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"A Meal on Toast" - A Concept Dish


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A few months ago, I made a rather intriguing discovery; if you take ordinary white bread and take the crusts off, then roll it flat with a rolling pin and cut the sides with a sharp kitchen knife so it becomes a perfect square, when you toast it, the moisture on the inside of the bread has no place to escape and you end up with a "bubble" of hard toast.

In a few days time, I'm hosting one of my traditional semi-annual dinner parties and I'm planning to go the full hog and do a ten course tasting menu. I thought the concept of using the bubble toast with appropriate fillings would be a cute amuse bouche. Each toastlet is only about 2 bites worth so I thought it would be kind of fun to do an entire array of flavours, hopefully with some kind of connection.

I've already done a concept version using some onion confit and the only problem I had with it was that the sweetness was far too rich and the balance of filling/shell didn't quite work. I'm thinking a splash of balsamic might alleviate that problem.

I was toying with "the deconstructed english dinner", Roast beef, Mashed potatos, gravy and mushy peas each in it's seperate toastlet but I'm having trouble figuring out exactly how to pipe meat through a small hole, besides, it doesn't really fit the theme of the rest of the dinner which is very summer oriented atm (ha to all you folks suffering winter doldrums, Tomatos are just coming into peak ripeness over here! :raz:).

Another idea I was toying with is to present familiar ingredients which present very different flavour profiles when manipulated. Onion confit is the most obvious one, the tart astringency turning into almost jam like sweetness but still with a distinctive onion flavour. However, I can't really think of many other examples that exhibit such a dramatic change.

Or even just throwing themes to the wind, what could possibly taste good in paste form, piped into a bubble? I was thinking a duxelle of mushroom might be one, some sort of nut paste, a herb paste of some sort, very reduced beef demi-glace.

Any inspirations?

PS: I am a guy.

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what if since you are thinking of doing these as amuse to be very light hearted and fun about it? pipe in peanut butter and jelly? a cheese mixture? what about mousses- salmon, trout, vegtable like corn? hmmmm....this is very interesting!!

lmf, you made me think of smoked salmon spread, gorgonzola or any bleu you like mixed with a cream cheese or mild goat cheese and those piped in. Spiced tomato preserve would be interesting also, since you've got the tomatoes now. :hmmm::raz: Very thick squash puree, highly spiced in some way, savory or sweet, curried, maybe. Garlic and chive, or basil, or cilantro and lime in a cream paste, for herbs could be nice. Olives.

You didn't say what the rest of the meal was other summery, Shalmnese, that might help. :rolleyes:

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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Benton that is exactly where I was trying to get my brain to go!!!

on the same thoughts...how about hummus? thick dips? instead of serving bread and dips you are serving dips IN bread! spinach dip....

Edited by little ms foodie (log)
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I saw a recipe last night that was called "Meal on toast" that involved canned peas, a cream sauce, and a tin of anchovies. :hmmm:

The cookbook was written in 1947, and was accompanied by a (thankfully) black and white photo.

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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Okay, I've gone away and thought about this some more and I was thinking about making 4 of them somehow involving the 4 seasons, Spring would be tender vegtables and herbs, Summer would be fruits, Autumn would be mushrooms and nuts and Winter would be mashed potato and onion confit. Although after reading all your suggestions, my head is spinning and I need to go away and think about this some more.

The full menu is this:

Pre-Dinner nibbles:

Home Made potato chips (possibly gaufritte if I can convince myself a new mandoline should be on my ever increasing list of christmas presents to my self :D) fried in carefully hoarded beef tallow and topped with Atlantic Sea Salt and crushed black pepper.

Palate Cleanser:

Taiwanese Green Tea, picked from god knows what mountain by god knows what peasant for god knows how much money. All I know is that it's expensive and tastes damn nice :D.

Amuse Bouche:

Something involving the bubble toast

Soup:

Gazpacho soup with a dab of creme fraiche

Entree:

Seared Sea Scallops with a cabbage/carrot mini-salad with a garlic butter sauce and a red bell pepper sauce.

