My “Aunt” Silvia is an endlessly chic Roman woman who fell in love with a brilliant Canadian man, my “Uncle” Frank. The best job for him was at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario and thats where they lived throughout my childhood. Aunt Silvia was not like anyone else I knew.
She has an immaculate salt and pepper bob, wears nothing but black, and is looks endlessly chic smoking like a chimney, the way only French and Italian woman can.She had a beautiful husky voice, and a fiery temper.
When my Dad was doing his PhD Uncle Frank was his Professor and my Mom ended up becoming very good friends with his wife. I picture them in the late 70’s, both beautifully dressed, making wonderful meals and talking about literature.
We didn’t visit all that often, they lived about an hour or so away from us, and while I remember eating well when we went to visit, mostly I remember so many of the staple things my Mom used to make that were recipes from Aunt Silvia. Those really simple Italian meals that just take four or five ingredients but turn into something magical.
The one I remember most is Roman Crostini. It’s one of my all times favourite things, in fact, if you look in my grade 2 yearbook you’ll see that “crostini-nini” is listed as my favorite food. The best par of crostini (nini) is that it literally takes 5 minutes. It’s a perfect h’or deurve and it’s always a crowd pleaser. It’s super cheap and, once again, it literally takes 5 minutes.
It doesn’t take much, just good bread, good mozzarella, and fresh parsley. The secret ingredient is anchovies, which are so prevelent in Roman food and so absent in ours. I have served this to people who swear they hate anchovies, (after making sure there are no allergies) and they’ve loved it. The anchovies just disintegrate into the olive oil leaving this rich deep flavour without any fishiness. And then the cheese oozes in and the bread crusts up and the parsley just makes it all snap together. It’s amazing, and it takes 5 minutes to make.
1 good quality Baguette, it can be stale!
3 Anchovy Fillets, get the good ones, packed in olive oil.
1/4 cup Olive Oil
3-5 Balls of Boconccini, depending on the size
A Small Handful of Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
Preheat the oven to 400F
Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Cut the baguette into slices, leaving the bread just barely attached at the base so that the loaf still looks like a loaf afterwards. If you cut through the bottom a couple times, don’t worry about it, just keep going.
Slice the boconccini into slices and then stick them in between the bread slices like so:
Cut up the anchovies in the smallest little strips and then cook them in butter or olive oil on medium low heat, squishing them with the back of a spoon periodically to help them fall apart.
Then take it off the heat, chop up that parsley and add that in too.
Then pour it on top of the bread. You can let it sit like this for a while too, if your making dinner, and then pop it in the oven just as friends are arriving. Or you can make it right away and eat it right away.
Then pop it in the oven until the cheese is oozing, the bread has browned, and your house smells amazing.
Throw it on a plate and eat promptly.