Bruschetta

For the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic games, I wanted to do something international for my viewing party. I decided to go Italian with my appetizer, inspired by the fresh heirloom tomatoes and basil that my boss brought into work for me. I literally felt like Remy from Ratatouille when he brought in the fresh produce. My first thought was to make a killer tomato basil sauce, but I couldn’t bare the thought of mashing up the fresh produce. I’m a dork, I know. I was stuck between deciding to make a Caprese salad or tomato basil bruschetta, but since I didn’t have any mozzarella on hand I decided to make bruschetta with fresh French bread, garlic and tomatoes and basil. Bruschetta is an appetizer I have grown up making with my mom and it always left our family satisfied. The appetizer turned out wonderfully, except for the fact that I forgot to turn down my faulty and reliable oven down 25º. Soooo it was a little more burnt than I would have liked, but it was still fantastic. 

Bruschetta

(Adapted from Simply Recipes

  • 1 French baguette 
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 4-5 Heirloom tomatoes (or Roma)
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 6-8 fresh chopped basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Parboil the tomatoes by putting the tomatoes in a boiling pot of water for 1-2 minutes. Carefully remove the skins of the tomatoes and then cut into quarters. Chop the garlic and basil leaves and combine in a bowl with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Preheat the oven to 450ºF (or 425º if you have a faulty oven). Slice the bread diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices. Using a pastry brush, coat the olive oil on one side of the bread and place face down on parchment paper. Toast in the oven for 5 minutes. 

Spoon a generous amount of the tomatoes onto each bread slice and arrange on a plate. 

Lavender Shortbread

I got really lucky this week when one of the gals from my work brought in fresh strands of lavender from her field. After letting the lavender sit on my desk for a week, my cube smelled like the south of France. I was so content with the aroma that I decided that I just had to bake with it to see if it tasted as good as it smelled. If you don’t have butter on hand or just want to make a “lighter” version of this recipe, replace the butter with Greek yogurt or sour cream. Keep in mind though that butter is an essential ingredient for shortbread. This recipe also doesn’t call for any sugar or eggs. That being said, don’t expect a chewy cookie to come out of the oven. Shortbread are crumby and used for dunking in tea or coffee.

It’s very important to remember to chill the dough before you cut the shortbread. In order for the shortbread to maintain its shape, it needs to be chilled. Also, don’t eat the cookie dough. I thought that since there was no egg in the recipe that the dough would be ok to eat, but the lavender is far to strong and does not taste good :( However, when baked, the shortbread is simply divine. There just isn’t a better adjective I could use for it :)

I brought the lavender shortbread to my weekly women’s bible study. Our theme that night was “breakfast for dinner” and we enjoyed a scrumptious egg souffle, strawberry summer salad, and turkey bacon with my lavender shortbread.

Lavender Shortbread

(Recipe from Savory Simple)

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (cubed)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons of dried lavender, chopped finely
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cream the butter, powdered sugar and salt in a small bowl or Pyrex. Make sure its a “light and fluffy” consistency. Carefully chop the lavender into fine bits. Make sure you get rid of any stems that linger on. Add the vanilla and lavender and gently stir.

Add flour to the mixture to make the dough.

Using a rolling pin (or a wine bottle), flatten the dough and then shape into logs.

Wrap in parchment paper and chill in the fridge for a few hours.

Once the dough has chilled, carefully unwrap the dough and slice the dough into small rectangles and place on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Keep an eye on the shortbread to make sure the tops and bottoms don’t get too toasty.

Take a look at the egg souffle, strawberry salad and turkey bacon :)

Simply savory indeed :)