#100HappyDays: Bruschetta bar birthday bash feast

Bruschetta bar birthday bash feast, June 28, 2014.

My Italian roots start to show when I throw a party. I obsess over the menu and usually plan way, way too many dishes with way, way too many ingredients and moving parts. As I favor easy-to-eat but time consuming to make small bites–jalapeno poppers, rosemary antipasto skewers, stuffed mushrooms–I’m always busy in the kitchen all day long before a party. (That’s not really a complaint. The kitchen is one of my favorite happy places and there’s nothing better than cooking for friends!)

When I saw photos of a “bruschetta bar” from What’s Gaby Cooking, though, I abandoned my usual repertoire. Her idea is brilliant but simple–gather good meats, cheeses and spreads, toast bread, and let people go to town.

Of course there’s still a good amount of leg work. The spring pea pesto with fresh mint and dry jack, and the roasted red pepper sauce and saffron tomato confit won’t make themselves. But it’s different work than piecing together appetizers and it can be done a day or two in advance.

Yours truly made the three spreads mentioned above (check out this bruschetta bar post for links to the recipes) as well as balsamic caramelized onions. The dishes were served with kalamata and black olives, marinated artichoke hearts, pre-made basil pesto, assorted cheeses (brie, goat, blue, jack, mozzarella), and a wide variety of cured meats (thank you Costco for those excellent sampler packs!). Although Gabby grilled pieces of bread, I went the mass production route and toasted slices under the broiler–both regular baguette and gluten free Udi’s whole grain. (And speaking of gluten free, almost everything pictured above was fair game for my GF friends.)

All in all, I cannot wait to make this spread again soon!


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