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Archive for Bread-Crackers-Sandwiches

TIP OF THE DAY: Crostini For Breakfast & Lunch

Burrata Bruschetta
[1] Tomato and burrata crostini (recipe below—photo courtesy Good Eggs).

Avocado & Egg Crostini
[2] Avocado and sliced egg crostini (photo courtesy Safest Choice).

Crostini Fondue
[3] Instead of breakfast grilled cheese, make skillet fondue (photo courtesy La Brea Bakery).

Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini

[4] Diced strawberries atop goat cheese (photo courtesy Whole Foods Market).

 

If you like to crunch on toast for breakfast, consider crostini: toast using Italian bread or a rustic loaf (peasant bread), topped with more interesting ingredients—or a combination of them—than American breakfast toast.

For those who think of crostini only as an accompaniment to a glass of wine break or cocktails, nota bene that it can be the main dish for breakfast or brunch.

It’s toast with toppings: cheeses, fruits, meats, seafood, spreads, vegetables.

  • Serve it with a side of fruit for breakfast.
  • Serve it with soup or salad for lunch.
  •  
    INGREDIENTS FOR BREAKFAST OR LUNCH CROSTINI

    You can choose sweet or savory…or one of each. Here are some ingredients that work for breakfast and lunch:

  • Cheese group: burrata or mozzarella, feta (crumbled, whipped), sliced cheese, spreadable cheese (Alouette, Boursin, cheddar, goat, ricotta); or mini grilled cheese tartines,
  • Fruit group: avocado (sliced or mashed), berries, citrus, fig, grapes, sliced drupes (stone fruits), watermelon (great with feta and basil),
  • Onion group: caramelized onions, onion relish, scallions, sweet onion.
  • Protein group: bacon, ham or prosciutto; scrambled or sliced eggs; sliced sausage.
  • Spreads: butter, cream cheese, hummus, jam, nut butter.
  • Vegetable group: cucumbers, radishes, sautéed mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes.
  • Garnishes: chile flakes, fresh herbs (basil is our favorite), granola, honey drizzle, lemon zest, maple syrup, nuts and seeds, olive oil drizzle, salsa.
  •  
    Here’s the difference between crostini and bruschetta.
     
    RECIPE: CROSTINI WITH BURRATA & SLOW-ROASTED TOMATOES

    You can make the tomatoes a day in advance. Then, put the ingredients together in a few minutes.

    Ingredients

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes (preferably mixed colors)
  • Garlic cloves*
  • Good olive oil
  • Sliced rustic bread (with a good crust)
  • 8-ounce burrata (substitute mozzarella)
  • Fresh basil, torn or roughly chopped
  • Flake salt/coarse† sea salt, to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 225°F. Spread the tomatoes and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and toss with a few tablespoons of olive oil.

    2. BAKE for 2½ to 3 hours, or until tomatoes just begin to shrivel.

    3. BRUSH the bread slices with oil, and toast or grill until golden brown. Rub with roasted garlic.

    4. DIVIDE the burrata over toasts and top with tomatoes, basil, flaky salt, and another drizzle of olive oil.
     
    __________________
    *Since you’ll be roasting the cloves, you can roast a whole bulb’s worth and use the extra roasted garlic with salads, potatoes, grains, or spreads.

    Coarse salt is a larger-grained sea salt crystal, with grains the size of kosher salt. The grains are crushed to make fine sea salt. Flake salt is naturally evaporated sea salt that forms snowflake- or pyramid-like grains. Examples include those from the Maldon River in England, Anglesey off the island of Wales, New Zealand, and Australia. When used as a garnish, coarse and flake salts provide a crunch. Check out the different types of salt.

    FOOD 101: FRUIT GROUPS

    Because we’re food geeks, we think of foods as part of their parent groups. We love to learn the relationships between plants, and how seemingly unrelated food plants can be close cousins.

    That’s why you’ll often see the Latin taxonomy after the English name; for example, basil (Ocimum, basilicum family Lamiaceae).

    The taxonomy of plants and animals was first developed by the great Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus and published in 1735 (the zoological component came later).

    The nomenclature comprises seven main “ranks”: kingdom, phylum or division, class, order, family, genus, species. You studied it in 7th-grade biology.

