my crostini brings all the boys to the yard

…and they’re like, “what’s in this??”

crostini

I make a lot of crostini at work, and I eat a lot of crostini at home. It is a quick meal you can put together by getting creative with what you have kickin’ around in the fridge. These are my 5 favorites…

Oh! Almost forgot…let’s talk bread. – always start with some really great bread. Preferably Ciabatta. If you can avoid the grocery store stuff and get bakery-fresh Ciabatta you’ll never go back. Slice into 1/4″ slices and lightly brush with extra virgin olive oil and toast to a golden brown. Also, since Ciabatta has such an open crumb structure, I use a really sharp chef’s knife to slice it. This is better than using a serrated knife which tends to be too aggressive and will tear the crust.

1. Ricotta & Hazelnut

  • Spread on a healthy amount of high-quality ricotta.
  • Drizzle on some great honey.
  • Sprinkle on some chopped hazelnuts.
  • Zest on some fresh lemon.
  • Garnish: crack a little pepper on to finish.

2. Smoked Salmon & Cucumber

  • Mix 2 parts mayo to 1 part spicy brown mustard and 1TBSP of fresh dill.
  • Shingle alternating slices of smoked salmon with thinly sliced cucumber
  • Garnish: fresh dill

3. Sardine & Roasted Pepper

  • Spread: In a food processor: 3 parts roasted red bell pepper, 1 part sundried tomato, 1 part cream cheese. (You will eat a lot of this probably.)
  • Addd a generous layer of red pepper spread to bread.
  • Top with 1-2 high-quality sardines
  • Drizzle on a little pesto
  • Garnish: shaved fennel, but only if you’re feeling extra fancy.

4. Proscuitto & Garlic

  • Roast up some whole, peeled garlic cloves. (wrap in tin foil, 375F until super soft and sweet. Toaster ovens are great, and super efficient, for this task.)
  • Spread 1-2 soft roasted garlic onto bread.
  • Top with high quality proscuitto, all ruffled and bunchy and delicious-looking.
  • Drizzle some Balsamic Vinegar Glaze over the proscuitto.
  • Garnish: fresh cracked pepper, but only a little.

5. Cannelini Bean & Kalamata

  • Spread – Drain and rinse a can of Cannelinis. Pulse in a blender or processor with a touch of olive oil, salt and pepper until smooth and spreadable.
  • Generous amount of bean spread.
  • Top with chopped kalamata olives. (Don’t forget to buy them already pitted!)
  • Garnish: Super-thinly sliced sundried tomato and cracked pepper.

A huge source of joy in my life is the act of feeding people. It satiates my innate desire to nourish people’s bellies, but more importantly their spirits. I always take a lot of care in selecting and preparing all the ingredients to ensure that what I am serving not only has integrity and balance, but also transfers the joy of my efforts. This is why I value presentation, like, a whole lot. I am not encouraging that we get overly ornate or stuffy about it. I just think that if you’re going to spend time, money, and effort on making something for your loved ones, you might as well just take that last step to make your food look bomb. There are a few rules I follow:

cakey2

– Clean Plate Club

This is something I picked up through my profession and it may come off a little… obsessive. But! It makes a huge difference when food is properly portioned on a plate (meaning there is enough rim to, you know, carry it without sticking a finger in the mashed potatoes.) And, that this lovely plate rim is clean.

-Garnish relevantly.

Frilly garnishes date back to when fine dining was something enjoyed only by royalty, when abundance and opulence was to be displayed and admired at all times. When “pantaloons” and “maids quarters” were in. The sprigs of parsley, the flowers cut from root vegetables, consummate rows of lemon slices. All there to look pretty for an hour then eventually rot in the garbage can. It’s a subtle crime against humanity and it must be stopped. Use garnishes that contribute flavor, texture, or meaning. And, it should always be edible.

-No blue

This one may be personal. I just can’t get into blue food or drinks. If I could afford to buy all the bottles of Blue Curacao in the world, I would. I would turn it into fuel for a machine that makes my town fresh doughnuts every morning.

My biggest plating pet peeve is when a sad piece of fruit is on the same hot plate as my omelette, and that inexplicable “egg liquid” has already begun to commingle with it. Cringeworthy. What’s your plating pet peeve?

Any crostini recipes you’d like to share? Send them over!

therighteousknife@gmail.com

xo, alicia

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