Saturday, December 5th.
Oh boy do I have a lot I want to say about this recipe... where to begin?
Quite a fancy little snack this afternoon. It turned out looking like something served at some high-end restaurant. The Cauliflower and Pine Nut "Ricotta" Toasts from The First Mess.
I was supposed to make this recipe a week ago. Turns out, baguette becomes the equivalent of a rock after sitting out for 7 days. Who knew? (This was was my first dealing with baguette). So my plan went right down the garbage.
Then I was making it Wednesday, but the damn baguette didn't come in my order. So I resigned to make it Friday, if my dad was able to get one.
Soaked pine-nuts were called for. And the reason why I ended up making this today, Saturday, and not Friday, was that I'd completely forgotten that I had used up the last of the pine nuts we had. Oops. My dad was able to get pine nuts too in his delivery for that afternoon, but they had to soak... for four hours. Yeah, that's not happening. I was not looking to have a dinner snack like on Monday.
I froze half the baguette. I wanted to have this snack over two days. Who knows if the baguette would turn into a rock between now and then. Better to be safe this time.
Another source of worry was the persimmons. I had gotten two Hachiya persimmons for this recipe. Can everyone just take a moment to appreciate beautiful, sweet, persimmon fruit? I had only gotten the Fuyu type before because you could eat these even when they were hard, and they'd be sweet. Hachiya, however, are the astringent variety. With these, you have to wait until they are ripe to eat, or behold a bitter aversion. The reason I'd gotten these needier persimmons this time around was because they were on sale. A good reason, am I right? I'd read they take between 7 to 14 days to ripen. Fingers crossed for 7.
Turns out they had 14. More time than they needed. To my surprise, the shopper picked good persimmons. Or rather, in retrospect, bad ones. They were already verging on ripeness upon arrival on my doorstep. How long can persimmons over-ripen for before they go bad? For me, it was a race against the ripening of time. I was determined to beat it. They would hang on. They better.
This vegan version of ricotta cheese was basically steamed cauliflower combined with a couple other ingredients in a food processor.
In order to steam the cauliflower, Laura Wright instructed you to set up a steamer basket. What if you don't possess a steamer basket? This was the boat I fell into, and I had to do some google searching to find another way. The (slightly disastrous) method I attempted was putting the chopped cauliflower in a strainer, and then into the largest pot we had, over a half-inch of boiling water. Why this turned out disastrous is because the handles of the strainer, which kept it up from touching the water, stuck out the sides of the pot. This meant the damn pot lid would. not. go. on. Big problem. Heat is not supposed to escape from the pot while it steams. With the lid on, there were gaps around the pot edges and the steam was escaping. Up, up... gone. I wish I'd remembered to take a picture so you'd see what I mean, however, I'm afraid you'll just have to visualize this disastrous set-up.
After the given 15 minutes, the cauliflower. was. still. rock. solid.
This was going great so far.
One problem was that I didn't have much time left for cauliflower shenanigans because I was meeting up with a friend in just 15 minutes. The ricotta had to be done and in the fridge by then.
It was time to get creative. I tilted the strainer up at one end so that the pot lid could be flat on one side of the pot. Somehow, thank the lord, this worked in finally making one-half of the cauliflower go tender. I did this for the other side as well.
With five minutes left, I had to add it to the food processor. I'm afraid there might have still been a couple raw pieces in there. Oh well.
After five minutes of processing, I called it done. Smooth enough. And I had to run. Literally!
I got back at 4:30. After toasting the baguette everything was ready for assembling.
Okay, the baguette slices were absolutely tiny! I don't think the pictures do justice to this fact. Her pieces looked much longer in width than mine. I'm telling you, they were so small, they barely escaped falling through the rack in the toaster oven.
The persimmon was super duper soft. Verging in the dangerously soft territory. It had survived to today, thank goodness for that. And quite delicious the slices turned out to be.
I topped off the toasts with a drizzle of sticky-sweet balsamic reduction. It was still left from the beet salad a couple weeks back. I had been saving it for this occasion.
The "ricotta" tasted just delicious on these toasts. I had tried some on it's own, which I didn't much like. It is described as being "better suited to crostini with some seasonal fruit or preserves, rather than layering into lasagna or something similar." I can see what she means.
My mom and I each had six toasts. The equivalent of a half of a baguette and one persimmon. Finger-licking good, I tell you. A success of my first experience with ricotta toast.
To sum up, the "ricotta" toasts were quite good, and I'm glad I gave this recipe a try. For those who can't have dairy, like my dad, this is a great way to enjoy special "ricotta" toasts. However, believe me when I say, since I have no dietary restrictions, I'll be using regular old ricotta the next time I feel like making some mini toasts. Less work for me, you can say that again...
I'm sooo looking forwards to my afternoon snack tomorrow... leftovers!!