    To simplify the fruit category, here’s a chart of the main fruit groups—in English, as opposed to the Latin names.

    Not only can it deepen your understanding of food; it’s a fun game to play as you wheel down the supermarket fruit aisle. Point at apples and say “pome,” point at peaches and say “drupe,” etc.

    Well, it’s our idea of fun.

    Fruit Categories Chart

    Chart courtesy College of William and Mary.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Toast

    Summer Fruit Toast
    [1] Your toast should dress for summer, too. Here, fruit, honey and mascarpone cheese in a recipe from Wry Toast Eats.

    Summer Avocado Toast

    [2] Switch to savory with this pretty avocado toast from Bluestone Lane. a café in Hoboken, New Jersey.

     

    We love toast. We could eat it three times a day, with different toppings.

    Today’s tip: Go seasonal with your toast, be it for breakfast, snack or other nourishment.

    We like this idea (photo #1) from Christine of Wry Toast Eats so much that we’re planning a summer iced tea party, just so we can serve it.

    Christine, who makes everyday foods look so delicious, tops a conventional slice of toast with a fruit and cheese fantasy:

  • Berries
  • Grilled peaches
  • Mascarpone cheese
  • Honey
  • Chopped pistachio nuts
  • Mint
  •  
    Here’s the recipe.

    If you prefer the savory to the sweet, try this avocado toast (photo #2) from Bluestone Lane, an Australian-style café “influenced by the renowned coffee culture hub of Melbourne, Australia.”

    Most locations are in greater New York City, but if you live in San Francisco or King Of Prussia, Pennsylvania you’re close to one, too.

    You might look at the photo and opine that avocado toast is a year-round recipe, and you’d be correct.

    The difference here is in the details: the flavor of summer cherry tomatoes over year-round hothouse tomatoes, the trio of colors that evoke summer flowers, and the microgreens garnish that does the same.

    But for the true summer touch, buy some freshly-picked summer corn and sprinkle the toast with sweet, raw kernels of corn. That’s summer!

    We eyeballed the photo and recreated the recipe with:

  • Toasted rustic bread
  • Diced avocado
  • Multicolor cherry tomatoes
  • Crumbled goat or feta cheese
  • A scoop of sour cream
  • A garnish of microgreens
  •  
     
    What would you like on your summer toast?

    Make it so!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Skillet Flatbread

    Homemade Flatbread

    Homemade Flatbread

    Greek Salad Sandwich

    [1] Warm, fragrant and ready to eat in less than 30 minutes, This recipe is from Girl Versus Dough. [2] Here’s the recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. [3] Turn your Greek salad into a sandwich (photo courtesy Girl Versus Dough).

     

    Long before there were ovens, bread—the first was flatbread—was baked on flat stones in a fire. When the skillet finally evolved, in ancient Mesopotamia and Greece, people still cooked everything over a fire (here’s the history of the frying pan).

    Flatbreads are the simplest breads, requiring no leavening—although in modern times, some are leavened to produce a lighter, airier, more easily chewed bread.

    Flatbread can be extremely thin, like a tortilla, one millimeter or so in thickness, to a few centimeters thick, like focaccia.

    Each region of the world developed a flatbread; for example:

  • Arepa in South America.
  • Chapati, naan and roti in India.
  • Injera in Ethiopia.
  • Crispbread in Scandanavia.
  • Jonnycake in the U.S.
  • Lavash and sangak in Persia.
  • Matzoh in Israel.
  • Oatcake in Scotland.
  • Pita in the Middle East.
  • Pizza in Italy.
  • Tortilla in Mexico.
  •  
    Some other breads called flatbreads are not completely flat, but use yeast and are partially risen, such as Italy’s focaccia.
     
    Here’s the history of bread and the different types of bread.
     
     
    MAKE YOUR OWN FLATBREAD

    Using five pantry staples, you can have fresh, hot bread on the table in less than 30 minutes with no need to turn on the oven. Instead, use a skillet or stove-top griddle.

    The dough comes together very quickly, and you’ll have something special for breakfast, brunch or dinner.

    RECIPE: SKILLET FLATBREAD

    Consider this recipe from King Arthur Flour as your first foray into homemade flatbread. Here’s a step-by-step in photos.

