Ricotta Toasts with Fennel Jam
Source: Michael Harlan Turkell, Acid Trip: Travels in the World of Vinegar
Recipe Type: Appetizers and Sides | Seasons: Autumn, Summer
This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on September 9, 2017.
Serves 4 to 8
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 large fennel bulbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup golden raisins
4-8 pieces of toast
Olive oil (optional)
To make the ricotta: Set up a sieve lined with cheesecloth over a large bowl. You can also use a kitchen towel over a colander. Mix the milk, cream, and salt in a large saucepan (at least twice the height of the liquid, so it doesn’t boil over) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then remove it from the heat. If you have a candy thermometer, take the mixture off the heat once it reaches 200 °F. Then add the vinegar and whisk constantly for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve. The liquid that comes out is whey, which is great to save for poaching fish and vegetables and to use as a hydrating liquid for baking. Let the cheese drain for 30 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Remove the ricotta curds from the cheesecloth and put them in a container. Let cool.
To make the jam: Trim the tops off the fennel. Cut the bulbs in half lengthwise, remove the core, and slice the fennel into ¼-inch slices, or if you like finer textured jam, dice the fennel. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the fennel and salt and let cook for 10-15 minutes, uncovered. It’s okay if it browns a little, but don’t let it burn.
Add the fennel seeds and brown sugar and stir to incorporate. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the vinegar and raisins, drop the heat to medium-low, and cook for another 30-45 minutes, until everything gels together and there’s little to no liquid left.
To assemble: Spread a good spoonful of ricotta onto your favorite toast, then add a dollop of jam on top. Sprinkle with salt to finish. To make it more savory, add a glug of good olive oil.