There are those things we eat, make, read, and gush over that are just too good to keep to ourselves. Here, we resist the urge to use too many exclamation points and let you in on our latest crushes.
Today: The best way to make toast, period. (You won't need a toaster.)
I get a lot of: "This is the best toast I've ever had". Of course it is. Because I fried it in olive oil.
The Genius Recipes cookbook, which I spent most of last year working on, was written, naturally, on genius recipe testing leftovers—fried chicken, vegetables of all stripes, things that make sense for dinner. But the book was edited (and edited and edited) on fried toast and cookie cereal, the two most instantaneously comforting meals I know.
There's not a whole lot to cookie cereal (and if I wrote an article about it, my bosses might make me hand in my badge). But fried toast has been a legitimate improvement to my diet, and it will make yours better too.
I first learned about the trick when I was hunting recipes for our long-since-retired Family Meal column, and I asked Scarlett Lindeman to share the thrice-boiled technique Roman's uses for beans. I never got into cooking beans that way, but the toast the cooks liked to eat it on has changed my life.
Without employing a toaster, you can make toast that browns exceptionally evenly and quickly, and frizzles every edge and crevice into what is essentially a very large crouton. The outer edges stiffen with hot crunch; the interior gets chewy and warm. I think the result is so magical because the sizzling oil helps the heat travel further up into the craters of the bread and browns them into the best and most flavorful iteration of themselves (thanks, Maillard reaction!).
I started to notice myself frying other things in more olive oil than most people would think prudent. I fry stale pita, fattoush-style, and tortillas for huevos rancheros. When I toast pine nuts or pepitas for salads, I do it in a shimmering pond. They brown handsomely, encased in an shiny copper crust. Then I dump everything in the pan—hot oil and all—over the hardier vegetables in the salad (carrots, kale, tomatoes can take it; Bibb lettuce not so much), which sputter and soften a little before cooling down the oil, which forms the base for my dressing.
You can vary the amount of oil according to your mood (when you are feeling empty, you'll need a good quarter inch), and you can use any kind of bread you like. I'm partial to a crusty, airy sourdough like She Wolf Bakery's, but there's nothing wrong with plain sandwich bread. The nubby texture of seeded multigrain slices responds well to hot oil, too. To make it: Get the oil hot, add your bread, peek, flip when it's brown, peek again, remove when the other side is brown. This takes something like 3 minutes.
The classic fried toast doesn't need anything but flaky salt, but with these seven variations, you can eat fried toast all the time!
• Make a fried bread panzanella, another idea I stole from Roman's, where they once served theirs with cucumber and pickle chunks and half a crisp roast chicken plunked on top, in the manner of Zuni Café (it's nice to set this much richness against something crisp and acidic).
• Layer it with pumpkin butter or honey or jam.
• Cinnamon fried toast (hat tip: Marian Bull).
• Even I can admit that avocado fried toast is a little much, but it's by no means off the table.
• Add stewed beans or lentils, like the British, and also Roman's. Optional fried egg.
• Top it with Heidi Swanson's pan-fried beans and greens.
• Turn it into a multi-grain breakfast, like Sitka & Spruce in Seattle, where they serve it topped with farro, beans, pumpkin purée, and a poached egg.