One of my favorite parts about serving food to important people in my life is the anticipation. And I don't necessarily mean their anticipation. I am talking about my anticipation. It sounds weird, I know, but that moment right when you start to serve the food might be on of my favorite parts of a lengthy sit down dinner. All the work is now pretty much done (minus a few last minute details during plating) and you can finally start to enjoy the evening. Everyone has arrived. Coats are tossed onto a rocking chair in the living room and all the settings on the table now have a human counterpart. Someone has prudently opened a bottle of wine. A quick toast to good friends, and then the food begins.....
My second favorite moment? The first bite, of course.
In the spirit of that first bite, I thought I would offer a very simple starter. (I haven't posted one of these in a while.) Crostini would also work well simply as finger food if you make them small enough. But since at this point no one is standing around mingling, I like to slice long, narrow segments of baguettes. These normally take only two or three bites.
12 thins slices of baguette, cut on the bias
3 shallots, minced
1 small head of radicchio, leaves cut chiffonade
12 leaves of fresh sage, chopped
⅓ lb. of taleggio cheese, at room temperature
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Begin by spreading a small amount of taleggio onto each slice of baguette. In a toaster oven, lightly toast for a few minutes until cheese is nice and melted. (This can also be done in a regular oven at 350°F for a few minutes.)
In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add shallot and a pinch of salt. Gently saute until translucent. Add sage, radicchio, and a little black pepper. Stir and cook until radicchio is just beginning to wilt. Quickly remove from pan onto a plate.
Top toasted and cheesy baguette with radicchio and serve.