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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Beans on Toast {from scratch} inspired by TOAST for food 'n flix

Beans on Toast {from scratch} - inspired by TOAST for Food 'n Flix |
This month for food 'n flix, we're watching Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger, based on the memoir by Nigel Slater.  If you are a food-lover, you've probably heard of this English food writer/journalist - or, as perfectly stated on his website, a cook who writes.  I've spent many an hour getting lost in his words.  And on a fun note, when staying in a cottage on Islay in Scotland, I found one of his cookbooks tucked into a small shelf in the kitchen.

Toast journeys back to look at a young Nigel; we get a glimpse at what may be the start of Nigel's passion for food.  While most young boys were playing with others and getting skinned knees, Nigel admired (in more ways than one) the time he spent with the handsome, intriguing gardener who taught him the glory of freshly grown food that you've tended yourself.  Nigel's mother was not a great cook; she preferred to open a slew of cans to get dinner on the table (much to Nigel's horror).  He never stopped trying to add a little variety to the family table, though.  However, Spaghetti Bolognese was a bit too unusual and "off" for his parents, it all came back to toast.

Nigel lost his mother at a young age, and his father quickly remarried - this time to a woman (Joan Potter) who was a stellar cook.  Since Nigel loved food, and heard that it was indeed the way to a man's stomach, he and Joan were locked in a constant battle for his father's affection with their kitchen efforts.

Beans on Toast {from scratch} - inspired by TOAST for Food 'n Flix |
Without spoiling much more of the story for you, I will say that there is a virtual parade of beautiful, mouthwatering food that makes its way on screen.  From humble mince pie, scones, and vegetables in a tin to broiled halibut, pork pies, ridiculously huge apple pie, and sky-high lemon meringue pie - and that's just a quick glimpse.  I should have hard a time deciding what I wanted to make in honor of the flick, but I didn't.  I knew right off that I wanted to make a loaf of bread, for the perfect slice of toast.*

"No matter how bad things get, it's impossible not to love someone who made you toast.  Once you've bitten through that crusty surface, to the softer underneath and tasted the warm salty butter, you're lost forever."

This quote is from very early on in the movie.  And it still sticks in my mind - probably because I couldn't agree more.  Toast is the ultimate in comfort food.  From the time I was little, all the way to present day, I've loved toast.  I mean, that sounds almost ridiculous coming out of my mouth, because who doesn't love toast?  But, I am willing to bet that there are people out there who don't eat that much toast.
Beans on Toast {from scratch} - inspired by TOAST for Food 'n Flix |
I adore pretty much any sort of toast, but I especially adore a good white bread.  I'm sure this is because it's the kind that I grew up on.  Though a tangy sourdough, or a hearty seeded bread is equally blissful.  I did want to make a good loaf of white today, though.  And I succeeded.  My oldest son told me that it may be his favorite bread of mine that I've ever made.  And I've made a LOT of bread.

Once I had the bread, though, I decided that I wanted to take it one step further.  I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but...I'd never had that iconic British meal of Beans on Toast before.  I thought this would be the perfect time to try it.  Now, I guess that I channeled my inner Joan, because I went totally over-achiever with homemade bread AND homemade beans.  I know Nigel's mum would've opened a loaf from the market and a can of Heinz beans.  Not that I'm knocking that, because my guess is that a lot of people probably prefer it that way.

It was pretty fantastic; it is humble food, which in my opinion is the best food.

Beans on Toast {from scratch}
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by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: bread: 2-1/2 hrs (largely unattended) | beans: 10 mins
Cook Time: bread: 45 mins | beans: 25 min
Keywords: bake simmer breakfast entree bread vegetarian beans tomatoes British

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
    for the bread (aka the toast):
    • 12 fluid ounces (340 grams) whole milk, lukewarm + more for brushing
    • 21 grams (3/4 ounce) maple syrup
    • 28 grams (1 ounce) unsalted butter, melted
    • 1-1/4 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
    • 254 grams (9 ounces) unbleached bread flour
    • 254 grams (9 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
    for the beans:
    • olive oil
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1 rib celery, chopped
    • 1 medium carrot, chopped
    • 26 ounces strained tomatoes
    • 28 ounces cooked white beans, drained of their cooking liquid
    • 1-2 teaspoons black treacle (or blackstrap molasses)
    • pinch crushed red chile flakes
    • kosher or sea salt
    • freshly ground black pepper
    to finish:
    • Worcestershire sauce
    • freshly chopped parsley, optional
    • shaved Parmesan cheese, optional

    making the bread (yield: 1 loaf):
    If you know me, you know that I often let my bread machine to all the "busy work" for me, before turning out the dough and shaping it to bake in the oven. This loaf was no exception. Feel free to adjust to mixer or hand kneading.

    Place all ingredients into a bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer (mine goes in as listed above). Set the machine on "dough" cycle, and press start. If doing this by hand or mixer, knead until smooth and pliable, and then place into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 60-90 minutes or until basically doubled in size.

    Turn dough out and divide in half. Form into two balls and place into a lightly oiled bread tin (average size). Oil some plastic wrap, and loosely cover the pan, oiled side down. Let sit at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size, 45-75 minutes.

    Preheat oven to 400° F during last 15 minutes of rise time.

    Remove plastic wrap. Slash the top in a couple of places, then brush the exposed dough liberally with lukewarm milk. Slide into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F, and continue to bake until the loaf is deeply golden and cooked through, another 30 minutes or so.

    Tip the loaf out of the tin, and set on a wire rack to cool completely.
    Beans on Toast {from scratch} - inspired by TOAST for Food 'n Flix |

    making the beans:
    Heat a good glug of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook until it just begins to turn soft, 5 minutes or so. Pour in the tomatoes and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the beans and simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir in the treacle, red chile flakes, and add salt and pepper, to taste.

    putting it all together:
    Slice the bread fairly thickly (1-2 slices per person), and toast until golden. Spoon some warm beans onto the toast. Garnish with a dash of Worcestershire sauce, few grates of pepper and some freshly chopped parsley, if using. I hear that some people like a little Parmesan shaved over the top, as well.

    28 ounces of cooked white beans (I used Great Northern beans), comes from approximately 2/3 - 3/4 of a 1-lb. package of dried beans).

    I use Pomì brand strained tomatoes, that come in a 26.46 ounce box.
    Beans on Toast {from scratch} - inspired by TOAST for Food 'n Flix |
    *Though I admit that I almost made mince pies to take the place of the batch that Nigel and his mother never got to finish making.

    Food‘nFlixToast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger is our featured flick for this month's edition of Food 'n Flix, hosted by Anne-Marie of This Mama Cooks!  Submissions are due on September 30, so you still have time to join the flick and then head into the kitchen and cook/bake something inspired!

    And if you'd like to join us next month, Tina of Squirrel Head Manor will be hosting with the flick, A Good Year.

    This post contains Amazon affiliate links.