CROS­TINI

tape­nade. But if that baguette had been around for a day or two, we sliced it, driz­zled with olive oil, topped it with a grind of sea salt, and toasted it be­fore serv­ing. Un­wit­tingly, we were mak­ing spin-offs of the clas­sic Ital­ian cros­tini or br­uschetta.

Passage Maker - - @Rest -

Shar­ing a plat­ter filled with a va­ri­ety of tasty and color­ful cros­tini (or crack­ers) is al­ways pop­u­lar and the steps are sim­ple: toast the bread, spread the toast with a goat cheese base (com­bin­ing the goat cheese with cream cheese makes the goat cheese much eas­ier to spread), and top with what­ever in­gre­di­ents you have on hand. Just use the recipes be­low to stim­u­late your own creative ideas.

FOR THE TOASTS

French baguette Qual­ity olive oil Sea salt Pre­heat a stove­top, grill, or fry pan over medium heat. Cut the baguette on the di­ag­o­nal into thin slices and driz­zle with olive oil. Sprin­kle with sea salt and place on the grid­dle. Toast un­til the bread be­gins to turn golden brown, about 3-4 min­utes. Turn and toast the other side.

CHEESE BASE

8 ounces goat cheese, room tem­per­a­ture 4 ounces cream cheese, room tem­per­a­ture 2 ta­ble­spoons qual­ity olive oil Place all of the in­gre­di­ents in a mix­ing bowl, and us­ing a hand­held mixer, beat un­til smooth and creamy. Spread the cheese mix on the pre­pared cros­tini or re­frig­er­ate un­til ready to use. If chilled, re­move from the re­frig­er­a­tor at least 30 min­utes be­fore us­ing. It will be much eas­ier to spread.

TOP­PINGS

Caramelized Onions Heat 2 ta­ble­spoons of olive oil in a medium skil­let over low heat. Add 2 large onions, peeled, cut in half ver­ti­cally, and sliced thin, 2 ta­ble­spoons bal­samic vine­gar (op­tional), and salt and pep­per to taste. SautŽ, stir­ring fre­quently, un­til onions are soft, sweet, and be­gin­ning to turn golden (usu­ally about 60-75 min­utes). Spread the cros­tini with the cheese base and top with the caramelized onions. Lightly driz­zle with a bal­samic re­duc­tion. Gar­licky Mush­room Heat 2 ta­ble­spoons of olive oil in a medium skil­let over low heat. Add ½-pound cleaned and thinly sliced mush­rooms, 2 cloves of minced gar­lic, and salt and pep­per to taste. SautŽ, stir­ring fre­quently, un­til the mush­rooms have re­leased their juices and are be­gin­ning to turn golden. Cool. Spread the cros­tini with the cheese base and top with mush­rooms. Gar­nish with fresh, chopped pars­ley.

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