Tuesday, February 12, 2013


The bruschetta inspiration: Postinos
 OK, FINALLY we have made and purchased alllll of the necessary pieces in order to put together a pretty amazing bruschetta board (or plate, in my case).  As I mentioned in my previous post, K and I had date night at a local wine bar called Postino that is known for it's bruschetta.  We decided to recreate this at home, and admittedly 4 kinds of bruschetta requires lots of different ingredients.  It would be all well and good to just make one or two of these.  But if you are serving it as a meal instead of a little snack, or if you are having a party, it is nice to have the variety.  Although prepping the ingredients can take a little while, once you have everything prepped these come together pretty quickly, which is what makes them a great food for entertaining.  The four kinds of bruschetta we attempted were:

Brie and Apples with Fig Jam
Prosciutto with Figs and Mascarpone
Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese
Salami with Pesto

What I bought (prosciutto not pictured)

Start out with a couple of loaves of good French or Italian bread (I make my own, but you can also buy it)
Slice into about one inch thick slices, brush both sides lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Lay out on a cookie sheet and place in a 350 degree oven for 3-4 minutes.  Flip them all over, and then put them back in for another 3-4 minutes.  You want them a little toasty.  After this, you can start assembling the different bruschetta.

Brie and Apples with Fig Spread

Brie (I used double cream)
Granny Smith Apple, very thinly sliced (we used a mandolin slicer)
Fig Spread (Make your own, or you can usually find it in the fancy cheese section of the grocery store)

After taking the toast out of the oven, spread with a thin layer of fig spread, and then top with a slice of brie. Put it back in the oven for a few more minutes, until the brie is a little melty.  Remove from oven and top with  thin slices of apple.  Drizzle with honey.  DONE!

Prosciutto with Figs and Mascarpone

Mascarpone Cheese
Dried black mission figs, sliced
Fresh ground pepper

After toasts come out of the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes.  They can still be warm, you just don't want them too hot when you spread on the cheese.  After they have cooled down, spread with mascarpone, top with slices of figs and then a slice of prosciutto.  Sprinkle with just a tiny bit of fresh ground pepper.

Mascarpone and figs, just top with Prosciutto 
(This was the easiest one because this is the only one that I didn't have to make any of the ingredients for.  I also thought it was the most bland.  It might be that the mascarpone was not the best brand, I have not worked with that type of cheese before.  but in the future I might even replace the mascarpone with goat cheese)

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese

Soft Goat Cheese
Roasted Red Peppers, diced (Make your own, or buy)

After toasts come out of the oven, spread with goat cheese and then top with the diced roasted red peppers.  Done!  So quick and easy.

I failed to take a close up of the Goat Cheese and Red Pepper - So this is the best I can do!

Salami with Pesto

Pesto (Make your own, or buy in refrigerated section)
Salami, thin slices

After the toasts come out of the oven, spread with pesto.  Top with 2-3 slices of salami.  Done!

Finished Prosciutto and Fig on the left, just need to top the Pesto with Salami
Transfer all the bruschetta onto a large serving platter or two and serve to your dazzled guests.  Best served with wine.

 I personally think that making many of the ingredients from scratch improved these bruschetta.  Because they are very simple, the ingredients are all major stars.  If they are only mediocre, your bruschetta will probably also be mediocre.  Make sure that the ingredients you do buy are the highest quality!

Casual Happy Hour
It all started with an instagram

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Monday, February 11, 2013

DIY: How make your own Roasted Red Peppers

One of the last things I decided to make for the bruschetta was the roasted red peppers for the Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta.  We normally will roast these on the grill when we are barbecuing, but since we weren't using the grill right then I decided to make these in the oven.  You can of course buy a jar of these, but roasting your own is so easy and usually cheaper (right now I have been buying bell peppers for .88 cents each here in AZ, unbelievably cheap!).

Weirdly shaped peppers!
I roasted two of them, which made enough for 5-6 bruschetta.  I was surprised that it made less of a final product than I thought, so I was glad that I had roasted two and not one.

Nice and blackened.
Cut the peppers in half, removing the stem and seeds.  Place skin side up on a foil lined cookie sheet.  Move your oven rack to the highest position and turn on the broiler.  Put the cookie sheet of peppers under the broiler and roast until the skin is blackened.  This took mine 10-15 minutes, but watch them very carefully!   Don't go walking away and getting distracted.  The skin should be black in most places.  Then take them out and immediately put in an airtight container.