    Ingredients For 10 to 12 Flatbreads

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 2 to 3 additional tablespoons vegetable oil, for frying
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl; stir to combine. Add the oil and ice water and mix to make a soft, cohesive dough. Adjust with more flour or water as needed. The dough should be moist but not sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

     

    2. PREHEAT a heavy-bottomed skillet on the stove top. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat until the oil starts to shimmer in the pan.

    3. DIVIDE the dough into 10 to 12 equal pieces. Each piece should weigh about 1- 1/2 to 2 ounces, about the size of a large egg. Dredge each piece in flour, and roll to a rough circle or oval about 1/4″ thick. If you prefer, hand shape the pieces by flattening between your palms.

    4. FRY the flatbreads in the hot oil in batches. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and fry on the second side for another 2 minutes. Add more oil as needed for frying successive batches.

    5. TRANSFER from the pan to a rack to cool slightly before serving.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bruschetta From The Grill

    Firing up the grill this weekend? Make bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEH-tuh).

    We love a DIY bruschetta bar. Just rub the bread with garlic, brush it with extra virgin olive oil, grill, and place the slices on a platter along with all the fixings.

    Even easier, brush the bread with garlic olive oil! You can buy it, or infuse your own in advance by dropping halved garlic cloves into a cup of olive oil (or however much you think you’ll need). Any leftover oil can go right into a vinaigrette.

    Bruschetta originated in the Tuscany region of Italy, where it is commonly served as a snack or appetizer. It may have been the original garlic bread.

    Plus, we have our own invention dessert bruschetta, below.

    BRUSCHETTA VS. CROSTINI: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

    There are two factors:

  • The size of the bread slice.
  • The cooking technique: grilling versus toasting.
  •  
    Bruschetta slices are larger, three or four inches in diameter) and grilled. Crostini, cut from a ficelle, a thinner baguette about two inches wide (the word is French for “string”).

    You can use bread of a different diameter; but if it isn’t grilled, it isn’t bruschetta.

    Here’s how to remember the difference:

  • The verb bruscare is Roman dialect meaning “to roast over coals.” But there’s something simpler.
  • Think of crostini as crust or crouton (which is its literal meaning). Toast has a crust. That’s how we taught ourself to recognize the difference.
  • While Italians serve bruschetta as a snack, the smaller crostini can be served plain with soup and salad, like the original melba toast.
  •  
    Note that some American manufacturers and others in the food industry misuse the term, selling jars of “bruschetta.” To be accurate, it should be labeled bruschetta topping). Bruschetta is the grilled bread, not the topping.

    RECIPE: DIY BRUSCHETTA BAR

    The simplest bruschetta topping is salt and pepper (i.e., seasoned garlic bread), but that’s for a bread basket.

    Almost any cheese, fruit, meat, spread or vegetable can be a topping. Toppings can be cooked, marinated, pickled, raw or smoked.

    For a DIY bar, offer at least three different toppings. We like everything, so tend to go overboard: Our toppings look like a buffet. Regarding bread, we prefer a crusty sourdough or rustic loaf.

  • Be sure the loaf will give you slices of a workable size.
  • If you’re not familiar with the particular loaf, ask to ensure that it doesn’t have holes for the toppings to fall through.
  • We have the loaves sliced at the store, then we cut the slices in half.
  •  
    Along with the bread, make sure you have fresh garlic and check your olive oil for freshness.

    Ingredients

  • Baguette or other loaves of bread
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper and peeled, halved garlic cloves
  •  
    For The Toppings

  • Avocado, mashed and seasoned (garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, etc.)
  • Caprese: quartered cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic glaze
  • Charcuterie: pâté, prosciutto, salume, etc.
  • Cheeses: ricotta, ricotta salata, soft goat cheese
  • Fresh basil, julienned/shredded
  • Fruit: sliced figs
  • Garnishes: capers, chopped herbs, chopped mixed olives
  • Greens: baby arugula or watercress
  • Heat: raw jalapeños slices, grilled chile peppers
  • Marinated artichoke hearts (chopped)
  • Mushrooms, marinated
  • Onions: caramelized, chives, chopped green onions (scallions)
  • Peppadews, sliced
  • Pimento, chopped or sliced
  • Raw and cooked veggies of choice: asparagus, grilled vegetables, sliced radishes, etc.
  • Spreads: bean, hummus, pimento cheese, tapenade
  • Tomatoes: sliced plain or marinated in oil and vinegar
  •  
     
    More options: shredded mozzarella or other cheese such as thinly-sliced Brie, fish (we have a passion for anchovies and herring salad on bruschetta), other marinated vegetables, mostarda.

