A friend of mine was house-sitting for her parents over the weekend, so we had a girls' dinner on Saturday night. Since we have dinner pretty often, we always coordinate some sort of fabulous potluck. I've got to say I hate the word potluck; it reminds me of potato salad and frozen rolls and some sort of casserole. Our "potluck" is totally different; since we love nothing more than to cook and enjoy great food, we try our best to coordinate a gourmet menu.
The weekend's dinner revolved around penne pasta with sausage and pumpkin as the entree. Sound weird? It's not; it's fantastic. I'll have to make it and post it sometime soon; it's like tasting the holidays and and an Italian dinner and hearty sausage all at the same time.
I was in charge of appetizers and desserts. Desserts were easy as I had enough gingerbread whoopie pies, cinnamon nut brittle, kitchen sink cookies, brownies and peppermint bark to feed an army. I made little dessert gift boxes for each of the girls, complete with an Etsy ceramic display tray. It was their Christmas present and dessert all in one.
As for the appetizer, I knew exactly what to make: a spin-off of Pizzeria Mozza's Parma proscuitto and burrata cheese with grilled bread. The saltiness of the proscuitto matches perfectly with the creaminess of the burrata. If you've never had burrata cheese (translated as "buttered" in Italian), you are absolutely missing out. Burrata is made from mozzarella cheese and cream; the solid mozzarella shell hides a deliciously creamy, spreadable interior. It's like creamy, cheesy gold. Sold at many specialty cheese and/or gourmet shops (I got mine at Monsieur Marcel), it can be hard to find but worth the effort.
This crostini is one of my all-time favorite appetizers, is super simple and has yet to disappoint anyone for whom I've made it. Here's what you need and how you do it:
- 1 French baguette
- 1/4 pound Parma proscuitto, sliced thin
- 1 package Burrata cheese
- 1 cup good olive oil (my favorites are Monino and Olivier's house blend)
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
Turn on your barbecue to medium and heat for a few moments. Once the barbecue is hot, put the slices of bread on the grill and close for about one to two minutes. The slices of bread should have grill marks and be crusty to the touch. Flip the slices over and repeat. It's really important to keep an eye on the bread so it doesn't burn.
*Note: While I do this on the grill, you can get the same result using a panini press, George Foreman Grill or even broiler. Again, it's most important to heat your grill beforehand (the oil on the bread should sizzle when it hits the grill) and watch it closely so the bread doesn't burn.
Once all the bread is grilled, transfer it to a serving platter. Spread one spoonful of burrata cheese over each slice of bread, making sure it coats the bread evenly. Tear a piece of proscuitto from the package, fold it and gently drape it over the cheese. Option: sprinkle the tops of the crostinis with salt and pepper. You're done! Serve and enjoy.