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Double-dipping: Two savory spreads
Treats for you // Treats for your fresh-made bread
Whatta week! Back-to-school! Back-to-work! And for lots of us, back-to-bread! It’s been great seeing so many of you baking bread of all kinds and I’m particularly happy that many of you have baked The Daily Loaf. The best, best, best has been seeing those of you who’ve never baked bread before turning out gorgeous loaves. Where’s the emoji for this-makes-my-heart-sing?
Missed Tuesday’s announcement about bread month? You can grab it here. (Missed it because you’re not subscribed to xoxoDorie? You can fix that now.)
If you made bread, or if you’ve got bread in the house, I’ve got you – and it – covered. Today’s line-up includes two delicious toppers. Not that butter isn't perfect. Even sufficient. And definitely happy-making. But I thought I’d share two of my favorite toppers – Ricotta Spoonable and Pimento Cheese.
Both are quick and easy to make and they're both utility players: They double as dips, are good scooped up with raw vegetables or chips, stuffed into pitas, or dolloped on myriad things from scrambled eggs to tians, burgers and even waffles. I love the Spoonable as a base for my Vegetable Ribbon Tart and as a last-minute pizza add-on. Actually, I should ‘fess up now – I just plain love the Ricotta Spoonable and usually have a container of it in the fridge.
Take a look at the recipes, rustle up some bread and have a great weekend. I’ll see you back here on Tuesday.
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GOOD TO KNOW BEFORE YOU START
A word on the ricotta: If there’s liquid in the container, it’s best to drain the cheese. Line a strainer with a double thickness of damp cheesecloth, place it over a bowl, spoon in the ricotta, pull the cheesecloth around the cheese and weight it with a plate or a can of something. Put it in the refrigerator and let it drain for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day. Alternatively, you can make the spoonable, scrape it into a cheesecloth-lined strainer and refrigerate until needed. Do this, and when you turn out the ricotta, the cheesecloth’s mesh pattern will be visible — it’s pretty.
Makes about 2 cups
2 cups (492 grams) whole-milk ricotta, drained if there’s liquid (see above)
1 large lemon, or more to taste
3 tablespoons minced shallots, rinsed and patted dry
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
About 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup (13 grams) minced mixed fresh herbs, such as dill, parsley, tarragon, thyme, cilantro and/or basil
Put the ricotta in a medium bowl. Finely grate the zest of the lemon over it, then halve and squeeze the lemon and blend in the juice. Stir in the shallots, scallions, olive oil, salt and a healthy pinch of pepper. Taste for salt and pepper, then stir in the herbs. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before adjusting for salt, pepper and lemon juice and serving.
Storing: The spoonable is best the day it is made, but you can keep it for up to 2 days tightly covered in the refrigerator. Stir well before using.
GOOD TO KNOW BEFORE YOU START
A word on the cheddar and pimentos: I use Cabot cheddar, and for the sharp cheese, I prefer their wax-wrapped Vintage Choice Extra-Sharp Cheddar. However, now that I’m committed to pimento cheese, I often keep bags of shredded cheese in the fridge. As for the pimentos, Mary Dodd, my trusted recipe tester and a pimento-cheese lover, told me that Roland-brand whole pimentos are the pepper of choice among pimento-cheese connoisseurs, and so I search them out, often online.
Working ahead: You can make the pimento cheese up to a week ahead.
Makes about 2 cups
A generous packed 1⁄3 cup (113 grams) pimentos
8 ounces (227 grams) extra-sharp cheddar (see above)
2 ounces (57 grams) sharp cheddar 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Press the pimentos between sheets of paper towels until they are as dry as you can get them and then cut each into a few pieces.
If you’re using block cheese, cut it into small chunks; if the cheese is shredded, you’re good to go.
Put the pimentos in a food processor and pulse just a couple of times to finely chop them. Add both cheeses and pulse to begin chopping them. Add the mayo, salt and cayenne and pulse and process until the mixture has the texture of tiny-curd cottage cheese. Remove the blade and, using a flexible spatula, give the cheese a last turn — the mix might become smoother and more spread-like, and that’s just fine.
Scrape the cheese into a bowl or jar — my favorite is a canning jar or crock; press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cheese if you’re using a bowl. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. If you can wait a day, that’s even better: The mixture will pick up punch during that time.
Serve straight from the fridge.
PLAYING AROUND: It’s fun to serve the cheese with celery sticks or stuffed into small tomatoes. Not surprisingly, it’s good at brunch and nice with a Bloody Mary. I have it on crackers or bread, use it as a sandwich spread (topped with slices of tomato and cucumber for crunch) and think it’s great slathered on corn on the cob and really good on a burger.
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