By Brooke Marshall
There’s nothing mind-blowing or extraordinary about toast, but that didn’t stop it from becoming a major culinary trend in recent years. The toast craze started in San Francisco when Giulietta Carrelli opened Trouble Coffee and Coconut Club and served … yes … Toast! Her toast was merely slathered with butter and topped with cinnamon and sugar, but it started a gourmet toast trend that spread through San Francisco, then hit the east coast, and finally headed overseas. Carrelli’s background and how she came to open Trouble are interesting stories in their own right. She was interviewed on Fresh Air by Terry Gross a couple of years ago and I was fortunate to tune in that day. If you can find the interview in the Fresh Air archive, it’s worth a listen, but a quick Google search will give countless articles on Carrelli and the artisanal toast trend.
Gourmet toast has made it to Philly as well. I was at Vernick Food & Drink, a restaurant in Rittenhouse, over the winter and was surprised to find one of their specialties is gourmet toast. There’s also a cafe on Spruce St. called Toast. While their offerings are a little less fancy than Vernick’s, they have a couple toast options on their menu. So we might be a little late to the party, but I thought we should bring gourmet toast to the Ambler Farmers’ Market. Better late than never!
For my first market toast, I wanted to top a fat toasted slice of Alice Bakery’s simple-yet-delicious white bread with a cheese and chutney or jam. This is not a particularly difficult task and can be accomplished with a few purchases from the market. Pick up some wonderful chevre from Apple Tree Goat Dairy Farm and chutney from Saucy Sue’s Sauces or jam from Clay Brick Farms and Voila, you have the makings of gourmet toast. I highly recommend these options and even purchased a few items to try…
I couldn’t leave well enough alone though, and wanted to make my own cheese and chutney from market ingredients. So I made the leap into cheese making, which has been a long time coming. I decided ricotta would be perfect for toast and an easy place to start since I could make it from whole milk sold at Clay Brick Farms. While I like coming up with my own creations in the kitchen, cheese seemed like something I should leave to the experts. So I followed a recipe by Ricki Carroll, known as “The Cheese Queen”, to the letter. Her recipe for whole-milk ricotta is pretty easy to follow since she provides a lot of pictures and detailed descriptions of each step. Two items you might not have for this recipe are a candy thermometer and citric acid, but these aren’t expensive items and are worth picking up to experience the fresh taste of homemade ricotta.
With the cheese made, I moved on to the chutney. Since rhubarb is in season, I picked up several bunches from Clay Brick Farms and set out to make rhubarb chutney. There are a gazillion recipes for rhubarb chutney out there. I came up with the one below after pouring over about ten of them and checking what I had in my pantry. I have to admit, this chutney is pretty tart – so if you like tart, go for it. If sweet is more your thing, you may want to stick with jam or cut back on the vinegar and add more sugar or honey to my recipe. Feel free to adjust other ingredients to your preferences as well.
Makes about 5 cups
From the Ambler Farmers’ Market –
- 2.5 lbs (about 18 stalks) rhubarb, chopped (Clay Brick Farms)
- 1 large onion, chopped (Clay Brick Farms)
From the Pantry –
- 1-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup dried currants
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp mustard seed
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/8 tsp cayenne
- In a dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic and onions to the dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent (about 10 minutes).
- Add all of the remaining ingredients to the dutch oven, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chutney thickens and sticks to the back of a spoon (1-1.5 hours).
Brooke Marshall is a market volunteer, Ambler socialite and overall good egg. This season she will be the market’s resident locavore, turning market proceeds into culinary delights. If you see her at market, say hello. And if you make one of her recipes, bring it to market for her approval. Only kidding about the last part.