WELCOME to all about food. Time to talk starters…
I remember you mentioned that you like serving canapés for starters. Do you have some recipes I could try?
You are absolutely right! I prefer a selection of bites or antipasti as the Italians call it to more formal starters when entertaining at home. Antipasti literally translates to ‘before the meal’ with Crostini, cured meats, olives and bruschetta among the traditional foods served. Bruschetta uses sour dough bread and Crostini is made from white bread the other main difference is Crostini is made using a thinner slice of bread whereas bruschetta is a thicker slice.
For the bread base you need:
1 loaf of ciabatta cut at an angle into one cm slices
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
A couple of cloves of garlic peeled and cut in half.
Grill or griddle the bread on both sides and when still hot rub each slice with the cut side of the garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and prepare the toppings. I like to arrange the bread on a large platter with olives, some cured ham, parmesan cheese and semi sun dried tomatoes; I then prepare the toppings and serve them in small dishes, allowing my guests to top their own! (Each topping will make twelve Crostini)
Tomato and olives: Quarter twenty ripe cherry tomatoes, stone a handful of green or black olives and roughly chop. Mix the olives and tomatoes, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Season with black pepper – no need for salt as the olives should be salty enough.
Semi sun-dried tomato and black olive tapenade: Place a small jar of semi sun-dried tomatoes, a little of the tomato preserving oil, a handful of black olives and a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary into a blender/processor and blitz until smooth. Add more of the preserving oil to the paste until it’s spreadable.
Mozzarella and basil: Tear three balls of buffalo mozzarella into quarters, drizzle a little olive oil over the cheese and top with shredded fresh basil.
Cannellini beans with garlic: crush a clove of garlic and gently fry with some fresh rosemary, finely chopped. Add a can of rinsed cannelloni beans and simmer for five minutes. Add two tablespoons of red wine vinegar and season. Mash the beans roughly with a fork.
Cut thick slices of sour dough bread and char-grill the bread on both sides using a griddle pan. Rub the toasted bread with a cut clove of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and season with a small amount of salt. Roughly chop eight very ripe tomatoes, place in a bowl with a bunch of torn fresh basil, salt and black pepper. Add a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil and place the tomato mix on the bread just before serving.
Gingergirl aka Helen Keown is an artisan food producer who produces a range of handmade luxury jams, preserves and chutney’s made from local, seasonal or organic ingredients. Helen’s produce is available nationwide from independent food emporiums and is also available at selected food delis across Europe.
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