Time got the best of me this year, and damned if I live for a party, it seems that my schedule has me working for the weekend where I’ll work some more. Eddie Money is shaking his head at me right now. So what’s a girl to do? Call it quits, tune out, and plan to join in on the festivities? Hell.to.the.no. I’m going to attack every last starstruck moment out of this life of mine like Joan Crawford with a wire hanger. And I’ll look damn good doing it, even if it means haute couture pajamas as the dress code.
When my panties are in a bunch and I need culinary majesty fast, I usually turn to the glory that is the crostini. There is something so delightful about a portable snack – just a little bite of something assembled with care and made from bright, fresh ingredients. I find that of the things that I make for friends, bruschetta and crostini seem to go the quickest – people appreciate a bit of goodness. The toppings are just as important as the vehicles – crusty breads, crisp crackers, buttered toasts sprinkled with sea salt, even a potato or plantain chip all make for great bases for a crunchy bite.
So when you are having that, “Shit, it’s Sunday already?” moment, why not throw together some crostini to save you time and win you kudos with the A-listers you’re having over for the night? Though tantalizing alone, they each fit well within a menu of more complicated dishes or even other appetizers. And best of all, they can be thrown together so very last minute with many of the ingredients in your fridge/pantry/freezer, when guests show up early (thumbs down to that), you have something to quickly hand them to keep them busy. Because bored guests beget trouble. Now, on with the show, and don’t forget me in your acceptance speech. After all, I just saved your party’s ass.
(Oh, and for you starlets on a liquid diet, I have my fave martini on here, too. Just replace the pear for a starfruit garnish to keep it uber chic. You’re welcome.)
White Bean Bruschetta with Rosemary and Lemon - Because you are spending practically no time crafting this one, it lends itself perfectly to a more complicated menu where you want to save some precious minutes in the kitchen. Or for when you want to gnaw your own damn hand off in sheer hunger. You know, those times that you're cooking dinner and you need to eat before you eat lest you fall out in front of the stove? You can cop to it - this is a judgement-free zone. Strawberry and Goat Cheese Crostini with Chocolate Olive Oil - If sweet and salty gets you giddy, try this spin on classic caprese with strawberries standing in for tomatoes. Plus, the tang of salty goat cheese gets a little extra love from a drizzle of chocolate (!) olive oil. It's sexy and you know it. Spinach Artichoke Dip - I still go back to this recipe for the winning combination of flavors and the lack of pre-processed ingredients used to make it. This is no TGIF Frozen Spinach Dip in the freezer aisle of the grocery store. Shallots and garlic flavor the creamy dip and bring out the sweetness of the spinach and artichokes. Sparkling Pear Martini - Given that vodka and I are copacetic, I adore this incredibly simple martini that garners its bubbles from non-alcoholic pear cider. But not to worry, my off-the-wagon friends. This sparkler combines the ripe flavor of luscious pear vodka and floral St. Germain into a sweet, but strong (good and strong!) martini of the most delightful nature. Crab Stuffed Mushrooms - With sweet blue crab and crunchy panko, these mushrooms are lightened by lemon zest and parsley, along with a healthy dose of cayenne for kick. Make a batch of these for loved ones, and I am sure that your street cred will go through the roof. Homie? Homie. Ricotta, Prosciutto and Fig Crostini - This one is so simple, it hardly really qualifies as a recipe. The result, however, is no less than spectacular - the perfect amalgamation of sweet and salty, with a pleasing crunch from the toasted bread. Creamy Feta Spread - Similar to my fake-me-out Boursin recipe, this dip is a lot more impressive in taste than it's humble ingredients. Lemon zest and garlic and depth of flavor and brightness, and olive oil smooths everything into a spreadable delight. Tomato Bruschetta - There are very few ingredients in this bruschetta, so you have to use the best ingredients possible. Fresh ripe tomatoes, leafy basil and fruity olive oil make all the difference. Lima Bean Bruschetta - This recipe is similar to a popular crostini topping that I used to eat all the time in Orvieto - there it was made from fava beans (or broad beans) and drizzled with fruity, golden olive oil. The lima beans are great because they're easy to pull out of the freezer in a pinch, and cheaper than fava beans. Olive Tapenade - Olive tapenade is so incredibly easy to make, and versatile as not only an appetizer, but also as a marinade and sauce. It keeps well in the fridge, and can be made from such common pantry ingredients - it's a good appetizer to add to the mix without adding any extra cooking time. Goodness. Boursin (for Fakers) - A combination of dried herbs, cream cheese and butter, this mock boursin is close enough to the original stuff that I can't see a reason to spend the money on the real stuff. The whole mess is whipped up in the food processor in mere seconds, and I then get to watch as it's systematically devoured at parties. The best kind of recipe of all :)