May 27 – June 2, 2019
Monday: Leftovers / Various Crostini
Tuesday: Cantaloupe and Sugar Snap Peas with Ricotta Salata
Wednesday: Grilled Swordfish with Tomatoes and Oregano / Green Salad
Friday: Gaza Guacamole / Grilled Shrimp with Turmeric Mojo Sauce
Saturday: Lamb Burger and Tacos at The Cornerstone
Sunday: Mere, Hoddy and Rick over for Bruschetta with Feta Cream,
Tomatoes and Basil / Grilled Chicken Salmoriglio / Roasted
Potatoes / Broccoli Salad / Klondike Bars
The phrase at the head of this post was written for a more spiritual purpose than a food blog. But I think that we may appropriate it without committing sacrilege. Indeed, if you go back to the original context (Deuteronomy), you will notice that nutrition is involved. And I want to draw your attention to the fact that wheat and rye are there to be harvested, milled, ground into flour and baked to sustain us in our pilgrimage on this earth and that, to get most people to stay interested enough to keep eating, you would do well to place some things on top of that bread.
I know that you can figure out how to make a sandwich by yourself. And I am writing this post to make you realize that you can also make bruschetta and crostini by yourself and in an infinite number of ways. I’m going to share with you two of our favorites, but the truth is, that almost anything you like, including some wonderful combinations of those things, goes pretty well on a piece of toast.
Before the recipes, however, let’s take a moment to refresh your memory on the difference between bruschetta and crostini. You didn’t know there was a difference? Well neither did I. But Googling the two words, I see that ‘bruschetta’ derives from the Italian ‘bruscare’ which means to roast over coals and was originally applied to full slices of toasted bread over which a garlic clove was rubbed, after which the bread was drizzled with olive oil. ‘Crostini’ means ‘little toasts’ in Italian – smaller, thinner slices of bread (think baguette) – as well as the canapés constructed by topping the toasts with something savory.
And give me one more minute to be a stickler and to remind you that the correct pronunciation of ‘Bruschetta’ is ‘brew – sketta,’ no matter what your tattooed, pierced, man-bunned waiter says. In Italian the letters ‘ch’ before a vowel are pronounced like ‘k’ in English. For example, you would not order a ‘she-aunty’ wine to go with your ‘brew – shetta.’ Instead, you would order a nice chianti to go with your bruschetta.
As for bruschetta versus crostini, I’m guessing that I’ll forget the difference and use them interchangeably. You, however, are welcome to be a stickler and use them only in their Italian sense. But whatever you decide, don’t let any confusion over the two stop you from making something delicious in the way of either.
Here are two of our favorites – both of which we used as appetizers more than once in the last two weeks. We make them both as ‘crostini’ to be exact, though Ina Garten, makes one of them as a bruschetta. I will just note that, if you’re having a pre-prandial conversation with guests, spouse, or even your dog, crostini are easier to handle without ruining your tie or the carpeting. By all means call them bruschetta, if you wish.
(Do I actually talk to Rusty the dog, you may ask?. Yes. In fact, I share more thoughts with Rusty than with any other member of the family. He actually pays attention to me from time to time, and he never argues.)
Both recipes below are adapted from Ina Garten.
The bruschetta with peppers and gorgonzola can be found in her back to basics and my only adaptation is to slice the baguette into smaller (crostini) pieces. The crostini can be found in her foolproof and my adaptation is to skip the garlic and use toasted sesame seeds, instead of pine nuts, because the seeds adhere and the pine nuts tend to fall into trouser cuffs or down cleavages.
TOASTING THE BREAD – you will need to do this for both recipes. Make sure that you prepare the toppings before you toast the bread. Otherwise, you will, I guarantee you, forget about the bread while you are making the toppings, burn it and have to start over or, in a worst case, head to the store to buy more bread.
Slice a baguette at a 45-degree angle, or even steeper, to get as long a piece of bread as you wish. The long stuff is bruschetta, the more manageable, shorter pieces (my recommendation) will become crostini.
Place the slices on a sheet pan, brush with olive oil and bake in a 400 F oven until browned – about 7 minutes. But your oven may differ, keep an eye on the toasts after about 5 minutes to see when they’re finished – or just poke them with a finger. If the bread is still soft, bake some more.
Bruschetta with Peppers and Gorgonzola
Timing: 25 minutes
Ingredients: Serves 10 – 16 as an appetizer
¼ cup olive oil for the topping – more olive oil for brushing the bread
2 red bell peppers and 2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons drained capers
¼ cup julienned basil leaves
32 or so baguette slices (make them ¼ – ½ “ thick)
4 or 5 ounces of creamy Gorgonzola – room temperature
Brush and toast baguette slices (see above)
Get Gorgonzola out to bring to room temperature (about 1 hour)
Heat the ¼ cup of olive oil over medium-high (actually, you may need to adjust this toward medium to avoid burning the peppers – a little browning won’t hurt).
Add the pepper and sauté for about 12 minutes, stirring, occasionally, until tender. Sprinkle with sugar and cook another 3 minutes, then stir in the capers and basil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and take off the heat.
Now toast your bread. When the bread is finished, top each slice with some of the pepper mixture and dot with Gorgonzola. Return to the oven for a minute or so to warm the Gorgonzola.
Sprinkle with large-crystal sea salt and serve.
Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta
18 minutes, if you toast the bread after you make the topping – 10 minutes if you make the topping while the bread is baking. Of course, if you burn the bread, add another 8 minutes and the time it takes you to make a round-trip to the store to get more bread.
Ingredients: Serves 10-12
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 ounces cream cheese at room temperature (if you forget to get the cream cheese out an hour before-hand, you can microwave it for a few seconds).
2/3 cup good olive oil, divided into two 1/3 cup portions
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons minced garlic (we often skip this – sometimes, we grate maybe ½ clove into the tomato mixture)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 pounds of good tomatoes ½” diced (homegrown or heirloom or cherry tomatoes from the grocery store. Note: Whole Foods sells tubs of vari-colored cherry tomatoes which look spectacular mixed together on top of the crostini)
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves and a bit extra to sprinkle on the crostini before serving
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (we like toasted sesame seeds instead)
20 – 25 diagonal slices of baguette toasted (see above)
Toast the sesame seeds or the pine nuts.
Make the feta cream:
Place feta and cream cheese in food processor and pulse until they are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of olive oil, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Process until smooth.
Make tomato topping:
12 minutes to an hour before assembling crostini, combine shallots, garlic (if using), and vinegar in a bowl. Whisk in 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Now add the tomatoes and stir gently and set aside for 10 minutes to one hour. Stir in basil and add more seasoning if needed.
Spread a good amount of feta cream on each crostini. Then, with a slotted spoon (the mixture is fairly wet and you don’t want to saturate the crostini) place tomatoes on top. Plate and scatter toasted pine nuts or sesame seeds and extra basil, and serve.