In need of a last minute New Year’s Eve appetizer for your glamorous party of one? Well, look no further. I’ve put together this assortment of plug and play crostini that let you work with what you have on hand – with the help of a fresh baguette of course.
I prepared these appetizers live on CTV Morning Live Atlantic last week and can say I successfully composed all three in less than five minutes. I’ve embedded the full clip below if you’d care to watch!
Once you’ve made the crostini, they’ll keep in an airtight container on your counter for several days, so no need to polish off all your cheese in one sitting, but I won’t fault you if you do, live your truth my friends, you deserve it.
I encourage you to get creative with your toppings. Aside from the three variations I’m serving up here, you could do a dollop of whipped feta, topped with a fresh fig and crumbled pancetta. Or why not a bit of blue cheese with sliced pear, toasted walnuts and a dusting of fried sage? Have fun with it.
It’s been a hard year and we should welcome, nay, seize upon any opportunity to partake of pleasure, big or small.
While it would be easy to look back on the year that was and think of everything that didn’t go as planned, instead, I want to take today’s post to acknowledge all of the rare opportunities that 2020 provided.
I’ve been blogging since September 2017 and didn’t make a single dime off the enterprise until the pandemic hit. When we went into lockdown in mid-March, I fundamentally pivoted by business model, although that wasn’t my intention at the time.
I had long grappled with how much of myself to put into my social media presence for Taste & Tipple. Many of the successful and acclaimed food bloggers I admire strictly keep their lenses aimed at their culinary and cocktail creations. I had thought, if I wanted to achieve similar success, I should follow their footsteps and keep myself out of the limelight.
Then we went into lockdown and I’d read how people in Japan had begun hosting virtual happy hours as a way to connect with friends and family after work. I thought I should do the same and leveraged my platform on Instagram to show people how to make simple three-ingredient classic cocktails with bottles they likely had languishing on their bar carts.
So, on March 16th, the first day of lockdown, I held my phone in one hand and tried to make a drink with the other. The footage was choppy and unpolished but I had a few people respond and say what a great idea it was and even a couple of people joined me in making the cocktail on that inaugural evening.
Little did I know that Virtual Happy Hour would go on to become my calling card, part of my unique value proposition for fans and brand partners alike. At year-end, I’ve now hosted 156 episodes of Virtual Happy Hour and more than doubled my following on Instagram in the process – from 3,300 in March to just shy of 6,900 in December.
The series also propelled me to my first earned media coverage in print and on television – I’ve now racked up 10 live TV appearances, two radio spots, and one print piece.
It’s also helped me land quite a few brand partnerships and transitioned Taste & Tipple from an unpaid passion project to a viable business that I’ll likely be able to transition into my full-time job at some point.
I’ve also made real progress towards some of the much bigger goals I’ve set for myself and the blog, I’m not quite ready to share an update on those but you can expect to hear more about them in the next few months.
Aside from the tremendous business success, of which I’m very proud, this weird year has given me much needed time and energy to pour into my creative pursuits, without which, the distractions of daily life would have likely stood in my way. It’s also helped me to cultivate a community online and make many new friends, without whom, I’m sure I would have felt even more isolated and lonely throughout the past 9 months.
It’s also given me time to invest more in the long-standing friendships and relationships that mean the most to me. I am tremendously grateful to my most intimate group of friends and family for always being there to answer the phone, go for a walk, or eat on a patio.
So, as I conclude my reflections on 2020, I’d like to express to you, dear reader, my utmost gratitude for your support, for keeping me company, and for joining me for many cocktails this year. Happy New Year and know that I’ll be raising my glass to you when the clock strikes midnight!
Crostini Three Ways
- ½ baguette sliced ½ inch thick 12-16 slices
- ½ cup olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 70 g goat cheese
- 1 pint strawberries thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp fresh basil finely chopped
- 3 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
- 70 g goat cheese
- 3 tbsp apricot jam
- 1 pint blackberries
- ¼ cup toasted pecans
- 2 sprigs rosemary fried
- ¼ cup mascarpone
- 1 pint raspberries
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange baguette slices on a large rimmed baking sheet; brush both sides with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for 6 minutes, flipping halfway. Let cool partially on baking sheets.
Once crostini are cool enough to handle, smear one side of the crostini with cheese.
Add a small spoonful of apricot jam if preparing the Blackberry, Pecan & Rosemary Topping.
Top with 1-2 berries and nuts (if applicable), sprinkle with selected herb (and lemon zest for the Raspberry, Mascarpone & Thyme topping) and lightly drizzle with aged balsamic or honey (where applicable). Serve warm or at room temperature.