Eric Akis: Crostini make Oscar-worthy snacks

Eric Akis

I don’t usually recommend snacky foods for Sunday dinner, but the Oscars are on today and that’s exactly what my wife and I will be enjoying while watching the show.

When I say, “snacky foods,” I’m referring to manageable bites you can eat out of hand or off a small plate when snuggled into a cozy living room chair.

article continues below

Among the mix of items in that category that we always serve are crostini. The Italian Dictionary of Food and Drink describes crostini, pronounced “kroh-STEE-nee,” as thin slices of toast covered with various ingredients.

To make that toast, for this kind of occasion where I want smaller, snacking-sized crostini, I’ll cut a baguette into thin slices, set them on a baking sheet, brush them with olive oil and bake until lightly toasted.

When deciding how to top that bread, I’ll take stock of what ingredients I already have on hand. Most times I’ll find items great to put on crostini, such as cheese, condiments, dips or vegetables. Once I see what I have, I’ll make a list of other items I need to pick up at the store.

If you would like to nibble on crostini while watching the Oscars and are not sure what flavour combinations will work, below are four recipes for you to consider.

Each recipe yields 12 crostini, if that’s too many for you, reduce the recipe and make four to six crostini. Something you might want to do if it’s just two of you enjoying the show and you want to serve more than one type of crostini.

If you are having an Oscar party, though, you might want to expand the recipes or maybe serve all four types. When considering what you’ll do, keep in mind that these crostini are not difficult to make. Toast some bread, set on some tasty toppings and enjoy, preferably with sparkling wine!

 

How to make crostini

To make the crostini, toasted pieces of bread, for today’s recipes, I started with a baguette about two and half to three inches wide, a size that will yield bite-sized crostini.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Slice the baguette, widthwise, into thin slices, stopping when you have the number of crostini you’ll need. Just so you know, a two-foot long baguette will yield about 60 crostini.

Set the baguette slices on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush each slice lightly with olive oil. Bake the crostini, seven to eight minutes, or until lightly toasted. Crostini can be made a few hours before topping. Cover and keep at room temperature until needed.

 

Hummus, Olive and Feta Crostini 

Mediterranean-style bites you can quickly make with store-bought hummus.

 

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking time: none

Makes: 12 crostini

 

12 crostini

3/4 cup store-bought or homemade hummus

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

6 pitted black olives, each quartered

• extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

• finely grated lemon zest, to taste

• freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• fresh oregano leaves, to taste

Set crostini on a serving platter, and then divide and spread with the hummus. Top each crostini with some feta cheese and two quarter pieces of olive. Drizzle and top each crostini with a little olive oil, grated lemon zest, pepper and oregano leaves, and serve.

 

Avocado and Shrimp Crostini

Crisp toasted bread topped Tex-Mex-style, with mashed avocado, shrimp and salsa.

 

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking time: none

Makes: 12 crostini

 

1 Tbsp lime juice

1 medium, ripe avocado, quartered, pitted and peeled

2 Tbsp sour cream

• salt and white pepper, to taste

12 crostini

12 tsp medium or hot tomato salsa

100 grams small, cooked salad shrimp, patted dry

12 small cilantro sprigs

Place the lime juice and avocado in a medium bowl. Use the back of a spoon to mash avocado until fairly smooth. Mix in the sour cream, salt and pepper.

Set crostini on a serving platter, and then divide and spread with the avocado mixture. Set 1 tsp of salsa in the centre of each crostini. Now divide and set some shrimp on each crostini. Garnish each crostini with a cilantro sprig and serve.

 

Smoked Salmon, Boursin and Cucumber Crostini 

Creamy, garlic and herb flavoured cheese, refreshing cucumber and smoky salmon combine in these tasty bites.

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking time: none

Makes: 12 crostini

 

12 crostini

1 (150 gram) boursin cheese, garlic and herb flavour

24 paper-thin slices English cucumber

6 thin slices smoked salmon, each halved widthwise

12 small dill sprigs

24 thin twirls of lemon zest

Spread each crostini with boursin cheese and set on a serving platter. Top each crostini with two cucumber slices, slightly overlapping them. Artfully set a half piece of smoked salmon on each crostini. Garnish each crostini with a dill sprig and two twirls of lemon zest, and then serve.

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Crostini with Balsamic Crema and Nuts

Sweet and smoky fruit, tangy cheese and rich walnuts combine in these crostini. Those items are drizzled with balsamic crema. It is syrupy, reduced balsamic vinegar found at specialty food stores and in the deli section or vinegar aisle of most supermarkets.

 

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking time: a few minutes

Makes: 12 crostini

 

1 medium, slightly under-ripe pear

2 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp olive oil, plus some for the grill

12 crostini

12 thin slices blue cheese, each large enough to fit the top of the crostini (see Note)

12 walnut or pecan halves

• freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• balsamic crema, to taste

12 small rosemary or Italian parsley sprigs (optional)

 

Preheat an indoor grill or barbecue to medium-high. Quarter pear lengthwise and remove core. Now cut each quartered pear, lengthwise, into three wedges. Toss pear slices with lemon juice and 2 tsp olive oil. Oil the bars of your grill. Grill the pears about 30 seconds per side, and then set on a plate.

Set crostini on a serving platter. Top each with a slice of cheese, pear wedge and a walnut or pecan half. Sprinkle with pepper and drizzle with a little balsamic crema. If desired, garnish crostini with a small rosemary or parsley sprig, and then serve.

Note: Don’t care for blue cheese? Then top crostini with Brie, mascarpone or goat cheese.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His latest is The Great Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist