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Apéritif Toasts

I inherited what I consider to be a very civilized habit, that of celebrating "l'apéritif", from my French husband. He liked to spend an hour or so each evening over a drink and a small snack; a moment to mark the end of the work day and the beginning of evening down time. We would catch up on each other's day and it set the tone for a relaxed evening. Weekend apéritif was always taken earlier in the day and always involved Champagne.

He is unfortunately no longer with us, but the urge to mark what South Africans call "a sundowner" has stayed with me. Since I am on my own, these days it is usually just a Nohito (ice-filled glass of Topo Chico with fresh lime juice, lime simple syrup and crushed mint) on the front porch. This evening, I treated myself to a glass of red wine, and that warranted a snack too, I felt. Seeking a pure umami punch to go with my wine, I came up with the following recipe, which certainly hit the spot.

1 slice of your favorite bread (I used sourdough)

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp chopped onion (I had red on hand but yellow or white would be just fine too)

1 Tbsp chopped green onion

1 slice Prosciutto, sliced as thinly as you possibly can into matchsticks

2 Tbsps freshly grated Parmesan

1 1/2 tsps olive oil

Add half a teaspoon of the olive oil to a cold skillet. Crush the garlic clove and add it to the pan as well. Set aside while you chop your alliums and Prosciutto and grate the cheese.

Turn the heat to medium under the skillet and, as soon as the oil shimmers, add the bread. Cook over low heat for about thirty seconds to a minute on each side until golden brown. Remove the bread and set it aside on a plate. Leave the garlic in the pan.

Add the remaining oil to the pan, along with the sliced Prosciutto. Raise the heat to high and cook for about thirty seconds to a minute to allow the ham to start to crisp up.

As soon as it does, lower the heat back to medium and add your chopped onions. Cook, stirring often, for a couple of minutes until the onions are soft and some are caramelizing around the edges.

Discard the garlic and spoon the allium mixture over the toasted bread and immediately sprinkle liberally with the Parmesan so that it partially melts into the allium mixture.

Cut into soldiers and serve with a glass of your favorite wine or a cocktail.

This is a seven minute and fourteen second to the table snack.


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