Pepper Sauna
If you don't have something with a tight fitting lid, just put them in a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap.  You want them in a pepper sauna.  Leave them alone and don't open the container for 15-20 minutes.  Then you can take them out and peel off the blackened skin.  There you are, left with a beautiful roasted pepper.

Pepper fillet
 I chopped mine up and tossed them in a little olive oil, then stored them in a jar until I wanted to use them.

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

DIY: Pesto (Nut free)

Ok, so we are on our way to making the bruschetta, but I still have a few more things to make.  The next item is pesto, for the Pesto and Salami Bruschetta.  I absolutely love making pesto, it is a quick and easy favorite for summer, and can be whipped up and thrown on some pasta for an easy meal.  In this case it is the base of a very simple bruschetta.

Gather olive oil, Parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, and lemon 
I like my pesto super garlicky, so if you only like garlic a normal amount you might want to tone it down.  If you are the kind of person that looks at a recipe that calls for one clove of garlic  scoffs, and then uses 5 cloves, this is the recipe for you  (remember that since this is not cooked, the garlic flavor is very strong).  Also, most pestos use nuts, such as pine nuts or walnuts.  I don't include those because I don't really like them and I don't find them necessary.  I add a tablespoon of lemon juice both for flavor and to preserve the bright green color.  I notice that if I don't use lemon, the pesto starts oxidizing very quickly, and turns a less pleasant color.

Basic Pesto

2-3 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1-3 cloves of garlic (one for garlic normals, 3 for garlic lovers)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

I like to grind my parm right in the food processor, so cut it into chunks and then pulse in food processor until it is a crumbly consistency   Add garlic cloves and pulse until combined.  Add fresh basil, then while food processor is running, stream the olive oil through the top feed until you reach your desired consistency (for me that was about half a cup, but you may need to add more or less depending on your preferences and how much basil you have).   Add lemon juice and pulse to combine.  Then add salt to taste.

The lemon juice is really great at maintaining that bright green color.  I also stored it in a mason jar, so the airtight environment might have helped preserve that as well.  I have had this in my fridge for a few days now and it is still a beautiful green color.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

DIY: Fig Spread

The other night, K and I went on a date at a local wine bar called Postino.  They are one of Phoenix's favorites, and now have three locations in the metro area.  One thing they are most known for is their bruschetta.  I wasn't aware that bruschetta was such a thing until coming to Arizona - they really, really love their bruschetta here!  Most wine bars offer "bruschetta boards" where you have a menu with many choices of different kinds of bruschetta, and you can get a combination of several of them to try.  Most Phoenicians will claim that Postino has the best bruschetta in town, and I have to agree it is pretty damn delicious.

Bruschetta Inspiration at Postino

We have an out of town friend coming to visit, and K asked if I thought I could recreate our bruschetta at home.  I have already written about how I love to make bruschetta as a quick easy appetizer, and I was up to the challenge of trying out some new recipes   And because I am extra ambitious (Read: unemployed and bored), I decided to make several of the ingredients from scratch.  I was totally going to buy everything, but I realized that A.) with four different kinds of bruschetta, that grocery bill was going to add up fast and B.)  Homemade is almost always better than store bought.

Get 10 ounces of dried Calimyrna figs

Stem and quarter

Grab a fresh lemon

The first item that I decided to make at home was a fig spread for the Brie and Apples with Fig Spread Bruschetta.  I stumbled upon a recipe from none other than my hero, Ms. Martha Stewart herself.  After reviewing to make sure I wasn't getting in over my head (you have to watch that with Martha), I decided to give it a try.  This turned out to be ridiculously easy and delicious   Even if I wasn't making bruschetta, I would like to have this on hand for throwing together easy appetizers.  Putting this out with some cheese and crackers would instantly elevate it to a cheese platter.  Or just spread it on toast.

Squeeze that lemon

Simmer the figs with sugar
Throw the cooked figs in a food processor

Fig Spread
(From Martha Stewart)

10oz Dried Calimyrna Figs, stems removed and quartered
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1 1/2 cups water

Combine figs, sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover, let simmer until most water has evaporated and figs are easily pierced with a sharp knife ( Martha says 20 minutes, mine took closer to 35 - so just keep checking them after 20 minutes)

Transfer to food processor, add lemon juice and puree until you reach your desired consistency.  Add up to 1/4 cup of additional water if needed (I didn't as there was still quite a bit of water left in the pot of figs).

Blend figs with lemon juice

For some reason I was afraid this was going to turn out bland and horrible, so I was very surprised when it was delicious.  I immediately put it on a cracker with cheese. 


Stay tuned, I will post the recipe for the bruschetta soon!
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