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09/15/2012

~ For Fall: Apple Butter, Caramelized Onion, Filet of Beef & Horseradish Cheddar Crostini? You Betcha! ~

IMG_1224It's Fall here in Happy Valley and that means spending Saturdays in front of several TV's watching college football.  Most of the time it is just Joe and I, but, occasionally, Joe fills his man cave with a few of this friends.  I should mention that Joe's man cave is a very well-decorated bay of our heated garage which contains 3 TV's, a radio, internet service, four comfy director's chairs, a refrigerator, sink, microwave, and, a semi-stocked bar with ice (his gas grill is also strategically positioned just a few steps from the door within sight of the the televisions)!

IMG_0903I love college football too, but I am only capable of watching one game at one time, so I happily relegate myself to the kitchen television, which is only a few steps away from the man cave. When the menfolk gather together, I try not to be completely anti-social, so I make one or two manly hor d'oeuves, and don't mind being their "waitress fairy" for a few fun hours.  In preparation for today's 3:30PM Penn State vs. Navy game, back on Tuesday, I made and posted my recipe for ~ Sweeten Up Your Life:  Caramelize Some Onions ~.  You can find the recipe in Categories 4, 8, 15 or 20.  They are currently coming to room temperature on my counter!

6a0120a8551282970b014e8a53c298970d-320wiDuring football season, everyone just loves a hearty, flavor-packed appetizer, and, I can't think of a better recipe to serve to the menfolk on gameday than this one.  When I think of what men eat, I immediately think burgers or steak with blue cheese or horseradish sauce. Today I'm serving tender, rare filet with apple butter, caramelized onions & horseradish cheddar in a classic Italian way:  crostini.  People always ask me this, so, before we proceed any farther with this post:

What is the difference between bruschetta and crostini?

Bruschetta (pronounced broo-skeh-tah) means "oiled slice" in Italian and comes from the word "bruscare" (pronounced broo-scar-ay), which means "to roast over coals".  Bruschetta is the original garlic toast.  Its preparation is so simple, it really requires no formal instructions. Traditionally, large, thick slices of firm crusty bread are toasted over an open wood fire, rubbed with plenty of fresh garlic while they are still warm, generously drizzled with the finest olive oil available, sprinkled with salt and pepper, then served warm.  They are classically topped with fresh basil, tomatoes and buffalo-milk mozzarella, but, when paper-thin slices of Italian meats, cheeses and vegetables (grilled, roasted or marinated) are added, they can actually turn into a pretty hearty knife-and-fork meal!

Crostini in Italian simply means "toast", which means it doesn't always end up drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with garlic.  Just like bruschetta, crostini are topped with any number of savory toppings.  Unlike bruschetta, they are usually made using smaller, long and thin-shaped bread, like a baguette or a batard.  Crostini are always served as a snack or an appetizer before a meal, or, an accompaniment to the meal.  In the case of both bruschetta and crostini, any size, color or flavor of bread can be used, but, it must be of a firm texture and have a good crust. Light, airy-textured breads should never be substituted!

It's time to make the toasts!

6a0120a8551282970b01539060c3f0970b-320wiFor the toasts I'm making today, I am using 2, 12-ounce batards and 2 sticks of salted butter, at room temperature, the softer the better.

A French batard is first cousin to the baguette.  Batards are shorter than baguettes and a bit plumper, which gives my crostini the perfect surface area for any and all toppings!

6a0120a8551282970b014e8a540a54970d-320wi~ Step 1.  To prepare the toasts, cut each batard into approximately 20, 1/2"-thick slices.

Place the bread slices, in a single layer, on 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans that have been lined with parchment paper.

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~ Step 2. Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 7"-8" underneath it.

Spread an even layer of softened butter on each slice of bread (on the top side only).

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~ Step 3.  Place one pan of bread slices into preheated broiler.  Broil until the slices are lightly brown and bubbly on the first side, about 2 1/2-3 minutes.

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~ Step 4.  Remove from oven and flip slices over.  Return to broiler and continue to broil until slices are browned on the second side, 1 1/2-2 minutes.  Note:  The second sides do not get buttered.

Remove from oven and transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.  In the case of this recipe (because toasts will be returned to the broiler after they are topped), they can be prepared 1-2 days in advance of serving.  Store in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap.

It's time to make the crostini!

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For every 1 batard or 20 crostini:

20  toasts, prepared as directed above, from 1, 12-ounce batard

4  2" thick filet mignon, about 8-ounces each, at room temperature, broiled, cooled and rested (as directed below)

4 tablespoons softened butter, and, freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, for topping and seasoning steaks 

1 cup apple butter + 1/2 cup additional apple butter for garnishing finished crostini

1  cup caramelized onions

1 cup grated horseradish cheddar cheese

IMG_1150~ Step 1.  Place the filets on a disposable aluminum broiler pan, the kind with the corrugated bottom. Spread 1 tablespoon of softened butter over the top of each filet and season generously with freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.

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~ Step 2.  Broil 7"-8" underneath preheated broiler until rare, about 6 minutes on the first side and 3-4 minutes on the second side, turning only once.  Remove from oven and set aside to rest, about 30 minutes.

Note:  I use an instant-read thermometer as a temperature guage and remove the steaks from the oven when they have reached 120 degrees (in their centers).

IMG_1177 IMG_1164~ Step 3. Spread the 1 cup of apple butter evenly atop the toasts.  Reserve the remaining 1/2 cup of apple butter for topping the finished crostini.

~ Step 4.  Distribute the 1 cup of caramelized onions evenly over the apple butter on each toast.

IMG_1204 IMG_1183                                     ~ Step 5. Holding your knife at a 30 degree angle, slice the cooled filets as thinly as possible.  Distribute the meat on top of the crostini.  Pile it high, don't pack it down.

~ Step 6.  Distribute the cheese on top of the meat.  Pile it even higher!

~ Step 7.  Return pan of crostini to broiler and cook until cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.  Serve immediatley with a dollop of  the remaining apple butter on top of each: 

IMG_1209For Fall:  Apple Butter, Caramelized Onion, Filet of Beef & Horseradish Cheddar Crostini?  You Betcha!:  Recipe yields 20-40 hearty appetizers.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; serrated bread knife; 1-2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper; 1-2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" cooling racks; 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 1 1/4" disposable aluminum broiler pan w/corrugated bottom; instant-read meat thermometer (optional); chef's knife; cheese grater

6a0120a8551282970b014e8a56136e970d-800wiCook's Note:  For another scrumptious crostini recipe, and, the perfect vegetarian compliment to today's meaty, manly one, ~ Mediterranean-Style Roasted Vegetable Crostini ~, can be found in Categories 1 or 14! 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)

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