And When Is A Crostini A Bruschetta?
What Would Brian Boitano Make? with Brian Boitano
I really liked the promos of this show with his friends holding up score cards for every little thing he did. That wasn’t on the show this week, but “What Would Brian Boitano Make?” was entertaining none the less.
WWBBM? starts with a funny voice-over guy, which lets us know immediately that this show is more in the entertainment category than the “service” one.
He introduces the slightly fake premise (but somehow it’s not annoying) of wanting to fix up his friend Tony. Brian arranges a party for a bunch of women to meet Tony and he will be preparing the food.
Next we see Brian in the grocery store copping a feel…of the gorgeous oranges. He looks over and there’s a beautiful woman…perfect for Tony. The music starts and he holds a big fan aimed just right, so her hair blows in the breeze.
Brian decides to make dishes with pairs of ingredients that go together…Oh, and that woman next to the oranges is coming to the party too.
His first recipe is crab and avocado crostini. It’s attractive, but I have to say that I would never serve, order or eat crostini (or bruschetta) in cocktail party type setting. They’re just too messy. You can’t eat them in one bite. You have to flash your incisors in a not attractive way to get a good bite. AND stuff falls off. (Not that I’ve thought about this before.) Plus, I don’t think that’s a good choice at a party where you’re trying to set up a guy with a gal or two or ten.
This also brings up another question. What exactly is the difference between crostini and bruschetta? Looking it up left me more confused. This is what I know for sure - Crostini means little toasts. Bruschetta means to roast over coals. That’s where my certainty stops. One explanation says that crostini are rubbed with olive oil (and garlic) before toasting and bruschetta after. I kind of thought crostini referred to the toast on top of which you put toppings and that bruschetta was the toast AND the toppings.
Brian cuts a thin baguette into thin slices. He calls them bite-sized, so that’s good. He cleverly puts the bread slices on a baking rack which will toast both sides at the same time. They go into a 400°F oven for 8 minutes.
Bri makes a vinaigrette to go with the topping. He grabs a Meyer lemon and tells us it’s a cross between an orange and a lemon. He squeezes it out over a small sieve which is set over a bowl (smart) and whisks in 1/4 cup olive oil. Then he chops up an orange pepper and an avocado. Brian tosses it all gently together, so the avocado doesn’t break up. He grabs a choppy chop (just like Michael uses!) and chops a shallot. He adds that into the avo mixture.
He takes out the crostini. They’re lightly toasted. He drains lump crab meat and adds it to the avo with salt and pepper. (He didn’t go through it to make sure there were no shells.) He tops each crostini with a bit of the mixture. It looks good. He tastes, not in one bite though.
He chops a cup of pistachios for the next dish. (He does say pist-ahhh-shios, instead of pist-eh-shios.) After saying he would do anything for his friend Tony, he calls in his “stand-in chopper” who chops them for him…and really well too. Funny.
Brian drains sundried tomatoes, while he does a little dance and mentions a goat cheese emergency he once had involving WARM goat cheese. (A giant cartoon goat cheese chases him in a flashback). He says to keep it cold and he cuts it into pieces with a knife dipped into warm water.
Brian rolls them into small balls as disco music plays and he gets his groove on at the same time. He dunks them in his mispronounced pistachios. He places a basil leaf on top of each sundried tomato and folds that over and skewers it with the goat cheese. That looks nice. But it may be too much sun dried tomato for each goat cheese ball.
Brian enlists his friend Gordo to get some gals to come over for Tony.
For the topping for his goat cheese appetizer, Brian dices up red pepper and onion and puts it into a pot with vinegar, water, mustard seeds, sugar and salt. He cooks that down with the lid on for 30 minutes, then it goes for another half hour without the lid. He gets a syrupy relish thing happening.
For the polenta, Brian boils 3 cups of chicken stock and adds 1 cup of polenta, stirring all the time. I ALWAYS add the liquid to the polenta. It’s so much easier to make it lump-free that way. He stirs in Parmesan cheese and spreads the mixture thinly in an olive-oiled baking pan. It sets for an hour.
Brian’s funny. He says he has time machine powers and now the polenta is ready. He adds olive oil to a sauté pan and fries up some meaty looking sausage. He unmolds and cuts up his polenta. His polenta goes into canola oil (NO!!!) and it's quite a lot of oil too. Brian does some other funny business and then removes the polenta and sausages from the pan.
He slices the sausage thinly on the diagonal and assembles a nice bite of polenta, sausage and a bit of that red pepper relish. It’s pretty and it looks pretty tasty too.
He moves on to the Cappuccino Panna Cotta. He pours one cup of milk into a pan with 2¼ cups heavy cream and ½ cup of sugar. He tells us to add the sugar to the cream while it’s cold, or it will scorch the bottom of the pan. Is that true?
I think I actually just learned something. I LOVE when that happens. I like Brian. He’s amusing, charming, easy going, fun to watch, but I really didn’t expect to learn anything. But I did.
He puts the panna cotta on medium heat and stands at the stove, stirring. He inexplicably waves to us while he stirs. SO funny. (I always wave at my husband while I’m making a racket getting ice from the fridge.) Brian brings it almost to a simmer. He adds gelatin to water and a split vanilla bean to the milk mixture. He stirs in the gelatin.
Brian wasn’t too specific about the gelatin. I like to soak it for 3 minutes and then cover it with plastic wrap and zap it in my old microwave for 30 seconds (your new one may only take 15). THEN I stir it into the hot mixture. Brian doesn’t zap it. He whisks it in, which is probably fine, I just like to be sure it’s dissolved.
Note: This is the one and only time I cover anything with plastic wrap in the microwave. I usually use a glass lid or waxed paper, but this I want to cook really quickly.
He adds instant espresso to the panna cotta mixture. Another note: When I was making Sunny’s amazing fabulous Espresso Cakes, I couldn’t for the life of me find instant espresso in any of my local supermarkets. I DID find it later in a gourmet shop and, gosh, is it pricey! I did substitute instant coffee in Sunny’s and it was fine. It probably would be here too.
Brian lets the coffee steep in the mixture for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, he makes a few calls, looking for single women to come to his party.
He removes the vanilla bean (with an olive getter-outer) and pours the panna cotta into a measuring cup and then into little serving cups. I would 100% absolutely have strained that first. You gotta.
It does look nice. He covers it and puts it in the fridge.
After the break, he says, “Welcome back. Did you miss me?” Actually, I did. He’s so cute and funny.
Brian starts on a cocktail. He peels and dices a mango. He sets some pieces aside for the garnish. He adds it to a blender with lime juice and passion fruit nectar and purées it. The mixture gets strained. (He strains THAT, but not the panna cotta?) He pours it into a cocktail shaker with equal parts of vodka. He giggles when he realizes how strong it will be. He adds a garnish of mango chunks on a tooth pick with Tony’s picture.
The doorbell rings and lots of girls come in. Brian finishes up in the kitchen. Tony arrives. He’s surprised. Everybody loves the food and happily Tony even meets a special gal. Boy, what a friend Brian is! And what a food show host.