With Oscar Night less than a week away, I know what I’m serving for hearty nibbles: A pile of crostini (little baguette toasts) with different toppings. It fits right into my style of entertaining, which is to give people choices. To make the crostini, cut a baguette crosswise into ¼-inch thick rounds. Brush them with olive oil and bake them at 350°F until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Toppings are endless, but here are five favorites:
Guacamole: Take a tip from my colleague, Kelly Senyei, who loves guacamole on toasts as much as on tortillas.
Chickpeas with Garlic and Mint: Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas and coarsely mash them in a bowl with a fork. Mix in 1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste, then some chopped fresh mint, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. If necessary, loosen spread further with a little warm water.
Manchego Cheese with Quince Paste: It doesn’t get much easier than some thin slices of Manchego topped with a slice of quince paste (a.k.a. membrillo).
Steak With Horseradish Cream: Season your go-to steak (I love cheapo chuck blade steaks) with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, then pan-fry until medium rare. Slice thin and top with sour cream you’ve spiked with horseradish. And maybe a radish slice or two.
Goat Cheese and Tapenade: Spread toasts with a schmear of soft, mild goat cheese, followed by another of black or green olive tapenade. If goat cheese tastes too barny for you, use whipped cream cheese. No one will notice!