Caprese Bruschetta with a Port Wine Glaze

I’m never quite sure what to bring when someone asks me to contribute an appetizer to an event.  I love making dips, but sometimes they clash with whatever is being served and I really wanted to make something that would look lovely, taste wonderful, and take advantage of the fresh tomatoes of the season.  Enter, the Caprese Salad!

Of course, since I was taking the dish to a fellow wine-friend’s home, I was going to need to incorporate wine somewhere, so I tried to find a recipe that would fit all the necessary categories.  Finding a few ideas on the web, I set to work creating a Toasted Caprese Salad on Bruschetta with a Port Wine Glaze.CapreseBruschetta&PortGlaze

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Port Wine (whatever you like or have on hand)
  • Butter (just a small tab is enough to “gloss the sauce”)
  • 2 loaves of long/thin French/Italian bread (I made my own, but store bought is also wonderful in this recipe)
  • Olive oil (enough to brush each side of the toast slices)
  • Tomatoes (I used two large, ripe tomatoes, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • Basil (Fresh is preferred, but I only had dried, which worked well)
  • salt/pepper (to taste)
  • White Wine (I used a Pinot Grigio, but use whatever you have available)
  • Fresh Mozzarella cheese (I bought a log of sliced mozzarella and cut it into strips)
  • Extra basil (fresh is preferred but dried is perfectly acceptable)

I made the Port Wine Glaze first, since it would be need time to rest and thicken.  Pour the 2 cups of port into a sauce pan and simmer the wine until it is reduced to 1/2 cup.  You can tell it has thickened enough if you can see a faint/quick line after drawing a spatula through the sauce from top to bottom.  Add a small tab of butter to “gloss the sauce” and adjust seasonings using a pinch of salt/sugar as needed.  Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.  If you’re making this step a day ahead, keep the glaze in the fridge and warm slightly before using so the butter isn’t solid when spooning it over the bruschetta.

Next, make your tomato mixture.  I diced two tomatoes fairly fine and then tossed them with salt/pepper and a bit of Pinot Grigio.  The tomato was fairly juicy, so just before using it, I placed the mixture into a small colander to drain the excess liquid off to keep the bruschetta from getting soaked.

To create your bruschetta, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Slice the loaves of bread into ~3/4″ pieces (as thick or thin as you like) and layer them onto sheet trays lined with foil.  NOTE: Using foil will make the final toasts easier to move to a serving tray.  LIghtly brush the top of each piece of bread with olive oil and allow to toast for 5 minutes.  Flip the toasts over and brush again with olive oil before toasting the second side for 5 minutes.

To assemble, top each toast with a layer of tomato mixture, a sliver or two of mozzarella, and a sprinkle of basil.  Once each toast is adequately topped, pop your bruschetta into the oven for a final 5 minute toasting to melt the cheese a bit. When they come out of the oven, spoon the Port Wine Glaze over top of each individual toast, allowing the glaze to pour over the edges and be soaked up by the bread.  Serve as quickly as possible – these are best when warm, crispy, and dripping with glaze.  NOTE: If you have leftover bruschetta, you can re-toast them the following day to brighten up the flavor.  You can also chunk them up and toss them into a salad to create your own version of a Panzanella salad.

This is a really beautiful appetizer that is surprisingly simple to make. Adjust or alter things as they appeal to you and your family.. that’s what makes cooking such an adventure!

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Recipe: Petit Goulash

I’ve been told that this isn’t really a goulash recipe, but since that’s what my husband called it, that’s what I’m going to call it as well.  This was a two-pot dinner… one medium pot for the pasta and one large skillet to brown the meat and mix everything together.  Simple and comforting… that’s what I was craving last week when the snow hit our area.

PetitGoulash

I started by dicing together a large onion and half a large green pepper and sautéing them together in a pat of butter.  Once the vegetables were browned, I added a package of ground turkey and cooked this until the meat was thoroughly browned.  To this mixture, I added a healthy pour of a dark Petit Verdot and cooked the meat mixture until the wine had been thoroughly absorbed.   The last “flavor addition” was a can of petit diced tomatoes, which added some great color to the dish.

While I was cooking the meat, I started cooking a pot of water with jumbo elbow macaroni and salt.  Once the pasta was cooked, I drained it and added it into the large skillet and stirred everything together, seasoning with garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika.  This recipe is very similar to the mazetti that my mother-in-law makes (which is absolutely delicious) and was a huge hit with my family.  The flavors melded together nicely and the dish was hearty enough to be filling without adding bread on the side.  A simple green salad would have been a nice addition, but not totally necessary.

Enjoy playing with this recipe if you choose to make it for your family.  A wonderful Hungarian smoked paprika would be fabulous – Think  I might be able to talk my local grocer into stocking this spice if I whine about it enough?  Have fun making your own family’s favorite “goulash”… after all, you’re creating something for those you love.  What could be wrong about that?  Enjoy!