Anna Jones’s perfect tartine recipe | The modern cook

Ana Jones recipes: Whether the toppings are scavenged from the fridge or your local supermarket, a tartine is probably the simplest possible vehicle for flavour youll find try an egg, caper and herb combo, or English garden mix

Tartine. Such a nice word, isnt it? It also happens to be the name of one of my favourite restaurants, Bar Tartine in San Francisco. They make incredible, interesting breads (the sprouted rye is my favourite), and knockout homemade cultured buttermilk butter and little plates of food that are always on point. But thats by the by …

Bruschetta, open sandwiches, tartines whatever you choose to call them many a memorable meal can be made by piling simple things on to good bread. When I reach back into the culinary catalogue that is my memory, a few stand out: this years winter tomatoes, which I ate for several days straight with good-quality olive oil, plenty of sea salt and lemon zest on sourdough bread; salted, fried porcini piled on toast in a little Tuscan trattoria; just-picked, tiny yellow-and-green courgettes peeled into ribbons and piled on to toast with a slick of goats cheese, a scattering of lemon zest and topped with courgette flowers, in the midst of a friends vegetable garden …

This way of eating suits the season, which is all about spending more time outside, away from the kitchen. In summer, meals need to be less planned and considered and more born from whats at hand. I admit that some of the toppings I have scavenged from the fridge, and from the big bowls of lemons, avocados and fruit on our table, would not always suit this column, but on occasion they hit just the right note.

Anna Jones prepares some egg tartines. Photograph: Issy Croker for the Guardian

Tartines and sandwiches are all about the quality of the bread. We are lucky enough to live near a great bakery: its a couple of miles away, but we make the effort to pass by there once a week for a loaf of sourdough. It lasts for five days or more and will toast perfectly, giving us a weeks worth of quick summer meals on toast. Here are the two tartines I was proud of this week.

Egg, caper and herb tartines

My husband-to-be, John, loves egg sandwiches. Having never been a fan of standard egg and cress, I set out to make one we would both love. This is it: soft, sunny eggs and a caper-spiked mustard dressing that makes me think of American delis.

Makes 4
6 eggs
A small handful of cornichons
2 tbsp baby capers
A few sprigs each of tarragon, dill, parsley leaves picked
A small bunch of watercress
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tsp runny honey
4 slices of good bread, such as sourdough
Salt and black pepper
Olive oil

1 Boil the eggs for 6 minutes in salted water, then run under a cold tap for 30 seconds before peeling them and putting to one side. This will yield an egg with firm whites and a just-set, but still slightly runny in the middle, yolk; if you like them a little firmer, boil for another 30-60 seconds.

2 Chop the cornichons finely, add the capers and chop again, then put into a small mixing bowl. Pick the herbs from their stalks and roughly chop most of these, along with most of the watercress. Add this to the bowl too.

3 Add the mustard, mayonnaise, yoghurt and honey, then mix well. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and balance the flavours as you see fit; I like the dressing to have a sweet note to balance the acidity of the capers and the cornichons, like a good American deli mustard.

4 Toast or better, griddle your bread until nicely charred. Drizzle with olive oil. Cut your eggs carefully in half and season with salt and pepper. Perch three halves on each piece of bread and top with a good drizzle of the mustard dressing and a scattering of the remaining herbs and watercress.

English garden tartines

This is a riot of colour and represents all that is great about English summer gardens. It goes particularly well with a glass of ice-cold ros. I use the dip-dyed pink and white breakfast radishes here, but the regular round ones would work really well too. We ate this for a late evening dinner, but Id proudly serve this as quick starter too.

Makes 4
A bunch of radishes
Olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 lemon
200g shelled fresh or frozen peas
A small bunch of mint
100g soft goats cheese or ricotta
4 slices of good bread, such as sourdough
100g soft goats cheese or ricotta
A few allium flowers, or a sprinkling of chopped chives (optional)

1 Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Wash the radishes, keeping the tops intact (if you have them). Put them on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper, then roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the tops are crisp and the radishes have turned a softer, more mellow pink.

2 Put your sliced onion in a little bowl with a good pinch of sea salt and the juice of half the lemon. Scrunch it all together with your hands. Leave to one side to continue to lightly pickle.

3 Cook the peas for a few minutes in boiling water, then drain. Mash them a little with a potato masher or in a large pestle and mortar. Grate in the zest of the other half of the lemon, then add a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Finely chop most of the mint (saving a few little leaves for later) and stir through the peas.

4 Once the radishes are roasted, toast or griddle your bread. Drizzle with a little olive oil or spread with a little salted butter. Pile the peas on the toasted bread, drain the now-bright-purple onions from their liquid and put on top of the peas. Crumble the goats cheese on top and scatter with radishes. Finish with the remaining mint, and some allium flowers or chopped chives, if you like.

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