fast appetizer idea: make a bruscetta bar!

     We recently celebrated my mom's eightieth birthday with a party for nearly fifty friends and family. I was chosen to plan the menu and cook. (Big surprise. Ha)
     For a simple appetizer designed to welcome guests, I laid out a bruscetta bar. Crusty, garlic-rubbed bread slices, surrounded with assorted homemade toppings to spread, slather and dip.
     The presentation makes a dramatic impression, but takes mere minutes to set up. (Doesn't the mere minutes part make you happy?)
this is what 80 looks like around here
     For the bread, slice up baguettes, brush sparingly with a bit of olive oil and toast until lightly browned and crispy. Remove from oven and rub each piece with a whole, peeled garlic clove.
     This step can be done ahead. Store bread in zipper bags or an airtight container until ready to serve. Warm in oven for a couple of minutes before serving, if desired.
     I chose four simple, but homemade toppings. Herbed cheese spread, olive tapenade, herby-garlic dipping oil, (made by my sis-in-law,) and meatballs in Italian gravy surrounded the huge tray of bread.
     Hmmm. I see a theme. Stuff made with olives, Italian herbs and garlic. All of my faves! (Click on the above highlighted links for the tapenade and cheese spread recipes.)
     You can design a bruscetta bar to reflect your own taste or even the party theme. Add marinated artichoke hearts, diced, fresh tomatoes with basil and garlic, or goat cheese topped with chutney. The possibilities are endless!
Simple presentation. Great results. Rave reviews.

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