Get Toasted for Mother's Day!

A simple conversation at work, about brunch ideas for Mother's Day, led me to think of ideas for doing various "TOAST" toppings - riffing on the now ubiquitous Avocado Toast.  Rather than re-work that almost cliched idea I thought about other offerings - Ricotta Toast; Sweet Potato Toast; Ramp Butter with Radishes on Grilled Bread; Rustic Bread with Homemade (or high quality) Peanut butter and Jam Toast.  You get the idea.  With Mother's day being this weekend doing a toast bar assembly might be a nice alternative for brunch.  You can set out a few kinds of breads or bases, have your topping choices laid out, and assemble as desired.  Plus it's not a lot of cooking and can work hot, warm, and cold.  For the gluten free set, Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Brown Rice Cakes are nice alternatives.  Can't quite help you out for the low/no carbs - you'll have to wing it.  If you have some ideas - do share! Leave me a comment here or tell me about it on Facebook at my page - Facebook.com/TheBicycleChef

Delicious house-made Peanut Butter from Green Aisle Grocery - you'll be Skippy-ing over jars in the grocery in a Jiffy to get this scrumptious treat - Green Aisle's peanut butter is so much better than those jars.
Compound Butters - buy or make your own. These are easy to make, but hey, why not support local and save yourself some time.  I portioned out my package of Ramp Butter into tablespoon sized dollops and froze them.  When I want to use it, I can take out a knob of butter for the next month or two.  Green Aisle will save you the trouble of finding hard to locate Ramps.  They are smart, as they stock up on fleeting produce and freeze it for later use.  Green Aisle will have ramp butter long into the season.
A great cheese spread will make you a convert to to the joys of cheese in a jar - as long as it's home-made.  Cheese Etc. Gourmet Gifts, formerly of Collingswood, and now working out of Oaklyn at the SOHA Arts Bldg, makes amazing spreads.  I'm addicted to this one as well as the Whiskey Cheddar and anything with Figs!
When grilling bread, use a chewy textured bread
and be sure to lightly oil it before it goes onto the grill
Herewith I've provided a few ideas and accompanying photos to whet your appetites and spark your culinary imagination.  All items were purchased at the Collingswood Farmers' Market, helping to keep these ideas truly local eating.  Avocado's are from Sara's Produce; Breads from Amber Grain Bakery and Wild Flours; Ricotta from Hillacre Pride; Asparagus, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes and Zucchini from several of our produce farmers - A.T. Buzby, Springdale or Viereck Farms.  Peanut butter or other Nut Butters, and the Ramp Butter were purchased from Green Aisle Grocery.  I bought a delicious Cheddar and Pistachio Cheese spread from Cheese Etc. Other cheeses can also be purchased from Springdale or Hillacre Farms.  Olive oils can be bought at Villa Barrone's stand or up on Haddon Avenue at Blue Moon.   The local shopping and eating can go on and on!


Avocado Toast with Hard-boiled Eggs, Sliced Olives, and then Drizzled with Olive Oil, topped with Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper. A trick to keeping your sliced, mashed, smashed or cut avocado green and bright - sprinkle it with lemon or lime juice. I'm not ashamed to say I keep one of those little plastic citrus containers in the fridge so I always have something acidic on hand to sprinkle over my avocados or apples.

Ricotta Toast with Grilled Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes - this was an idea I "borrowed" from a cafe in Philly.  I improved it by adding the grilled asparagus, basil and tomatoes.  It's not so much of a recipe as an idea - so don't sweat it.  Grill the bread, schmear a good ricotta on the bread and top with grilled or roasted asparagus.  Top with the best tomatoes you can find, as sprig of basil and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  I shared this recipe idea last year with a creative photo montage of how I put this all together.  Here's the link to that post for your culinary edification!


Ricotta Toast with Yellow Zucchini Butter - Zucchini butter is zucchini that's been coarsely shredded and then slow cooked in a large open saute pan, low and slow for about 45 minutes.  I posted the recipe steps in a previous post which you can find here at this link.  It may be hard to find yellow zucchini now but green works just fine.  It keeps for about 4 days, but I tell you, it won't last that long as it's so good you'll eat it all quickly.  Several pounds of shredded/grated zucchini will cook down to less than a third of its volume.  The water has to evaporate.  I like to saute some onions first in some good olive oil before adding the zucchini.  I also like to season it with fresh or dried dill.

The ricotta and zucchini butter are a great combination, and you don't even need a "toast" base for it.  This is scrumptious over chicken, salmon, or even grilled tofu.


Sweet Potato "Toast" with Peanut-butter, Banana, Honey Drizzle and a dash of Kosher Salt
 - Okay, truth telling time here.  You have seen those videos and photos of making sweet potato toast in an actual toaster.  IT DOES NOT WORK! And if it does work, it takes forever and makes a mess.  Listen to me - use either a grill, grill pan, or put them in the oven.  I suppose a toaster oven will work, but I'd much rather be certain and use my regular oven.

Slice the sweets on an angle, making sure to cut the slices about 1/4 inch thick.  I grilled these on my indoor grill pan and they took about 1/2 an hour to cook. I checked them to see if they were knife tender, meaning when the point of a knife was inserted, it slipped in easily and met no resistance.   After they were grilled, with nice cross hatch marks, I put the sweet potato slices onto a large dinner plate and covered them w/a large lid (or you can use tin foil); the radiant heat they gave off let the sweet potatoes continue cooking.

Sweet Potato "Toast" with Goat Cheese (or any other soft spreadable cheese), Fresh chopped or torn Herbs and Olive Oil or top with half of a walnut or roasted/toasted sliced almonds.


Grilled Vegetable Medley on Toast with Pistachio Cheddar Cheese - If you're using your grill why not cook up a big batch of veggies to have on hand through the week?  Or if you don't have a grill or the time, you can oven roast your veggies at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes.


Brown Rice Cakes with Nut Butter, Sliced Apples and Topped w/Cinnamon - again, using a splash of lemon or lime juice over the apple slices will keep them from turning brown.  When I cut my slices, I add them to a big bowl of cold water into which I've added a tablespoon of lemon juice.


Toast with Ramp Butter and thinly sliced Radishes, topped with Chives or Spring Onions.  Don't forget to add a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper!  A nice sturdy sandwich bread makes this toast a winner. If the bread is extra fresh, you might not even need to toast or grill it.  I dig a good slice of bread or hunk of roll with butter and radishes.

There you have it.  I'd love to know what other ideas you've created.  Tell me about your recipes and what worked, what didn't work.  Mix it up, experiment.  And remember, there's no wrong way to do these ideas!

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