'I'm making toasted bread with garlic, would you like some too, pipike (little chicken),' my mother would ask when I was little. 'Nagyon finom! (it's very delicious)', she added enticingly, as she rubbed a clove of garlic over the thick slices of hot, freshly toasted continental bread.
Sometimes she would spread cultured butter on the bread beforehand. Remember olive oil wasn't readily available in the 1960s. In those days olive oil was something your mother bought it from the chemist. It was gently warmed and a few drops would be popped into your ear to ease the pain of an earache. It worked. And is still recommended by doctors and nurses today.
In summer, mum would slice some of my father's homegrown Oxheart tomatoes onto the toasted bread (or Pirítós as we knew it), making sure she added just the right sprinkle of salt and pepper. The tomatoes were just picked, still warm from the sunshine and simply bursting with flavour!
I thought about my mother and father and their love of Pirítós with garlic and tomato when Peter and I enjoyed a brunch of basil and tomato bruschetta at The Palms in Stanwell Park recently. It's one of our favourite cafes in the Wollongong region and well worth a visit. Chef/owner, Ian Draper, and his wife, Jo, pride themselves on the quality of the produce they use... my kind of people!
The tomatoes in our kitchen garden aren't doing terribly well this season (they are coming on very slowly), but the basil is flourishing and we have plenty of home grown garlic. So, after a trip to the Capital Region Farmer's Market last weekend, we returned with a basketful of beautifully ripe tomatoes from Torcaso Produce, together with Dom's wood fired continental bread and extra virgin olive oil from the O'Clerys at Homeleigh Grove. Needless to say, I set to work on preparing Bruschetta a la Lizzy, the perfect summertime brunch. I'm not going to give you a recipe per se, for the preparation is so simple that you don't need one. Just be sure to use the freshest of ingredients. Toast the bread. Rub it immediately with a clove of garlic. Arrange some sliced tomatoes over the garlicky bread, sprinkle with tiny basil leaves and good olive oil. Season to taste and serve while warm.
The (very simple) process in pictures...
Tell me, how are your tomatoes doing this season? Do you grow basil and garlic? What's your favourite olive oil? And do you bake your own wood fired bread?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.