Crostini (x3)

by Tokyo Terrace on July 3, 2011

I think everyone has a place in their home that can be considered a “safe zone”. Somewhere that is all your own. When Brad and I moved to Japan 3 years ago (has it really been 3 years already??) the first thing I wanted to do was find a little space that felt like home to me. I needed it. I craved it. When we finally moved into our apartment after a long wait, that place, for me, was the kitchen. Our first apartment had a large kitchen/dining room for Japanese standards. There was minimal counter space, but it had a lot of beautiful light that bounced off the white wallpaper with tiny blue flowers. That was the first space in Japan that felt like home to me. That felt like it was mine.

We have lived in 3 apartments in Tokyo, each of them with drastically different kitchens. And yet somehow each of them felt like my own. The sad part is that each year I have to say goodbye to my little corner for 3 months. I go without having my kitchen for so long that I begin to feel slightly aimless. Spending time in my kitchen gives me focus that I lack in many other areas of life. Cooking is my creative outlet and without it I dont’ feel right.

This summer has been no different. My in-laws in Colorado have been doing some work on their kitchen, rendering it useless to me at various times. This is doubly difficult now that I’m pregnant and hungry every 5 minutes- but for what? I am never certain until I rummage around the kitchen for a while. The combination of these factors makes it best for me to eat small, easy meals throughout the day. From yogurt and sliced peaches, to crackers with peanut butter, to cheese and an apple, I am constantly looking for small, healthy things to eat. I thought food occupied my mind a lot before I was pregnant but these days it is constant.

One of the best things I have found to make are these crostini. The variations are endless, easy, and can be very healthy and satisfying. None of them take more than 15 minutes to throw together and they are perfect for an individual snack or for a party tray. Minimal ingredients, minimal time in the kitchen, maximum results. Perfect.

Each of these has a unique flavor that reflects some of the best parts of the summer season. The mushroom & fromage blanc, for example, is earthy yet bright with the addition of basil and drizzled olive oil. The peppadew pepper & fromage blanc is a stark contrast to the mushrooms. The peppers are bright and slightly sweet with a bite that is mellowed by the fresh cheese. Again, a splash of basil (though you could use any herb you like) adds a pop of color and summery flavor. The tomato and peach combination may seem a bit odd, but the flavors work perfectly together. I actually made the exact same combination for my brother-in-law and his family last summer and they loved it! The salty-sweetness of the tomato blends perfectly with the smooth, juicy peach. A splash of lemon juice ties it all together along with a sprinkle of fresh black pepper and sea salt.

I used Carapelli Olive Oil to drizzle over the top of each crostini. It adds the perfect fruitiness that can only come from a good quality olive oil. It is made with organically grown olives (a big plus for us preggos out there), PLUS I can find it at grocery stores in Tokyo! That’s pretty awesome. I’m a big fan of using the last bits of bread from my crostini to soak up any left over olive oil on my plate. Pretty delicious.

Full Disclosure: The Carapelli Olive Oil was sent to me from the company. I did not receive any payment for this post. The views are all my own.

For all crostini recipes:

Buy a loaf of good quality bread. It doesn’t have to be a french baguette- it can be anything you like as long as it is sturdy enough to support your toppings. I chose the Heirloom Wheat from Whole Foods.

Regardless of which recipe you are using, slice the amount of bread you would like to use (I would make only one per person because mine were quite hearty). Melt about 4 tablespoons of butter in a pan. When the butter is melted, place the bread in the pan and allow to brown over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side.

Next, I like to do something I learned while traveling in Tuscany. Cut a garlic clove in half and rub one side (the side you’ll put your toppings on) with the garlic. Place the bread on a plate and set aside until you are ready to add the toppings (recipes below). Guilty pleasure- eating just the buttered garlic bread. Oh-so-delicious!

Sautéed Mushroom & Fromage Blanc

Serves 4

2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms (or cremini, or shiitake)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

salt & black pepper

1/3 cup fromage blanc (farmer’s cheese)

1/4 cup chopped basil (or other herb)

4 slices of crostini bread (see above)

Carapelli or other good quality, fruity olive oil

In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the sliced mushrooms (make sure they are not crowded!) and brown for about 5 minutes on each side. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small plate and set aside.

Spread the cheese onto each piece of bread. Top with the mushrooms, then the basil. Drizzle with olive oil an serve immediately.

Peppadew Pepper & Fromage Blanc Crostini

Serves 4

8 oz. jarred peppadew peppers, drained of the water and cut in half

1/3 cup fromage blanc

1/4 cup chopped basil or other herb

1/2 a lemon

4 slices of crostini bread (see above)

Carapelli or other good quality, fruity olive oil

Spread the cheese onto each slice of bread. Top with the peppers and basil. Drizzle with a little lemon juice and the olive oil. Serve.

Tomato & Peach Crostini

Serves 4

2 roma tomatoes, sliced about 1/4″

2 fresh, ripe peaches, sliced about 1/4″

1/4 cup chopped basil

1/2 a lemon

4 slices of crostini bread (see above)

Carapelli or other good quality, fruity olive oil

Fresh black pepper and sea salt

Arrange the tomato and peach slices, alternating each as in the photos above, on top of the bread. Squeeze lemon juice over each crostini. Top with the basil and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper and a bit of sea salt. Serve.

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  • OysterCulture

    Saw the back and forth between you and Kamran on Twitter, and I thought preggers?  Let me be the first via this post to congratulate you.  BTW, the kitchen is my go to place that feels the most like home in every apartment I’ve lived in so I appreciate where you’re coming from.

  • Michelle

    These look delicious!

  • Heather

    Oh, I adore you finally shared the crostini you made for us last summer! Keith and I were literally just talking about it today! I’ve been experimenting with different tomatoes for this…and we have some beautiful heirloom tomatoes from the garden that are absolutely fantastic. You used cilantro on it when you made it here, and it is delicious that way…though I suppose we ARE a little obsessed with cilantro in this house. :) Can hardly wait to see you in two weeks!

  • Anonymous

    Congrats Rachel on baby! These crostinis are a lovely small tapas idea for grazing. Beautiful photos. I found same problem cooking in Hong Kong on my recent visit, difficult in strange kitchen. 

  • http://marriedrecluse.wordpress.com/ Amanda

    I love all of these ideas! So simple, but very sophisticated. I especially like the combination of tomato and peach—how interesting!

  • http://artbeautysociety.wordpress.com/ Iniyaal

    Looks delicious… This will be the first recipe I try this weekend. 
    I have the same craving for a space of my own. I have been moving between cities and shifting houses almost every year. I always have a small creative corner in every house I have lived in.

  • http://www.beauty-box-online.com astrorainfall

    I want to eat my screen….these crostinis look amazing…

  • Debra Hofland

    Pretty little snacks–I could eat a bunch of ‘em!   And let me suggest that you try the Himalasalt pink salt from Sustainable Sourcing (here’s their website:  https://secure.sustainablesourcing.com )—and their organic peppercorns!    Oh, yum–what a difference a good salt makes!  Really.   Anyway….thanks for posting the recipes.   I know what I’m going to dash out to the kitchen to make now!   :-)

  • http://www.thatssoron.blogspot.com Thatssoron

    looks great! n congrats on ur pregnancy !

  • http://odetoawe.com/blog/2011/07/foodie-friday-around-the-weberverse/ Foodie Friday: Around the Weberverse

    [...] Mixed Berry Sherbet , Raspberry, Banana and Rosewater Popsicles, Salmon with Grilled Peach Salsa, Crostini Three Ways, Watermelon Lime Jello Shots, Mango Blueberry Quinoa [...]

  • http://www.sixteenbeans.com kyleen

    Those crostini look so delicious and colourful. I especially like the tomato/peach combination. I must try it sometime!

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