Toast Trend Transformed

 

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It’s National Dairy Month and what doesn’t taste better with butter and cheese? Last week Finlandia sent me some Swiss cheese and butter to try, giving me the perfect opportunity to experiment with the latest toast craze—a ramped up fad I had been avoiding like the plague for an entire year. Don’t get me wrong, I am an old and ardent fan of butter and cinnamon sugar on crisp toasted wheat bread or hearty rye broiled with a slim layer of almond butter but I was hard pressed to start shelling out $5.00 a plate for some burnt bread and smashed avocado as it started to spread tsunami style on the menus of all my local restaurants. Avocado toast was quickly becoming this year’s poached egg or charred Brussels sprouts.

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Now, armed with a gorgeous block of salted butter, some sliced Swiss that tasted more sharply aged and less waxy then most grocery store brands, and a tree in the garden bursting with fresh avocados, the Cute Gardener and I were determined to create an elevated version of toast that I could sink my teeth into without wincingly becoming just another slave to the latest food trend. I would create a base toast that could be used either on its own for a quick snack, or fluffed up for a fancier role such as pre-dinner appetizer or a lunch meal all its own. I started with a hoagie-style roll of puffy, hearty sourdough sliced in half and swathed with butter.

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After the bread broiled for a minute or so in the toaster oven, just enough to crisp the edges for a textural crunch like the best garlic bread, we generously layered it with freshly cut avocado slices. After adding the Swiss on top, we stuck it back into the broiler until it melted into a nice even bed on the avocado.

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We had our base. It was noontime and all we needed was a simple lunch so we chopped up some chives from the backyard and threw them on top as well as an elementally important dusting of black pepper. Of course, we But as we ate the delicious toast we imagined all of the other things we could add on top to accentuate the gooey combination of goodness in the future: lump crab or tuna salad? Tomatoes and basil or strawberries and caraway?

I look forward to our continual transformation of toast.

 

 

Superhero Cereal

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Before we lived in this grand contemporary world where one can find a whole restaurant dedicated to the acai bowl, you had to have connections to people in the multilevel marketing world to access a taste of the superfood berry. I’ll always remember the nights in the early 2000s when I would head to my friend Stephen’s house before a night on the town or dinner plans out and we would share prized drinks out of his regal purple MonaVie container in the fridge. A couple we knew had become privileged distributors of the drink in America and they doled out cartons to Stephen and I to share as if we were co-owners of a child or a painting or some other highly valuable thing. We would pour the electrifying purple liquid into small shot glasses ice cold and feel something close to high with the buzz of its healthy goodness.

Now of course superfoods are everywhere, and in fact the word superfood may even already be a passé thing, kind of like probiotics and antioxidants. But acai is here to stay. No longer relegated to skeptical pyramid schemes, it can be easily found on the freezer shelf of every local grocer.

Until now, my acai lust has been centered on using the frozen, unsweetened packs of the berry slush as a smoothie additive. Not only does it provide the much needed slush element when I want to use fresh rather than frozen fruits and to my daily super shake, but the signature cool, mellow berry flavor provides a complementary and non-conflicting base to just about any ingredient. It also, unlike ice, doesn’t get watery.

But recently I have fallen for the acai bowl, which is like a smoothie cereal but more fun. The trick is to whirl the frozen acai with some kind of thickener like frozen banana, avocado or a favorite nut butter, which gives it some heft enough to sit in a bowl. Then the fun begins as you layer as many other ingredients as you want on the top. The combinations are endless and fun, promoting experimentation to find your favorite version. You also encounter some surprising taste delights. For example if you layer seeds, like sunflower or pepitas, atop your acai and then sprinkle honey over the seeds, they all stick together in a sort of sweet, chilled and chewy jerky that is ultra fun to eat.

My Latest Favorite Acai Bowl

1 pack frozen acai, unsweetened
1/2 frozen banana
1 tbls. almond butter
½ gala apple
½ c. frozen boysenberries

Blend all of this together for the base.

Top with:
1/8 c. sunflower seeds
1/8 c. pepitas
1 tbls. shredded, nonsweetened organic coconut
1 tbls. hemp hearts
1 tbls. chia seeds
½ c. sliced fresh strawberries
1-2 tsp. drizzled honey