The apèritif hour: Egg & anchovy crostini from Chris Cosentino

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I recently got hold of a PDF excerpt of Chris Cosentino’s new book, “Beginnings: My Way to Start a Meal.” It took me awhile, but I finally peeked inside — what a beautiful book! The photography is stunning, but the design and recipes are made much more personal by quirky drawings that illustrate techniques or how to plate a dish.

Cosentino is best known for his tenure as chef at Incanto in San Francisco. He’s also been on television, competing on ‘Top Chef’ and other shows, and has just opened the restaurant PIGG in Umamicatessen downtown. He’s something of a salumi king, proprietor of Boccalone Salumeria in San Francisco. And he tweets under, get this, the moniker @offalchris.


The book actually comes out May 8 in both hardcover and electronic editions. He’ll be at the Los Angeles Festival of Books this weekend at USC too, where he’ll be giving a cooking demonstration on the cooking stage at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Because ‘Beginnings’ is all about Cosentino’s favorite ways to start a meal, it has a number of recipes that could be served at the apèritif hour--and probably many more than I was able to see in the book preview. One that spoke to me is his simple and beautiful recipe for egg and anchovy crostini.

“There is no better way to eat an egg with a runny yolk than on a nice piece of grilled bread,’ writes the chef. ‘Topping the egg with briny anchovy fillets and fresh herbs makes a great bite, and the bread turns the whole package into an extraordinary handheld snack.”

I made it last night and loved the rich flavor of the egg (make sure you invest in free-range eggs) against the anchovy and olive oil. New trick: he rubs the lemon on the toasted baguette to scent it with lemon zest.

Egg and anchovy crostini

Adapted from “Beginnings” by Chris Cosentino (Weldon Owen, 192 pages, $25.)

Serves 4:

2 extra-large eggs

8-inch baguette, split lengthwise

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon fresh chives (cut in 1/2-inch lengths)

4 to 8 marinated white anchovy fillets

Have ready a bowl filled with salted ice water (the salt helps the shells come off the eggs more easily). Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the eggs and cook for 6 1/2 minutes. Scoop the eggs out the water and immediately immerse them in the ice water to cool completely, about 5 minutes. Peel the cooled eggs, being careful to keep them intact, and reserve.

Heat a stove-top grill pan over medium heat. Brush the baguette lengths on both sides with the 1 tablespoon olive oil and then season on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill the bread, turning once, until etched with grill marks and crisp on both sides, 2–3 minutes on each side.

Rub the cut side of each toasted baguette length with the whole lemon, releasing the natural oils of the zest to flavor the bread. Then, finely grate the lemon zest. In a small bowl, mix the parsley and chives.

Cut each baguette length in half crosswise on a slight diagonal and arrange on a platter. Cut each egg in half lengthwise and place an egg half, cut side up, on each piece of bread. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Top each egg half with 1 or 2 anchovy fillets and some of the herb mixture, then finish with a drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkle with the lemon zest. Serve right away.

Note: I’m not such a big fan of white anchovies, so when I made my version, I substituted salt-cured anchovies I’d filleted, cleaned, seasoned with freshly cracked black pepper and then let sit under a little olive oil for a couple of hours.


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-- S. Irene Virbila

Photos: Chris Cosentino; egg and anchovy crostini. Courtesy Weldon Owen.