Monday, May 21, 2018
Cooking

Make bruschetta the star of the summer picnic

There are few dishes more elemental and satisfying than bruschetta. A mainstay at many Italian restaurants, it's an appetizer comprising slices of grilled bread adorned with any number of toppings. According to Italian cookbook author Marcella Hazan, bruschetta likely originated in ancient Rome. Olive growers who brought their produce there to be pressed would sample the flavor of the fresh-squeezed oil on toasted slices of bread. (The word is derived from the Roman verb bruscare, meaning "to roast over coals.")

I like to make bruschetta on my stovetop grill at home when I don't want to grill outside. It's a winning accompaniment to just about any soup or stew and a reliable favorite with the family. Having recently come to the conclusion that there was no good reason why this simple and tasty concoction should be limited to an appetizer or side dish, I have here chosen to cast bruschetta as the star of a summer picnic.

As noted, bruschetta is simple to make. But you need to work with high-quality ingredients if you want it to turn out beautifully. Start with a loaf of fresh and crusty rustic bread. Then brush each slice of bread with your very best extra-virgin olive oil before it heads for the grill. When the bread comes off the grill, and while it's still hot, rub one side of each slice with a cut clove of garlic. Then top it off with a light sprinkling of sea salt. By the way, this technique works just as well using a grill pan in the kitchen as it does with a grill outdoors.

This recipe spells out two other toppings, all vaguely Mediterranean: a white bean salad with fresh fennel thickened with mashed beans so that the filling sticks to the bread, and smoked salmon rillettes — finely chopped salmon flavored with capers, lemon and fresh herbs and bound with sour cream.

But bruschetta is nothing if not basic, meaning that just about any filling you'd ordinarily put between two slices of bread will also work as a topping for bruschetta: egg salad, tuna salad, runny cheese, hummus, grilled vegetables, you name it. Just bring the toppings in jars to the picnic, step aside, and watch everyone go for theirs. No one's going to wonder where the sandwiches are when bruschetta is on the picnic menu.

Comments
Taste test: new (and very sugary) cereals

Taste test: new (and very sugary) cereals

My addiction to sugar began as a child. I loved sugary breakfast cereals as a morning meal or an evening snack, the sweeter the better. We used to joke in my house that I even added table sugar to Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms. Thankfu...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Five ideas for sleep-friendly midnight snacks

Five ideas for sleep-friendly midnight snacks

When the clock strikes midnight, I reach for the cookie jar. Okay, maybe itís not an actual jar ó maybe Iím even lazier, and I reach for the cardboard box of chocolate chip cookies I bought from the store. The point is, my late-night snack habits are...
Published: 05/16/18
Exploring alternative tea drinks to toast Prince Harry and Meghan Markleís royal wedding

Exploring alternative tea drinks to toast Prince Harry and Meghan Markleís royal wedding

The year was 2011. It was the night before Prince Williamís wedding to Kate Middleton, and I stood in my kitchen making chocolate chip scones. I set my alarm for 3:30 a.m., with plans to sit in the spare bedroom of the townhome and watch Britainís ro...
Published: 05/15/18
Taste test: pineapple juice

Taste test: pineapple juice

Having always loved a fresh pineapple stick in my brewed iced tea, I wondered recently if a splash of pineapple juice would give it the same sweet kick. While few of us drink pure pineapple juice, our panelists definitely enjoy an occasional watered-...
Published: 05/14/18
Branch out: Give Sauteed Asparagus in Soy Sauce Glaze a try

Branch out: Give Sauteed Asparagus in Soy Sauce Glaze a try

Asparagus is by far the favorite vegetable of my family. I can serve nearly 3 pounds of asparagus a couple of times a week to my family of six, and my girls will still argue over who gets the last stalk. I say this not to impress you with the adventu...
Published: 05/11/18
Five ideas for Motherís Day breakfasts

Five ideas for Motherís Day breakfasts

Are you stumped for Motherís Day ideas? Donít stress. This year, surprise the mothers in your life with a special breakfast that fits perfectly with their personalities. Whether she loves the tradition of breakfast-in-bed or prefers her meals on the ...
Published: 05/09/18
Updated: 05/10/18
Review: Rick Bragg’s ‘The Best Cook in the World’ a loving food memoir about his mother

Review: Rick Bragg’s ‘The Best Cook in the World’ a loving food memoir about his mother

When Rick Bragg told his mother that his new book about her would be titled The Best Cook in the World, Margaret Bragg protested: "I wasn’t even the best cook that lived on our road." Bragg writes, "I told her we couldn’t call it The Thi...
Published: 05/09/18
Making granola at home is easy and scrumptious with this Maple Cashew Granola

Making granola at home is easy and scrumptious with this Maple Cashew Granola

If Iím being honest, most of what I do in the kitchen is recreate really delicious things Iíve eaten somewhere else. No, it never tastes the same, but itís a useful way to get cooking inspiration, and also to not spend $10 on something it takes $2 to...
Published: 05/08/18
Updated: 05/09/18
Recipe for Slow Cooked Pork Roast

Recipe for Slow Cooked Pork Roast

Slowly cooking a big hunk of tough, inexpensive meat isnít just the best way to cook this cut of meat. Itís really the only way. Most tough cuts of meat come from the hardest working parts of the animal, and therefore have a lot of collagen. This col...
Published: 05/08/18
Taste test: New frozen chocolate treats

Taste test: New frozen chocolate treats

With longer summer nights on the horizon, our judges are always looking for a new cool treat to beat the heat. This week they sampled four new chocolate offerings found in local grocery store freezers. A couple were pool party worthy and others were ...
Published: 05/07/18