Trio of Garlic and Cream Crustini

Trio of Garlic and Cream Crustini

I was at a Spanish Tapas restaurant last night and saw someone have this appetizer that looked very tasty. I asked the bartender what it was.  It was Bacon, Tetilla Cheese and a Garlic Cream Sauce over a toasted baguette.  I ordered it and the world went away as I savored every bite.  It was amazing.

So what does someone in my shoes do?  Goes home and recreates it based on remembering the taste and the description. As delicious as the bacon appetizer was, I figured why not try it with sautéed mushrooms and sirloin? I bet that would taste yummy too. AND THEY DO!  It is a little time-consuming to build the sauce – but sooooo very worth it.  Once you have the sauce and all the components, it takes minutes to build and put on a plate in front of you or your guests. All of the components (except the steak) can be done in advance and then assembled pretty quickly to serve.  And as you might guess, it is NOT low-fat.  Save this for your diet day OFF or special occasion. I do offer some low-fat and other options at the bottom of this post.

The cheese the restaurant used was called Tetilla. It is a soft cows milk cheese from Spain with a buttery flavor and creamy texture. I could not find this at my local supermarket, as it is a speciality cheese in my neck of the woods. But no fear, There are other types of cheese you can use in its place and based on your budget. I found a great substitute with a cheese called Tomme Noir. This was avail in the deli cheese section of my supermarket and was very close to the flavor. It was a bit expensive. Other cheeses you could use are: Compte, Monterey Jack, Fontina, Edam (baby-bella) or Brie. Basically a soft, buttery, creamy light tasting cheese. You do not want anything too sharp or it will over power the cream sauce. The lighter tasting cheeses blend better in this dish.

Before you start, add a few more minutes to your exercise program and eat your veggies.

Building the sauce

As you build the sauce, you can prepare the other components: Mushrooms, Season the Sirloin and bring to room temperature, and prepare the baguette.

This makes about 2 cups of sauce

1 package of bacon (if you are making the bacon version)
2-3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TBS of bacon fat or 1 TBS of butter if not making bacon
1 head of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 large shallot, peeled, and diced
2 Cups Dry White Wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc) (low sodium/fat chicken stock can be substituted if not using wine)
2 Cups (1 pint) of heavy cream
2 sprigs intact ea Thyme, Basil, Parsley, Oregano (you can use all four, or any 2 or 3 of the herbs)
Salt and Pepper

(If not using bacon, then skip to step 4)

  1. In a large pan, cook the bacon (in batches) until it is just UNDER crisp. You do not want crispy bacon for this. It is ok to let it sit out when done as when you build the crustini, you will be reheating it to soften/melt the cheese before topping with the sauce.
  2. Remove bacon, drain on paper towels and set aside.
  3. Pour off all, but 1 TBS of the bacon fat. Reserve the remaining fat for a future use. It can be stored in a covered jar in the refrigerator for some time.
  4. Add the olive oil (and butter if not using bacon fat), garlic and shallots to the pan over med heat. sauté for about 3 – 4 minutes, until the garlic and shallots become opaque and soft. Stir often so the garlic and shallots do not burn. You should be sautéing them, not frying them.
  5. Increase the heat to med-high, add in the wine, and herb sprigs. Let simmer and reduce by half. About 7 – 10 minutes. In the mean time, go ahead and prep some of the other components.
  6. once it is reduced, turn off the heat. Get out another large clean sauté pan and using a fine mesh sieve (strainer), strain the sauce into the clean pan. Using the back of a spoon or spatula, press out as much liquid as you can from the mix in the sieve. If you do not have another large pan, stain the sauce into a bowl, then clean the pan before putting the sauce back in. (If making ahead, stop here.  You can refrigerate over night and continue the next day, cream sauces do not re-heat very well).
  7. Put the pan with the strained sauce over med heat (if it is cold, bring the strained sauce to a med heat before adding the cream) and add in the cream, almost constantly stirring/whisking to combine and avoid burning the sauce.
  8. Increase the heat to med-high, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Let the sauce reduce by 1/2.
  9. Season with salt and pepper. Adding the salt to early, and you could end up with a salty sauce, because as the liquid reduces, the salt concentrates. Season towards the end of the cooking.
  10. When the sauce is reduced by half, this should thicken it enough to cling to the back of a spoon. This is the consistency you want. Kill the heat, and use immediately.

**Note: If you need to reheat the sauce after it is fully made (cream sauces to not reheat well), put in a sauté pan over med-low heat to slowly re-heat. Stir / whisk to prevent the sauce from separating. If it does separate, you may have the heat too high. Lower the heat to cool down the sauce (if it is really hot, you can add an ice-cube or a splash or two of cold cream/milk to help lower the temp). Keep whisking to bring it all back together.

sautéed Mushrooms

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1 package of your favorite mushrooms, cleaned and sliced. You can even buy the pre-sliced if you use the same day and they look fresh.
1 TBS butter
1 TBS Olive Oil
salt and pepper

  1. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter and olive oil until the butter is melted.
  2. Add in the mushrooms, pinch of salt and pepper
  3. Let cook in the pan, don’t stir to often as you want the mushrooms to caramalize and leaving them be for a minute or two at a time helps this process along. It should take about 10 minutes to cook the mushrooms.

