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burrata and berry crostini

Berries, burrata and bread. It is a simple combination, yet it will drive the crowd wild without driving you crazy in the kitchen! As a private chef in Charleston, I do a lot of cooking of course, but I also love to tell the stories of my dishes with the guests. Dishes like this are easy to assemble, leaving me time to talk with guests. This recipe will allow you to do just the same.

Blackberries are not in season here in Charleston until June, but you can use frozen blackberries (Whole Foods carries frozen berries from North Carolina here!). You would not need to defrost them first, since they will do so in the pan. They might take a little longer to cook but will be very delicious. I love frozen berries, since they are picked at a perfect time, and stay sweet as sugaaa when frozen.

Yields about 6-8 servings

8 1/2-inch slices of artisan bread (I use Butcher and Bee's sourdough or Tiller grit bread in Charleston, but if you are not local, any artisan loaf will work well)

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to garnish, I use Olinda (I recommend buying it by the gallon because you will love it so much, it makes a great gift for friends too if you give them lil' mason jars of it!)

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

8 oz blackberries, fresh or frozen

1/4 cup honey

Kosher salt, to taste

1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I start with one and then see if more liquid is needed)

8 oz fresh burrata (Local Charleston burrata: )

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 lemon, zested

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems to garnish the crostini, whole sprigs saves to garnish your platter

Flaky sea salt, optional, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet or two with foil for an easier clean-up.

Arrange the slices of bread in a single layer. Brush both sides with olive oil, edge to edge, for an even crispiness. Bake for 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through baking. The bread should be crisp, but still a little soft in the middle.

Make the blackberry sauce. In a small saucepan, combine water and cornstarch with a whisk until smooth. Add blackberries, honey and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring contantly, as you do not want the sugars to burn. Let the mixture thicken and become syrupy. It will not be as thick as, for example, maple syrup. It will take three minutes. Once thickened, stir in apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired viscosity (I prefer a thicker syrup, as it sits better atop the crostini).

It is time to whip the burrata! In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, combine the burrata, heavy cream and zest of one of lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To finish the crostini, top each slice of bread with a hefty slather of burrata then the blackberries, thyme leaves, and flaky sea salt. Finish each crostini with a drizzle of olive oil to make everyone smile.

Slice the bread however you please (I recommend 1-inch thick strips of cut each slice horizontally diagonally, but there are no rules). Serve. Mangia!


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