Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Flo & Elle's Tuscan Recipe 1: Crostini

Crostini Misti

This has become something of a lunchtime staple while on holiday in Tuscany with a selection of beautifully simple salads. They also work wonderfully as a starter or as part of a selection of canap├ęs. They key is to assemble just before serving so the bread doesn’t go soggy. I have written down the recipes, if you can even call them recipes, for 3 of my favourite combinations – beautifully ripe tomato and basil, deliciously earthy mushroom and thyme, and the unusual fennel salami, finocchiona with rocket and parmesan. You can get finocchiona from Asda (which I haven’t yet tried) as well as specialist delicatessens such as Salvino, our favourite Italian shop on Brecknock Road near Kentish Town

As I understand it, the difference between bruschetta and crostini is that crostini tend to be made with finer textured bread, like a baguette, and to be smaller in portion size. I only had a white loaf to use so perhaps what I made would technically be called bruschetta but there doesn’t seem to be such

For the bread

24 small pieces of good quality bread – around the size of a slice of a small baguette and around 7.5mm thick (just under a centimetre)
4 cloves of garlic, sliced into thin pieces
Extra virgin olive oil

Cover a baking dish with a thin layer of oil and rub the garlic around in it. Rub each side of the bread pieces around so they get a nice golden covering.

Heat up a griddle pan if you have one and toast the bread on each side so you get those attractive, and delicious, dark brown griddle lines across them

Otherwise grill each side in the oven, watching carefully so that they don’t burn

Put aside until needed

Tomato Crostini, 8 pieces

4 large plum tomatoes
½ clove of garlic, crushed
20 leaves of basil, torn up or sliced roughly
1 dessertspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice

With such a simple dish it is important to get delicious, ripe tomatoes of any variety. You can use my quantities as a guideline and apply them to different tomato sizes

Slice your tomatoes lengthways and scoop the seeds out using your fingers. Discard the seeds

Dice your tomatoes into small pieces around 7.5mm by 7.5mm

Squeeze out any remaining liquid and place in a bowl with the crushed garlic, basil, salt, pepper, oil and lemon

Leave until ready to assemble

Mushroom Crostini, 8 pieces

1 pack of mushrooms, 300g
1 clove of garlic
8 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked (otherwise sage is delicious, or parsley)
Olive oil
A small teacup full of wine (no need to be very precise)

Choose a mushroom variety you like, or a mix. Even those basic white mushrooms are delicious in this (also, remember that they shrink a lot when cooked)

Clean your mushrooms but try not to get them wet since this can wash away flavour

Dice them into small pieces of around 1cm by 1cm

Dice your garlic into small pieces

Heat up oil in a pan and add the garlic for a minute but don’t let it colour – take it off the heat for a bit if need be.

Add the mushrooms and thyme and stir around for a couple of minutes

Add the seasoning and wine and stir until all the liquid has evaporated

Taste to see if they are the right texture for you and if not, cook for a little longer

When ready, take off the heat and put aside until needed

Finocchiona, Pecorino and Rocket Crostini, 8 pieces

8 pieces of very finely sliced finocchiona
16 large pecorino shavings, shaved of a piece of mature, dry parmesan with a knife
A couple of handfuls of rocket
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Black Pepper

All you do is neatly arrange the finochiona on the bread, with rocket and a parmesan shaving on top and a final light drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of pepper. Simple!