Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Deux Tartines Avec Des Oeufs et Confiture Tomate

I'm trying a new font today. Hopefully it won't engender rage in any of my five viewers.

So, I'm one of those people who utilize the 'satisfaction guaranteed' 800 number printed on the back of a product if I am, in fact, not satisfied with it, and I do it without an iota of shame. Why, just tonight I got my grundies all in a twizzle over some raisin bran that had six measly bits of the fruit in the whole of the box. And of course this same box also trumpeted that it was practically bursting with the shriveled things. I mean, seriously, how much could it cost a major brand to dump a few dead grapes in the lot so that people like me do not have to waste their time calling to complain about it?

I know what you're thinking, why don't I just add some of my own, right? Here are some compelling arguments against your frivolous suggestion: 1) what if I don't have any on hand? You're right. Who doesn't have a dusty bag of sultanas in the cupboard at any given moment? And I happen to. Three different types, impressively. But what if I didn't? Then what, smarty pants? Then I'm stuck, bitterly rationing out the six between branny bites. 2) It's not the same. The raisins that come in boxes of cereal are chewy and desiccated. If I add my own they'll be too plump and fresh and ruin the experience of eating dinner out of a box. C) I paid five-bucks-fifty for this cereal that should be called 'hella bran with so few raisins it'll piss you off.'

I do enjoy a good, sound digression.

Some of you (who aren't challenging me to add my own raisins to the bowl) might be wondering, and pertinently so, if the 800 number people really exist. After all, when you think boxes of cereal, you imagine big, stainless steel vats with automated arms and levers and conveyer belts that move the components of the cereal from its birth as a wheat shaft all the way to the end of its evolution as a box of pressed flakes. And six raisins.

You might even envision that this glorious contrivance is operated by some rich old man with liver spots on his balding head. There he is, maneuvering a joy stick that controls the whole shebang (and probably the world), whilst his faithful maid Gertrude arranges his morning egg, coddled, and the day's newspaper, ironed, at his bedside with the quietude of a mouse.

Well I am happy to report that yes, they actually do pick up the phone. And it's usually a cheerful gay guy who assures me that he is as mortified as am I about the deficiency of their product. But sometimes it's an irritable, middle-aged black lady who probably can't believe that someone actually used the number on the box, especially when these days it would have been easier (for her) to email them and waste less (of her) time. In that case, I make it my goal to win her over by saying stuff like 'girl!', and 'I'm a sista just tryin' to get by!'.

It works every time.

By the end of the conversation, the listener is so flabbergasted by the conspiracy that I just outlined that I imagine them ripping their headset off and storming out of the building. Who cares if they have bills to pay. 'There are six insufferable raisins in the whole of that box, and there is not a thing more detestable!'

I like it when people take my view. I get particularly irritable with contrarians who spout divergent opinions just for the hell of it. When people go out of their way to agree with me, I settle in quite easily with them. So tomorrow when I call 1-800-raisin(less)-bran, I will probably strike up a conversation with whomever is on the other end about other stuff not related to the thing I had originally called to give my advice about. We will wind up becoming facebook friends and practically planning to meet up in Paris this fall because the leaves are irreconcilably blissful that time of year, and because we just have so damned much in common. If they can afford it, since they just quit their job over a stupid thing like raisins.

Speaking of standing by my principals and demanding that cereal makers conform to an ethical code that I approve of, as I made a note in my daily planner to make my morning call, I also hunkered down to the latest episode of Mob Wives. This, another thing that I do without a lick of discomfiture, because secretly I am mesmerized by these unruly women with low morals and imperceptible class.

In case you don't stoop as low as I do in your television viewing, Mob Wives is about a group of four women whose husbands are all in prison for some variety of larceny; none seems to have a job, but they all have an endless supply of money. They spend all of their time on the phone with their inmate men, these men who demand extravagant comestibles like buffalo mozzarella, olives, and fresh pears. And when they aren't performing their wifely duties, they are endlessly embrangled in hair-pulling cat fights with one other, whereafter they reconcile over cheap tequila shots and fishbowl-sized glasses of red wine cooled with ice cubes.

But enough of that. Back to my autumn trip to Paris. Have you been?

Paris is filled with vendors who sell street food to hungry tourists and natives alike. Crepes that they spread on red hot disks of metal, peel off like sheets of sunburnt skin, then slather with Nutella or fill with savory things like fromage et jambon. Those crepes are good but one of the most poetic things to eat whilst traversing the streets of the city by the Seine is one of the most facile things that we can and should all make at home: A simple tartine of hard-cooked egg and tomato on a length of garlic-swiped baguette Francais, whose ethereal crust shatters like glass when you bite into it. C'est si simple, et si bon!

