Recipe: Apple Ricotta Tartine
Twice a month, Berkshire County native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out in 2015.
If you follow the cycle of pick-your-own fruit around here, you know that each picking experience varies greatly from the last. One month, it’s the punishing but totally worth it sun- and fruit-stained knees of the Thompson-Finch strawberry fields (Bring water! Bring sunscreen!), and the next, it’s the lazy path from one bush to another up at Blueberry Hill in Mt. Washington (Bring wine! Bring cheese!). Some kids come to recognize over the years that a fruit-picking excursion is usually less a fun family weekend activity and more an opportunity for them to earn their pie with hard work. They might moan and groan that they don’t want to go strawberry picking again, to which we answer, you don’t know how good you’ve got it, kid!
But we know how good we’ve got it. And that’s never so clear as when it comes time to pick apples.
The list of apple orchards in our area is long enough that you might never visit all of them in one lifetime, especially if you find a favorite and want to stick with it. My grandmother used to take me up to Bartlett’s in Richmond, MA when I was a kid. We never picked, but instead bought bags of Macouns and a big jug of cider from their little store every week through the season. I became partial to Windy Hill in Great Barrington when my kids were little. It was right on the way home from school, so we’d stop and hike up the hill to fill a bag every few weeks. And lately, I must admit I’ve fallen in love with Riiska Brook in Sandisfield. I can’t resist the long rows of trees with apples drooping so low, even a toddler can find one that’s perfect. I love the little house in the center with cider and (dare I say it… the best) cider donuts. And the apples! Last time we picked big juicy Cortlands and petite deep red Empires. I made sauce with a combination of the two, and it turned a bright, blushing pink. There were pies and Dutch babies and lots of apple slices smeared with peanut butter. And there was this for breakfast — an apple tartine — barely a recipe really, but very much worth mentioning all the same.
A tartine is a fancy open sandwich, requiring only some really good bread and a few ingredients that come together well. My favorite tartine bread these days is the baguette you can find at Bizalion’s in Great Barrington. You can buy them fresh or frozen, and I love to pick up a few frozen ones at a time, so I can heat them up and use them fresh from the oven. I love to use homemade ricotta* for this, but it’s delicious with store-bought, as well.
Apple Ricotta Tartine
Serves 1 to 2
¼ cup whole milk ricotta
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
A few zests of the lemon rind
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, plus additional for sprinkling
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon honey, plus additional for drizzling
¼ to 1/3 of a baguette, sliced in half lengthwise (if it’s not quite fresh, toast it)
½ an apple, sliced thinly
1. Combine the ricotta, lemon juice, zest, rosemary, salt and honey in a small bowl. Spoon it over the baguette. Top with apple slices, another squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of honey and a final sprinkle of rosemary. Eat immediately.
*Have you been wanting to learn how to make cheese and yogurt at home? The next few classes in the “From the Garden to the Pantry” series I’m teaching with Margaret Roach are all about cheesemaking, and there are a few spaces left! Go here for more information.