Rain glorious rain! The Bay Area has been a bit starved this year for rain. December, January and into February were rather dry months. Five years ago we experienced the beginning of drought much the same way, so as you can imagine, we were all getting nervous. Yesterday, March 1st brought much needed rain and it was really coming down. The forecast calls for more rain ahead over the weekend and next week - thank goodness! We can only hope that March and April bring buckets of rain to ward off a drought.
We even had snow on the two highest mountains - Mount Diablo and Mount Hamilton - it was certainly a rare site here. Check out my Instagram and you can see a photo of snow on Mt. Diablo. It only stayed a day or so, but it was all the buzz here in the bay area.
A lot of times, I gain my inspiration for our Friday Night Bites while browsing through the grocery store. I do love to shop. Not only for the traditional clothes, but for food. Being a foodie, the grocery store is on a different level for me. My favorites are Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and our new giant Safeway. Between the three, I can get everything I need. I was in Safeway and spotted peaches. I thought it was a bit early in the season, but they turned out to be pretty darn good. I must confess that when the traditional peach season arrives, it is a happy time in my household.
One of my favorite appetizers is a crostini or tartine. I am obsessed with the idea of creating something that packs a ton of flavors and textures all on a piece of bread. I went a bit old school and picked up a small tub of Rondele, garlic and herb flavored cheese. You know you all see this in the cheese isle and never take a second look, but you should. It is so tasty and can turn a plain crostini or cracker into a flavorful bite. I recommend letting it come to room temperature first to make the spreadability factor work in your favor. My other favorite flavor is reduced balsamic. No need to spend a ton of dough on super aged balsamic, simply heat over medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes until the vinegar reduces to a syrup consistency. The heating method "ages" the balsamic and sweetens it too. If it gets too thick, just add a touch of balsamic to loosen it.
PEACH, BALSAMIC AND BASIL TARTINE
Makes 6 Tartines
6 Slices of Rustic Country Bread
Fluer de Sel
1/3 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
To prepare the reduced Balsamic:
Add the balsamic vinegar to a small sauce pan and cook on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes. It is key to watch it the majority of the time, so you don't burn or overcook. Once you start to see it reducing, you can take it off the heat and let cool.
If it is not thick enough, simply add it back to the heat and reduce until a syrup consistency. If it is too thick, add a touch of balsamic and stir to loosen the mixture. Once you do this a few times, you will be able to perfect the method.
To prepare the tartines:
This is a lose recipe and very easy. Toast the rustic country bread until light brown and let cool. Spread each slice with the Rondele cheese. Add about 4 to 5 slices of peaches to each one. I would cut the peaches about 1/4 inch thick. Lay on a platter and drizzle each one with the reduced balsamic. Top with a few torn basil leaves and sprinkle a touch of fluer de sel on each one. Enjoy right away!