Simplicity

74 Comments

Many different cuisines do “simple” well. I think it’s because of how regional “cuisines” began in the first place. It was about feeding your family – from milking a cow, killing a chicken, to picking ripe tomatoes and lemons. It’s about what grew and what you farmed.

But today in the wide world of all things culinary, things have become a little more fancy. We’re responsible for this, really. I mean, from my computer at home, I can now order just about any ingredient that 20 years ago I’m not sure I’d ever think I’d see in person.

And our demands for more upscale and modern meals at restaurants these days are relentless! There is more and more pressure on chefs to outperform even themselves. Maybe it’s good to keep the chefs on their toes, but as a result, I feel food has gotten a little complicated.

An appetizer, for example, that is built up like a tower 6″ tall, with no way of eating it politely. Or a beautiful piece of fish that has 8 different kinds of sauces drizzled artistically around it. Fun, but a little too much for me. In fact, I think of this example, because when my husband and I would go to Hawaii, I would ask for the fish to simply be grilled or pan fried, and for all of the accessory items to be omitted. This seemed to always take a lot of instruction, like they really didn’t believe my request. But I just wanted to taste the fish. I don’t get just out-of-the-ocean fish where I live.

Of course, a lot of this has to do with trends, like how foam is so popular now. But for me, I just want the best quality food, made from the freshest of ingredients, simply prepared. I don’t care if it’s a meal in my home, at a fine dining establishment, or in a little hole-in-the-wall pub.

Simplicity. And I honestly think the Italians do it best. Something divine, yet made with only a few ingredients, like the hors d’oeuvres I’m offering in this post. Simple grilled breads topped with ricotta and baked. Sure, there’s a little salt, pepper, and olive oil, but that’s it. Simple perfection.

This recipe is quite common, and there are many ways to make it, but I’m inspired by this book by Lorenza de Medici, called Antipasti. It’s an old book, but I just checked and it still can be purchased on Amazon.

6187XHTK0QL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

This recipe is adapted from the book above, to serve only two people.

ric3

Bruschetta di Ricotta

1 small loaf French or Italian bread
Olive oil

5 ounces ricotta cheese, well drained, whole-milk only
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Asiago or Romano
Salt
Pepper
Fresh thyme leaves, optional

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the bread approximately 1/4″ thick, and place the slices on a baking sheet. Brush some olive oil over one side of the slices. Toast the bread slices in the oven until they are lightly golden.
crostini1
Meanwhile, place the ricotta cheese in a small bowl Add the egg.
ricotta

Stir the ricotta and egg well, using a whisk if necessary. Ms. de Medici also includes the olive oil with the ricotta-egg mixture, but I left it out to drizzle over the crostini later. Then stir in the grated cheese.
ricotta1

When the bread has toasted, place a teaspoon or two of the ricotta-egg mixture on top of each crostini, then return the cookie sheet to the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes more.
crostini2

The ricotta should be slightly yellowed and firm. Let them cool a little.
ric4

Sprinkle the crostini with a little salt and lots of freshly cracked pepper.

ric1

Drizzle the olive oil on the top, and then sprinkle with thyme leaves, if you’re using them.
ric5

The bruschetta are also good at room temperature.

ric2

I’m also offering a sweet twist of these crostini on Monday, so stay tuned!

note: Just think of all of the variations possible with these bruschetta! You could add fresh or roasted garlic, lots of herbs or a little pesto, bits of things like sun-dried tomato… So simple.

74 thoughts on “Simplicity

  1. Completely agree that the Italians have simplicity nailed. Probably why we find ourselves turning to Tuscan techniques most weeknights. Thanks for the great post.

    Like

  2. I also agree completely with this approach to food and cooking. I do like food to be beautiful (like clothes), but also to not overpower the ingredients themselves, just as we don’t want our clothes to outshine us.

    Like

  3. I agree completely and although I don’t watch tv, I do catch a glimpse hear and there of these food shows…talk about excess, never mind the insulting drama! When I see some of these chefs put their heart and soul into something, then having some self appointed expert trash their efforts, I wonder why people do it.
    I really do enjoy simple too and this looks great as is, but I also love your suggestion of adding garlic or other flavors.

    Like

  4. This really talks to me – made ricotta pancakes the other week. Love ricotta. I’m the first one to sign .. simplicity is the best. I hated recipes with loads of ingredients and that takes hours to prepare – I lose interest half way through the dish.
    This I will do … next time I have guests – I will let you know .. Have a lovey weekend.

    Like

  5. simple and delicious! in ‘our’ attempt to make food cheaper, we have sacrificed flavor. I wish it were legal for my mom to send me fresh produce from her garden and tasty meat from the animals raised with love in rural Romania.

    Like

    • My mother, who grew up in France, says that all produce is so much larger here in the US, and from having been to markets in most all of the western European countries, I have to say it’s true. America just tries to make everything bigger, which makes everything tasteless as well.

      Like

  6. It’s true that we have so many options at times I’m overwhelmed with too many choices. Simplicity is a good way to begin. I love these crostini. I made french bread this morning. I need to see if I have the other items close at hand. :-)

    Like

  7. I also agree that simplicity is so important! Not only it makes us appreciate the REAL taste of each ingredient, but a simple recipe incites us to cook homemade meals and therefore avoid processed foods… At this moment, I look at your pictures and think that I HAVE to make this recipe, because it looks so good, fresh and easy to prepare :)

    Like

  8. Gorgeous photos of a gorgeous dish, Mimi! When ingredients are great tasting, there is no need to overcomplicate flavours – the raw ingredients in Italy (well, throughout Europe to be fair) taste so amazing that a simple tomato sauce can be a revelation. I completely understand why you would ask for your just-caught fish to be simply cooked with fuss or fanfare! Great post.

    Like

  9. Have to agree with Shanna, that first photo is good – great lighting and DOF.
    Unfortunately, some of the worst food I had when travelling several years ago was in both the South of France and North of Italy! Thankfully, when I got to Slovenia, and further east, the food got better.

    Like

  10. I am so with you about simplicity. For years I always thought that the longer the ingredient list, the better the recipe would be, but as time goes on, I am thinking differently. Your recipe looks perfectly delicious!

    Like

  11. Perfect, perfect recipe! Yes, I agree with you. Sometimes simple is best and whilst I am enjoying the fact that I can be introduced to different ingredients simple via the internet, I too do not necessarily enjoy a “fish with eight different sauces”.

    Like

  12. Going backwards through all posts here. First your bagel and now this – I love them both. Good bread and good cheese are an unbeatable combination. Simplicity is my modus operandi in the kitchen and I’ll be making these before the week is out.

    Like

  13. Somehow Mimi you had dropped off my following list, but you back now, hopefully. I strongly agree with everything you say about simplicity and over worked dishes and lengthy menus. Personally I think molecular gastronomy is all about wow factor and nothing to do with nourishment of the body or soul!

    Like

Please... write something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s