    We also like eggplant caponata, pesto and sautéed mushrooms, but tend to use them more in cooler weather.

     

    Bruschetta Bar

    Rustic Loaf

    Rustic Loaf

    Bruschetta Bar

    Strawberry Bruschetta

    [1] Who needs a burger? We’re heading for the bruschetta bar (photo courtesy What’s Gaby Cooking).[2] Buy bread that has a pretty solid crumb (photo courtesy The Stone Soup). [3] This loaf is beautiful, but not for holding toppings (photo courtesy Bake Street). [4] A bruschetta bar from Countryside Cravings. [5] Dessert bruschetta, here with goat cheese (the recipe from Emily Bites). We use mascarpone.

    Preparation

    1. SET out the toppings and teaspoons for serving. We use ramekins; you can use any bowls you have.

    2. SLICE the bread from 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. Rub each side with cut garlic clove and brush each side with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Grill to your desired toastiness.

    3. PLACE the bread on a platter next to the toppings and watch people create their appetizers.
     
     
    DESSERT BRUSCHETTA

    Most people won’t have seen dessert bruschetta. We don’t know if we invented it, but our sweet tooth gave us the idea years ago.

    Start with a loaf of bread with dried fruit, such as cherries or raisins. For toppings:

  • Artisan preserves
  • Flavored peanut butter (chocolate, cinnamon, maple, etc.)
  • Fruits: berries; sliced dates, figs, grapes and stone fruits
  • Honey
  • Mascarpone or sweetened sour cream
  • Nutella
  • Garnishes: chocolate chips, coconut, nuts, etc.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mashed (Or Smashed) Pea Toast, The New Avocado Toast

    Smashed Pea Toast

    Avocado Toast Caprese

    Avocado Toast With Esquites

    [1] Mashed avocado toast gives way to mashed green pea toast, called Smashed Pea Toast at Bluestone Lane, a group of Australian-inspired cafés in New York City, Hoboken and Philadelphia. [2] Served Caprese-style. Here’s the recipe from Two Peas And Their Pod. [3] Esquites-style: Mexican corn salad with cotija cheese, lime and cilantro. Here’s the recipe from Closet Cooking.

     

    Avocado toast is an open-face sandwich, topping a piece of toast (often made with whole-grain or artisan bread) with mashed avocado seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon or lime juice.

    The not-so-recent history of avocado toast is below.

    More recently, mashed peas are being substituted for the avocado, along with more elaborate garnishes:

  • Beans: any beans, including chickpeas with a garnish of hummus, and black beans with salsa.
  • Cucumber slices: (plain or marinated) with fresh dill and cracked pepper.
  • Cheese: from crumbled feta and goat cheese to shaved parmesan.
  • Dried vegetables: beets, broccoli, caulifloer, corn, kale, plantain chips, wasabi peas.
  • Eggs: fried, hard-boiled/sliced, poached eggs.
  • Freeze-dried fruit and vegetables: such as Crunchies (see below).
  • Fresh fruit: berries and sliced fruits, including citrus segments.
  • Herbs and spices: from fresh basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, rosemary and thyme to chipotle, garlic, harissa and ras-el-hanout.
  • Lettuces: baby arugula (try it with goat cheese) or spinach, frisée, mesclun, watercress,
  • Onion family: chopped green onion, minced chives, sliced red onion.
  • Savory garnish: capers, edamame, green peas, jalapeño, microgreens, nuts and seeds, olives, pickled onions, radish slices, red chile flakes, sprouts.
  • Shellfish: crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp
  • Smoked fish: smoked salmon, with thin-sliced red onion and fresh dill.
  • Sweet garnish: citrus peel, crushed pineapple, honey-roasted nuts, pomegranate arils.
  • Tomato: halved cherry or grape tomatoes, plain or marinated (try them Caprese-style with bocconcini—small mozzarella balls—fresh basil and a balsamic glaze drizzle); sliced or diced tomato*, sundried tomato.
  • ________________

