David Tanis has a magic touch with simple food. The former Chez Panisse head chef and current New York Times City Kitchen columnist and cookbook author has a well-deserved reputation for making gorgeous, flawless, dishes from fresh, seasonal ingredients—and empowering his readers to follow suit in their own kitchens. In his newest cookbook, David Tanis Market Cooking, Tanis guides home cooks to use the day's fresh offerings as inspiration for meals, and use easy cooking techniques to highlight the ingredients' natural flavors, feel, and general splendor.
To start the day, Tanis takes a cue from Spain and pairs gloriously crisped eggs and garlic with toasted bread rubbed with garlic or tomatoes (or both), and drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Go ahead and fall right under his spell.
Excerpted from David Tanis Market Cooking by David Tanis (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Evan Sung.
Olive Oil–Fried Eggs with Sizzled Garlic
Though I’m inclined to cook scrambled eggs in butter, for a fried egg, it’s got to be olive oil. My preferred method? Put a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil (if you’re cooking more than one egg, use a tablespoon of oil per egg). When the oil is hot, crack the egg and slip it carefully into the pan. Season generously with salt and black pepper and add a pinch of crushed red pepper. Let the egg fry gently so it crisps and browns perfectly on the bottom and the white begins to form bubbles. When the egg is done, but with a still-runny yolk, 3 to 4 minutes, turn off the heat. Tilt the pan, and add a sliced garlic clove or two to the oil collected at the bottom edge. Let it sizzle briefly, just until fragrant but not browned, and then spoon the garlicky oil over the egg. Use a spatula to transfer the egg to a warm plate and drizzle with more of the oil. An egg like this also makes a superior sandwich or egg-on-a-roll.
As for accompaniments, a slice of toast (or Spanish Garlic Toast, below) is really all you need, though my Sicilian friend Angelo would add a sprinkle of dried oregano and a dash of red wine vinegar to his egg. Fried eggs are good with cooked vegetables too—asparagus, artichokes, and spinach are all great springtime options. During tomato season, thick ripe slices are what you want. And nearly any kind of potato will make a fried egg’s day.
Spanish Garlic Toast for Breakfast
In Spain, breakfast is toast. Whether you are in Seville or Barcelona, strolling along early morning streets, the smell of toasting bread is everywhere. There are two choices: with butter and marmalade or with garlic and oil. I say go for the garlic. The ideal bread is a crusty, rustic hearth-style loaf. You toast thick slices and rub the top surface with a garlic clove, not too vigorously (you are essentially grating garlic right into the bread, so meter the amount). Drizzle the toast generously with a tasty, fruity olive oil and, if you wish, sprinkle it with a little flaky salt and pepper. Aficionados wash it down with strong coffee or, if they’ve just seen the sunrise on their way home from a night of revelry, with something stronger—or with both.
Pan con Tomate
If you have a ripe tomato, Spanish garlic toast can become pan con tomate (in Catalunya, it’s pa amb tomàquet). Rub the toast first lightly with garlic, then forcefully with a halved ripe tomato to make the bread red and juicy. Finish with a drizzle of oil and salt and pepper. And perhaps an anchovy fillet or a slice of jamón. Eat it for breakfast or at any time of day. Perfect as a tapa to serve with drinks; it is very red wine friendly.