I made Florence Pugh's garlicky crostini and the recipe was both chaotic and delicious
Florence Pugh shared her recipe for garlic crostini with Vogue in a demonstration video.
She walked home cooks through her method, which doesn't include measurements or temperatures.
I followed her lead and ended up with a really tasty snack, despite all the chaos.
In a video interview with Vogue, Florence Pugh showed viewers how to make her take on garlic crostini.
"Hey! This is 'Cooking with Flo,' bitches!"
That's actor Florence Pugh's opening line of her cooking video segment with Vogue. The next frame cuts to her dancing with a colander on her head waving a knife in the air.
It's playful, mostly unpretentious (she does spend some time knife-shaming her friends who don't have sharp ones), and she doesn't seem to take herself too seriously in the kitchen.
But between the "Don't Worry Darling" drama that's still lingering in my memory, the video's intro dance, the complete lack of measurements in this recipe, and her forgetting to include the cilantro until the end, this whole thing screamed chaos to me. But hey, what's cooking if not an entertaining adventure? I'm always game for having fun in the kitchen.
Her loose recipe had 11 ingredients, but it seemed like she forgot about two of them.
Her recipe called for:
tomatoes, "preferably on the vine"
"garlic, lots of garlic"
a chili pepper
anchovies, "if you like them"
"and my favorite, feta"
"plenty of olive oil"
"a little dash of vinegar"
bread, "because that's the best bit"
Pugh never announced when she was using the salt and pepper, though. So it's unclear if they made it into her dish at all.
Pugh says to get the bread going first, so that's exactly what I did.
She instructs home cooks to slice a baguette on the diagonal into thin slices — though I would describe the size of hers as around 1 to 2 inches thick just by looking at them. I cut mine into 1-inch slices. Pugh also says you can use stale bread for this recipe, but I used fresh this time.
The actor recommends taking care of the bread first as "it's going to take a fair bit of slow time in the oven." I'm not quite sure what "a fair bit of slow time" means, but I interpreted it as cooking something low and slow.
After slicing my baguette, I placed four pieces onto a sheet pan and oiled them liberally.
Pugh then demonstrates how to drizzle the olive oil onto each piece. "It can be messy," she said. "Smudge it around in the pan."
Pugh didn't use any aluminum foil, but she was also using what looked like a pristine baking sheet. Mine has a little (a lot) more wear and tear to it (you know, they're seasoned) so I lined it with a layer of the shiny stuff.
I did as I was told and generously oiled each side of the bread slices without completely soaking them.
She said she always likes to make mistakes when cooking because they can yield good results. "For example, today, I don't really know what temperature to put the oven on," Pugh said.
"Pop it in your oven," she then said as she inserted the pan, "for whatever temperature" (insert her diabolical laughter here) "and, wait until it cooks!"
I set my oven to somewhere between 200 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit and baked the bread on the middle rack.
Once the bread was in the oven, I got to prepping the other ingredients.
"The tomatoey, garlicky, salty, olive oily, chili, thingy — that's the name," she said about this portion of the recipe.
Again, there are no measurements. So I just eyeballed it and tried to make my ratios match the ones I was seeing on screen.
I cut up my tomatoes following Pugh's loose instructions of cutting them in half three times. "Even if you don't know how to chop, just mush them in some way," she said, adding that it should create a pulp.
Then I gave two cloves of garlic a rough chop — Pugh was clearly eyeballing it too as she was surprised with how much she cut and ended up leaving some out.
Pugh never showed how much of the chili she cut, so I went with about half of my pepper and cut it into very small pieces.
As per Flo's instructions, I let the topping mixture sit for a while, allowing the flavors to combine.
When transferring the tomatoes into the bowl, she makes it a point to tell viewers to include the juices that will be left behind on your cutting board after chopping the tomatoes. And this is for good reason. The juices will help bring all the flavors together and will create a liquid component that will then soften your toasty bread in a good way.
After the tomato, garlic, and pepper were in my bowl, I copied Pugh by adding around two tablespoons of olive oil and around one tablespoon of white wine vinegar. She added too much and then had to balance it out by cutting more chili and tomato — so if the acidic liquid gets away from you too, there's your fix.
Then, let them all "become friends," as she says, and sit in the bowl so that the flavors can all marry together.
Since there was no time set in the recipe, I kept a close eye on my bread and flipped the pieces when I deemed them ready.
I checked on my bread every couple of minutes and once I flipped some over to reveal golden bottoms, I turned them all and let them continue to bake until both sides were even.
Then, once they were ready to come out, I took a clove of garlic, cut it in half, and rubbed the flat inside against the toasted bread to transfer the flavors and turn these tiny toasts garlic-flavored.
"Actually, this is a really handy snack," she said. "If you don't have anything in the fridge just wipe garlic on a toasted piece of bread and you've got yourself a very simple but very tasty garlic bread."
When the bread was golden brown, I started loading up each slice with the recommended toppings.
After the pieces of toast had been garlicked, Pugh started scooping the tomato mixture on top with a spoon. I realized here that I should have cut the tomatoes even smaller so that they were less clunky on top of the bread.
"The best thing about this is you have all of this amazing juice," Pugh said of the liquid at the bottom of the tomato bowl. She said to add the juice on top of each piece of bread, "so you can chew it without getting bleedy gums." Good looking out, Flo.
She then said she was going to do half of the pieces of toast with just crumbled feta on top and half with feta and anchovies.
But before she could get to the cheese, she realized she made a mistake: "I forgot about my coriander!" (Pugh was using the word coriander throughout the video, which is another term used for cilantro.) So she gave some sprigs a quick chop.
Then, she loaded up the crostini with feta, topped some with a single anchovy each, and garnished with the chopped cilantro.
While this process was kind of hectic, the finished product did taste really good.
As a general note, if you're the type of home cook who needs to follow a recipe, I don't think this is the dish for you. However, if you're comfortable enough in the kitchen and enjoy tasting and editing along the way, it's worth a shot.
I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't cut my mouth on the heavily-toasted bread when I bit into the center. It had clearly soaked in the juices I added, which softened the toast. Make sure you drizzle the liquid generously.
Taking a bite, I noticed that the anchovy adds welcome saltiness — this was when I realized she never added salt and pepper in the video — and a bit of a rich savory flavor to the toast.
Ingredient quality is really important here since everything is coming together while fresh. I would recommend getting good-quality feta and anchovies because upping the quality of these ingredients will directly affect the textures and flavors of the dish.
I enjoyed the flavor profile that came together here. Next time, I would cook the bread a little less, and probably slice it a quarter-inch thinner — if it's thick and crunchy, you're really going to tear apart your gums and the inside of your mouth. If your bread does end up getting super toasty, you can fix it by adding more juice.
I would also cut the tomatoes smaller because they were falling all over the place. It's a really messy dish, but if you can get the toppings to stick together by chopping everything super small, that would help.
The tomato garlic mixture was fine without salt and pepper, in my opinion — I'm guessing that's where it was meant to be added. I thought it was really fresh without it.
So even with all the hectic energy and forgotten ingredients, I think Pugh pulled off something delicious here.
You can watch the full video here.
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