It finally started to warm up around here in the past week. Until today, the days have been cheery, warm, and long. The sun peaks through our bedroom window before 5:30, much earlier than we are ready to get up even on weekday mornings. And it lingers around until 10:30 at night, giving us a good excuse to stay up just a little while longer. I find myself on our balcony early in the morning and late into the evening because that's what you do when you have these magical summer days that could change to cool and rainy in a flash. The lake to our north bordering Germany, Austria, and Switzerland is 15 minutes away, and I'm beginning to sense it beckoning us to its surrounding green lawns and pebbly shores. The mountains tucked deep into the remote interior region of Appenzell to our south are a 30 minute drive away, and a recent Sunday morning drew us to them, but without our ski gear this time. Hiking season is upon us, and though the highest peaks are still dusted with snow in some crevices where the sunlight barely reaches, we found ourselves hiking through their snow-free foothills and lower peaks. Soon when the path is open and free of snow we will climb the coveted Santis peak.
On a trip down to Northern Italy's Lake Como in May we crossed over the SplügenPass which was still very much in the middle of winter. A pass so high that it is only open during the summer months because of the precarious wintry conditions it endures most of the year. In fact, on our descent returning home it was sunny one minute, and then snow began to fall quickly, gaining momentum with each switchback we took.
I hope the pass is seeing warmer, sunnier days now and experiencing more human activity as a result. My activity in the kitchen is definitely changing as a result of the warmer days. I want simple preparations that are less involved but still produce delicious results. Though I'm not a multi-tasker, I find myself turning to ideas that can do double duty, such as this walnut bread. It's a savory, walnut-based quick bread that has the subtlest hint of sweetness. I'll top slices with Gruyere or Emmentaler cheese (Swiss cheese in America) as a savory change-up for a quick breakfast or snack. We also smear it with jam or even better, apple butter, or use it as the base for tartines such as this one. It's a true BLD (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) item, as is this tartine.
A tartine is nothing more than an open-faced sandwich. This particular tartine is smeared with goat cheese specked with lemon zest and dill and topped with simple scrambled eggs. It feels gourmet and elegant without much effort and is perfect for a weekend brunch or a simple, light dinner outside. Fresh herbs (dill and chives), lemon zest, and a quick toasting of the walnut bread are key components to making this delicious and special. Go on, see for yourself. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Walnut Toast Tartine
8 thick slices walnut bread, sliced on a diagonal for more surface area (recipe below)
Butter for toasting
4-6 eggs, scrambled, seasoned with only salt and pepper
Herbed-lemon goat cheese (recipe below)
Small bunch chives (~20 pieces), chopped, divided
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Set the oven to broil and place the rack in the upper third of the oven.
Lightly butter slices of walnut bread. Toast in the oven until edges are golden brown and the bread begins to smell nutty, watching closely so it does not burn (~2-4 minutes).
Let cool slightly. While cooling, fold 1/2 of the chopped chives into the scrambled eggs.
Spread a generous layer of goat cheese on each slice of walnut toast. Top with scrambled eggs, divided equally among the 8 slices.
Finish with a sprinkling of the remaining chives and dill and a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Adapted from La Tartine Gourmand
1 cup (100 g) walnuts
1/4 cup spelt flour (or buckwheat flour)
1/2 cup almond meal
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
3 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350 F and butter a loaf pan no larger than 9x5.
Grind the walnuts in a food process until you get a fine meal and pour into a mixing bowl. Whisk in the remaining ingredients.
Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and unmold.
Herbed-Lemon Goat Cheese
1/2 cup goat cheese (4 oz or 112 g), softened
Zest of 1 small lemon
1 Tbsp. dill, chopped and divided (~1/2 a small bunch)
Mix the goat cheese, lemon zest, and half of the chopped dill in a small bowl and set aside.