“It’s pretty confusing.”
“Good. Be confused. Confusion is where inspiration comes from.”
Robyn Mundell, Brainwalker
The other day - I swear it was when I was browsing through my new cookbook Mezcla - I saw a recipe for a snacky kind of baked dish of bread and tomatoes. There were some other things in it but that was basically it. Well cheese of course. I mentally told myself this might be a good thing to prepare for David's wine night on Wednesday. It was quick, easy and could be served in large quantities. So as Wednesday approached I picked up the book to find it.
Only to draw a complete blank. Oh well I thought, maybe it was an Ottolenghi recipe and indeed I had been looking at my Ottolenghi books - though I can't remember why now. Another indication of a fading mind. So I got out all of my Ottolenghi books with absolutely no joy. Indeed I have now, over the past two or three days checked them all several times. Always with the same blank. And I know - I just know in my head - that I saw a picture in a book.
By now though I had completely lost faith in my memory, and so of course I looked online - 'ottolenghi, baked tomatoes, bread' - which brought up a number of things even, I think, the recipe I was looking for Baked tomatoes with baguette. So you could say the problem was solved. However, for some reason I just couldn't leave it at that because I'm sure this is not the picture I remember. Almost, but rather duller than I remember. Not as vibrant and I swear there were hands holding a spoon and digging into it. So I looked some more - with occasional revisits to my Ottolenghi collection. (To show how really desperate I was to prove something - I'm not sure what - I even checked out a couple of Ottolenghi books that I know I hadn't previously looked at.)
Online I first of all found this website - Kahakai Kitchen with the same recipe and a rather more enticing picture actually. It also resembled rather more the picture I had in my head, and so once more I checked out all those books. Her verdict:
"This is a keeper. The tomatoes burst with flavor, the sauce is lightly creamy and full of the flavor of the garlic and herbs and is perfect soaked up by the bread. The crispy topping adds good texture."
Well at least the recipe has been found, even though I know - deep in my heart - that it's in one of those damned books, and one day I'l find it. I know I will.
However, then the rabbit hole opened up, for also in Google's search results was this recipe - Cretan Dakos on the Tiffin website. I did a post on Tiffin some time ago. Worth looking at even though it is now dead. The subtitle here is THAT stale bread and tomato recipe, which, without reading on, made me think that this was another person's attempt at the same recipe, and that perhaps the original recipe was really called Dakos, which meant back to the book indexes again (no joy there), followed by another search online.
The rabbit hole fully opened when I read on through the Tiffin post and found that this is a different, although admittedly similar recipe - but this time chickpeas are involved, and Ottolenghi has this recipe on his own website - Baked dakos with spiced chickpeas tomatoes and feta. But it really isn't the same thing. Mine was a rather more basic recipe, and I was pretty sure had not contained chickpeas, and it wasn't so loose looking.
Matters became worse though when I discovered that dakos are a particular kind of Cretan rusk like bread/biscuit made of barley, and that, in addition to the recipe on the Ottolenghi website with the chickpeas, and substitute kinds of rusks, he also has a recipe called Cretan dakos shown here, which actually look rather like bruschetta. And I know for certain that that was not what I was looking for. It's all very, very confusing, although at least I know that my original thought had not been these last two options. Also that that original version with the baguette is the one to consider. Also that tomatoes and bread are an endlessly variable combination that I shall be looking at from time to time.
But look my confusion had produced a post. That's got to be an achievement of some kind.
"Confusion is the welcome mat at the door of creativity." Michael J. Gelb
Then I had a last thought - maybe I had really been thinking of a different recipe - this one, which is not online as yet, because it comes from Mezcla by Ixta Belfrage, which is only just out in the shops. It's called Giant cheese on toast with spring onion, honey and Urfa butter. Fundamentally it's a whole loaf of bread cut in half widthways, spread with a mixture that includes spring onions, cheese, chillies, and so on, then cooked in the oven. If you want the recipe let me know and I will send.
But no this was not it - no tomatoes and there were definitely tomatoes in my imaginary recipe and I'm pretty sure the baked baguette recipe is it. But where, where, where did I come across it? I could almost swear that it might have been the Tiffin website because of the author's words about it - which sort of rang a bell. But then again I'm absolutely certain I only came across Tiffin when I began my increasingly desperate search. I'm sure the book in which I saw it - I just know it was in a book - had very similar wording:
"It’s the perfect comfort food with a combination of baked bread that is both squishy underneath from the oil but also crisp on top where it’s been exposed to the heat. Combined with the tang of the vinegar, the earthy chickpeas and the creamy feta, it is a winning combination."
It's slightly driving me crazy.
"Be not careless in deeds, nor confused in words, nor rambling in thought." says Marcus Aurelius. Oh dear, because that's a perfect description of me.