Simple Summer Bruschetta Recipe

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“Sweet, sweet burn of sun and summer wind, and you my friend, my new fun thing, my summer fling.”
~ k.d. lang

 

It’s not quite summer here in Australia yet, but gee it feels like it! The sun is beating down, the sky is wide and blue, the grass is plush and green beneath my feet, and my leftover-from-winter gardens are already setting bountiful crops. My basil has self-seeded from last summer, and my tomatoes are last season’s vines that keep producing more sweet ripe fruit from their near-dead tangles every time I threaten to pull them out so that I can replant.

Bruschetta is one of my favourite easy meals over the summer. It’s like sunshine and warm hazy afternoons on a slice of bread.

There are so many variations of this recipe.  Mine is simple, but if you have quality ingredients you don’t need all the fancy extras. Do yourself a favour – use a good handmade bread, use the sweetest, ripest sunshine-filled tomatoes that you grew yourself or found at the farmers markets (or if you can only find tomatoes at the supermarket leave them on the kitchen window sill in the sun for a few days to ripen a little more and develop that deep sweet taste), fresh garlic, and a good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The better the ingredients, the tastier your end result. Supermarket tomatoes straight from the fridge won’t do this recipe justice. For this recipe I’ve used  heirloom cherry tomatoes of a couple of different varieties, because that’s what was in my garden, but any tasty tomato will suffice!

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Ingredients:

1 to 2 slices of good bread per person (I used a hearty sourdough quinoa and rye); fresh garlic cloves, enough tomatoes to provide a substantial covering for each piece of bread, a couple of large fresh basil leaves, salt (again, use a good one!), a generous slug of extra virgin olive oil and a slug of balsamic vinegar.

Method:

Wash the tomatoes and then cut into small pieces. Scrape them into a bowl, add a generous pinch of salt, a slug of olive oil, and a slug of balsamic vinegar. Add a few shredded basil leaves and some finely minced garlic (add enough for your personal taste) and mix well. Allow the tomato mix to sit for ten minutes for the flavours to enhance.

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Toast the bread. Lightly crush a garlic clove with the back of a knife and then rub the garlic clove into the toasted bread so that it releases its oils. Discard the clove or keep it for another dish.

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Pile the tomato mix onto the toast, pressing it down into the bread, which will soak up the juices. Serve at once.

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I couldn’t help myself and took a bite before this pic!

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Optional extras: Some people like a little (or a lot) of freshly shaved parmesan cheese on top of their tomato mix, but I think it’s perfect without it! This is also great as an appetiser, served on small rounds of toasted baguette.

Fairy Bread Recipe – An easy party treat!

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“You take away all the other luxuries in life, and if you can make someone smile and laugh, you have given the most special gift: happiness.”~ Brad Garrett

I try to blog a recipe each week, but being a one-eyed pirate in the remote Outback has certainly proved a challenge on that front. However, I feel quite triumphant! I have managed to make Fairy Bread for a birthday afternoon tea while visiting at a friend’s cattle station, after being faced with limited ingredients at the local store.

Fairy Bread was always one of my childhood favourites. Children love it, and I hasten to add that most adults do too! It combines the soft chewy texture of white bread with creamy butter and a good sprinkling of crunchy sweet hundreds and thousands (coloured nonpareils). I also made some with chocolate hail – a kind of sweet chocolate sprinkle that is equally delicious.

It’s definitely not a health food, but as an occasional treat I highly recommend Fairy Bread – why, even the name is cute!

Ingredients:

Sliced soft white bread, soft spreadable butter, hundreds and thousands, chocolate hail or similar if desired. Some cookie or bread cutters if you have them.

Method:

If you have cookie cutters, leave the crusts on your bread, and stamp some shapes from the middle of each piece of bread, trying not to get any of the crust.

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If you don’t have cookie cutters simply cut the crusts off each slice of bread, and then cut your bread into squares or triangles.

Tip your hundreds and thousands or any other toppings into shallow wide bowls.

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Butter the bread thickly. Then turn it butter side down and press into a bowl of topping.

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Thank you to my friend, Carly-Jay Metcalfe, for this artful demonstration of technique!

Arrange decoratively on a large plate. Feel free to ask children to assist. Older kids love stamping the bread shapes and even littlies can dip the buttered slices to feel like they are helping. Just make sure SOME of the fairy bread makes it to the plate.

Serve with lemonade or a glass of milk for the kids. Adults might like to pair this with a good cup of tea or a glass of pink champagne!

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Cherry Ripe Slice Recipe

We’ve got a party to go to on the weekend – a neighbour’s son is turning eighteen! Like most parties in the country, people will be coming from near and far, and there will be quite a crowd to feed. I’m taking along a huge tray of of these delicious Cherry Ripe Slices and another big tray of my favourite Chocolate Brownies ( click here for the Brownie recipe  – it’s easy and fabulously yum, and I updated it yesterday for American measurements as well!)  .

The base of the Cherry Ripe Slice is a tasty chocolate biscuit, topped with a rich sweet coconut and cherry layer, finished with a drizzle of dark chocolate. It keeps very well, and also makes a lovely gift. It can also be made gluten-free very easily and still tastes heavenly.

Ingredients (American equivalents in brackets):

Base: 1 and 1/4 cups self raising flour ( or 1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour with 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder) * Substitute your favourite gluten-free flour here if you have an intolerance – it works fine in this recipe, 2 tablespoons of cocoa, 3/4 cup dessicated coconut, 1/2 cup caster sugar (superfine sugar), 125g butter (1 stick or 4 ounces of butter), 1 egg

Cherry Layer: 2 and 1/2 cups of coconut, 200g glace cherries, quartered (7 ounces of glace cherries or 1 cup glace cherries, quartered), 1 x 395gram tin of sweetened condensed milk

Dark or Milk Chocolate: Your choice, dark or milk.  You’ll need between 150g to 200g (3/4 to one cup, or 7 ounces) melted.

I also make this in paper cups for easy individual serves.  I’ll show you both ways today!

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C (moderate or 355F), and line a 20cm x 30cm (8 inch by 12 inch) slice tin with non-stick paper, or grease it well. You may also use a muffin tin or similar and line with paper cups. (*If you are being fancy-schmancy, make this in a spring-form flan dish, and serve in small wedges as your next dinner party dessert!)

Melt butter and cool slightly.  Beat egg well.  Sift dry ingredients into a bowl, then stir through the butter and egg until well combined.  Press into the slice tin, or push a spoonful of the mix into each individual cup and press down with fingers to form a base.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes – check to see that it is firm and cooked through.  If not give it another five minutes.

Remove from oven but leave the oven on.  Cool slice for five minutes.

While the slice is baking, mix the topping ingredients together in a bowl.  Press over the chocolate biscuit layer and return to over for another 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely.

Melt chocolate and drizzle over top. Don’t worry too much about how it looks, let it be homespun and groovy. (If you are a total chocolate fiend, melt enough to spread a thick layer over the entire slice, adding a spoonful of vegetable oil or butter to stop it cracking when you cut it. This is divine but be warned, it is also very rich!) When chocolate has set, cut into small squares and store in an airtight tin.

This goes very well with coffee, tea or a glass of milk. It also makes a special dessert when served with some whipped cream, pouring cream, or a good vanilla ice-cream. ♥