Whenever I host a dinner party, I come up with the entrees and desserts instantly. The ideas come flying into my mind quickly and non-stop. However, when it comes to planning the appetizers and side dishes, my mind usually comes to a screeching halt.
Since I am a Russian, most of my parties have Russian style service. Basically, we start with appetizers, then add on hot appetizers, only to be followed by entrees and sides. And hours later we finish with dessert and steaming cups of tea and coffee. NOTHING is removed off of the table until the plate is completely empty. Obviously we have become quite crafty with multiple different dishes and risers in an attempt to fit all this food on the tables.
Our house has been know to host some pretty awesome dinner parties and our summer BBQ’s are pretty epic. We have two grills, a gas and a specialty custom made all surgical stainless steel charcoal grill that is only used for kebobs. (You see the description must be put in because hubs had it custom made and well he is quite proud of it)
At our last party I decided to do something different for our backyard BBQ. Because truth be told, while I do love entertaining and cooking, I like to join in on the fun and the conversation just like anyone else. So I decided to do a little bit of everything. And since it’s summer I left out the hot apps and did a bunch of cold apps.
I made simple boards with cheeses and fancy prociutto, homemade guacamole, homemade pico de gallo, a variety of tapenades with gourmet crackers, asparagus wrapped in prociutto and salads galore! Our garden was very good to us that summer and I had a basket full of beautiful home grown beef steak tomatoes begging to be used. So I made a simple caprese salad with fresh mozzarella and garden fresh basil. And still had an entire small basket of tomatoes left.
As I scanned the kitchen, I noticed a half wrapped up baguette. MMMM. Bruschetta. Which by the way is pronounced BRUS-K-ETTA. A simple combination of good quality tomatoes, basil, garlic, good fruity EVOO and salt and pepper all falling off a crispy crostini is a pretty darn good appetizer. In fact, on some summer nights, it served as a perfect meal paired with a crisp, glass of white wine.
Hubs helped me set the table and I must admit, it was gorgeous. It was full of beautiful food that was colorful and perfect for a hot summer night.
This is an actual picture of the table that my husband uploaded to Facebook. I was so proud of us, I saved the post on my phone 🙂
Don’t judge, we do like our food…as well as our alcohol. But hey, what are summer nights for?
The grills were aching to be lit. And hubs took care of starting the fire for me. I manned the grills (because I am a control freak) and watched as our guests slowly trickled in. I made everyone start munching away. They all took one bruschetta, and then another, and another. And quite quickly, a few crumbs and some homeless tomatoes on a platter were all that remained.
One of the guys, came up to me and said, “You know the ultimate bruschetta I ever had was in Italy in a tiny little restaurant where an old Italian guy made everything from his garden.” He paused, seemingly savoring that moment in his memory and then continued to say, “This bruschetta just brought me back to that exact moment.”
Well my work is done here…And NOW I can drink 🙂
But first let’s put together our bruschetta.
First, preheat your oven to 400-degrees.
Take a French baguette and slice it on a bias, about 1/2 an inch to 1 inch thick. It does not have to be perfect.
Lay them all out on a sheet pan.
In a separate bowl, combine, 4 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of nice fruity extra virgin olive oil and mix. Do yourself a favor and go get a microplaner. See how easy it is to grate the garlic on it?
With a pastry brush, rub the garlic oil on each side of the bread. Now place in the oven for about 5 minutes. Then flip to the other said and let bake for another 3-5 minutes. You want it nice and toasted not burnt. And this is the perfect crostini! You can use it for anything! Salads, spreads or just to munch on!
In another bowl, combine 2 large and fresh diced tomatoes (tomato dicing tutorial on its way), 4 cloves garlic minced on a microplaner, some fresh basil, chopped finely, good olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix it all up, taste and season as necessary. I like mine with a lot of garlic. But remember the key here is good and fresh ingredients.
Remove the bread and let it cool. *Make ahead tip, you can make the crostini up to two days ahead of time and store them at room temperature in a ziplock bag.*
Top each crostini with about a heaping teaspoon of tomato mixture and serve immediately. You can also place some basil on top or shred some Parmesan cheese on top.