“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 foodtv.com.

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.

Caramelized Onion Bruschetta

prep time: 15 minutes ~ cooking time: 60 minutes

Cook’s Note: My adaptation of this recipe will make enough to make bruschetta for two with leftovers enough for a mid-week pasta dish, or enough bruschetta for 4 as an appetizer, or enough for maybe 10 as a passed appetizer.

  • 4 Onions, thinly sliced (I used 2 yellow, 1 white & 1 sweet for kicks & giggles)
  • 2 tbsps un-salted Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • 6 Sicilian Anchovies, roughly chopped (these are anchovies packed in Olive Oil & Pepper Flakes, if you can’t find these, plain ole anchovies will do, but whatever you do, DO NOT leave them out! They are essential! You will not notice any fishiness, but you’ll notice them if they’re not there)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Baguette
  • Nicoise Olives, pitted
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated

Melt the butter and a healthy glug of olive oil in a skillet over a medium flame. Add the onions and slowly cook until they begin to turn lightly golden. Add the anchovies, as much thyme as you like (I love thyme so I used a lot), a lot of freshly ground pepper and a wee bit of salt (be very judicious with the salt, there’s a lot of it floating about in your other ingredients and you don’t want it to be overly salty).

Continue to cook the onions over a medium flame, turning it up if necessary, and cook until the onions turn deep gold brown and melty. Turn off the flame.

Heat the oven to 400°.

Cut the baguette into easily handled pieces and then cut them in half. Place on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan. Spoon a healthy layer of the onions onto each piece of bread. Top each serving with a few olives. Place in the oven and cook 10-15 minutes until the bread is crispy.

Pull the bruschetta out of the oven and top with cheese. Allow to melt a mere minute and serve to your adoring crowd. Try not to oink with joy!

Cheesy Lemon Cauliflower

prep time: 5 minutes ~ cooking time: 20-30 minutes

  • 1 head Cauliflower, washed & broken into bite size pieces
  • 4 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • Lemon Juice

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place the cauliflower in a roasting pan. Sprinkle the garlic over top. Season with salt & pepper, drizzle with olive oil, turn to ensure even coverage over each happy chunk of cauliflower. Place in the oven.

Allow to bake about 15 minutes.

Pull from the oven and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese creates a golden brown crust about 10-15 minutes. Serve over mixed greens, drizzled with lemon juice. Enjoy!

Both recipes adapted from Tyler Florence’s recipes found here.

8 Responses to ““Toast” For Dinner”

  1. s'kat October 3, 2006 at 8:32 am #

    Toasts? It’s amazing how succesful the Food Network has become by pandering to the lowest common denominator. Wankers.

    But great looking brew-sket-ta!

  2. Julie October 3, 2006 at 9:57 am #

    It’s funny you should mention Tyler’s knife skills. I have never watched an entire Tyler Florence episode, and my cumulative watching of parts of his shows probably don’t add up to one whole show, but in the small amounts of time I’ve watched him, I’ve seen his knife stuff and I am always amazed at how fast he moves with it. In fact, I’m always amazed at all examples of good knife skills because mine are sort of Tyler Florence’s polar opposite — slow and clumsy, fingers always in danger.

    The toasts/bruschetta sound fab. Carmelized onion is always a winning ingredient.

  3. Ulla October 3, 2006 at 8:15 pm #

    I really like Tyler’s recipes. I think they are clean and celebrate the ingredients—His cheesecake is really easy but sooo great!

  4. Erielle October 3, 2006 at 10:43 pm #

    That onion bruchetta recipe looks kinda amazing. I’ll probably kinda use it sometime.
    Why does that man cause such opposite reactions withn individuals’ pysches? He has so much not going for him and going for him at the same time.
    I think he is a robot.

  5. lobstersquad October 4, 2006 at 2:31 am #

    I wish we had the food network. Canal cocina is the last joke in tv incompetence. Those bruschetta sound to die for several times over.

  6. Tiny Banquet Committee October 4, 2006 at 12:36 pm #

    Mmm, cauliflower! It is a sort-of-recently-discovered favorite of mine but I always end up simply roasting it with olive oil, salt and pepper because it’s so good that way – I must try it with parmesan + lemon.
    I agree about the scampi – perhaps this is why the versions of it that I remember eating growing up in CT contained massive quantities of garlic!

  7. Sher October 4, 2006 at 11:31 pm #

    I grew up eating freshly caught shrimp, so I agree about the dreadful quality of them. I never buy peeled shrimp–they’re the worst, always peel my own. Still, the farmed shrimp are strange to me.

    I’ll be dreaming about those macaroons!!

  8. ann October 5, 2006 at 5:10 pm #

    s’kat — isn’t it? Thank GOD for PBS!

    Julie — From what I’ve read he grew up in a restaurant family, so maybe that accounts for the knife skills, either way, just remember to keep your fingers tucked in, cause if you lose a fingertip, I’d lose my morning reading!

    Ulla — I’ll have to find me that cheesecake receipt.

    Erielle — I think so too, but then I see how much weight he’s put on, and I think to myself, that’s one advanced robot!

    Lobstersquad — I’d say I’d send you some DVDs, but I don’t even think that would work! Maybe they’ll start streaming some of the shows on the interweb soon!

    TBC — Scampi’s just so weird… It’s like, kind of a good idea, but really, it’s not, unless it’s made with absolutely killer fresh langoustines in Croatia, and then it’s possibly the best idea anyone has ever had anywhere in the world, well, EVER!

    Sher — They’re pretty darn dreamy, I’ll admit. The coconut one did things to a big tannic wine that if the two of them were human would probably rated NC-17. Truly extraordianry!

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