Bread baskets have probably been done to death across the blogosphere, but this was the first time I tried them, and I found them to be a cute albeit sassy way to serve up a nibble or two before a party. The basic premise is to line the cups of a muffin baking tray with slightly damp bread, bake the blitz out of them, and then lo and behold - you get a crispy little edible cup within which you can serve up some more goodness.
Think of it as a healthy and tinier version of the taco salad shell.
I served up my bread baskets with a crisp medley of corn and green bell pepper with a little bit of red chilli flakes for heat and melted cheese, but the possibilities for fillings are truly endless. Think bacon, mini broiled shrimp, personal salsa holders, crab dip....
The only caveat is that I found the baskets were best consumed right after they are baked, they got a little limp and tended to fall apart over time, so this may be a little impractical for a large crowd.
Unless, you have the help make them for you. Tut tut....Veggie Bread Baskets (adapted from www.tarladalal.com)
8 slices white bread with crusts removed (as many slices as you have muffin cups - I used a large 8 cup muffin tray)
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp oil
1 clove garlic - minced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 green capsicum/bell pepper - seeded and diced finely
1/2 cup onion - diced finely
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp cornstarch/cornflour
salt and pepper to taste
red chilli flakes - a pinch
2 Tbsp chopped green onion - for garnishing
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese - for garnishing
1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2.Slightly dampen the bread slices by sprinkling a little water on them, flatten with a rolling pin.(This step can get a little messy, the trick is not to dampen the bread too much)
3.Oil or coat the muffin pan cups with non-stick spray
4.Place each bread slice in a muffin cup, you will need to "coax" the bread slices to form a circular rim.
5.Brush the bread with melted butter
5.Bake in oven till bread is crisp and golden-brown.(My oven took less than 5 minutes at 400 degrees). Do not over brown the bread.
6. In a saucepan, heat oil and add onion and garlic. Saute till golden brown.
7. Add the corn and bell pepper, season to taste with salt and pepper and chilli flakes.
8.Saute the vegetables till they are still crisp to the taste but heated through.
9.Add the milk and cornflour, adjust seasoning and cook till you have a fairly thick mixture ( you do not want a runny consistency- it will ooze through the bread).
10.Add the veggie mix to the prepared bread baskets. Top with cheese and chopped green onions. Broil the filled baskets for a minute or place back in hot oven till cheese melts.