If you’re the kind of person who likes to cook, you know the satisfaction you get from serving someone food and having them smile at the end of eating it. If they actually mumble out a “Soooo goood” as they’re eating it even better. Betty does that all the time when I feed her, (but she doesn’t count because she makes the same sounds eating a TV dinner or a pistachio she swept up from behind the fridge.)
So the MMMMMMmmmmmm sounds are good, but the Holy Grail of feeding someone is bringing them to tears. Reducing a human being to a quaking, sobbing mess whose greatest fear in life is no longer the terrorists … but the loss of their teeth.
On August 22nd, 2014 such a miracle occurred in my kitchen. And then it happened again last week.
I thought it was just a fluke, like when people see Jesus in their Cream of Wheat, but when it happened a second time I knew I’d stumbled upon something pretty spectacular. Definitely more spectacular than a hairy pistachio.
Do you want to know what this miracle food was? Bruschetta. But you knew that already if you read the title of this post.
This isn’t just any bruschetta though, it’s bruschetta inspired by the movie Julie & Julia. I’m pretty sure it’s the only thing the movie inspired. The clips are great, but when you put the whole movie together is just kind of … blah. If you don’t know, it’s a movie based on Julie Powell’s blog in which she chronicled her (successful) attempt to recreate every recipe in Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking“. GREAT premise for a blog. Too bad her blog hasn’t been touched since 2010.
I didn’t think I liked bruschetta because the only kind I’d had was the kind served in chain restaurants where the pasta bowls are about the size of a galvanized tub. And sometimes are a galvanized tub. (Betty loves those kinds of restaurants too) The bruschetta at these places tends to be a piece of bread that was sort of waved over a toaster then allowed to get soggy with store bought tomato leakage. It’s as if a tomato peed on a piece of bread then ran away, leaving only the weakest, saddest little pieces of tomatoes behind.
But when I watched the movie Julie & Julia, Julie made what seemed to kind of be bruschetta, but it looked much, MUCH better.
It looked so goooood. And if you watch the scene from the movie, Julie’s husband does exactly what you want people to do. He says, “This is SOOO GOOD!”.
Also I love whatshisname. Whatshisname is my favourite character on The Mindy Project right after Mindy. And the other guy who is so funny. You know. The nurse.
So you want to learn how to make this bruschetta? Want to learn how to bring someone to tears with your food? Here we go.
First of all a few tips:
1. Use fresh, crusty bread. Whole slices! Not a baguette.
2. FRY in olive oil. I mean it. You fry it.
3. Don’t even attempt this if it isn’t summer and you don’t have fresh tomatoes.
Let’s get started …
You need bread, olive oil, tomatoes, basil and salt.
Dice a few fresh, local tomatoes.
Tear up a handful of basil and add it. Add lots if you love basil, little if you don’t. I used this sized bunch for around 5 small-medium tomatoes.
Drizzle the tomatoes and basil with a good amount of olive oil and let stand for 30-45 minutes.
After 30 minutes, sprinkle with salt and let sit for another 10 minutes or so.
Cover the bottom of a pan with olive oil until it’s at least 3mm deep. Just glug it in there. Heat pan over medium/low. Not too hot or your bread will burn, not too low or it’ll just soak up a bunch of oil and get gross.
To test if your oil is hot enough to fry place the end of a wooden spoon in the oil. If the tip forms bubbles right away, it’s at the right temperature to fry.
While the pan is heating, slice your crusty bread. I make my own bread using the master recipe from this cookbook, The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Seriously. If you always think “I’d love to make bread”, and then never do, get this book. You’ll be making bread all the time because it’s so easy and fast.
But you don’t have to make your own bread. Just use a fresh, dense, crusty loaf like Ciabatta.
Fry bread slices in oil until browned. Or you tongue falls out of your mouth. Whichever comes first.
Remove bread from the pan and generously spoon the tomato mixture over the top. But first, maybe, just look at the golden brown, toasty, olive oil drenched goodness. Smell it. Love it.
O.K., NOW you can top it with your tomatoes and basil. Just spoon it right on there. Lots of it.
And now you eat it.
If you've watched the movie Julie & Julia you no doubt noticed the bruschetta love scene. I'm not sure anything in a movie has ever looked so delicious. This is that recipe.
- 3 medium tomatoes heirloom and a variety of colours if you can get them.
- 3 large stems basil
- 1/2 cup olive oil good quality
- 4 slices bread hearty, crusty bread is best.
Shred basil leaves.
Mix tomatoes and basil in bowl with 1/4 of olive oil, reserving other 1/4 cup for frying.
Let this mixture sit for 30 minutes.
When the 30 minutes is up, add a generous sprinkling of salt to the mixture and let it sit for another 10 minutes.
Now is when you can heat up 1/4 cup of olive oil (your goal is to have 3mm of oil in the pan) over medium/low heat.
Once hot, fry your slices of bread until golden.
Remove bread from pan and top with tomato mixture.
You can cut the calories in this recipe by using less oil to fry the bread. It won't be *quite* as good, but the snack will have far less guilt associated it.
To test your oil to make sure it's hot enough, dip the end of a wooden spoon into the oil. If bubbles quickly form around the wood, it's the right temperature. If they take a while to bubble, it isn't hot enough. If the oil bubbles and spurts crazily, the pan is too hot.
Serve HOT. With a box of Kleenex.