Posted by: Joan Spiller | June 7, 2011

Crostini – Recipe


There’s something about amuse-bouche that appeals .. Small mind? Hmm let’s move right along..! When she was a toddler, I used to love serving CJ “little” sized meals, they’re just so cute. OK we were poor too, so that was partly why .. work with me will you, geez.. 😉

The “joys” of being vegetarian mean that I can rarely if ever, take part in a restaurant degustación – which is hugely disappointing to this frustrated foodie.. but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy doing it myself in the comfort of my own home / kitchen!

 But I digress, cos this post is really about crostini, remember? 😉

Crostini is one of my fave things to serve at parties when asked to bring a plate of canapes. They’re the sort of thing that are fiddly but simple, there how’ s that for confusing?!

By fiddly, I mean you have to faff about with them a bit but in the scheme of things, smearing some cream cheese on crackers and garnishing them is hardly a big job, right?

Of course, you can go fancier, should you wish – a piping bag with a star nozzle makes for a very retro feel to a crostini and I will sometimes do that with a nice salmon mousse or cream cheese, blue cheese mixture but it doesn’t have to be complicated to wow people.

The cool part about these is they can be done very cheaply. I use plain white or wheatmeal (not grainy) sandwich slice bread from the supermarket. With one loaf, I can get 80 crostini. Work that out for value for money!

A word to the wise: Don’t go uber-cheap. Go middle of the road.. the really nasty cheap breads do not contain enough gluten or something essential, so they fall apart at the seams making them painful to work with and nasty to eat.

Want to go up market? Well funnily enough – I am not a fan of fancy or even plain french bread being made into crostini. A) French bread is expensive and often rubbish quality here in NZ, sadly .. And B) it is too big.

I prefer bite sized portions, so you can pop one into your gob and move on, without crumbs all down your front.. One of my pet peeves is finger food that really should be served with a plate.

To me, you want to be able to consume finger food in one mouthful. THAT is the perfect nibble, at a function!

The recipe for my standby crostini recipe (incl toppings) is below:

If you do not have a pastry cutter you can cut the crusts off and simply quarter the bread – they don’t look quite as ‘constructed’ but I guarantee no one will notice or refuse to eat ’em!
Anyway, to make the crostini ‘bases’, have a pastry brush, your pastry cutter and some olive oil at the ready. Plus at least 1 loaf of bread

Heat your oven to 140degC fan bake. Fan bake is good, speeds up the dehydration process!

Cut the bread slices – you should get 4 from each slice, either using the cooker cutter or slicing it yourself. Arrange on a cold baking tray, sprinkle with a little salt and brush each one with a little olive oil then pop in the oven.

Bake for 45 mins or until they have dehydrated completely – this may take longer, depends on your oven. They must SNAP crisply, so do test one cos otherwise you’ll be serving people stale toast. Yuk..

While they are still warm, rub a little garlic (use a whole clove with one end sliced off to give you a juicy surface) on each slice. Not too much, we just want a hint of garlic. This step can be omitted if you’re planning to top them with things that do not go well with garlic.. over to you.

Once I made these and scattered them with a spice blend of ground up dill leaves, pepper and finely ground sea salt – it looked good and was perfect for a simple salmon and cream cheese topping!

Leave them to cool on wire racks before storing in an air tight container. These lil babies keep for ages, so they’re handy to have at the ready for ‘just in case’ ..

At the least, I always make 2 loaves worth and stash ’em away. If they go at all stale, simply reheat for 10 mins on low then cool to crisp them up again.

My fave toppings are:

Cream cheese topped with a chunk of my fave mushrooms <– click to view these babies – these are available in many places and online now
Cream cheese blended with blue cheese (30% blue / 70% cream) topped with a slice of fresh ripe pear (or pear jelly)
A wedge of camembert cheese topped with basil pesto (def do the garlic thing for these ones!)
Sundried tomato pesto with your fave cheese..
Cream cheese with a slice of smoked salmon and some dill to garnish
Ham cut into the same shape as the crostini, put a little dollop of mustard underneath..
Beetroot relish and ricotta cheese (esp good if you don’t like your guests – they’re bound to spill it and ruin their clothes ..!)

The options are endless for what you can top these with really, I could go on but you get the idea! A word of advice: keep it simple: Only do 3 diff flavours but do lots of them ..

PS These (plain) also make great poor-man baby rusks for a grizzly teething child too!

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Responses

  1. If you’re ever after fine dining in Christchurch the lovely folk at Rotherhams do a degustation and will bend over backwards to accommodate you – my partner and I had a lovely degustation there when I was still vego, with him having the carcass options and me having substitutes where necessary (though I never felt hard done by in the slightest). It was wonderful!

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    • ooh thanks for the tip – how did they fare with the quakes, still going strong? Do you know? I’m off to Hippopotamus on Friday – that should be fascinating to see how they cope with a pesky vego 😉

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      • Rotherham’s are still fine – they’re in Riccarton, so not so badly affected. Friends of mine went there the week after so I know they were up and running again very quickly. Hope Hippopotamus do well for you! 🙂

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      • Oh they did, Rosa it was perfection .. great service, gorgeous wine and yummy food..

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