Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bring On The Brushetta

There are fewer things greater to eat during the summer growing season than the most popular American version of brushetta. I am of course referring to the classic combination of tomatoes, basil and garlic over a piece of simple bread. In case you were wondering, bruschetta originally meant nothing more than a piece of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and covered in olive oil, salt and pepper. Many variations have come to be loved by people the world round, but here in the good ol' USA we seem to think that the definition of the dish is the way we make it. No matter. It is a good way to do it.

The problem with most American brushcetta is that it is made with poor ingredients, over salted, undersalted, drowned in olive oil, drowned in some other kind of oil, placed on soggy bread, filled with to much garlic, etc. In other words, most brushetta is not that appealing. the key is to get good ingredients and then treat them right. Let them be the star of the show.

Here we have the first tomato "harvest" of the season as well as some Genovese basil and purple striped garlic. All three from the garden:



These were chopped up and mixed with a bit of Costco's surprisingly good extra virgin olive oil and precisely 5 drops of an amazing bottle of balsamic vinegar that my sister in law got as a gift and is letting us "borrow." After the preliminary test I was convinced this needed no salt and no pepper...it was perfect.

I should mention at this point the importance of tasting food during the cooking process. This is essential. Not tasting food during the cooking process is like painting a canvas without pausing to make sure you are still on the canvas at all. Taste your food. If it stinks fix it. If you get to a point in the making of a dish and it tastes great to you then stop. If not keep pushing the envelope a bit. In cooking there is definitely such a thing as too much of a good thing...unless you are talking about sausage or something. Remember being a kid and thinking you could paint all the colors of the rainbow, be a real Picasso, with just one brush stroke if you just put all the paints on the brush at one time? Don't lie to your self. Every time it came out looking like you had just dipped your brush into peanut butter instead of paint. The color was always mostly indistinguishable and unimpressive. So to with food that is mercilessly killed with to much of anything.

Here is how ours turned out:



There was only enough for a few bites a piece, but we were left satisfied and hungry for more. The perfect dish.

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