Prepare the Bases
Use a loaf of bread large enough that a slice across the loaf is large enough to provide a piece of bruschetta about three inches across by about four or five inches in length. Slice the bread in diagonal cuts across the loaf, ending up with slices that have slanted edges rather than straight cut ones. (Thicker for snacks, thinner for appetizers). Spread a small amount of extra virgin olive oil on one side of the bread and rub a large clove of garlic into the surface of the bread. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and briefly grill or broil until toasted and grill marks appear (2-3 minutes).. Serve bread on a platter for guests to add the topping(s) desired.
Brush the pitas with extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and black pepper, and then grill on both sides until grill marks appear. Cut each pita into from 4 to 8 wedges as desired.
Cut 6-inch corn tortillas into 4 quarters and brush with extra virginia olive oil. Season with kocher salt and chili powder. Grill until the "chips" are crispy.
Slice unpeeled large russet potatoes into 1/4-inch thick rounds. In a bowl, toss the rounds with olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Grill over medium heat, flipping once, until tender when pierced, 10-12 minutes total.
Toppings - From Traditional to Bizarre
Olive Tapenade
2 cups pitted Kalamata olives - 2 tablespoons capers - 3 anchovy fillets - Juice of one lemon - 2 cloves of garlic - 1 tablespoon fresh thyme - 1 tablespoon fresh oregano - 1/2 cup of olive oil - Freshly ground black pepper
Directions: In a food processor, combine all the ingredients except the cherry tomatoes. Pulse until all ingredients are well combined. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Basil Pesto Perfecto
2 cups fresh basil leaves, thoroughly washed, patted dry - 3 large garlic cloves, chopped - 2 tablespoons pine nuts or chopped walnuts, toasted - 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil - 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese - 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt - 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper Directions: Place basil, garlic and pine nuts in food processor and chop finely. Leave processor running and add olive oil in a slow steady stream through feed tube. Turn off the processor. Remove top and add cheese, salt and a good grinding of pepper. Replace top, and process to combine ingredients. Store in freezer or refrigerator in clean jars. Can refrigerate up to 1 week. To use, leave at room temperature about 15 minutes. Yield: about 3/4 cup. Use as a base spread.

Black Pepper-Basil Farmer's Cheese Bruschetta with Tomato (Recipe by Bobby Flay)
8 ounces fresh farmer's cheese - 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves - 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest - 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for bread - 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for bread and garnish - 8 slices French baguette, sliced 1/2-inch thick - Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling - 4 whole cloves garlic - 8 cherry tomatoes , quartered.

Directions: Place cheese, basil, and lemon zest in a food processor and process until smooth. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and pulse 2 times to incorporate. Heat grill to high. Brush bread with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and rub with garlic cloves. Grill bread on each side for 1 minute or until slightly charred. Spread each slice with some of the farmer's cheese mixture and top with tomato and more cracked black pepper. Use as a base spread.

Traditional Tomato Spread
6 medium Roma tomatoes, chopped (about 2 1/2 to 3 cups) - 1/2 cup olive oil packed sun dried tomatoes, slivered - 1/4 cup roasted garlic, chopped - 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil - 1/2 cup pitted oil-cured olives, chopped - 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped - Sea salt - Freshly ground black pepper to taste - Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to taste

Directions: Combine tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, olives, basil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. To serve, top bruschetta with tomato mixture. Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

The next time you are planning a party, think about putting together a Make Your Own Bruschetta Bar. It is perfect for serving a large crowd and very easy to prepare. Most of it can be done the day before which makes it even better. Leave preparing the bread or other base to the morning of the party so that it is fresh. The selection of toppings are endless and can include a tomato and basil mix, roasted red peppers and store bought olive tapenade or pesto.
Suggestions for Cheeses
~~ Mozzarella ~~ Fontina ~~ Parmesan ~~ Pecorino Romano ~~ Asiago ~~ Tallegio ~~ Crumbled Feta Cheese ~~ Crumbled Blue Cheese ~~ Farmers Cheese ~~ Goat Cheese ~~ Queso Fresco ~~ Swiss ~~ Cheddar ~~ Monterey Jack ~~

Suggestions for Seafood and Meats ~~ Shrimp halved ~~ Whole or pieces of anchovies ~~ Chunks of cooked fresh tuna steak ~~ Genoa salami ~~ Prosciutto ham ~~ Cooked diced pancetta or bacon ~~ Pepperoni ~~ Chunks of cooked chicken or turkey ~~ Sliced of smoked sausage ~~ Crumbled cooked lean ground beef ~~ Slices of smoked Spanish chorizo ~~ Crumbled cooked Mexican chorizo ~~

Suggestions for Veggies
~~ Diced zucchini ~~ Grape or cherry tomatoes halved ~~ Chunks of heirloom tomatoes ~~ Roasted red peppers ~~ Diced raw red or green bell pepper ~~ Diced onion, yellow, sweet, red or green onions ~~ Pitted and halved kalamata olives ~~ Sliced red radishes ~~ Sliced chiles, i.e., jalapeno, anaheim, poblano, serrano ~~ Pepperoncini ~~ Fresh herbs, i.e., parsley, thyme, organo, cilantro, rosemaary chervil, tarragon ~~

Copyright 2010 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved