Recipe: bruschetta bar!

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On several occasions over the last month I have trialled a great new concept for entertaining, *drum roll* –  the bruschetta bar!

I can’t take any credit though, as What’s Gaby Cooking was the one who cleverly coined the term!

As you readers already know, I’m an avid fan of everything crostini and bruschetta and this blog is evidence of that (you’ll find the classic bruschetta; one with burrata; crostini with a mushroom spread to die for; with ricotta, ham and peaches; smoked salmon spread etc etc) but instead of serving already topped crostini of one or two varieties, the bruschetta bar is more of a DIY job. It’s so much easier for the organiser; just fill a big platter with heaps of crostini and a nice spread of toppings, and more fun for the guests who can create their own flavour combinations and partake more. It feels more relaxed and the toppings can be varied after season, inspiration or whatever you can find in your fridge and larders. I can even see this becoming the ultimate fridge forage dinner with lots of fun bits!

I must say I’m a little peeved I didn’t come up with the idea myself (especially as I for one party organised a blini bar and the concepts are pretty similar AND for dinner parties in the past I have served crostini this way too ), but I’m also so grateful for other bloggers inspiring me and sharing great ideas!

As I said, I have trialled this concept a few times already and all the different occasions had slightly different spreads, so to give you a few ideas I’ve listed them all below.

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The all-in birthday celebration. This was my first, AND it was for my birthday, so of course I went all out. I did focus on pasteurised cheeses and less charcuterie though as one of the guests was pregnant, but if that wasn’t the case all I would have done differently would be to add more charcuterie and choose different cheeses!

Serrano ham
Saucisson
Sliced cheddar
Classic bruschetta topping
Ricotta
Boursin cheese
Creamy chantarelles
Philadelphia with sunblush tomatoes
Large white beans with olive oil, garlic and smoked paprika 
Pea pesto
Fresh figs
Acacia honey 
Vanilla jelly
Truffle mayo
Grilled peppers in oil

Extra: two types of crisps, small carrots and cucumber to sticks, two dips, nocellara olives, prosecco, rosé and sparkling elderflower.

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The last minute spread with caprese salad. This was super last minute so we threw together what we found in the supermarket we passed on our way home.

Caprese salad (mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, basil and olive oil)
Thinly sliced truffle salami 
Creamy girolles
Grilled peppers in oil
Serrano ham
Creamy gorgonzola

On the side: fig jam, honey

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The greatest hits. When you have time to think about the spread and the supermarket has it all in stock (I’m looking at you burrata!). Perfect as a starter for four people.

Burrata, sliced red and yellow tomatoes, basil and olive oil 
Thinly sliced truffle salami 
Prosciutto
Philadelphia with sunblush tomatoes
Homemade pesto (just swap wild garlic for basil)
Grilled peppers in oil

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The pot luck spread. When the book club girls come over and you organise the spread together.

Burrata, sliced red and yellow tomatoes, basil and olive oil 
Philadelphia with sunblush tomatoes
Store-bought fresh pesto
Brie
Cranberry cheese 
Mild goat’s cheese log
Grilled peppers in oil
Chorizo
Saucisson
Salami
Prosciutto
Spansk soft rind cheese
Large Spanish beans in oil

Extra: two types of crips and dip 

Recipe: bruschetta with burrata

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I hardly think I’m the first person to think of this combination, but since I like to pair burrata with everything tomato-y here we are. And it’s a winner! I love the classic bruschetta but the burrata adds another dimension with its creaminess and makes the dish a little more sophisticated (but also more difficult to eat with dignity).

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I could start every dinner party, luncheon and gathering with this and some rosé from now until August and have happy guests – I’m sure of it. Or if you want to skip the bread, make a classic caprese salad (basically the same ingredients) but with burrata instead of mozzarella. That’s what I did with the leftovers and it was delicious too! But bruschetta is great for a crowd as you don’t need plates (although they are quite handy), just serve these with plenty of napkins!

