Sunday, April 2, 2017

Four Mighty Toasts + A Giveaway!










Once upon a time I was a kitchen minimalist. I had three stainless steel pots, an outdated blender, and close to no appliances. That is until I met the good folks from Wolf Gourmet. Over the last year or so, we've developed a friendship of sorts, and every once in a while they send me nice things to try out. And I mean really, really nice things. I rarely do sponsored posts, but I've grown addicted to the little red knob (you know the feeling, don't you) and I look forward to their acts of kindness.

So, a couple of days ago, I added one more red knob to my collection. I am very happy to report that I am a proud (and somewhat out of control) owner of a Wolf Gourmet 4-Slice Toaster! Believe it or not, I never had a toaster, and now that I have one, and gave it a try, and spent some time researching what a cook can actually do with it -- OMG -- I find it hard to believe that I sailed through a good portion of my culinary life without toasting a slice of bread.

What was I thinking?!

This was supposed to be a quiet week. I was hoping to procrastinate, read Modesty Blaise comics, and definitely NOT cook -- after all, it was crazy three months in the office. But then the little red-knobbed fellow arrived and I discovered that there exists a whole new toasting universe I never knew about. I am now an obsessed women, because there is so much catching up to do. But I am a quick learner and am already making major discoveries with every single slice of bread that comes out of the machine.

So here is the recap of my newly acquired knowledge:

#1 If you, like me, are a toasting novice on a quest for some elementary education, Food Network's 50 Easy Toast Topers list is an eye-opener. We are currently at No. 21 (wasabi mayonnaise with crabmeat), and so far every single slice has been rock solid.

#2 Brioche can be toasted!!! Halleluiah. (Perhaps it's obvious to others, but as I said, we never had the device, so there is a learning curve.) Toasted brioche with butter and grapefruit marmalade is to die for. Toasted brioche with mascarpone and pickled prunes is from another world. And if you are up for something even more decadent, check out our small contribution to the world of toast: toasted brioche with goat cheese, lemon crusted walnuts, honey and thyme. It's I-N-S-A-N-E.

#3 Now, if you, like me, always happen to have a jar of leaf lard in the fridge, oh you've got to try this one. Toast a thick slice of country bread, rub it with garlic and spread some of that precious lard on it. Then sprinkle it with smoked paprika. And close your eyes. That's what a religious experience tastes like.

#4 I also discovered that in the toasting department, balsamic vinegar is your new best friend. Especially on fruits. Say for example, strawberry mascarpone toast with aged balsamic. Or figs, ricotta and balsamic. Forest fruits with balsamic is also kind of cool. And the coolest of all (our contribution): balsamic glazed roasted plums with burrata.

#5 Yesterday we had friends over. I invited them for a "toast brunch". They were slightly suspicious, but have now been converted, courtesy of: a) hummus, feta, and roasted chickpeas toast, b) toasted bagel with herbed cream cheese and watermelon radish, and c) a couple of brioche creations (see #2).

#6 And last but not the least... In the most remote corner of my fridge I discovered a small jar of butter with summer truffles. (Just so that we are clear, it's the real thing, and not, God forbid, a product flavored with that vile synthetic truffle aroma.) I fell victim to it on my last trip to Eataly and meant to serve it at a party, but forgot. I now realize that it was all a part of a bigger plan, and that the Heavens deprived my guests of the truffle butter so that I could experience the epiphany of having it on a toast with a poached egg and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.




#7 I could continue for hours, because life in the Land of Toast is so good that it hurts. But I've got to go -- there is so much catching up to do. But, before I close this post... I approached my friends at Wolf Gourmet and asked them to help me spread some toast love. And they agreed! That's the giveaway part, friends!!! Wolf Gourmet will kindly send a toaster to one of the (lucky) blog readers. The giveaway is now closed. All you have to do is hop to Instagram, follow @threelittlehalves and leave a comment on this photo. Or leave a comment on this blog post. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (I’m sorry, international friends!) and ends on Wednesday, April 19 at 11:59 PM EST. The winner will be chosen at random. Good luck, because this is one toaster worth having!





Avocado Mash, Feta, and Spicy Roasted Chickpeas Toasts


for the roasted chickpeas

* one 15-oz can chickpeas
* 1 - 2 tbsp olive oil
* 1/2 tsp chipotle pepper
* 1/2 tsp smoky paprika
* 1/4 tsp ground cumin
* 1/4 tsp ground coriander
* 1 tbsp lime juice

* a pinch of salt

for the toasts

* 4 - 6 slices of sourdough bread
* 1 - 2 ripe avocados 

* 6 oz feta
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 4 - 6 tbsp thinly sliced scallions, white and light green party only
* 1 - 2 tbsp lime juice (or up to taste)
* salt and freshly ground pepper
* microgreens (to garnish)



Make the chickpeas


Preheat oven to 400° F.

Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Pat them dry. In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except chickpeas. The mixture will be thick and paste-like. If it seems too thick, drizzle in a little bit more olive oil. Add the chickpeas to the bowl and toss to coat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the chickpeas on the baking sheet in a single layer. Toast the chickpeas in the oven for about 30 minutes, mixing every 10 minutes or so. The chickpeas are ready when they are golden brown and very crispy. Remove the chickpeas from the oven and let them cool. If you are not using the chickpeas right away, store them in an airtight container.


To make the toasts

In a small bowl, crumble the feta with a fork. Add a drop of milk, water or cream and mash with a fork until it becomes spread-like.

In a medium bowl, mix the avocados with scallions, olive oil and lime juice. Mash with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Leave the mash on the sides while you prepare the toast.

Toast the bread. Spread the thin layer of the feta on each slice of toast. Spread the avocado mash on top of it. Top generously with spiced chickpeas and sprouts. Serve immediately.  

Serves 4 as a single plate, 8  as finger food






Goat Cheese Brioche Toasts with Lemon Crusted Walnuts, Honey and Thyme


for lemon crusted walnuts

* 1 generous cup walnut halves
* 1 tbsp lemon juice
* zest of one small lemon, grated on a microplane
* 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
* 1/2 tsp kosher salt


for the toasts

* 4 thick slices brioche
* 6 - 8 oz fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
* 2 tbsp heavy cream, whole milk or water
* two handfuls of lemon crusted walnuts
* honey, for drizzling
* 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves 



Make the walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Stir together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil and salt. Mix well. Add the walnuts and toss until they are uniformly coated.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the walnuts on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until walnuts are toasted and dry. Stir occasionally. Remove from the oven and let the walnuts cool completely. If you are not using the walnuts right away, store them in an airtight container.


Make the toast

In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese with the heavy cream. Whip with a fork until smooth and creamy.

Toast the brioche lightly. Spread the slices evenly (and generously) with the goat cheese. Sprinkle with walnuts. Drizzle each slice of toast with honey. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Serve immediately.



Serves 4 as a single plate, 8  as finger food






Toasted Bagel with Watermelon Radish and Herbed Cream Cheese


* 2 plain, sesame or poppy seed bagels
* 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
* 2 tbsp minced chives
* 1 tsp minced dill
* 1 tsp minced parsley
* 1 watermelon radish, sliced thin (or 4 - 5 regular radishes)
* salt and freshly ground pepper
* microgreens and chives, to garnish



In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese with herbs. Mix well.

Slice the bagels in half crosswise and toast. Spread the cream cheese generously on each slice. Top with watermelon radish and micro-greens. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve.


Serves 4





Balsamic Glazed Roasted Plum and Burrata Toasts 


for the toasts

* 4 slices of country bread, about 1/2-inch thick
* 4 large black plums, cut in half and sliced about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick
* 6 oz burrata
* very good aged balsamic vinegar (or if you do not feel like splurging, balsamic reduction, see instructions below)
* a couple of small basil leaves, for garnish


for the balsamic reduction

* 2 cups inexpensive balsamic vinegar
* 3 tbsp brown sugar



To make balsamic reduction

In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix the balsamic vinegar with brown sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the liquid is reduced to a third of its volume, about 30 minutes. When ready the liquid should resemble a thick glaze and coat the back of a spoon. (The reduction will thicken some more as it cools. If it becomes too thick, thin it with a drop of water.) Do not be tempted to expedite the process by turning the heat up. A long slow simmer will help reduce the sharp vinegary taste of the supermarket-grade balsamic and result in a more mellow taste.

To make the toast

About an hour or so before making the toast, take the burrata from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature. Slice the burrata into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the plums on it. Place under the broiler, about 8 to 10 inches away from the heat. Broil for about 15 minutes, or until the plums are soft and caramelized (but not falling apart). Remove from the oven, brush with balsamic glaze, and let the plums cool, until they are gently warm or at room temperature.

Make the toast. Place a couple of slices of burrata on each slice of toast. Top with plums. Drizzle with more balsamic glaze. Garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately.