Palate Cleanser:

A single slice of watermelon sprinked with sea salt and mint

Salad:

Still working on this, atm, a greek feta style salad but may change on the day depending on what looks good at the market.

Main:

Roast Leg of lamb atop marinated, grilled summer vegtables with a au jus reduction and a rosemary and garlic infused olive oil.

Dessert 1:

Passionfruit & Lime sorbets, might change if I stumble across some particularly beautiful other type of fruit.

Dessert 2:

Rich Chocolate Mousse with raspberries

Edited by Shalmanese (log)

PS: I am a guy.

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Oh, yes, and now the infuriating part, one of my friends "doesn't really like mushroom" although he will eat it if I serve it. I get the feeling it's really the texture of the things he doesn't like so I think duxelles should be alright.

Another one is "incapable of tasting fish". Apparently, all fish from salmon to trout to lobster tastes exactly the same and completely tasteless. It boggles my mind how this could be but apparently this is the case.

I'm trying to shy away from the overly wierd or even what should taste perfectly normal except the fact that it happens to have ingredients they never tasted before.

In my mind, the amuse sets the tenor of the entire meal and a particularly bad experience can cast a pall over the rest of the evening so I would prefer to play it slightly further away from the edge than if I were just cooking for myself.

Heres my ideas as it stands:

4 bubble toasts, each on 4 corners of a white plate with the words "Spring, Summer etc." next to each, atm I'm thinking non-permenant marker just because I can do it ahead of time since plating is going to be such a bitch. However, I've also toyed with the idea of symbolic markers such as, say, a leaf for spring, a flower for summer, a piece of bark for autumn and a sprinkle of dirt for winter. Probably add some froufrou to the middle of the plate, just to anchor the scene and give it focus, I would love to do a tomato rose but I doubt I could get the skills in such a short time so its probably going to be a non-edible garnish (which I'm against in principle but principles be damned :D).

Anyway, each bubble is going to be filled with either 1 or 2 things depending on how ambitious I feel and then topped with a tiny chunk of whats inside to hide the piping hole.

Heres my preliminary idea:

Summer: At the moment, I'm going to wing it and see what looks good on the market but I'm leaning towards peaches, apricots, cherries or something of that nature.

Autumn: Some sort of creamy mushroom filling as the base, slightly lighter on the mushrooms than I would like due to guest A, possibly topped with some sort of nut, hazelnut? How would I get the texture working? I basically want a savoury version of hazelnut cream.

Winter: Easy, Pipe in mashed potatos, pipe in onion confit, top with a dab of confit.

Spring: I really am stumped on this one, Spring, to me is all about the first tender shoots of green vegtables and the first of the herbs sprouting. What do I suspend the herbs in? I can't fill an entire bubble with EVOO or Butter, that would be far too rich. And what vegtable should I choose? Spring vegtables, to me, are more noted for their texture than their flavour, Lettuce, Leeks, Cucumber, none are really amenable to puree. I guess I could do something funky with the gel parts of the tomato, tomato gel and basil? Would provide a nice texture contrast to the others.

The only problem I see is that it's going to be a LOT of work to plate, even if I get much of it ready beforehand, Spring and Summer I'm happy to do cold but autumn and winter I want to be hot and I'm dealing with such minute quantities that I need to be piping 32 different things out of 8 different syringes. Times like this I wish I was running a 4 star restaurant and I have a line of assisitants willing to do all the leg work :D.

PS: I am a guy.

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Spring: I really am stumped on this one, Spring, to me is all about the first tender shoots of green vegtables and the first of the herbs sprouting. What do I suspend the herbs in?

Green peas (use frozen ones) are easily pureed with cream or butter. Flavor with mint.

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It all sounds yummy! Reminds me of crostini or bruschetta variations....

a nice chicken liver/rosemary pate

chopped tomatoes and fresh basil since your tomatoes are coming in (really mean of you to rub it in)

smoked red peppper paste

firey chili paste to wake up the dead (just a thought..)

And just a word of warning...don't put anything on a plate that can't be eaten, no matter how self explanatory it looks! I thought the dirt was Oreo crumbs....

