Reviewed by food writer Lari Robling
Single subject cookbooks have been one of the latest trends in the cookbook market. It's a format that has explored the depths of scintillating ingredients such as potatoes, squash, or mangoes. Usually, these books tell you way more than you want to know about the topic, and list hundreds of variations to cook and serve the item in question.
So when I opened Jesse Ziff Cool's Toast--the latest single food subject book to hit the shelves-- I scoffed. A book on toast, I mean the bread kind, not a "cheer's" in sight. What kind of silly recipes could possibly be in this book? Maybe instructions to spread cream cheese and lox on a slice of crunchy bread?
I started leafing through, admittedly with a jaded attitude. Yeah, this idea is "toast" all right, so toss me a few crumbs. But, then it happened ... I found myself captivated by luscious photos of Nasturtium Goat Cheese Toast with Raspberry Beet Salad, a simple Spanish Tomato Toast, and Toasted Chocolate Espresso Cake with Warm Chocolate Sauce. Yum. So, I was getting hungry.
But, things were just heating up. This little book covers the crunchy bread landscape from Breakfast Waffle Iron Orange Toast to homespun favorites such as Egg in the Eye Toast and into the day with Chopped Chicken Liver, hearty sandwiches, as well as more exotic selections such as Prawns, Avocado, and Feta on Toast.
There are no recipes for baking the actual bread in this book, but rather inspiration on what to do with bread on hand. This book is ideal for a late night raid on the refrigerator, or inspiration if your morning toast has become stale, and you need a popping fresh idea.
Suddenly, I found myself plugging in the toaster to enjoy a little Toasted Bread and Tomato Salad with Chicken. Delicious. Just enough crunch and tangy marinade flavor. And why not try a little Toasted Lemon Pound Cake with Pears in Port? A fine idea. The toasted cake perfectly absorbed the port sauce for maximum flavor.
All in all no matter how you slice it, Toast will have you cheer for that ordinary slice of bread and the satisfying wonders you can create.