Are you popular? Good looking? Affable? Adored and looked up to by your peers? Brilliant? All of the above? I know, I know, life is hard (and we have SO much in common). If you possess any or all of the aforementioned qualities, and/or your house is located conveniently in the path of your friends’ daily routine, you may find yourself in a position to be entertaining surprise guests on a fairly regular schedule. I have two rules of thumb (if you are unaware of the entomology of this phrase I highly recommend looking it up prior to your next use thereof) when hosting get togethers/meals/key parties with my friends: ALWAYS be well prepared and, in the case of a food prep fail, whomever made the egregious error is responsible for buying pizza for everyone. The second is quite colloquial but one should heed the advice of the first - plan ahead as much as possible. Ponder this, who looks sillier:

  1. A man carrying an umbrella on a sunny day
  2. A man holding a newspaper above his head as he gets soaked on a rainy day?

Follow up:

While not everyone agrees with me on the hilarity level (very high), the latter has clearly exhibited a FAIL! All of this said, sometimes you will be in a position to provide sustenance with little to no advance notice. You don’t want to look unprepared and foolish (even if both are accurate) now do you? The following is a simple recipe to pull your keister out of the fire. In it’s simplest form this delectable hors d’œuvre will only require the following:

  • One loaf bread (I used homemade Pane Rustica Italian Bread)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Toaster oven or other heat source

For the simple version, lightly brush the bread with olive oil, toast till crisp and then drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper generously prior to serving.

For the highly sophisticated version it gets a tad more involved. The following recipe makes about 4 small or 2 large crostini. This is the mis en place for the complicated version not including the hot grill pan or cheese which I grated over the top near the end.

  • Two large (or 4 small) slices of bread (mine is homemade Pane Rustica)
  • 2 white button Mushrooms 50% sliced, 50% finely diced
  • Peeled,seeded, and diced Roma tomatoes
  • 1 Minced garlic clove
  • Grill or grill pan (covered in grapeseed or vegetable oil)
  • 3 Tbsp Parmigiano Regianno
  • 2 Tbsp (plus more for drizzling)Roasted Garlic and Basil Olive Oil (or regular EVOO)

Add about 2 TB of olive oil to a frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is getting warm add the minced garlic and finely diced mushrooms. After about 3 minutes add the diced tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes release most of their water, approx 3 more minutes.

The point here is not to cook the tomatoes but to remove as much moisture as possible (in order to leave one’s crostini crisp) and marry the garlic/mushroom/tomato flavors. Remove from the heat and drain liquid.

Heat a grill pan over high heat after coating with grapeseed oil. If using a “real” grill, it is possible, though not recommend to skip the oiling (use a brush and don’t burn off your eyebrows with flaming oil). When the oil starts to smoke lay your bread on a 45 degree angle against the grain.

Push down to really ingrain those beauty marks. After 3 minutes you will start to smell burning, now is time to flip the bread over. Rinse, repeat.

Spoon the tomato/garlic/minced mushroom mix onto the top of the crostini. Heat the broiler in your oven to high, add the sliced mushrooms and grated parm. to the top of the crostini. This is what it looked like prior to going in the oven.

Place under the broiler for about 2 minutes until cheese is melted and top mushrooms are crisp.

This is what it looked like when it came out of the oven.

Note: I served the second piece with a drizzle of Roasted Garlic and Basil Olive Oil and salt/pepper as in the simple preparation.