Set aside the mushrooms until you are ready to use. You will be reheating them as you assemble the crustini.

Prepping the Crustini

1 long baguette
.5 LB cheese, sliced (Tetilla, Tomme Noir, Compte, Monterey Jack, Fontina, or Brie)
Olive Oil Spray

Preheat a Grill Pan (or cast iron pan) over high heat.

  1. Slice the baguette diagonally into 1in thick slices
  2. Spray one side of the baguette slice with the olive oil spray, or brush one side with olive oil if you choose to instead. The spray is much faster and serves the purpose just fine.
  3. On the hot pan, place the bread, oiled side down, and sear until toasted to a nice medium brown. Remove and set on a baking sheet. ONLY sear one side, otherwise, the bread gets too hard and doesn’t sop up the wonderful sauce you worked so hard on.
  4. Top the bread slices with the sliced cheese.

Set aside until you are ready to build.

Cooking the Steak

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Do this when you put the crustini in the oven (see Building the Crustini)

1 16oz 1- 1.5 in thick Black Angus Sirloin Steak, brought to room temperature
1 TBS butter
.5 TBS Olive Oil
salt and pepper

  1. Season both sides of the steak with a generous amount of salt and pepper (don’t worry, most will come off during the cooking)
  2. Heat a large cast iron skillet over med-high heat, add in the butter and oil.
  3. Once the butter stops foaming, add the steak. The pan is hot enough for a good sear.
  4. Let sear on the first side for about 4 – 5 minutes. Then Flip and cook another 3-4 minutes on the other side for a med-rare.
  5. Take out and set aside for 5 minutes before slicing. Slice just before ready to serve.

Building The Crustini

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Now comes the fun part. Putting it all together and letting those taste-buds enjoy a bit of heaven. If you are making all three, you may have left over steak, bacon and mushrooms – Darn! Now I will have to have a nice salad tomorrow topped with sliced sirloin and perhaps a drizzle or two of blue cheese dressing.

This recipe makes about 18 – 20 crustini.

Put the oven rack on the second rail from the top. Turn on the broiler to Low/Med. Just not HIGH as things burn fast that way.

  1. If the sauce is not hot, re-heat it now over low heat. Remember to stir to keep it from burning.
  2. Build the layers:
    • For Bacon: Top the Crustini with cheese slices (if not already) and bacon to cover the top of the bread
    • For Mushroom: Top the Crustini with cheese slices (if not already) and mushrooms to cover the top of the bread
    • For Steak: Do not add the steak yet., just top the crustini with the cheese slices
  3. Put the baking sheet in the oven and let cook under the broiler for about 5 minutes; check after 3. You want the bacon, mushrooms hot and the cheese soften or melted.
  4. Remove from the oven, plate the slices. Now you can top the crustini with the steak if using. Then top all with the garlic sauce. That is it!

Serve immediately with forks and knives, or bibs if they are picking up and eating. Make sure there is plenty of sauce on the plate so it can be sopped up with the bread.
ENJOY your trip to HEAVEN!

SUBSTITUTION OPTIONS

Reduce the fat content (if you really feel you need to):

– Substitute the heavy cream with light cream.
– Reduce the amount of Olive Oil used to build the sauce – instead of 3 TBS of Olive Oil and 1 TBS of Bacon Fat/Butter – use a total of 2 TBS of Olive oil – or divide between butter/bacon fat and Olive Oil
– Don’t spray the crustini with oil
– Use turkey bacon, or lower fat/sodium bacon or Canadian bacon
– Use only 1 TBS of olive oil for the mushrooms
– Use a light cheese

OTHER USES for THE SAUCE

Have left over sauce, or just want to use the sauce without making the Crustini? NO Problem – here are some ideas.

PASTA! toss your favorite pasta and pasta ingredients (Shrimp, Chicken, Scallops, Sausage, etc..) with the sauce just before serving. YUM. You can top with some of the fresh herbs you used to make the sauce.

RICE! top your favorite rice pilaf with some grilled chicken, fish, seafood and pour on the sauce!

VEGGIES! Take your healthy sautéed veggies and drizzle with a little sauce.

REPLACE HOLANDAISE Use anywhere you would hollandaise sauce.

GRILLED / SAUTEED! Top your favorite grilled/sautéed protein (Steak, Chicken or Fish) with a little sauce.

MUSHROOMS! Add the sautéed mushrooms to the sauce and use as you would for any of the above. Mushrooms will add a good flavor and extra protein.

ITS All good!

I hope you have fun and enjoy this versatile sauce.

About culinaryease

I am a single mother who loves cooking and providing tips, techniques, to get everyone out of the takeout lane and into the kitchen.

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