Monday, April 14, 2008

Uninstinctive, Successfully

Ever followed a recipe that sounded so strange, so impossible, you didn't see how it would work? But it was so mesmerizing, you did it anyway?
I tried this recipe for baked onion-cheese-toast over two years ago, and it was so weird, I followed it to the letter. Out of fear.
And it came out great.
So yesterday I attempted a re-creation of this unlikely concoction, without a recipe (we had used a library book the first time), and it came out great!
The secret is just understanding, and trusting, your food. You commit a few simple, heretofore-unknown, exercises, trusting in your food guru (Lidia Bastianich, in this case). Then, more than two years later, you figure you can pretty much remember, rethink, redo. And you do.
No bragging here, actually. It's really easy. I'm just so glad I lodged this dish in memory, and dared to try it again without the cookbook.

Briefly (and it really is this easy): Decide how much buttery onion-cheese-toast you want, and select a glass or ceramic baking dish to fit your dream.
Start your oven at 350ยบ.
Begin sauteing sliced onions in butter, with salt, pepper, and a bunch of crunched fresh laurel leaves. How many onions? As much as you want. Not too many. Does this make sense? You'll want your collapsed onions to cover the bread in your baking dish, generously but not obscenely.
Slice bread (about 1/2-inch thick), leaving crusts on or trimming off if you're a sissy. We used a rustic pain au levain. Butter the bread on both sides, and jam it into the dish, in a single layer, fitting it in tightly.
When the onions are a golden, soggy mess, slather them over the bread (removing the laurel leaves).
Now, grate some hard cheese; we used Parmigiano. You want enough to create a delightful snowfall; not a heartbreaking sludge-storm, although you'd be surprised how much you can get away with. Sprinkle this cheese POOFILY over the onions; don't smash it down. Poofy does it.
OK, now bake for a half an hour. The cheese will get crisp and the onions will get fragrant and the bread will toast. It is magic.
Delicious with a soup or stew, maybe just a salad and a glass of prosecco.

If you try this technique only once, you will probably remember it years later.
And you really ought to thank me. Because this is not a recipe blog.
Oh. This wasn't really a recipe, was it?


Greg said...

Sounds outstanding! Sorta like French Onion soup without the liquid.

cook eat FRET said...

oh how perfect is that?
and you could use shallots too - and gruyere

and well - how perfect is thay...

cook eat FRET said...

thay = that

peter said...


dancingmorganmouse said...

Oh my, that's cheesy oinion toast, almost exactly how I make it - whodathunk? We had it once eating out, I loved it so much I fiddled and fiddled until I came up with pretty much that. It's sooo good, not an everyday treat though or we'd never fit though the front door ;)

kudzu said...

If you need someone to inspire you, Lidia's the dame (chorus-- Groucho: "Lidia, oh Lidia -- Oh have you seen Lidia?"). The toast sounds scrumptious. With spring onions. Yes.

Thanks for recipe.

Barbara said...

That's my lunch sorted for tomorrow.

ChrisB said...

This I will have to try; embee will love it~I know he shouldn't but I'll give him a treat!

Sam said...

You are doing better than me. The on;y way I can remember things these days s if I write them down in my blog.

I drank prosecco yesterday too

Stacie said...

recipies, pfwa! I love your describe and try method. It works, for just about anything... except the dreaded, science-filled exactitude of baking. I must eat that, it sounds devine!

pea said...

bread plus onions plus cheese equals one happy pea. who am i kidding? bread plus cheese alone would suffice. :)

Zoomie said...

Wow, that sounds great! And where do you find your pain au levain?

Kevin said...

That sounds GREAT!

cookiecrumb said...

Greg: You totally nailed it!

ceF: Thou art on to something!!

Peter: If only. I'd love to try ramps, but they don't grow here.

Morgan: How brave are you, figuring out the recipe by yourself? Congratulations.

Kudzu: I love how moist and juicy the spring onions are.

Barbara: I am flattered. I hope it goes well.

ChrisB: I suppose you could skimp a little on the butter!! Eek, but why?

Sam: I distrusted my own memory and had to go back and read my blog post on this one... no proportions, but the technique was there.
Cheers to you.

Stacie: I forget, have you tried the no-knead bread yet? You'll be a-baking!

Pea: Get the onions in there! Sweet, droopy onions. It would make a fabulous starter for a dinner party. With prosecco.

Zoomie: I might have "misspoke" on the bread. It was wheat levain, from Brickmaiden Breads (they come to the Marin Sunday market).

Kevin: It was better than the sum of its parts, but I'd definitely say don't skip the fresh bay leaves.

Zoomie said...

Okay, looks like I need to visit the market on Sunday to get some bread! The toast looks and sound delicious!

peter said...

I planted them. You can too.

Lina said...

YUMMMMMM! That looks bomb.

Mary Coleman said...

excellent. i don't know what i want for lunch, i click on here and boom...there t'is!
of course it will be the cocktail hour before i get it finished, but that's cool. i can wait.

Anna Haight said...

Simple and wonderful -- I agree with Greg, sounds like FOS without the soup.

Beccy said...

Sounds wonderful, I'm glad I chose today to rejoin blogland!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

The best line is: "Sprinkle the cheese POOFILY..."