Each Thursday, Emily Vikre (a.k.a fiveandspice) will be sharing a new way to love breakfast -- because breakfast isn't just the most important meal of the day. It's also the most awesome.
Today: A template for your morning toast that relies on creamy ricotta and sweet, tart stewed fruit.
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As any food-oriented, French-speaking college student might be expected to do, I studied abroad in Paris for a semester during college. My transcript indicates that I studied art history and French language, but I was really just studying pastry eating. Anyways, I stayed with a French host family, and every morning I would make myself a bowl-sized cup of coffee, my host mom would make hot chocolate, my host dad would brew a cup of tea, and we would all sit together and eat tartines, open-faced baguette halves smeared thickly with butter and jam. This was Paris, so the bread (bought fresh daily), the butter, and the jam were all exceptionally good; combined, they were the toast that dreams are made of.
There was one problem: I was always hungry again an hour later. So I started adding either yogurt or cheese to my morning tartine, to give it a little more staying power. And that is where this breakfast really originated. For all its apparent elegance, this is just toast with butter and jam taken to the next level, using luscious ricotta in place of butter and a quickly-made apricot compote instead of jam.
Apricots are a fruit that begs to be cooked. With baking, poaching, or stewing, their flavor becomes as rich and jewel-like as their color. And their sweet-tartness is the perfect foil to the milkiness of ricotta. Look for a good, creamy ricotta -- or make your own at home.
In many ways, this is more of a fruit compote-plus-soft-cheese template than it is a recipe. Try mascarpone, chèvre, or cream cheese. Make a berry compote, or peach or plum. Your tartine will adapt to the progression of summer, and whatever fruit is in season.
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.