make it with something more flavorful, like bay scallops of dry dayboat scallops, or medallions of monkfish. You can thank me later.

Sorry for that, because, of the three recipes Tyler made on his show, the scampi was the very last one I wanted to talk about. What I really wanted to draw your attention to are the sides from this episode: Caramelized Onion Toasts and Broccoli, Parmesan and Lemon. These are the things that caught my eye and what I ultimately (heh) made for dinner on Sunday night.

The onion bruschettas (I refuse to use dumbed down Food Network speak and call them toasts) were sublime. I cannot wait to mix the leftover onions with some pasta for a quick after work dinner this week. They were sweet from the long slow cooking, savory from the anchovies and deliciously salty from the olives and cheese. If we ever move into an apartment big enough to have a dinner party in, this will be my passed hors-d’oeuvres, no question. This would also be awesome as a pizza topping, or a tart topping, or heck, just bathe in it, it’s that good!

The cauliflower (I substituted it for broccoli given our household’s predilections) was good. Nothing special, but really darn good. The sprinkling of lemon juice at the end is pure genius, it really lifts the dish from something run of the mill, to something rather special. And if you eat the cruciforms over a bed of mixed greens, the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and cheese mix to make a darn tasty salad dressing.

I was very impressed by these dishes. They were easy as pie (actually, far far easier than pie) and super tasty.

The evening was completed with a dessert of Financier‘s macarons. They’re probably not as good as Pierre Hermé‘s insanely famous pastries, but at least for now, I finally have some inkling as to what all the fuss is about!

Head below the jump for the recipes for Caramelized Onion Bruschetta & Cheesy Lemon Cauliflower.
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