Elegant crostini on the cheap

In Recipies on July 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Set out a regal appetizer on a Bohemian budget. Who says you can’t entertain for less than $10? All in, with the apps and a bottle of red, our kicked back Saturday nite was around $7.



Want to put together an elegant appetizer on a shoestring budget? This is a perfect lazy man’s recipe that goes well with a bottle of chilled swill. It can be thrown together in just over an hour (hands-on time is only about 15 minutes). The onion marmalade can be made well in advance, leaving only the task of smearing a bit of Brie onto toasted slices of French bread. The stuff tastes like a million bucks and is sure bring compliments to the humblest of kitchens.

A few quick words about economy.

I watch for loaves of day-old French bread at Sam’s Club or Wal Mart. I recently bought ten loaves for a little over a buck each. They freeze wonderfully and fill in nicely when my frozen stock of baguettes runs low (I fill the freezer with home-baked each winter when the oven gives me extra heat, free.) Don’t fall for buying expensive red wine vinegar. A recent tasting on America’s Test Kitchen showed that the cheaper vinegar performs as well as the boutique ones. I went with Pompeian brand at $2.39 per bottle.

Ditto for the red wine. As long as it’s drinkable, it will work fine. Save the better stuff for when you serve this masterpiece.

Let’s get started.

You’ll need:

1 loaf French bread, sliced ½” slices

4-6 oz Brie, room temperature

2 TBS olive oil

¼ C red wine vinegar

2/3 C red wine

1 large shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 very large yellow (or white) onion, thinly sliced

2/3 C brown sugar

2 tsp dried French thyme (or a good handful of fresh stems)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a skillet over low-medium heat. Stir in the onions and cook for about 15 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Reduce the heat to low and add the shallot and the garlic. Stir for about a minute or until the fragrance blooms. Stir in the vinegar, the wine, and the sugar. The mixture should be barely boiling. Add the thyme and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, at a bare simmer for about 45-60 minutes. Do not allow the pan to dry out. If it gets dry, stir in a tablespoon more of wine.

Pre-heat a broiler for ten minutes. Use a toaster to toast the slices of bread. Smear a bit of Brie on each slice and place them on baking sheets. Broil just until the cheese melts (1-2 minutes). Remove from broiler and fork a teaspoon or two of the onion mixture on each slice. Serve with wine.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: