I look for a sandwich that is amazing, packed with flavors that are brought together by the bread. For me, every component of a sandwich should add something to the profile, both visually and on the palate. This was an open-faced sandwich that I have been looking at for a long time and wondered if the long list of ingredients mattered. Yes, they clearly do. Gabrielle Hamilton is a genius chef, and this canapé is a great example of her work. Bright, beautiful and amazing. The more I cook from this book, the more recipes I want to try.
The base of this sandwich is a great bread, peasant or sourdough. Take care to source, or make, a great loaf, it matters. The ricotta topping adds a wonderful creamy layer with the hint of zest, this is accentuated with the creamy avocado slices. The tomatoes, sesame seeds, and the poppy seeds add both a pop and visual beauty to the canapé. The sharp tartness from the preserved lemons complete the bright flavors. This will one of those appetizers that will get wolfed down quickly, so make extra. Although the recipe is long, this canapé is essentially an assembly job, so do not be too intimidated to make it.
This cookbook has been on my shelf for sometime now and aI have finally had the courage to cook from it. Each recipe is detailed, complex and involves many steps. However, the recipes are superb. Gabriel Hamilton is a self taught chef that opened the famed Prune restaurant (now closed) in New York, that became a success and was very highly rated. The book is a compilation of the recipes from the restaurant. This is a messy cookbook, the chef has notes scribbled all over the pages, images of tape stuck with changes in the menu, and more, but it is an insight into the mind of a brilliant chef.
For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.
2 cups ricotta cheese, whisked till very smooth
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, the good stuff
Zest of 2 limes or lemons
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3-4 long slices of peasant or sourdough bread, toasted if desired
1-2 large avocados
8-10 shallots, thinly sliced into circles
1 cup mixed color cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 preserved lemon, seeded and finely diced
Large grain salt
Mix the ricotta, olive oil, zest, salt, and pepper with the whisk and set aside. Taste and make sure you have the distinct flavor of the zest, adjust the flavor as needed.
Toast the bread, if desired. Smear the ricotta mix onto the bread in a thick layer. Top with the avocado slices, tomatoes and the shallots. Garnish with the sesame seeds, poppy seeds and the minced preserved lemon. Sprinkle with the large grain sea salt and serve immediately.
Once you have sprinkled the salt, get to the guests as soon as possible, the salt tends to extract water and the canapés get soggy.
NOTE: Some folks may find the minced preserved lemon to top too harsh. If so, mix it into the ricotta cheese to mute the flavor a bit. However, you want the ricotta to have a sharp tang to it, it is the basis of this sandwich.