Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hot Tuscan Crostini or Finely Chopped

If you’ve been following  my blog you may have noticed that I’ve been somewhat caught up in the Freshly Blogged challenge for the last six weeks. Every week a new list of ingredients, every week a shopping treasure hunt to find the requisite ingredients in my local PnP, every week a new recipe to devise, write up and photograph. Well last Monday I got chopped, but I’d already cooked and photographed that week’s challenge. So never one to waste a perfectly good recipe I’m going to share it with you anyway.

My husband says he has his wife back. . I have to admit that it did get to be a rather all-consuming, obsessive, adrenaline rush, waking up on weekend mornings way too early, head buzzing with ideas. In fact it pretty much took over the last six weekends, so now I’m over the initial disappointment and chagrin, it’s quite nice to have an empty weekend stretching ahead. Perhaps a chance to fill those yawningly empty rusk and biscuit tins, to take pictures of the spring flowers, play with the puppy... and chill with the family.

So good luck to everyone else who is busy cooking up a storm for the next round. It has been great getting to know so many of the other food bloggers during the challenge and I’ll be cheering you on from the voting sidelines!

Now for my final recipes. Our challenge was slightly bizarre at first sight. Sponsored by Robertsons, we had cinnamon and cayenne on the list, plus chicken livers, white chocolate and cream. After the initial bewilderment, we read on to see that we had to make two separate dishes, each containing both spices. So a sweet and a savoury both with cayenne and cinnamon. We were allowed three fresh and two grocery ingredients to add to the list.

Predictably many of us were rather suspicious of the chicken livers, never having cooked with them before. But I’d eaten many a chicken liver crostino in Tuscany over the years, and although  that was hardly the most original dish to choose, I reckoned I would go with something that I had a fair chance of convincing my family to eat.

While the traditional Tuscan chicken liver pate is usually flavoured with sage, sometimes with the addition of chopped mushrooms or capers, for the challenge I used the spices we were given instead, together with some parsley, and the combination worked very well, with  the spices complemetning the earthy notes of the livers. Two out of three kids ( you don’t think I’d get our son to even taste these, do you?) really liked them and I’d definitely make them again for an Italian-themed dinner. Because of the challenge, I had to make my own bread from the pantry ingredients, but unless you are already baking a batch of bread I’d recommend just buying a long French loaf. No need to make life harder for yourself unless you want to!

Here is my recipe:

Hot Tuscan Crostini

Chicken livers on the ingredients list took me back twenty years to family trattorias in Tuscany, where one of the classic antipasti was a plate of crostini with a variety of toppings. Rich, deep and earthy, the traditional Tuscan chicken liver paté piled generously on toasted bread is one of those taste memories that remain firmly etched. I wondered if it would be as good with the spicy notes of Robertsons cayenne and cinnamon instead of the more usual sage. It was even better, and two out of three kids  even had seconds.

Crostini toasts

500g bread flour
5g instant yeast
1 tsp salt

Chicken liver paté
4 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/8 teaspoon Robertsons cayenne
¾ teaspoon Robertsons cinnamon
250g chicken livers cleaned and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons flour
1 tablespoon butter
Parsley to garnish

Crostini toasts
Make your own crostini bread (or buy a baguette!). Mix flour and salt. Add yeast. Mix to a dough with about 1 ½ cups of lukewarm water. Knead for 10 minutes. Leave to rise until doubled in size.  Knock down and form into two long thin ‘baguette’ loaves. Leave to rise. Bake at 200C for 20-25 minutes. Cool. Slice into 1 cm slices. Toast under the grill on both sides until golden and crispy.

Chicken Liver Pate
Cook the onion in the olive oil until soft. Add 1 tablespoon of parsley and the spices. Cook stirring for 1 minute. Add the chopped livers. Stir until starting to colour. Add 1 tablespoon wine. Cook stirring for three minutes. Remove from heat. Mince liver to a coarse paste with a chopping knife on a board (a food processor makes it too smooth). Return to pan with 1 tablespoon each of parsley and white wine. Cook stirring for another 2-3 minutes. Moisten again with 1 tablespoon white wine. Add the flour and stir for another minute until flour is cooked and liquid evaporated. Add butter and rest of parsley and stir it in, then remove from heat.

Assemble crostini
Just before serving spread or heap a generous tablespoon of paté onto each toast and garnish with parsley. Can be served hot, warm or room temperature, as a mixed antipasto with other crostini and a few olives.

I will give the recipe for the sweet dish that I made as the other half of the challenge in a separate post...

Look out on Monday for everyone else’s dishes and vote for the one you think looks and sounds most delicious.


  1. Such a lovely dish! Great comments about the competition Kit :)

    1. Thanks, Tandy, looking forward to seeing yours later!

  2. Well done Kit. This looks delicious xx


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