Friday, April 25, 2014

Fiddlehead & Ricotta Crostini with Tarragon & Lemon

It's that wonderful time again, when I amble down to the park and take an appraising look at the verdant curlicues popping up from the brown, leaf-strewn earth - fiddlehead season! Last year I made a pasta dish with my modest take, and this year, with a largesse of homemade ricotta cheese left in the fridge, I decided to serve the fiddleheads with an herb-spiked, lemony ricotta spread over crostini. I love asparagus with lemon and tarragon and as I guessed, the fiddleheads fit right in with the flavors as well.

Feel free to refer to my previous post for further information about foraging for fiddleheads. Also, I highly recommend making your own ricotta cheese for this recipe (and any other recipe, in perpetuity!). Using instructions from The Kitchn, I found it an extremely simple process with a vastly superior result.

Fiddlehead & Ricotta Crostini with Tarragon & Lemon
Makes 4 crostini

*4 slices bread from a nice bakery loaf
*1 small nubbin butter
*20-some fiddleheads, washed and cleaned well
*1/2 cup ricotta cheese (preferably homemade)
*1/2 teaspoon chopped tarragon leaves
*Lemon zest from one lemon
*1 clove garlic, cut in half

After cleaning the fiddleheads thoroughly, blanch for about 30 seconds in roiling water and drain. Brush your bread slices with a little bit of evoo and pop in the (toaster) oven at 350 to bake until golden. Meanwhile, melt a touch of butter and a drizzle of evoo in a wide skillet over medium and saute the fiddleheads a couple minutes. Stir the tarragon, ricotta cheese, about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest (or more, to taste), and pinches of S&P together.

When the bread is toasty, rub them with half a garlic clove, and spread on a thick layer of the ricotta mixture. Arrange fiddleheads on the crostini, and add a few flakes more of lemon zest over top. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ultimate French Toast

Last year at the fabulous Rose's Luxury, my husband and I encountered the best dessert of our lives: a small piece of decadent French toast, topped with foie gras and served with a wee scoop of cinnamon toast crunch ice cream. We were informed that the toast had soaked IN melted cinnamon toast crunch ice cream before it was fried up. This detail stuck in my craw, naturally, so when my husband made a rash but delicious impulse buy of a bourbon barrel aged maple syrup the other day I decided to try my own version of ice cream battered toast for an old-school breakfast-for-dinner evening. Uh, sans foie. I might have the budget and the frivolity necessary for melting down some Ben & Jerry's, but I leave the foie to luxe professionals. I'd heard a tip somewhere along the line about toasting rolled oats and crusting them on dipped french toast before frying, so I decided to go all out and do that too. AND invite caramelized bananas to the party.

Freshly whipped cream spiked with bourbon too, if you please.

Drizzled over this behemoth was the bourbon barrel aged maple sizzurp. I daresay this is the Ultimate French Toast.

Bear plate by Rachel Kozlowski for West Elm

Ultimate French Toast
Makes 3 servings

*3 tablespoons butter
*2-3 egg yolks
*1 heaping cup vanilla ice cream, melted
*Pinch of cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg, pinch of salt
*3 slices thick, hearty bread (challah, brioche, French or Italian)
*1/2 cup rolled oats, toasted until lightly browned and nutty
*1 tablespoon brown sugar
*Bourbon barrel aged maple syrup (or regular grade B, for plebes)
*Fruit of choice (caramelized bananas for me*)
*Freshly whipped cream (OR, a scoop of the vanilla ice cream you used if there's any left)

Melt butter in a wide cast iron skillet over medium. Whisk the egg yolks with the melted vanilla ice cream in a shallow dish, and stir in the seasonings. On another plate, toss the oats and brown sugar together. Dip the slices of bread in the ice cream mix, soaking nicely on both sides, before crusting one side of each with the oats. Fry the bread in the butter about 3 minutes per side. Top with the syrup, fruit and whipped cream (can be made a little before you start the toast prep and kept in the fridge). 

*To caramelize bananas quickly, cut up a few ripe (but not overripe) ones and saute in a couple tablespoons of butter over medium. Sprinkle in some brown sugar and splash in a little bourbon. Cook down for a few minutes, then serve hot.