I think my sister thinks I'm lavish.

It's simply not true. I enjoy good food as much as the next girl, but I don't usually go crazy. That's saved for guests. (Hint--There may be a post for this Friday's dessert, for instance.)

In this case, her feelings are guided by misunderstanding. I say her feelings, but I'm making assumptions here--this is an educated guess of mine based on the fact that she thinks I make fancy, over-priced apps as snack food. The issue is, I don't think most people know how simple really good food can be.

Which is why I love the following recipe, which is less a recipe and more a series of steps you can fill out, because it feels indulgent. And, you will learn, I really like indulging. The only thing that will suck is waiting an hour while the smell of roasting garlic invades your house.

Prosciutto, Roasted Garlic and Goat Cheese Crostini

makes 12 crostini

1 head garlic, roasted*
1/2 cup goat cheese
4 large slices prosciutto
baguette, cut into 12 thin rounds
spicy oil, optional
minced fresh chives, optional

Note: This recipe has been updated since the original posting.  Not only does it have a photo, the directions have changed a tich.  I thought I was being fancy by layering prosciutto in thinner cuts previously.  I've decided this is unnecessary because the little "blankets" scrunny up like the picture above displays.  Simpler, faster, equally pretty and delicious.

Start your broiler heating.  My gas oven allows me to set my broiler to "low".

Working over a cookie sheet, scoop out a clove with a butter knife and smear it over a round of baguette. If you have particularly large cloves, cut them in half.  Top with crumbled goat cheese, dividing evenly between the rounds.

If you want a little spice, this would be the time to lightly shake some hot oil over the crostini.  A pinch of red pepper flakes will work well too, but be sure your guests want that kind of thing!

Lay the prosciutto slices directly on top of each other.  With a flat, sharp knife, cut into thirds, width-wise.  This supposes you will end up with small slices that are just big enough to cover one of your crostini.  If your slices are larger or smaller (I've gotten up to 4 pieces out of really big prosciutto slices), adjust accordingly.  Layer prosciutto like a little blanket over the cheese. 

Place cookie sheet in the oven 3-4 inches away from the broiler. Cook them for just 3-5 minutes or until the edges of the crostini and meat are browning; the fat at the edges of the prosciutto should be starting to crisp and render.

Consume immediately, guiltlessly, lavishly.

*Roasting a head of garlic: You do this by cutting the top 1/3 of the head off (you're aiming to expose the tops of most, if not all, of the cloves) and drizzling a little olive oil on it. You could top with a little salt and pepper if you want.  I don't really see a need, though. Wrap it up in tin foil, set it in a 375 degree oven.  Check it after 45 minutes.  (One hour for two heads, which I would recommend, because who wants to turn on the oven for an hour for one bloody head of garlic?  They will also keep in the fridge for a while so no panic.)   The garlic is done when the tops are geennntly caramelizing (you don't need a deep brown like most "real" caramelizing - the outside cloves may burn first).  You should be able to feel the garlic is smooshy-soft through the skin.

Seriously, that's all there is to this five-dollar app they've served you at a restaurant.  A ten-cent head of garlic and time.

(Alternatively, you could get a similar flavor poaching a head of garlic and get yourself some garlic-oil for bread dipping and dressings and what have you at the same time.)

Achievement Unlocked: Roasted Garlic


Recommendation RRrrrrrrondays!

Okay, so there will never be a good day of the week to note a recommendation and make an alliteration of said note. I'm okay with that. Mostly.

I anticipated from the start that I would intersperse recommendations with my own recipe posts as a tribute to those bloggers and inventors who have inspired me. So see the Recommendations page for the list of linking posts I throw up here.

The first linkee of honour that I wanted to have here was one Cheryl Rule. Cheryl runs 5 Second Rule, a hilarious, smart, fun blog that I can't say enough good about. She was also the one who inadvertently introduced me to the world of food blogging. I don't remember what I'd been looking for, but long ago, I found her via Google and after reading about a million recipes straight (and totally just for her recipe introductions--I'd stopped caring about the food three posts in, but it's awesome too), I knew I was hooked.

I'd like you to take a look at a simple offering of hers, Bacon Green Beans with Crispy Sage. This recipe combines two of the best things in the world, bacon and fresh sage, so you can't go wrong.


Chai Tea Concentrate

For my very first recipe, foodie to foodie, I give you...

A drink.*

I was a huge fan of going out for drinks at a coffee house until I figured out how to make most of the drinks I like at home. Don't get me wrong--I don't have an espresso maker so lattes and foamed milk are out. But I never used to order those as a first choice anyway. What I did used to order, I now see as a waste. Why pay four bucks for that when I could do it at home? So I order some kind of latte and I enjoy it but I'm not possessed by its deliciousness.

My favorite has always--before and since the advent of my mild lactose intolerance--always been chai. Eventually, my mom and I scoured the internet for a recipe and I don't know if we were simple or the internet was simpler (but I have my guesses), but we didn't have a ton of luck. One recipe we did find called for peppercorns. Peppercorns? That just sounded too weird to us and we continued to satisfy our cravings by the overpriced cup.

It's only been in the last two years that I've figured out how to make my own chai. I like to use whole spices. It's a pain to go to a bulk store and find them sometimes, I know. However, it's easier, to my mind, to have a stock of these rather than carefully straining out your tea through a coffee filter so you don't have a quarter inch of grit at the bottom of your cup.

That being said, if you'd like to do it that way, go nuts. Just be careful with your translations of whole spices to ground.

Chai Tea Concentrate

Please note that this is a recipe for a concentrate, not a tea. Mix the results of this concentrate half and half or 3/4 concentrate to 1/4 milk, depending on your taste.

4 cups water
5 orange pekoe tea bags (I split these between caffeinated and decaf so I don't go to bed jittering)
1/2 cup honey
4 half-size cinnamon sticks or 2 regular size
15 cloves
8-10 peppercorns
5 cardamom pods
4 allspice berries
1/2 inch ginger root, smashed
2 medium pieces star anise
1 tsp vanilla

Bring your water to a boil and then add the tea bags. Turn the heat way down and allow the bags to steep for approximately five minutes. Bring the tea back to a boil and then add the honey. This will dampen your boil so get it going again.

Add the spices and the vanilla. Cover and reduce to simmer. Let the mixture simmer for five minutes with the tea bags, then remove them so the irony tea taste doesn't overwhelm the pot. Allow the spice to continue to simmer for the next twenty minutes or so. Strain out the spices. Serve hot or cold.

*I find two things hysterical about this photo. One, that the ingredients shown are not even, in fact, the ingredients I use as the nutmeg shouldn't be in there. When I took this picture long ago, though, I was. Too bad, so sad.

Two, I told you I was a shitty photographer. Only a photographer of my epic levels of mindlessness would frame their shot beside their dirty kitchen sink. I want you to know I photoshopped that picture, badly, to clean the sink up a bit. You're welcome.