Thursday, September 23, 2010
The other night my boyfriend, Dan, and I watched the movie Julie and Julia. It's a really charming film based on the book with the same title. The story is a true one about a woman turning 30 and searching for something meaningful to do with her life. She started a blog where she documented the year she spent cooking her way through Julia Childs' cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
The blogger's story is mirrored throughout the movie by that of Julia Childs. It focuses on her time in Paris where she learned to cook and started writing the book that changed the world. If you haven't seen it, I suggest that you drop whatever it is that you're doing and find a copy this instant. Even Dan loved it.
There's a scene in the film where Julie Powell (the main character) is talking with her husband about the idea of blogging, which Julie is sure she can do but is struggling to think of a worthy focus. At the start of this conversation, she's in the kitchen spreading melted butter on thick slices of crusty bread, frying them, and then loading them up with diced tomatoes. As she's working her way closer and closer to the idea of food blogging, Julie's husband begins to eat. He's stuffing the buttery, tomatoey bread into his mouth and groaning in pleasure. He keeps repeating, "Oh, this is good", over and over, like a flavor-induced mantra.
I couldn't stop thinking about that bread. Once the credits had rolled, I was still mentally reliving those moments in the film. I was fantasizing about how I'd make that, and stuff my face with it, and mutter my satisfaction as crumbs littered my clothing.
Close to a week later I finally secured a loaf of gluten-free French bread from Wheatless in Seattle, the Seattle-based 100% gluten-free bakery. I had also scored some slightly bruised heirloom tomatoes from Billy's Gardens for just $1.99/lb at my farmer's market (I'm all about the bargains). I came up with a modified version of the bruschetta that I watched Amy Adams (the actress who played Julie Powell in Julie & Julia) cook up in the movie.
The results were mouth-watering and also an excellent way to see out the last of summer's tomatoes.
Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta
3 largish heirloom tomatoes, diced
1 handful fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 or more large cloves garlic (to taste), minced
salt to taste
1 loaf crusty French bread or baguette
grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
In a bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, basil leaves, and garlic, stirring to combine. (I let my tomatoes sit in a fine meshed strainer to remove some of the juices prior to mixing in the other ingredients). Season with salt.
Cut the bread into 2" wide slices. Cut each slice in half through the center so there is a top and bottom to each.
Lightly butter the cut side of each top and bottom piece of bread.
Heat a large skillet over medium and arrange the pieces of bread, butter side down, in the pan. Only put in as many pieces as will fit comfortably. Allow the bread to cook until the buttered sides are browned and crispy (not burned). Repeat with remaining bread halves until all are toasted.
Line the pieces of bread up on a baking pan, toasted side up. Spoon a heaping mound of the tomato mixture on top of each piece of bread. Distribute it evenly among all of the slices. Sprinkle the tops with Parmesan.
Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges of the bread are crisp.