Have Fun!

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I would agree with no inedibles on the plate! Good idea for the oreos or other cookie/cracker for the "dirt" -- and I like the symbols as presentation better than writing on the plates. All of that can be done ahead of time. Also -- you might consider an edible flower in the middle to pull it together, say propped on a bit of frisee maybe.

edit to add: The bubble toast pics are intriguing. I may have to try this myself -- soon. Also, I've gotta ask . . . How did you stumble on this process for the bubble toast? I'm trying to picture you accidentally smashing and toasting a piece of de-crusted bread. :raz::laugh:

Edited by lovebenton0 (log)

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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For the life of me, I can't remember. I have a habit of midnight experiments.

Lets see... I think I was out of crackers and I really wanted some smoked salmon, cream cheese and cracked pepper on a thin cracker late at night. I improvised and that was the result. it completely surprised me so I tried to do it again and I found I could do it consistently. It was quite a cool discovery and, in some small way, I kinda knew how Ferran Adria feels every day :D.

PS: I am a guy.

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For beef, there is Strathsburg (Strathborough? something like that) paste. I made this once, in a recipe calling for pot roast and anchovies. Felt like I'd just invented canned tuna fish.

If you used two slices and filled before cooking, would they still puff?

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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Shalmanese:

Where you failed to manufacture a cracker, I succeeded. Inspired by your invention, yesterday I bought a loaf of squishy white bread (first one in twenty years) to try your recipe.

I cut a couple of slices with a 4" round cutter and ran a rolling pin over them and placed them in a 300F oven for a few minutes and produced a nice flat cracker.

I'm inspired by your thread and pictures. What did I do incorrectly?

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I think it has something to do with putting them in an actual toaster. So the toaster has coils that heat rapidly, and they are in close proximity to the bread circle, so that causes the moisture to turn to steam, which puffs the bread. Whereas, in the oven, the heating process is more gradual, and you will have lowered the temperature of your oven when you place the bread circle into it. By the time the moisture inside the bread circle has time to expand, the outer surface of the bread will already have cooked somewhat and hardened.

You need a more direct heating source to do this, so it's possible that one could do this in a deep fryer, or possibly in a hot skillet as well. But it seems it won't work in an oven.

What puzzles me is how he manages to get the little, flat circle to balance on the toaster platform without falling into the cracks and getting stuck down in the toaster. I've tried toasting very thin things before, and that tends to be an issue.

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Did you roll before or after you cut? I always cut after I roll because my theory is that it seals the edges so the moisture is unable to escape. I also had a rather embarrasing failure the other day where I managed to ruin a whole 16 bread slices in one go in the oven because I didn't bother doing a test run first.

Yes, getting the toast in the toaster is a bitch. Don't try and turn the toaster on the side without cleaning out the crumb tray, it catches fire :P.

I HAVE successfully done one in the oven before a long time ago but apparently I was unable to duplicate it this time. I have also successfully done it in a hot skillet.

My theory is that

a) You require heat from both sides to really do it reliably, with heat from only one side, instead of turning to steam, the moisture is absorbed by the other side of the bread. When I wen't to flip my bread squares over, the other side was a mushy mess.

b) the heat source wasn't intense enough, radiant heat decreases rather rapidly with distance, the fact that the toaster coils are so close together outweights the power of a broiler.

c) something is wrong with the bread. Upon recollection, all my bread samples have been from the fridge and a few days old, perhap fresh bread has different properties.

Upon some further thought, it occurs to me that the microwave might actually be the perfect cooking medium. It provides even heating and has the desireable property of heating the water only first and then browning the bread.

I suspect you might need to put something underneat that can wick away water like a dishtowel or a paper towel or even suspend it on a platform.

Unfortunately, I'm all out of bread, anyone else willing to try?

PS: I am a guy.

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I used the toaster last evening and produced very thin toast.

I'm determined to accomplish this interesting concept. Will try the micro, roll the bread before cutting, etc. After all, a loaf of that pasty-ass bread only costs a buck.

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