    *No decent tomatoes? Drain diced or whole canned San Marzano tomatoes.
    ________________

    There are even sweet avocado toast options, such as:

  • A topping of sliced bananas (try caramelizing them in a hot skillet), with optional coconut
  • Chocolate-avocado toast (recipe follows).
  • Dried fruits (see Crunchies, below).
  • Shredded coconut.
  •  
    For chocolate-avocado, mix 1/2 mashed avocado with one tablespoon of cocoa powder and 1-2 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup. Top with berries, coconut and/or mini chocolate chips.
     
    RECIPE: MASHED PEA TOAST†

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 garlic clove, quartered
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for toast
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 2 pounds pods) or frozen peas, thawed, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes plus more for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 pieces toast of choice
  • Garnish: sliced radishes, whole peas
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the garlic, parsley, 1 tablespoon olive oil, a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Add the peas and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 5 minutes for fresh peas, 2 minutes for frozen peas). Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

    2. TRANSFER the pea mixture to a food processor; pulse to a coarse paste. Alternatively, for a chunkier blend, mash with a fork or a potato masher. Transfer to a medium bowl and mix in the chives, lemon juice and peel, pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil.

    3. STIR in the reserved cooking liquid, tablespoon by tablespoonful, until the mixture is still thick but spreadable. Season with salt, black pepper and more lemon juice, if desired.

    4. TOP the toast with pea the mash peas. Garnish with the a sprinkle of whole peas, the remaining lemon peel, and more crushed pepper, as desired.
    ________________

    *Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe for mashed avocado sandwiches with preserved lemon.

     

    CRUNCHY FUN WITH CRUNCHIES FREEZE-DRIED FRUIT SNACKS

    We’ve long been fans of Crunchies freeze-fried fruits and vegetables: a healthful, low-calorie, crunchy, all natural grab-and-go snack with no added sugar.

    In addition to grab and go snacking, we use them as garnishes for everything from salad to sorbet.

    The fruits include blueberries, cinnamon apple, grapes, mango, mixed fruit, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries and strawberry banana.

    Alas, our favorite freeze-dried corn kernels has been discontinued; but it’s been replaced by something equally wonderful: freeze dried sliced beets!

    The line is certified gluten free, kosher (OU) and non-GMO.

    You can find a store locator of buy online at CrunchiesFood.com.

     

    Crunchies Freeze-Dried Beet Chips

    Crunchies freeze-dried beet slices, one of 10 varieties from Crunchies Food.

     
    THE HISTORY OF AVOCADO TOAST

    Although a relatively new trend in the U.S. (we first noticed it about four years ago), avocado toast has been “commonplace for a long time,” according to Wikipedia.

  • In Australia and Chile, large avocado growers, people have been eating avocado toast for decades.
  • In the U.K., it has been a popular snack since the early-1970s.
  • In Mexico, where the avocado is indigenous (the history of avocado), avocado on corn tortillas dates to ancient times.
  •  
    Surely, some conquistador, or more likely one of the nuns who followed in the early 16th century (the nuns created fusion European-Aztec cuisine, adapting New World ingredients to Old World cooking styles), first put sliced avocado on a piece of toasted European bread. But the record is mute on that.

    According to an article in The Washington Post, chef Bill Granger of Sydney, Australia may have been the first person to put avocado toast on a menu, in 1993. Another Australian chef believes that the combination of avocado and toast emerged in Queensland, Australia in the mid-1970s.

    Now, Millennials call it “smashed avo.”

    In 1999, Nigel Slater published a recipe for an avocado “bruschetta” in London’s newspaper, The Guardian.

    Even earlier, in 1962, a New York Times article showcased an “unusual” sandwich of avocado on toast.

    And even earlier than that, in 1937, The New Yorker published an article, “Avocado, or the Future of Eating,” in which the protagonist eats “avocado sandwich on whole wheat and a lime rickey.” [source]

    But credit social media with launching this low-key breakfast and snack into stardom, with an endless number of photos making it a must-have for avocado lovers.

      

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