Anyone who has thrown a borderline stale baguette into the garbage and exclaimed, “This is the worst of times!” perhaps needs to remember how Charles Dickens began A Tale of Two Cities. Although this day old bread may seem like a lost cause – a sign that you were too preoccupied yesterday to dig into some freshly baked carbohydrate-y goodness – what otherwise would be a waste may indeed be a golden (well, golden-brown) opportunity. By turning a baguette into small toasts and accessorizing it with delicious toppings, this appetizer will make you rejoice and declare, “It is the best of times.”
Like the two male protagonists in A Tale of Two Cities, crostinis can be seemingly similar – identical in foundation, size, shape – perhaps no one can say which is ‘better’ or ‘more desirable.’ One may prefer a Charles Darnay character: a simple flavor, transparent, no surprises, elegant, easy to figure out. Or, like me, one may be intrigued by the complexity of Sydney Carton – a sweet chutney with the surprising cut of vinegar on the smoothness of brie. The reader and eater can constantly side with one and in the blink of a bite or chapter begin sympathizing with the other.
Baguette (I use sourdough, but anything will work!)
Brie cheese, room temperature
Fig -Apple Chutney:
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 apples, diced
10 (or so) fresh figs, diced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. In saucepan, sweat red onion in olive oil until softened (medium heat). Stir in brown sugar and allow to melt on heat. Add apple cider vinegar and allow to reduce by half.
3. Add apples, figs, and cinnamon, lower heat, and cover saucepan with lid. Allow chutney to cook until apples have softened and begun to break down. If, when apples are cooked, the chutney looks too wet, remove the lid and raise the heat to medium to allow some moisture to evaporate.
4. Slice baguette into rounds, about a half-inch in thickness. Drizzle with olive oil and let bake in oven until golden brown and crispy.
5. Spread brie on the toasted baguette rounds, top with chutney.
Alternative (Pineapple-Lime) Chutney:
1 can of crushed pineapple
1 lime, zest and juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Basil to garnish
In saucepan, cook onion in olive oil and salt on low heat until caramelized. Add crushed pineapple, lime zest and juice and warm through. Raise the heat to medium to allow some moisture to evaporate. Garnish with basil.
A Simpler Assembly:
(In place of apple-fig chutney and brie.) Toast baguette rounds. Top with a slice of cheddar cheese, several slices of apple, and a bit of prosciutto.
In honor of Bastille Day, enjoy chutney on baguette with A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and check in at warandpeach.wordpress.com for future recipes and book reviews!