Serves 4 as a single plate, 8  as finger food



45 comments :

  1. No truer words have been spoken: "...because life in the Land of Toast is so good that it hurts." I cannot wait to try the Goat Cheese Brioche Toasts with Lemon Crusted Walnuts, Honey and Thyme recipe!

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    1. ... it won the brunch by majority vote. (And good luck!)

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    2. I'll let you know how it turns out! We love the savory + sweet combos like this one :d

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  2. I have almost tasted brioche with butter and marmalade via your post ;)

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    1. Hey, I wish I could send you guys some :)

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  3. Everything looks so darn delicious!! My new favorite is real butter with homemade marionberry jam. It's an Oregon staple. Simple but delicious.

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    1. I like the simple ones too, it's my family that leans towards complicated :) I never had marionberries, I read about them, and trying to imagine the flavor based on descriptions...

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  4. Great recipes. Everything looks so yummy. I'm going to try the Avocado Mash, Feta, and Spicy Roasted Chickpeas Toasts.

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  5. I have often said that if I had to only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be toast...there's such a comfort to it...and so versatile...I will keep your list of toast options...though the likelihood of finding butter with summer truffles in the back of the fridge to savor for the ultimate toast experience is not gonna be happening!

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    1. Ha ha ha!!! Whenever we have a party, I always, always forget to serve one dish. I think that this one was subconscious :) Thanks for stopping by...

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  6. I think it is really cute that you matched the plate's color to the toast toppings color.

    I also have to admit that I am enormously jealous of all you food bloggers who get so much cool s#$@t in the mail from all the coolest companies on the planet.
    JEALOUS!
    I cannot help it.

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    1. Kelli girl, you gave me a good laugh. Love the honesty. Just so you know, I am kind of envious of that crust of yours, and the whole pie-making business -- sometimes wish I could do the same :)

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  7. I bake Panettone for all the holidays and it only gets better when toasted.

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    1. See how behind I am? It totally did not occur to me to toast Panettone. Thank you for that!

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  8. Wow, beautiful photos and great ideas - I love making a meal out of toast!

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    1. Karen, thank you... Making a meal out of toast -- that was the most illuminating part of the whole experience. I now realize that one can have a party and feed the crowd with toasts in the most glorious way. Ha!

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  9. Your photos are stunning, as are the dishes. I love looking at pretty food. :)

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  10. The toaster looks amazing and I am totally trying the Avocado Mash, Feta, and Spicy Roasted Chickpeas Toasts recipe.

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    1. Hope you like it, let me know...

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  11. This looks great! I follow you on instagram.
    kellywcu8888ATgmailDOTcom

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  12. Everything looks so yummy! What a great idea and I absolutely love your plates!

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  13. I am following on instagram as balexa622. I have always loved the simplicity of toast but like you, I have been jazzing it up lately.

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  14. I love your plates and food pictures! So pretty.

    dlatany at gmail dot com

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  15. I am going to try some of these. They look really good.

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  16. toast brunches are the best. i can't wait to try these ideas next time.

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  17. Cannot wait to try these recipes - sound yummy!!!~

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  18. Oh wow, my mouth is watering! Looks delist!

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  19. I am not certain that we will try the recipes, but we definitely need a new toaster for some old stand-byes--cinnamon toast for the kids, etc.!

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  20. Wow, all that toast looks amazing! I love me some toast in the morning! Thank you!!!

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  21. I love toast with mushroom soup poured over it!

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  22. Oh my gosh, the plum and burrata ones are making me drool! What a great combination.

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  23. These all look so delicious! As a good Jewish girl, I am a sucker for a toaster. I grew up and still do toast just about anything I can get my hands on. Bagels are a staple and I swear if I could stick some lox in a toaster I would give it a try!
    Laurie Benjamin Emerson

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  24. Awesome toaster and wonderful recipes!! My mouth is watering just reading them. Plus, it looks like a kickin' toaster!!

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  25. I would love to try the goat cheese brioche!

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  26. I am at a loss, I've never known anyone who lived w/o a toaster. It is seriously one of the things I would come back for if there was a fire and the firemen told me I had 15 minutes to gather personal belongings before they restricted us from the building. I would LOVE a fancy toaster!!!

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    1. Lorena, OMG, you make me want to rig the dice :) I now totally realize how much I was missing. Good luck!

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  27. I had toast for tonight's dinner!

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  28. We are going to try the Avocado Mash, Feta, and Spicy Roasted Chickpeas Toast recipe !

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  29. I absolutely love all of these toasts! Absolutely delicious!

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