I had it in my head to make brunch on Saturday. We never eat brunch–I eat breakfast when I get to work, and Michael tends to only have oatmeal on hand, and fighting the crowds on Broadway to enjoy overpriced eggs and bacon holds little appeal for us. Sometimes, though, we’ll make it when friends are staying with us and that’s always fun, but it’s also a lot of work. So the idea of making a few small tapas for brunch had immediate appeal for me: filling but not overwhelmingly so. Michael tends to just eat a few hard-boiled eggs on weekend mornings to get him through until dinnertime, so using that as a base for ideas, I flipped through The Book of Tapas, made a shopping list, and on Saturday morning got to work.
The sobrasada tapa pictured above was by far my favorite–and that includes the tapa that I made with smoked salmon, for crying out loud! It was by far the easiest of the three to make, though, and when it comes to making a brunch spread at home, that’s really important. When you already have a nice amount of sobrasada in your fridge (thanks to the awesome guy at Despana advising you to buy the whole end of the log, leaving just enough for this after the last round of tapas), all that you have to do is let it come to room temperature, mix it with cubes of butter, and then smear it onto toasts made from a French baguette and bake until the butter has melted. When all you have to do is toast a handful of almonds and chop them up to use as a topping, there’s really nothing simpler to whip up. Sausage, nuts and bread–to quote the Barefoot Contessa, how easy is that?
The other two dishes required the boiling of quite a few eggs. The red pepper, anchovy and egg salad was relatively simple (it also included tomatoes and olives, the latter I swapped out for capers) and I used any eggs that didn’t peel perfectly for the salad. It was good–Michael took the salad to task on Sunday after it could sit for a while–but the hard-boiled eggs with smoked salmon was the most interesting of the tapas…in more ways than one.
So this one required me to make my own mayonnaise. The problem that came about was that I couldn’t make it in the blender the way I thought I could (as that’s how Michael has made it in the past) because it needed to be thick and, well, the blender method does not work well in that regard. The mayo-salmon blend I attempted to make was way too thin and the sauce kept breaking, making it all but unusable. Since I had enough leftover smoked salmon to salvage the dish, I drizzled a little of the homemade mayo (that should have been thick enough to pipe–not this one!) over a smidgen of the real thing and topped it all with the wild salmon roe that I purchased from Balducci’s. Those salty little balls of salmon made this dish, as I finally understand the appeal of the caviar structure, of the explosion of flavor that bursts into your moth as you bite into each egg. I can see why turning other foods into “caviar” via molecular gastronomy methods has been a thing for some time now, because there are few other foods that deliver flavor in this way naturally and it’s an intense experience. And really, just pairing these little salmon eggs over the eggs themselves would taste pretty good on their own–though I always love an excuse to snack on some fine smoked salmon. But in the spirit of ending things on a positive note, I’ll leave you with the easiest of the three tapas I made Saturday morning, because how can anyone argue with the combination of sausage, butter, bread and almonds? Yep, that’s what I thought.
Adapted from The Book of Tapas
- 12 slices from a French baguette
- 3 oz sobrasada, casing removed and let to come to room temperature
- 2 tbsp butter
- small handful of almonds, toasted and chopped finely
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange bread slices onto a baking sheet and bake for about 2-3 minutes until slightly browned. In the meantime, use your fingers to mash together the butter and the sausage into a sort of mixture, and then smear as evenly as possible onto the toasts. This will be kind of messy but it also doesn’t take long. Place the toasts back into the oven for another 5-8 minutes to let the butter melt, remove, garnish with the almonds and serve.