My Sundays are Finally Fun Days Thanks to Slowing Down and This Recipe for Tomatoes, Crème Fraîche, and Crispy Shallots on Toast

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In Vermont, he often wakes first after hearing the noisy birds shouting from the apple trees by the bedroom window. Those birds are likely chirping, “Hello, sweeties, let’s begin the day,” only it sounds way harsher than that. It resembles something like straight-up yelling. In fact, I bet you could mistake these tiny, delicate creatures for an all-too-happy chorus shrieking, “Get the F up already, SWEETIES!” I suppose the tone we hear depends on our mood, and whether the wake up call is at seven o’clock or closer to four o’clock, before the sun has even bothered to rise.

Most Saturdays, we throw the covers back over our heads and try to steal another hour of sleep. But on Sundays, we relent. He gets out of bed and I motivate myself too, anxious to get on with our favorite day of the week. By the time Sunday rolls around, we’ve relaxed, having wrestled with any remaining work thoughts on the previous day. By Sunday morning, we’re ready to take it easy, take far too long to make and sip our coffee, and, after breakfast, whenever that comes, we’re ready to make some plans for something.

Making Sunday easy has totally changed my personal life and, just like a domino, my food life. You see, I used to work most weekends, taking care of all the business required to bring a career in food to life. I’d ship food gift orders, make website updates, sample and select food for our markets, schedule social media updates, and catch up on last-minute writing projects. Sheesh, just writing that all out makes me so sad for my previous self. There was barely time to enjoy life with my husband or eat a well-balanced meal, let alone cook. Everything changed, however, when I started making drawn-out Sunday breakfasts.

The husband would hand-grind coffee beans for our slow pots of coffee – slow because I drink Bialetti-style coffee which cooks on the stove in about 10 minutes and he drinks pour-overs which take a while to drip-infuse; slow because we’d talk for a while over coffee and then decide what we felt like eating; slow because maybe instead of instant oatmeal, I’d slowly cook oats in plant milk and cinnamon to make a creamy snicker-doodle-style porridge or maybe I’d decide to pull together some scones by hand (which takes 10 minutes) and then bake them off fresh (another 20 minutes). Those slow mornings were a treasure and a revelation – we can take the time to make and enjoy very good food at home, like wow.

Sunday mornings are more than just delicious, though. They are a weekly sort of reconnection between us to remember what we love – food and each other. Those good feelings drift into the afternoon where we read a few recipe books (mostly me), plan meals for the week, pick out recipes to try, decide who will make what, and cook one or two things in advance. Sundays have truly become our fun days. We reconnect over a great, slow meal and make some plans.

This recipe for Tomatoes, Crème Fraîche, and Crispy Shallots on Toast is one such meal and, if I may say, it’s a summer stunner. Certainly, he prefers a small slab of bacon on his toast, but sometimes he eats my way. And these shallots do resemble something akin to bacon because they’re crispy, deep in flavor, and satisfying in a similar way. The cashew crème fraîche resembles a tangy mayo, only a little more nutritious, and the tomatoes are, well, just a month or so shy of perfection up here in New England.

If you want to go open-faced with this sandwich, by all means, do. Sometimes, we’ll incorporate an over-easy egg. I love to add a stack of greens from the night before or maybe a pile of sautéed wild mushrooms on the side. You do this recipe as you see fit or as your fridge leans. But, believe me when I say, it really is an exemplary antidote to all the wine and grilled meats from the night before. No judgement, of course. This dish lifts you up a bit – in spirit, because it sure feels like you’re eating an indulgent tomato and mayo sandwich; and in real life, because you’re not weighed down with whatever other indulgence you could be eating like blueberry pancakes or strawberry-topped french toast. Again, no judgement, because sometimes there are Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes on Sundays, too.

 

Tomatoes, Crème Fraîche, and Crispy Shallots on Toast

The Crème Fraîche recipe yields about 2 cups of the stuff, so plan on spreading it on everything or incorporating it into salad dressings for extra richness. The Crispy Shallots recipe yield about 1 cup which is enough for 4 sandwiches, but I sprinkle them on everything from soups to salads and, especially, noodle bowls or anywhere that needs an umami punch.

Makes: 1 sandwich

Ingredients:

For Tomatoes, Crème Fraîche, and Crispy Shallots on Toast:
  • 1 large ripe tomato
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
  • 2 slices homemade or store-bought sandwich bread, sliced to suit
  • 2 tablespoons Crème Fraîche (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 cup Crispy Shallots (recipe follows)
For the Crème Fraîche:
  • 1 1/2 cups (200 grams) raw cashews
  • 2 cups (475 ml) tap water
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon (7 grams) sea salt
For the Crispy Shallots:
  • 1 cup (240 ml) grape seed or safflower oil
  • 6 medium shallots, peeled and sliced about 1/8-inch thick (about 1 1/2 cups / 170 grams sliced)
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions:

For Tomatoes, Crème Fraîche, and Crispy Shallots on Toast:
  1. Preheat oven to 325℉.
  2. Slice a few 1/2-inch thick slices of tomato and place in a single layer on a plate or cutting board. Sprinkle with sea salt, to taste, and let sit while you toast your bread.
  3. Place sandwich bread slices on baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 minutes or until a shade of light gold brown and crispy. Remove and cool briefly.
  4. Spread a tablespoon of crème fraîche on each side of toast. Pile a tomato slice or two on each slice of toast. Divide the shallots between each slice of toast, sprinkling on top of the tomato. Serve with extra sea salt, if needed.
For the Crème Fraîche:
  1. Soak cashews in tap water up to 4 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse cashews.
  2. Add cashews, filtered water, lemon juice, and salt to a blender and whiz until thick and creamy.
  3. Store in the fridge and use within 5 days. Shake well before each use.
For the Crispy Shallots:
  1. Put oil in a small saucepan. Add shallots and place pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and lower heat to low. Cook gently, stirring occasionally to keep the shallots under the oil, for about 15 minutes (turn down heat further if they seem to be coloring too quickly), until they gradually become brown.
  2. Place a paper towel on a plate. Transfer shallots, reserving the oil, to plate and let them drain well. Blot shallots to remove any extra oil. They will become crisp as they cool. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Use within 5 days.
  3. Save oil in a separate bottle. Use within 2 weeks.
Photos taken by Maggie Battista.

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