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Hanna’s bruschetta with  burrata, serves 4-6 as a starter or as nibbles

1 large baguette

olive oil

1 garlic clove, cut in half 

4-5 vine tomatoes

1 handful fresh basil, finely chopped 

sea salt, black pepper 

2 small burrata or 1 large, at room temperature

Slice the baguette thinly on the diagonal. Place on a parchment covered baking tray. Drizzle with oil and rub the bread with the garlic. Toast the bread in a 200C oven until golden, approx 8-10 minutes. 

Meanwhile chop the tomatoes and place in a sieve or colander to remove the excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl. Chop the garlic used for rubbing the bread and mix that in as well as the basil. Add oil, salt and pepper.

Remove the toasted bread from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Place on a plate or platter, top with the tomato mixture. Tear the burrata into smaller pieces and put some on each bruschetta. Drizzle with olive oil and top with black pepper. Serve immediately with plenty of napkins. 

Wonderful lunch in Rome (Armando al Pantheon)

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Book! That’s my best tips for visiting Rome. Book everything you possibly can beforehand; taxi from the airport, tickets to all the sights and tables at sought after restaurants.

During my lunch at Armando al Pantheon, which is a small and cosy restaurant, I saw the maitre d’ send away at least ten people that hadn’t booked as not a single table was available for walk-ins. So I was extra pleased I had made a reservation (you can do it online so no hassle at all) because this was a restaurant I certainly didn’t want to miss.

I took the old adage When in Rome seriously and had antipasti, primi and secondi. And wine. Oh, what a lunch!

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I started with bruschetta; one with lardo and walnut (nice!) and one with quail’s egg and truffle (wow!).

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I then had the spaghetti alla carbonara (a typical roman pasta just like cacio de pepe), and Armando’s version was lovely. Not too creamy but with plenty of flavour and nice pieces of pancetta this was exactly what I thought proper Italian pasta was about. Only downside was the size of the portion – if I had finished it I wouldn’t have been able to eat anything else, so I ate about half and saved myself for the next dish.

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It was one of the specials that I thought I might try if I could finish the pasta, but when the waiter told the table next to me about the specials I just could not not order the slow cooked veal with truffle. Although really full after the pasta, I almost felt less full after having had just meat, jus and truffle. The meat was very tender and the jus nice and light but with nice flavours.

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Armando’s is, as you can see, small and cosy. So cosy I made friends with the people at the next table (we sat very close) who loved the place so much they’d come back six times during their two weeks in Rome. Armando al Pantheon, Salita dè Crescenzi, 31, 00186 Roma, Italy

A reminder: Bruschetta

I came down with a terrible cold on Sunday. Just bam it hit me, and I got the lot; sore throat, runny nose, fever… At least it broke out quickly and the recovery seem pretty quick as well. Fever is gone, I’m back at work and my taste sensation has come back as well. Yay!

Before this hit me, on Friday we had a lovely little basil-themed dinner. It just happened like that and it was really nice! We had one of my favourite starters to begin with – bruschetta. It is best this time of year when the tomatoes taste like they should, full of sun and happiness. Paired with lots of basil, some garlic and nice crusty bread this is a winner every time. I just wanted to remind you of that.

Bruschetta, serves 2 as quite a large starter

6 largeish pieces of ciabatta

4-6 medium tomatoes

a handful of basil, finely chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, pressed

salt, pepper

Chop the tomatoes wuite finely and put it into a sieve to get rid of the excess water. Transfer to a bowl, add basil, pressed garlic, olive oil and spices.

Place the bread pieces on an oven tray and pour garlic on them. Rub the recently used garlic press over the bread to give it a hint of garlic. Roast in 200C oven for about 5 minutes (or until crusty on top).

Place generous spoonfuls of the tomato mixture on each piece of bread. Serve immediately – with napkins.