Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Blueberry Bruschetta and Homemade Ricotta

Of course, I enjoy a little coffee along with breakfast.

Now, I don't know that this is really called bruschetta.  If it were a savory dish with cheese and veggies on toast it would get called bruschetta, so that's what I call it here, too.  :)

I found a picture of it on Pinterest and unlike many other food pics clicking on it didn't really get me to a recipe.  The original picture (still visible on my "Food Other People Make" board is beautiful and shows a slice of ciabatta with ricotta, blueberries, honey and mint.  (How hard can that be?) Well, I have to admit, I love blueberries and until very recently we had free access to as many blueberries as we cared to pick, so we picked a bunch.  I decided to try this for breakfast one morning and it was great.  Since then I have made it without mint (around my yard mint has turned a little bitter so I am not using it) I have made it with raspberries instead of blueberries and I have made it with other kinds of bread and one morning I used agave syrup because I was out of honey.  I have to confess, I much prefer honey and will do without it rather than substituting again.

This isn't just my favorite breakfast, it's my favorite mid-afternoon snack and my favorite late evening treat.  This summer I've learned to make my own ricotta which is so easy it's almost silly.  It's a good thing because I have used a LOT of ricotta since discovering this treat.   I hope you enjoy it, too!

Homemade Ricotta:

1 gallon whole milk
1 t. salt
2/3 c. lemon juice

Heat the milk and salt in a large non-reactive pan.  Stir to keep any from sticking to the bottom.  Bring the temp to 185 F.  Turn off the flame (if you use electric heat, move the pan to a cool burner) and stir in the lemon juice.  Leave it alone for 25 minutes.  The curdling happens almost immediately but let it sit for this short while, in the mean time prepare the colander, have a glass of tea and read some blogs.

Use a large colander lined with cheesecloth (ask about the day I made cheese using coffee filters instead of cheesecloth because I couldn't find my stash) set over a bowl, when the milk has sat for 25 minutes, pour the curds and whey into the colander.  I find it helps to do it kind of slow in the beginning just in case the cheese cloth slips or something else happens.

Honestly, at this point you've done the hard work.  Lift up the colander and empty the bowl.  I have no use for the whey and I throw it away.  If you know a good use, please let me know!  Set the colander back down in the bowl and pour yourself another glass of tea.  You can go work on a quilt this time because it's going to take about an hour.

When you return to the colander you will see that the cheese has drained a lot.  If you like the consistency, GREAT, you're done.  If you like it a little thicker you can squeeze the cheese cloth to force out any excess moisture.  I do this every time.  You can add any seasoning you like (you'll find a use for lemon basil ricotta on my Pinterest page or leave it plain.  Put it in a sealed container in the fridge and use it as you like.

Blueberry Bruschetta:

Ciabatta bread sliced in 1/2" thick slices, I prefer to do it on the diagonal most of the time
Fresh ricotta, I have been making my own, but store bought works, too
Fresh blueberries

Toast your bread slices.  Schmear a good spoonful of ricotta on each piece of toast.  Take handfuls of berries and cover the cheese with them.  I like to push them down into the cheese as I place them.  Drizzle honey over the top and enjoy this lovely treat.  I've tried it with different berries and I'm planning to experiment with melon slices and cherries and asian pears.... all in good time.  :)

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