Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Strawberry Balsamic Crostini with Ricotta & Fresh Basil


Well, 9 months later and I've finally decided to bite the bullet and join a 'meetup' group in my 'hood.

As much as I love the plants and my doggie (who I must say has been the best darn friend a girl could ever ask for during this life transition), it's time for this recluse to spread her wings and break new ground.  

I set up my profile and bio and even supplied the requested headshot.  Despite feeling a twinge of discomfort the way you would if you were signing up for a dating service, I smiled when all was said and done and feel ready for this new challenge.  It's been about ten years since I've actively engaged in a creative writing process of this kind -- the kind where you read your work out loud into a painfully silent room and feel the vibration of your hands shaking and your voice cracking with every word. The kind where warm and supportive folks greet your tortured prose with effusive feedback to be replaced, eventually and properly, by frank critique. Awwwkward, says my eldest.  Maybe so, but fun too. And he forgets that I did this for years when he was just a nibblet (although I will say, the group sure seems a lot younger than they did a decade ago! Ha, good thing writing is ageless).

~~~~~~~~~

So I have a tasty and seasonal little yummy for you today that I thought might work very well as a mother's day appetizer during cocktail hour or on the brunch table.  A very simple and colourful twist on traditional bruschetta that packs some delicious flavour.

If you like the idea but prefer to skip the bread, I'm happy to report that this spread works beautifully on sliced cucumber. Cucumber is firm enough to grasp as finger food and provides a perfect platform for the cheese and strawberry mixture.  It's also resilient enough not to soften, the way bread does, from the wet mixture.  I actually loved the cucumber version.

Cheers to a wonderful weekend and to mothers of all ages and stages around the globe. Those who are still with us and those we carry in our hearts.  We are all born of mothers ♡.


Strawberry Balsamic Crostini with Ricotta & Fresh Basil

Strawberry Balsamic Crostini with Ricotta & Fresh Basil
  • 24 (or so) crostini or cucumber slices 
  • 8 or so large fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 Tbsp (45 mL) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL)water
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh basil, finely chopped plus more for garnish
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Makes about 24 crostinis/cucumber slices

Nutrition & Cooking Notes:
  1. For the crostini, I used toasted asiago sourdough baguette slices from Boudin out of San Francisco but naturally, you can use any bread or cracker of choice here. 
  2. Keep in mind that the strawberries do carry moisture and that the bread/crackers will eventually soften under this influence.  It's best to prepare these crostinis just shortly before serving. (The sauce itself will age nicely in the fridge but not on the bread/cracker).
  3. The longer the berries marinade in the fridge, the darker they will become.  So you will lose some of the vibrant red colour but you will gain exquisite flavour ;-).
  4. Sliced cucumber is more resilient than bread (will stay firmer longer) however it too will do best prepared shortly before show-time.
  5. I have provided the nutrition facts for both the bread/crostini version and the cucumber version.

Directions:
  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine: balsamic, water, maple syrup (or honey) and chopped basil.
  2. Add the strawberries to the balsamic mixture, stirring to combine and then store in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.  The longer the strawberries marinade, the darker they will become so you will lose some of the vibrant color but you will gain some wonderful taste ;-).
  3. When you are ready to serve the berries, spread 1 or 2 tsp of ricotta cheese onto each crostini or slice of cucumber.  Top the cheese with a touch of sea salt and black pepper. 
  4. Using a slotted spoon or simply draining most of the balsamic juice with a small spoon, scoop a heaping tsp or two of the strawberry balsamic mixture onto the crostini or cucumber.  
  5. Add a few pieces of chopped avocado along side the strawberries and garnish with more basil, as desired. As simple and glorious as that!
  6. I have two nutrition panels today representing the crostini and cucumber version.  Can you guess which is which? :o)

       
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ღ༺✿ ✿༻ღ
Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn,
Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
But only one mother the wide world over.
~ George Cooper



10 comments:

  1. Exciting! I had no idea you participated of this type of group in the past, I would be a nervous wreck. In fact, any time I need to give a seminar on my own work, I need psychological preparation for weeks


    (big smile with the writing is ageless... so true!)

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  2. "Awkward" l love it!! (and can completely relate to that teenage response ;-). How fantastic to be getting back into writing in a formal way and opening the door to some new social connections... you will do great Kelly! You have a wonderful, natural writing style - I've always said that's one of my favorite things about your blog. It takes a whole other level of bravery to move to a new country at this stage of life, doesn't it... good for you. And these crostinis? beautiful. So fresh and colorful and the combination of strawberries and balsamic sounds irresistible. Love the clever use of cucumber too - you are full of ideas! Happy Mother's day Kelly, I hope you have a great weekend.

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  3. Wow, Kelly. I applaud your efforts here on bothe the recipe and the new venture. I am a homebody anyway so I would be pretty nervous. Kudos to you!!!!!!!!! Hope you keep posted and I bet you end up having a blast!

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  4. I always have the problem speaking in front of audience...good thing is that I don't have chance to do that. Those crostini look fantastic...would work beautifully with zucchini too.

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  5. Sandra @ Kitchen ApparelMay 8, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    Your meetup sounds like an awesome idea. "Awkward" for sure...hehehe...but you are right, so much fun! What a beautiful appetizer with mother's day in mind. Balasmic and strawberries is hard to pass up....I could probably eat all of these myself. Hope you have a beautiful mother's day Kelly!!! I have no doubt those two boys of yours will make sure you have a day just as wonderful as you are :)

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  6. Love how you marinated the strawberries in this beautifully presented appetizer!

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  7. This looks so delicious!!! It reminds me a lot of your tomatoes and ricotta that I still have printed and handy. :) Anything with strawberries and balsamic is a big winner in our house. Especially with us ladies.


    Your group sounds fabulous! I had no idea you were a creative writer. I do that off and on as well. I used to do it much more regularly and attended a few groups like this. I think it will be a great thing for you. Writing is a great way to explore vulnerabilities and make connections. :)

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  8. Sissi_Withaglass.comMay 9, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Congratulations, Kelly! I hope it's a beginning of a new adventure in your new city. The crostini look absolutely gorgeous and I wonder how, as a big fan of both cucumber and avocado, I could have ignored the fact that they might go perfectly well with strawberries. Excellent, original idea I must test when finally strawberries are edible here (which means quite soon luckily).

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  9. This is just so beautiful and fresh looking. There is nothing like the color of seasonal produce and I love how you've combined the flavors here. I would be thrilled to be greeted with these appetizing crostini on Sunday :) Happy Mother's Day Kelly, keep writing...love your blog (and that George Cooper quote!).

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  10. Aw, congrats on branching out and joining a meetup group! When i first moved to ny i totally signed up for meetup but then never actually "met up" with anything/anyone. I hope you meet lots of new friends, Kelly! Hopefully Stella won't be too jealous ;)
    This crostini looks so good. I love the combo of strawberry with basil.

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