I’ve had this post on my to-do list all week, but it’s been so busy at work that I’m just now sitting down to do it! Tom and I are on “staycation” for the Memorial Day weekend starting today and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s Commissioning Week for the Naval Academy, so we basically have to shelter in place due to all the graduation-related events, parking, and traffic. Downtown Annapolis isn’t the worst place to be “confined” for a weekend, though!
The Academy really puts on a nice schedule for all the seniors and their families during Commissioning Week. They’ve already had Ring Dance (kind of like prom), a fancy party at the Superintendent’s home (Vice Admiral Miller), and the Blue Angels did an air show over the Severn River yesterday. I missed that because I was at work. Womp womp. But Tom went and said it was awesome. Here’s a picture he took from the deck of the restaurant where he and our friends watched the show:
Flying that close together seems ill-advised.
I plan to do a lot of cooking this weekend while I have the time. I’m sure Tom will get in on the action, too, with some grilling and cocktail mixing. Can’t wait.
Last weekend, we made the long journey over to Eastport (just across Spa Creek, ha!), for a lovely dinner at our friends’ house. I was assigned the appetizer, which is my favorite, and brought a mushroom bruschetta that I’ve been making lately. I had an inferior version of this at a restaurant in DC, and as soon as I tasted it, I knew I could make a better one. So here it is for y’all to enjoy.
Mushroom Ricotta Bruschetta
1 baguette, sliced
1 container of ricotta (either skim or whole milk)
1-2 T heavy cream (optional)
20 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 T chopped thyme
salt and pepper
Start by liberally brushing the baguette slices with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to each slice, and broil for a few minutes until golden brown. Flip each slice and repeat. Meanwhile, begin sautéing the mushrooms in some olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, and cook until a nice brown color. They give off a lot of liquid at first, but then, like magic, they start to caramelize.
While the mushrooms are cooking, put the ricotta in a small mixing bowl, add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the zest and juice of one lemon to the ricotta. Mix well until smooth and creamy. I use a fork to get an even smoother texture. If your ricotta is on the stiff side, you can add a little bit of heavy cream here. It won’t surprise anyone to learn that I always add the cream. Set the mixture aside while you finish the mushrooms.
Once the mushrooms are as brown as you’d like, add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar to the pan. Don’t use the good stuff here. I use the plain old Trader Joe’s brand.
The balsamic will reduce and make a delicious glaze for the mushrooms. Don’t let it get too dry, though, because you’ll actually end up with candied mushrooms. I mean, those are great, but not exactly what you want for this recipe. The vinegar gets sweet, and doesn’t taste vinegar-y at all on the finished product. It’s tangy, but not sharp. When the balsamic has done it’s thing, add some fresh thyme to the mushroom mixture and taste for seasoning.
You can stop here, refrigerate the components, and construct your bruschetta later. If you want to fix them immediately, I recommend letting the baguette slices and the mushrooms cool a little bit so you don’t end up with runny/melty ricotta.
When you’re ready to go, spread some of the lemon ricotta mixture on each baguette slice, then top with the mushroom mixture. I added a few snipped chives to this batch for garnish, but you can really add any herb you want, including leftover thyme.
All the herbs for this recipe came from our garden! The slate platter I used to serve is from Crate and Barrel. They have these in a bunch of sizes, and they are very reasonably priced. I have to stop myself from getting too many! The slate makes such a nice presentation for so many things because of the dramatic contrast.