I don't know. Maybe it just seems fanciful because when in Paris, even a car crash is romantic.

Here's my take on it. Well, actually, here're two:

Tartine du Quartier Latin

Instead of using fresh tomatoes, which will not be in season until later this summer, I made a tomato confiture whose long cooking caramelizes the natural sugars in the fruit and intensifies the flavor. When you take your first bite, if you don't say, 'ya gotta be kidding me', as loud as you possibly can, then you didn't cook your tomato long enough. Hear me when I say, it's not burning, it's caramelizing...

Here's what you'll need:

Plan on two large eggs per person. A standard baguette with its ends cut off will produce about 3 tartine. A good handful of arugula, 2 good-size shallots, a full baguette (or a portion, there is no crime in making this sandwich for one, as did I this day), and a 14.5 oz can of diced tomato.

You will also need about 1/2 TB sherry vinegar. Red wine vinegar works well too.

First, mince the deux shallots.

Pop 'em in a pan with 2 TB olive oil and cook over medium heat until they begin to caramelize. Don't forget to season with salt, and keep these babies moving. They're tiny and quick to burn.

Meanwhile, hard-cook your eggs. Here's how:

Starting with cold water, add the eggs to a pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook over this low heat for 7 minutes.

At 7 minutes, drain and pop them in ice water, cracking the shells a bit. This will allow the egg to steam in the shell, stop the cooking, and make for easier peeling.

Next, when your shallots are caramelized, add the tomato to the pan with 1 TB olive oil.

Cook this tomato down until it caramelizes. It will take a good 15 minutes and you will have to toggle the heat up and down to make sure that it doesn't burn.

You will know that it's sufficiently caramelized when it starts to smell sweet, and creates a film in the pan. Don't be afraid to push it. You want to see this film because it means that all of the moisture has evaporated from the tomatoes, and the flavors have intensified magnificently.

Now deglaze with 1/2 TB of sherry vinegar, scraping up the tomatoey bits.


Slice off a length of baguette and split.

Toast under the broiler till golden.

Drizzle with olive oil and swipe with a garlic clove. Don't go wild, one swipe will do.

Toss your arugula with olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper.

Peel and slice the egg(s).

Spread some of the tomato jam over the bottom of the baguette, then arrange the egg slices over the jam and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Next, mound a handful of the arugula atop.

You can also apply a lid.

Et voila!

Ça si bon et tres facile!

Next is what happens when the sandwich develops a little class. Hopefully it can be a lesson to our mob ladies. Though I wouldn't hold my breath.

 Tartine du Champs Elysees

Here's your place:

As many eggs as there are people to feed, 1 per, and 1 piece of bread per person as well, sliced 1/4" thick from a quality country loaf, the crusts removed. You will also need some fines herbes, I'm using chive, marjoram and tarragon, and of course, le confiture tomate.

Here we go:

Bring a pot of acidulated water to a boil, that is, a pot of water with 1 TB of white wine vinegar added to it. This helps the proteins coagulate more tightly around the yolk.

Break one egg into a ramekin.

Turn the flame down to low, so the pot just simmers. Stir the pot of water to create a whirlpool.

Gently slide the egg into the center of the whirlpool. This also helps the white of the egg to form around the yolk instead of going haywire all over the pot.

Poach for about 2 minutes.

Remove egg with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, heat 2 TB olive oil in a pan. When it's good and hot, slide your bread in there and fry them...

To golden, both sides, bien sur.

In queue. Set aside.

Slice your chive into fancy batons.

Tear the leaves from your marjoram and tarragon, or whatever herb you decide to use. No need to chop.

Toss all the herbs in a bowl with the arugula, a splash of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper.

Spread some of the tomato confiture over the toast.

Top with a poached egg and drizzle with olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Top avec votre salade de fines herbes

Et Voila!

Mangia Bene, vivi felice!

This post has been submitted to Yeast Spotting!


  1. Yummm. I like the new font; easier to read. I too have spent too much time in phone wars over principles. Lost time I could be in the kitchen or learning my web design!!

  2. I had trouble leaving a comment again....WTF! Anyway, I just about spit out my tofu on this post, hilarious! and I'm totally gonna make this sometime soon!!!!

  3. oh, awesome cookscorks, i didnt know you had a blog too! yay! i miss your kitchen :)


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