There's more to toast than bread and butter. Or avocado.
Food writer and Brooklynite Raquel Pelzel wrote a whole book about it!
"It's such a fun thing that's happening all across the country now," Pelzel said of toast, which takes center stage [well, plate], in her new book "Toast: The Cookbook."
From Sesame and Honey Barbecue Fried Chicken Toast to Cider-glazed Squash Toast with Manchego and Spiced Pecans, there's nothing typical about Pelzel's toasts.
Starting out as "kind of addicted to the toast at ABC Kitchen," Pelzel became infatuated with toasts: toppings, breads and more.
"You can top toast with so many different ingredients, it's very playful." she said.
"Toast" is organized seasonally, making cooking with fresh, green-market ingredients less daunting and less time consuming. It's just toast!
"You can sit down and eat a toast and feel like you did something special for yourself," said Pelzel.
The secret to a good toast: great bread.
Pelzel opts for loaves from Breads Bakery, Sullivan Street Bakery or Au Bien Cuit.
"A good quality loaf makes a big difference," she said.
And a quality toast: composed and thoughtful.
Most of Pelzel's recipes follow the same formula, aiming for a balance of crunchy, creamy, sharp and sweet in each bite.
"It's very much the same as when you make a very beautiful salad, you strive to have a balance of textures and temperatures and flavors," said Pelzel.
Start with a spread or a creamy base, follow with a crunchy component like nuts, sesame seeds or radish, and drizzle a sweet or spicy element on top.
Anyone can spread avocado on toast, but composing a perfect toast just takes a bit more thought.
Pelzel uses toast to encourage her two kids to try new ingredients. "If it's on toast, it's fun."
Leftover chicken or vegetables enjoy a new life on toast. "If you have something in your fridge, you can put it on toast," said Pelzel. "There are no rules."
Pelzel believes toast is a great way to "break out of a rut," especially for home cooks. "You can still have steak or chicken salad but in a surprising and fun way. And you can make a lot of the components ahead of time!"
Though even the most elegant toasts have easily approachable recipes, Pelzel still has an affinity for restaurant toasts.
Stonefruit Espresso + Kitchen in Bedford-Stuyvesant serves a notable avocado toast with dukka, and The Butcher's Daughter in Manhattan has a "great avocado toast with curry oil."
Beyond avocado? "The toasts at Prune are also so, so good."
"Toast: The Cookbook" is now available for $24.95 from Phaidon. Cook up Dutch Apple Pie Toast with this recipe.