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Sunday, March 07, 2004

Is My Blog Burning? The Tartine Edition

I haven't been cooking much lately due to study commitments and not feeling well. And last weekend (when I usually do my production cooking for work lunches) I was out of town. So lately any meal where I did a substantial bit of the prep (as opposed to take-out) has been an accomplishment.

But when the lovely, charming, and talented Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini suggested a food-blogging theme event (sort of like our virtual or real "cook-ins" from rec.food.cooking) of open-faced sandwiches ("tartine" in French), I was up for that.

You see, I hadn't had any bread in the house for a full week and more; the last went moldy before my trip and I had no opportunity to go to The Cheese Board for more. So I was ready to have Things On Bread this weekend when I finally got there for my City Bread fix. City Bread is their extra-sour sourdough, available plain or seeded, and I am utterly addicted, and not much inclined to try making my own bread because I can buy bread this good.

(BTW - the collective now has a cookbook.)

I even had the theme all planned out - Goat Cheese Toasts, one of my favorite things, and an All-California comfort food - although it's funny to think that goat cheese was practically unknown here when I was a girl. These are often known as "crostini" on fancy Italian (or Italianoid) menus but I like the reverse snobbery of using the perfectly good English word "toasts". (According to our organizer, the bread for the tartine can be toasted or not according to your preference.)

Yesterday's first effort was (to standardize the nomenclature) Goat Cheese Tartine with Marinated Roasted Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, and Capers. I made them in my standard way: cut off a good slice of bread and toast it lightly in my toaster oven, crumble soft goat cheese on top and toast some more, spread the warmed cheese around, and top. I chopped the tomatoes and olives to give a more uniform size. I decided against arranging them in stripes because it looked pretty enough mixed up. The goat cheese was a garlic-and-herb flavored variety that I had in the fridge and needed to use up but plain would have been fine due to the "zinginess" of the tomatoes (marinated in herbs, oil, and garlic after roasting - note, NOT sundrying, although sundried would work in smaller quantities).

I went shopping again after this and came home famished, probably because I had only a blueberry muffin for my late breakfast. I needed a protein infusion, fast. I keep cans of olive-oil packed Italian-style tuna in my cupboard just for such emergencies. Within five minutes I was enjoying (nomenclature again standardized) a Tuna, Artichoke, and Caper Tartine. This time I did not toast the bread because it was fresh. I added kalamata olives to the mix but removed them because they didn't look right. Some green olives would have been fine if I had had some. I chopped the marinated artichokes into more-easily-edible cubes and mashed it in with the tuna. It wasn't on my theme but it certainly satisfied.

I am doing this entry at about noon on Sunday. My goat cheese toasting is not done for the weekend, since I plan to make minestrone some time today and have a bowl with the following accompaniments: Goat Cheese and Chard Tartine and Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Tartine. Chard toasts, or goat cheese and chard toasts, were a serendipitious discovery - we were discussing Oliveto on our bay area food newsgroup (ba.food), I browsed the menu, and there they were on it. I said "I can do that!". I will de-rib and steam some chard (rest of the bunch and the ribs go in la bonne soupe!), and then saute it briefly to flavor in olive oil in which some garlic has been warmed. I call it "Italian-style chard". This is very simple (I steam the chard in the microwave) and very, very good. The peppers I can roast on my stove's grill portion while I am dealing with the soup. I might get fancy and garnish the chard with some chopped olives or the red bell with some capers. Or maybe not.

Had I had some bread around this week when I had the tri-tip from San Luis Obispo, I probably would have put together a Santa Maria Sandwich: Buttered garlic toast, slices of tri-tip, mashed pinquito beans, and a smattering of tomato salsa on top. Potato salad and/or green salad on the side, please, and it goes equally well with lemonade, beer, or a hearty Central Coast red. I am not calling this one a tartine, standard nomenclature or no, because the locals would laugh.

Off to contemplate roasting vegetables and chopping for soup. I am not hungry at the moment because I had a (homemade) breakfast burrito with eggs, potatoes, pinquitos, and salsa before I went to church, and I stopped at Trader Joe's afterwards and had some Greek yogurt and blueberries for a mid-morning snack. But it's a very pleasant and sunny day, and I will very much enjoy working in my sunny kitchen and listening to my Sunday afternoon radio shows. Anyway, if I start now I will have something to eat around 4 pm when I get hungry again. Bon appetit!

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