July 17, 2010
Oddly enough, I came across this recipe at the gym as I was spinning away on some sort of machine, trying to get my mind off the fact that I was spinning away on said machine. The magazine was Women's Health and the recipe comes from Giada de Laurentiis. I know most people have their own opinions about the Food Network and it's 'chefs' but I'm alright with it. I've made a recipe of Giada's before and enjoyed it very much so I don't think I'm above the Food Network (even if I may not share the cooking philosophy of all of it's stars).
Ricotta with Vanilla Sugar Croutons and Berry Syrup
I made some changes in the type and amount of sugar used in this recipe. I used raw sugar for the syrup and croutons and cut it back by half for the syrup. I also used agave nectar in the ricotta. Additionally, I used a blackberries, cherries, and a plum for the syrup because I felt they would complement the flavors nicely and I'm not the biggest fan of blueberries (unless they are in baked goods). Feel free to experiment!
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
1/4 ciabatta loaf (4 oz), cut into 1-inch cubes (4 cups)
1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1/4 vanilla bean
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 medium orange)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 small plum, chopped
1 cup blackberries
handful of cherries, halved and pitted
1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
3 tsp grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
1 tsp grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon agave
1/4 vanilla bean
fresh mint sprigs or leaves, for garnish
For croutons: Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and scrape in 1/4 of a vanilla bean (halve the vanilla bean horizontally, cut it in half vertically and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape out the seeds). In a medium bowl, toss together bread cubes and melted vanilla bean butter. Add the raw sugar and toss to coat. Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely.
For berry syrup: In a small stainless-steel saucepan, bring orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar to a simmer over medium-low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Add blackberries, chopped plum and cherries; simmer until the fruit softens, 6 to 8 minutes. Cool syrup to room temperature.
For ricotta: Combine ricotta, orange zest, lemon zest, 1/4 of a vanilla bean and agave in a medium bowl. Mix well.
To serve: Divide ricotta and berry syrup among 4- 6 decorative bowls. Top with croutons. Garnish with mint sprigs is desired.