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: pea pesto for crostini

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For my little rooftop birthday party I made platters with crostini and topping, inspired by What’s Gaby Cooking, and I also made her pea pesto as I thought it was a nice addition to the spread.

It’s delicious on a crostini on it’s own, but also with ricotta or burrata and cured ham. I like that it’s fresh and filling (for a spread) and has a hint of spice to it!

Pea pesto spread, serves 6

Adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking’s recipe.

150 g frozen petit poi, thawed

a handful fresh basil (or mint)

1/2 garlic clove

3 tbsp grated parmesan

1/2 lemon, the juice

1/4 tsp chilli flakes 

salt and pepper

Mix together all of the ingredients in a food processor or using a stick blender, but not too fine as you want a little texture. Season to taste. Serve with crostini. 

Recipe: crostini with mushroom spread

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This Finnish-Russian mushroom salad or spread is absolutely delicious. When it was first introduced to me by fellow food blogger Anna, I couldn’t believe it was made from only a few ingredients (fried mushrooms, smetana, dill and salt). It truly is one of those dishes where the sum if far far greater than its parts.

The fabulous recipe is courtesy or Swedish food writer Jens Linder and was published in one of the leading Swedish newspapers as a dish for Julbordet, i.e. the Christmas smorgasbord, but I prefer it like this, served on crostini as a pre-dinner snack, all year round.

Please note the recipe calls for smetana; the Russian version of creme fraiche/soured cream. If you can’t find it creme fraiche is a good substitute, but smetana works so well here it’s worth going out of your way to find it. Personally, I will place an order for some here next time I get a craving.

I also mixed fresh and dried mushrooms as I prefer the texture of the fresh ones but as it’s not mushroom season, they taste less than the dried porcini and black trumpets I have in my cupboard.

Mushroom salad, makes 1 batch (enough for 12 crostini which serves 3-4 people)

Translated from and adapted after Jens Linder’s recipe.

This salad is so delicious I would urge you to make a double batch straight away. That’s what I did, and it was the perfect amount for five hungry people as a pre-dinner snack.

600 ml fresh or frozen mushrooms, or 50 ml dried mushrooms

2-3 tbsp butter

plenty of sea salt flakes

4 tbsp finely chopped dill

300 ml smetana (or creme fraiche)

12 crostini

Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for ten minutes. Drain and discard the liquid. If using fresh or frozen mushrooms, finely chop these.

Fry the mushrooms in butter on medium heat until golden. Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. 

Mix the now cool mushrooms with whole sea salt flakes, dill and smetana. The mixture should be plenty salty. Leave for a few hours in the fridge before serving. 

Divide between the crostini and serve. 

 

Chicken liver mousse with white wine and rosemary

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I like some DIY action when I host parties, like the blini table I had one year, and the crostinis with different spreads in jars in December.

Not surprisingly, my friends loved the smoked salmon spread (this is like the essence of Scandinavia, Hanna – oh yes!), whereas I prefer the deeper, more complex flavours of the chicken liver mousse. But when my friends had overcome the hurdle of the brown dull colour and tasted it, they also really enjoyed it!

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Chicken liver mousse with white wine and rosemary 

400 g chicken liver (approx 375 g with tendons removed)

1 shallots, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1 tbsp chopped rosemary

100 ml dry white wine

4 anchovies from a tin

100 ml homemade chicken stock

50-100 ml cream

 

Remove all tendons and chop the liver coarsely. Fry the onion until soft in butter and oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and rosemary, making sure the garlic does not burn. Add the wine and let some of it evaporate. Add the anchovies and let them melt. Turn up the heat and add the liver and fry until cooked through. Add the stock and let some evaporate but still keeping a good amount of liquid in the pan. 

Mix until smooth in a food processor. Add the cream little by little until desired consistency. Push through a fine sieve. Leave to cool and refrigerate. 

This year’s Christmas drinks party

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I had some of the girls over for Christmas drinks the first Saturday in December and it was so much fun! Last year I had a larger gathering with both girls and boys, but this year I just didn’t have enough time or energy to prepare something big, but rather than not organising anything at all I preferred to scale it down. I do hope I have more time and energy last year for a proper Christmas party with lots of canapés, but I’m not making any promises.

To start with we had prosecco (and quite a lot of it!) and savoury canapés, starting with warm crisps with browned butter, grated comté, lemon juice and cress. I love these so so much! I know it’s making crisps even unhealthier, but it is so worth it. I mentioned the browned butter right?!

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Thereafter I put out a little DIY project with crostinis. I had a large bag filled with crostinis and three jars on a silver tray with different spreads to put on top; bean spread with sage, hot smoked salmon spread (the girls favourite!) and a new version of chicken liver parfait (recipe to follow soon) and cornichons.

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After that I passed around a board of prosciutto parcels filled with cream cheese mixed with chopped sunblush tomatoes. It’s the easiest recipe ever (three ingredients!) but always goes down well.

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We then moved on to the hot food. First up were these puff pastry squares with mushrooms, grated cheese, creme fraiche and parsley. IMG_7468

Then the mini Janssons frestelse that all my London friends adore! Janssons frestelse is like a creamy potato bake (with grated potato) with anchovies. It sounds rather odd I know, but everyone who’s ever tried it loves it, I promise!

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Having finished the savoury canapés it was time for the sweets and glögg! I put it all out on the table at once to people cook pick and choose. The rocky road I made this year is probably the best one yet (recipe to follow), mainly because it has honeycomb in it and it really works!! I also tried to pretty them pieces up with snowflakes (which I tend to use on everything this time of year!) and edible glitter.

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I also served gingerbread with blue cheese, but this time I substituted Stilton for St Agur, which works even better.

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I also made these mini saffron pannacottas that I like to make every year – I’m so lucky my friends are happy to eat! 

 

 

Hot smoked salmon spread for crostinis

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The London crayfish party was a success and so much fun! There was only ten of us but we managed to demolish 5 kgs crayfish and drink two bottles of snaps (as well as beer and wine) and sing snaps songs. Thank you to everyone involved for embracing my country’s silly traditions and being such fun guests!

Before we started on the crayfish though, we had some prosecco and nibbles. I usually start a dinner party with nibbles as I think it’s such a nice informal way to start the evening and get people chatting. One of the nibbles I made was this hot smoked salmon spread. I just put it in a bowl and the guests assembled their own crostinis.

Hot smoked salmon spread, enough for 5 people as a nibble

Adapted after and translated from Arla’s recipe.

350 g hot smoked salmon fillets (no bones)

200 ml soured cream

2 tbsp freshly grated horseradish

1/2 bunch chives

1/2 lemon, the juice

salt, black pepper

Check the salmon for bones and remove them and any skin. Place in a bowl and mush it with a fork. Add soured cream, horseradish (Ocado has the fresh stuff) and lemon juice. Add the lemon juice and season to taste. Keep refrigerated until serving. 

Crostini with goat’s cheese crème, pine nuts, honey and rosemary

cro1 Crostinis with different toppings are one of my go-to nibbles. You can prepare both toppings and the bread ahead of time and just assemble before serving, plus the flavour combinations are endless. These guys with goat’s cheese crème (so mild the goat’s cheese haters liked it too!), toasted pine nuts, Acacia honey and rosemary are so yummy and went down a treat at the party. Crostinis with goat’s cheese créme, toasted pine nuts, rosemary and honey, makes 70 2 really long baguettes mild olive oil 500 ml thick French crème fraiche (I used Waitrose’s French full fat crème fraiche)  250 g soft mild goat’s cheese  1 tbsp mild olive oil salt, white pepper 100 g pine nuts 1 bunch rosemary, finely chopped Acacia honey Slice the baguettes and place on trays. Drizzle with oil and toast in the oven (180-200C0 until golden brown, approx 12 minutes. Leave to cool. Add the creme fraiche to a large bowl. Add the crumbled cheese and whip with an electric whisk until combined. Add oil, salt and pepper and combine. Store in the fridge until assembly time.   Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan. Leave to cool.  Assemble: Pipe a dollop of cheese crème onto each crostini, top with toasted pine nuts, some chopped rosemary and a small dollop of honey. Serve immediately.