Perfect Bruschetta

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bruschetta
Bite-sized! And not stale!

One of the things we really like doing when we’re on vacation is to eat  dinner at a grand lodge in one of the national parks. While it seems as if we must enjoy overpriced sub-standard meals, that isn’t really the reason we eat at the grand lodges. We just love the idea of it. Heading out for a day of hiking, then coming back in the evening exhausted, and having a nice meal in a spectacular setting. What could be better?

Well, for the most part, the food. Invariably, the food is mediocre at best, and this most recent trip was no exception. Considering that we had some of the simplest things on the menu (an appetizer, soup, salad, and dessert), it should have been far better. Take the appetizer, for example. We had mushroom bruschetta with shaved Parmesan. (Apparently, you pronounce the ‘ch’ as a ‘k’ — brusketta. Who knew? We didn’t.) It sounds fancy, but it’s really nothing more than small toasts with a bit of duxelles on them. But our toasts were huge — probably 6 inches long, making it difficult to eat without flinging mushrooms all over — and they were stale-ish. Ugh. Not to mention that the mushrooms had way, way too much garlic. Where did the idea that Italian food needs a lot of garlic come from, anyway? It’s wrong, but that’s another story.

Since you were kind enough to read through our diatribe, you are hereby rewarded with our way of making bruschetta. Crispy, light, small, beautiful, and tasty bruchetta.

Bruschetta

Yield: 12 bruschetta

Bruschetta

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 thin slices fresh bread
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Abbreviated Instructions

Place garlic cloves and olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Simmer for 40 minutes. Remove and discard garlic cloves.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

Use a small round cutter (1 1/2 inch) to punch out disks of bread. Brush both sides of the disks with oil and place on prepared baking sheet.

Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, then flip each disk and bake an additional 8 to 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Let cool completely.

Top with duxelles, pesto, hummus, tapenade, or whatever you like.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2014/09/perfect-bruschetta/

Ingredient discussion:

Bread is the key. Good bread, not blunder bread. Fresh, too. If you wouldn’t like it for sandwiches, you won’t like it for little toasts.

Procedure in detail:

making garlic oil
Garlic oil is nothing but 1 part garlic cloves to 4 parts olive oil. In this case, the three cloves weighed 10 grams, so we needed to add about 40 grams of oil.

Make garlic oil. Don’t worry, this is very mild garlic oil. It’s basically olive oil with a hint of roasted garlic, and this will make more than you’ll use for these toasts. Put the extra in a jar, store it in the fridge, and use it any place you want a bit of garlic flavor. Place the garlic cloves and olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer for 40 minutes, then remove and discard the garlic cloves. Let the oil cool.

garlic olive oil
Once simmered, it’ll look and work just like olive oil, but with just a hint of roasted garlic.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment for easy cleanup. Baking parchment is a miracle tool in the kitchen; use it once, and you won’t want to live without it.

cutting bread disks
Make your bruschetta bite-sized so people won’t have trouble eating your appetizers.

Cut disks. Use a small cookie cutter, say, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, to cut out disks of bread. They don’t have to be round, but cut them small enough that people can eat the toasts in one or two bites.

brushing bread with oil.
Brush each side of the disks with that yummy garlic oil. Mmm.

Brush with oil. Use a pastry brush to brush both sides of each disk with the garlic oil and place on the prepared pan.

Salt. Lightly sprinkle the disks with a bit of kosher salt.

Bake, flip, and bake. Slide the bruschetta into the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the top of each bruschetta is crisp. Flip over and bake on the other side another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the bruschetta are golden and crisp.

bruschetta
There. Nothing to making perfect little toasts; plus, you now have some delicious garlic oil for other uses.

Cool. Let cool completely, then top with whatever strikes your fancy. We did a smear of crème fraîche (home-made sour cream), and a dab of carrot pesto, followed by a slice of black olive (on some).

There, that wasn’t so bad to make, was it? And these are perfect. Crisp, just as they should be. A perfect size, so you don’t have crumbs flying everywhere, with just a hint of garlic and salt to compliment the bread and toppings. Why restaurants, especially restaurants that try to be upscale, can’t do this is beyond us. It’s not as if it’s rocket science to make a small piece of toast. Five stars, before we get started on our rant again.

toasted bread for crumbs
These toasted scraps are destined for our Skillet Mac and Cheese and Peas tomorrow night!

Oh, and for all those weird pieces of bread left after cutting out the disks, just cut them up, toss with a bit of garlic oil, salt, and pepper, bake until crisp, crush, and use for bread crumbs.

Worth the trouble?

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