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Monday, October 03, 2005

A Simple Fall Breakfast - Northern California Style

One of my favorite aspects of Fall is the arrival of pears - from Anjou to Bosc, Asian to Bartlett, and everything in between.   And while I'm perfectly content eating any of these pears out of hand and unadorned, every so often I get the urge to venture out to see what else I can create using these versatile fruits.   Last year, it was a dessert - an Asian Pear Sorbet made with Gewurztraminer and speckled with fragrant vanilla bean.   This year, however, has brought me an extremely simple breakfast dish - one inspired by a recipe that I recently saw in Gourmet magazine, and one that is already threatening to become a daily ritual.   And best of all, it can be made entirely out of fresh, locally-produced ingredients that can be picked up any given Saturday at the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers' Market.

To prepare one generous serving (or two lighter ones), get your hands on 4 oz. of fresh ricotta cheese - such as the incredible one offered by Cowgirl Creamery.   Mark my words, one taste of this ricotta and you will immediately wonder how you ever made do with that second-rate stuff found in grocery store tubs, and you may even ponder how it can be legal for these two products to share the same name.   Next, obtain 1 Anjou or Bosc pear that is fully ripe yet firm, and 1 jar of lavendar-infused honey.   If you find yourself at the Saturday farmers' market, look for great pears at the Apple Farm stand in back, and check out the Marshall Farms stall in front for a wonderful lavendar honey.

To assemble the dish, place the cheese in a thin layer on a small plate or in a wide bowl.   Peel the pear if desired, cut in half lengthwise, and remove the core from each half using a spoon.   Slice the pears thinly and fan out on top of the cheese, and then drizzle the pear and ricotta with 2 T of lavendar-infused honey.   And that, believe it or not, is it!   Nothing fancy or complex, but sometimes the most satisfying dishes are those that allow the freshness and spectacular flavor of the component ingredients to really shine.   And if you are one of those people who prefers something more involved, there are certainly endless variations you can implement on this basic combination of pear, ricotta and honey.   For instance, you might try adding an herbal component - e.g., by stirring some chopped fresh basil and/or fresh mint (around 2 t total) into the ricotta cheese before plating.   You might also experiment with using different types of pears or fruits, trying different flavors of honey, or adding chopped toasted nuts for a contrasting texture.   Finally, note that this dish can also serve as a great dessert.


Blogger t t said...

I completely agree with you that sometimes the simplest recipes are the best ways to showcase the flavors of great ingredients. A similar favorite dish I toss together for breakfast this time of year is sliced fresh figs (my parents send me home with a bag when I visit them) atop some whole milk Stoneyfield Farms yogurt (the cream layer on top is heavenly) and drizzled w/ a few tsp of honey. I'll have to definitely try a ricotta variation -- what a great excuse to visit the Ferry building ;D

October 05, 2005 2:44 PM  
Blogger NS said...

TT: Your combination of figs, Stoneyfield Farms yogurt and honey sounds outstanding! I will definitely have to give that a try. Have you by any chance tried Total Greek Yogurt? Sam, over at Becks & Posh, turned me onto it several months ago, and now I'm addicted. Even the fat-free version is so incredibly smooth and creamy - I really don't know how they do it!

October 12, 2005 3:45 PM  

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