Quick Recipes and Easy

Tasty and Toasty

Take some simple ingredients from your pantry or refrigerator and make fantastic appetizers??? Sounds too simple, right?? Everyone has bread on hand, whether it’s Italian, Portuguese, French or Wonder Bread, you have to have something. I also like to keep frozen sheets of puff pastry on hand in the freezer for simple and quick canapes or turnovers as well.

Well, Italians classify Crostini as bread that is brushed with olive oil, then baked or grilled. Bruschetta is bread first grilled, then rubbed with olive oil and then garlic. Pretty similar right? But it is the sensational toppings after the toasting process that is going to impress your friends, family and guests. And setting your Table or Serving Platters with a variety of colors and tastes, can be inviting for the hungry, curious or adventurous. So our next choice is do you have time to make one of these diverse platters of toasts and toppings, or should you set up a “bruschetta bar” and let them help themselves.

If you choose the latter, you can have some fun with presentation too. If the theme is a cocktail party, I would suggest putting some of the toppings in Martini or Margarita glasses. Also instead of plates many creative chefs when setting up buffets use different surfaces like mirrors, glass rounds or rectangles. Or get even more abstract and try and find colorful large floor tiles to use as “serving plates”. I did a google search for bruschetta recipes and got 568,000 results, so there are plenty of traditional and creative variations to work with. Cutting your bread in different shapes like triangles, rounds and squares is one way mix it up, topping these patterns with new textures and flavors is another. Enough rambling about history and presentation, lets go over some edible topping thoughts.

Cream Cheese- even at breakfast this is a classic topping for toast and bagels. Place in a food processor with anything from pesto, to roasted peppers or smoked salmon and you have a flavor packed spread you can use morning, noon and night.

Olives- simply out of the jar, in a marinade, or crafted into a classic French style “Tapenade”, these make a savory component for our toasts.

Mushrooms- with so many varieties, you can push the envelope sautéing, roasting or even marinating them as a topping accoutrement. Another Classic French technique is a mushroom “duxelle”, which makes an incredible mushroom “spread” that will work wonders atop crostini.

Tomatoes- smearing a ripe tomato on garlic toast is a classic Spanish Tapa, dicing them and flavoring with olive oil, herbs and vinegar will make your neo-classic tomato bruschetta accompaniment.

Beans- Garbanzo or White Beans can be lightly dressed with a vinaigrette or pureed “hummus” style for a hearty topping.

Eggplant- Roasted, Grilled or stewed for an Italian style “Caponata”, another incredible savory component.

Hope these give you some thoughts for some fantastic appetizers. My featured recipe takes a diiferent approach, I like classic pairings and spinning them around into new presentations. So here a take a a pretty familiar fruit and brie combination and dice the fruit like a bruschetta topping for something new.

1 baguette
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic chopped
2-3 medium to large pears, peeled
1/2 cup cider or white balsamic vinegar
1 each orange or yellow bell pepper ( or even a few peppadew peppers)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup water
8 oz wheel brie
mint or arugula leaves cut into ribbons for garnish

Dice the pears and peppers in similar small dice

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