My mom says when she was a girl, she could eat a loaf of Italian bread in one sitting. This, beyond her sense of humor and strong will, is how I know we’re family.
It’s not at all uncommon, when driving home from Dominick’s with bread I’ve purchased, for me to tear off a chunk with my hands and bite right in, crumbs falling on my lap and the steering wheel. Taken out of the oven, with steam slowly escaping, Italian bread cracks along the top and smells like a bakery in the morning, heady with yeast and sweetness. The golden crust reveals an interior pillow of downy softness and air holes, the foundation of roast beef sandwiches; toast with butter and jam; stuffing; or, even, a snack of Nutella in the afternoon.
Also, Italian bread makes crostini, which is essentially toasted slices baked with toppings, be they proscuitto with cheese or figs with honey. For myself, I prefer olive oil and seasonings, cooked until the oil sizzles and the toast crunches. To be wild, I might rub garlic into the slices before baking.
Lately though, I’ve been challenging my food stereotypes. Spinach can be quiche. I can cook a turkey. Sushi might be worth a try.
So when I contemplated using up the last of some bread this week, it had to be a matter of creativity and invention. There were s’mores crostini (topped with Nutella, then marshmallows—too sweet, and easily burned), bittersweet chocolate crostini (bleh, needed something more) and apple cinnamon crostini (which I never did get around to).
The winning recipe seemed as odd of a combination as the sandwich I constructed at my work desk a few days ago, a Pepperidge Farm double-chocolate cookie hugged by two saltines—which, if you’re asking, was quite good, in fact.
These crostini are topped by sliced pears marinated with maple syrup (of all things!) and then kissed by crumbled Parmesan cheese. They’re subtle in their sweetness, enough that you’ll eat a few before realizing what’s happened. Indeed, in the course of making six or so, I ate them all. Every. Single. One. I think there might be half a slice waiting for me in the fridge, but not for my lack of wanting it immediately. Rather, after trying several other slices (namely, a few burnt s’mores), my waistline about to burst, I just couldn’t fit anything else in.
Lovely as an appetizer or tasty snack, these little toasts even make a delightful meal, particularly when you eat enough of them and, ahem, you will.
Quick note: Christmas is coming! So are more cookies, I promise. The many, many I have baked on this site already are viewable here, and you won’t go wrong with any of them, although, if I had to pick, I might say the rosemary and the chocolate-chip, OK also the goofy cowboy ones, could be called favorites. Still though, my favorite, favorite recipes are yet to come, so stay tuned!
One more: FLW Site Design: Since beginning this site in August, I’ve gone through several personality crises with the blog design. I think this one’s here to stay. Maybe you’ve noticed the font’s a little larger? Also, I’ve updated the links a little on the sidebar. If you have suggestions, I’m always happy to hear them: [email protected]
Maple Pear Crostini
Inspired by Tasty Palettes
6 slices Italian bread
2 Tablespoons butter
1 thinly sliced, slightly ripened pear
1 to 2 Tablespoons maple syrup (approximate)
Parmesan cheese (as needed)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread slices on greased cookie sheet or Silpat, and butter each slice. Once oven is heated, put slices in and toast them for about 12 minutes.
In a small dish, toss pear slices with maple syrup and let soak for a while, maybe 10 minutes or so.
Remove bread from oven and lay pear slices on top. Crumble a bit of Parmesan cheese above that. Broil these in the oven for about two minutes. The pear will be tender and soft, and the cheese will have browned.