And you can hardly call it a recipe; a method is more apropo.
But this blog began in lieu of a family cookbook for my sons and this is the year that every so often I will find the basics that appear throughout this blog and give them their own post.
Crostini, as they are called in Italian, crouton or croûtes, as they are called in France, are simply small slices of bread that have been toasted in the oven. They can be plain or brushed with olive oil as I have done here. They are the building blocks of myriad small-bite toppings.
Begin with a long baguette of good artisan bread. Cut the baguette on the diagonal into 1/4-inch slices, brush one side lightly with a good olive oil and toast in a 400-degree oven for 7-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Take a clove or two of garlic, peeled and cut in half, and when the crostini come out of the oven, quickly rub the cut half of the garlic clove over the olive oil-brushed side of each piece. Not a lot, just one or two gentle passes. You want the essence of garlic, not an overpowering crescendo.
Let the crostini cool a bit then add your favorite toppings, just like you would do with crackers. Or grate a little cheese over the top, like I did in this post, maybe add a few grains of coarse sea salt, and pop them back in the oven until the cheese melts.
Float them in soups, serve them with stews. Serve them topped with pâtés or your favorite tapenade. They are hands down a giant leap over crackers from a box.
Slice the baguette on the diagonal into thin (no more than 1/4-inch) slices.
Pour the olive oil into a bowl and using a pastry brush (I keep one just for this purpose), brush a small amount of olive oil on one side of each slice of bread and line them up on the sheet pan.
Toast the slices in the oven for 7 to 12 minutes, watching them carefully so they don't burn, until they are golden brown. They will be crisp.
Remove the pan from the oven and working quickly, rub the cut garlic over the olive oiled side of each crostini. Be careful, they will be very hot.
When finished, the crostini may be served right away or allowed to cool completely and put into a ziptop freezer bag to store for several days on the counter or several months in the freezer.
So simple. And so good.
~ Lest you think I'm losing my culinary mind, most folks know croutons as those small toasted cubes of bread that are tossed into salads. A crouton is simply a small toasted piece of bread, it can be cubed or it can be sliced and comes from the French word croûte, which means crust. To make it easy, just call them crostini.
~ I keep a pastry brush separate from my baking brushes specifically for the purpose of brushing olive onto things. The brush is easily cleaned by immersing it into a bowl of hot, soapy water and letting it sit for a few minutes then running hot water over it. Remove as much of the water that you can with a dish towel and let the brush air dry before putting it away. This is not a product plug, but Dawn dishwashing detergent is perfect for this task as it cuts through the oil quickly.