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Product Talk: The Year of the Baguette

If you are like me and enjoy reading food and cooking magazines, then you have to have noticed that this month’s covers are covered in baguettes. I’ve seen these crusty French bread loaves on at least three major magazines, and being that the baguette is probably my favorite way to enjoy bread, I’m thrilled.

Of course, you can always make your own baguettes at home, but to be honest, I don’t see the point unless you are a well-trained baker and you have all the right ingredients and pans. It used to be that only the best boutique bakeries in our towns offered authentic baguettes, but these days it’s easy to find a notable selection at your local Brookshire’s.

I love to bake my French bread to a hard crusty crunch, breaking off bites and dipping them in cold butter sprinkled with sea salt. If I’m not careful, I can eat the entire loaf before realizing what I’ve done. There are many nights I am content to enjoy French bread and some good cheese and want nothing more for dinner.

Baguettes are also my go-to ingredient for appetizers. It’s so easy to slice the loaf in thin slices, toast for about 10 minutes at 350°F and then top with all kinds of delicious spreads and salsas.

Here are a few of my favorites: Honey Goat Cheese with Strawberries:

Baguette Topping: Honey Goat Cheese with Strawberries

6 oz soft goat cheese
2 Tbs honey
3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly but leaving tops intact
16 to 20 toasted baguette slices

Stir goat cheese and honey together in a small bowl; spread about 1 tablespoon onto each bread slice.

Place strawberries on bread fanning strawberry over cheese. Repeat with remaining bread slices.

Baguette Topping: “Smashed” Tomato and Olive Bruschetta

1 cup cherry tomatoes (I love using multi-colored tomatoes)
1/2 cup black olives
4 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
1 Tbs dried oregano
8 fresh basil leaves, torn
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 loaf French baguette, cut into slices and toasted with 1 clove garlic rubbed into one side of each slice Fresh Parmesan cheese, for shaving.

Using your hand, carefully smash the tomatoes in a medium-sized bowl.  On a cutting board, gently smash the olives as well, removing any stones. Add olives to tomatoes and toss.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add oregano and basil leaves and mix gently.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  To serve, top each baguette slice with tomato topping and finish with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.

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