Friday, July 2, 2010

Yummy Crostini

While parts of the country sweltered last month, we had another "Juneuary" in Seattle. I say "another" because they aren't that rare. You can see a graph showing June temperatures from 1957 to the present on Cliff Mass' weather blog.

So odd as it might seem to people elsewhere, June was a good month for Seattleites to enjoy a nice, hot bowl of soup. Inspired by the weather, a friend of mine went on a soup-making binge and was good enough to give me a container of her French onion soup. As she handed it to me, she gave me instructions for preparation: the bread, the cheese, etc. I nodded, fully intending to do just what she suggested.

But when the time came to eat the soup, I was busy, hungry and didn't feel like going to the store. I looked around at what I had: a stale baguette, some shredded Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs from my garden - and decided to make a batch of crostini.
I think homemade crostini is much better than anything you can buy and there's nothing easier to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 baguette, sliced about 3/4" thick
  • about 1/3 cup of good olive oil
  • sea or kosher salt
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
  • Herbs of your choice. Here I used chives and basil from my garden. In winter I use fresh rosemary from my garden or dried oregano
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat your oven to about 350F. Slice the bread and arrange on baking sheet. Put the olive oil into a small bowl, add the garlic and a bit of salt, perhaps 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon. Cut the herbs into fine a dice, add to the olive oil. Whisk it all together.

My knife skills being what they are, which is to say, not very good, I use a garlic press for any recipe, like this one, that calls for anything finer than a rough chop. For finely chopped herbs, I use scissors. I take large-leafed herbs, like basil and parsley, and break the leaves into pieces into a small ramekin, then use the scissors to cut them up into very small pieces. For me, this technique is quick and easy and the ramekin keeps little bits from escaping across the counter.

OK, now you have your oil, salt, and herb mixture. Use a spoon to spread it evenly over all the pieces of bread. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the bread. Bake for 12 - 20 minutes, depending on how fast your oven is. You want the crostini to be toasted, not burnt, so keep an eye on them.

These are great floated in a steaming bowl of French onion soup. They are also good with my Red Soup, for a different twist on the classic tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwich idea. Enjoy!