Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day Forty - Six: Midweek Crostini Imagined

When Wednesday draws to a close, I always seem to breathe this sign of relief -- a sense that the beginning of the week has passed us by and we have the end of the week and weekend to look forward to. This Wednesday was the one day all week that it has been sunny, giving me an optimistic feeling for the end of the week and the weekend.

Now that we have gotten over the week's hump, I thought I would play off of the menu of the local Italian wine bar I am going to tonight for a glass of wine with my friend. This local hangout has a great selection of Italian wines, crostini, cheeses, meats, and Italian focused small plates, the sort of place that you can't go wrong with what you order and somewhat standard for a wine bar but done really well. I decided to "add" three crostini to their menu, that you can easily make at home, delish little bites of yummy goodness.

Here is their current crostini selection:

Salame, Gorgonzola And Honey
White Anchovy and Tomato   
Shrimp, Artichokes, White Wine And Lemon     
Proscuitto, Imported Buffalo Mozzarella And Lemon     
Bacala (Codfish) with white beans and calamata puree.    
Burrata, Oven Roasted Tomato And Basil

A nice mix of cheeses, meats, veggies, and more!

So lets work on the other three seasonal crostini we'll hypothetically add, we will keep them simple just like the ones currently on the menu.

A few quick rules:
1. All crostini will contain one Italian cheese.
2. All will be on crusty baguettes.
3. No more than four different ingredients, you want these to be one mouthful, not to drop everywhere.

1. Lets start with yesterday's cheese, Asiago! Here we will use an Asiago Pressato, a young pasteurized cow' milk cheese with flavors of butter and yogurt, melty in your mouth. Lets top that with roasted red peppers and carrots and some rosemary. To roast the peppers and carrots, chop up into small squares and place in an oven safe pan with olive oil, garlic, shallots, and herbs and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. The carrots and roasted red peppers will be infused with the oil and the herbs and garlic and will work very nicely with the creamy, velvety cheese.
2. Caciocavallo  is the focus of crostini number two. In case you aren't familar, caciocavallo is either made from sheep or cow's milk and is a tear drop shaped cheese with a similar sort of taste to provolone but more delicate. Pulled and stretched like a mozarrella, this cheese gets its name from its aging process where a pair of 5-pound cheeses are tied together with a rope and thrown of a beam to age hanging. Cacio meaning cheese and cavallo meaning horse, the aging process seems fitting for this delish Italian cheese. This simple crostini with a caciocavallo base will be topped with sauteed or fried chickpeas with some oregano and red onions. Once you've got your legumes, for protein, and your cheese on there, the next step is to add some greenery and in this case, go with a few leaves of parsley. Enjoy the savory mixture in your mouth!
3. Lastly, we will go with a twenty-four month aged Parmigiano-Reggiano as the star of crostini number three. The cheese will be topped with two grilled asparagus spears and a few sauteed fava beans, a really spring celebration here.

I hope you enjoy these three crostini ideas. I do strongly recommend trying some of their pairings as well, simple, delish, you can't go wrong.

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