Wednesday, April 2, 2014

fresh strawberry crostini

No actual recipe in this post. But I was asked to share a few tips about these monthly dinner parties I do, so I figured this was a great idea to start with. The no 'real cooking needed' appetizer is a life saver! I can make the circle toasts well in advance. Hull and halve the strawberries and stick them back in the refrigerator until I need them. Wash the mint then wrap in a paper towel and refrigerate until needed. Leave the cheese out on the counter so it softens and is spreadable.
Come party time all I have to do is bring all the parts together on my favorite serving platter, give it all a few turns of pepper then watch them disappear.
Perfect when I have six courses planned.

This little strawberry bite is the promise of summer with the tang of balsamic vinegar and perfect to start the evening.
I think I mentioned earlier my Farmers Market visit was odd because of the selection of fruits and vegetables in March. I do not remember strawberries this beautiful and sweet so early in the year. But again, maybe that is just my addled brain working overtime.

The other reason I loved this little bite? All the above items were purchased at the Farmers Market. I went on Saturday - instead of my usual Sunday trip -  and I was quite happy with the haul I brought home. New bread and cheese vendor (new for me anyway), beautiful berries, and discovered two of my favorite farmers sell on Saturday as well.

Win win !

By the way, for you folks in Sacramento, I visited the market behind Country Club Mall. It is smaller than the Sunday gig under the freeway, but it is definitely worth the visit.

So, the strawberry crostini.....


half a loaf of light rye bread 
(pre-sliced is best)

circle cookie cutter 
(totally not necessary for consumption, but absolutely necessary for presentation) 

herbed goat cheese 
(at room temperature)
and please read the note at the end..

fresh strawberries - enough to cover all the toast you make
(cut out stems and slice in half)

balsamic vinegar
fresh mint leaves
fresh ground pepper


oven to 350

cut out little circles from the pre-sliced bread
(use the leftover scraps to make croutons for the salad you serve with dinner - just tear them up - toss with olive oil - toast until golden)
brush each circle with a good extra virgin olive oil.
toast about 6 minutes - just until the edges start to turn golden brown.
remove from the oven and let cool.

spread each piece of circle toast with the herbed goat cheese.
(by the way - my favorite vendor for goat cheese is North Valley Farms - they are usually at the Sunday market under the freeway)
add half a strawberry.
drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
tear some mint leaves and scatter across the platter.
fresh black pepper.

serve and enjoy.
See in the photos how it looks like the cheese is cracked? That is what happened when I spread the cheese on the toast too soon - hoping to save myself a few minutes during dinner service. Do not do this! It is not very pretty! Make the toasts ahead of time, but wait until right before your guests arrive to do all the other steps.