Ricotta, Pear & Almond Toast
occasionally it's the little things in life that make each minute count. Like the wink of an eye of a passer-by, a familiar smile, kind gesture or the cosy warmth of your duck-down duvet and the waft of freshly grilled toast on a Saturday morning. Sometimes it's good to stop and slow down; to appreciate the little things that little bit more. The simplicities. And when we stop, we realise that actually, these small things are what make our day shine bright.
On Saturday morning, I realised we were J-1 until my sister left for real and I wasn't prepared for the organised chaos I'd be faced with when heading home to my parents for a weekend of what I thought would be "leisure". Suitcases littered the hallway and peeped round corners, sprawling onto the stubby carpet of our living room floor. Make up empties and testers burst out of plastic bags like something of an art installation at the Tate. Tiny coloured post-its peeked awkwardly from a wad of paper, zips burst at their seams and I was somewhat smug by the fact that I had not had to endure the craziness of my family in the preceding 48hrs when the tumble dryer was not working and the last minute panic of crossing off the to-do list had set in.
I made a mental note to remember not to step on the upturned plug of my sister's straighteners that had escaped the grasp of one of her bags when I eventually returned upstairs, and whacked the Nespresso machine on. Today I was going for a "satiny smooth, elegantly balanced" Dulsão do Brasil: The calm before the storm. I lay down in my pyjamas in my favourite spot in the house, coffee cup beside me and wondered whether I should chance it slicing into the freshly bought rustic loaf on the counter. You can never tell what's being used in this house for some culinary experiment so I find it's always best to establish the facts first.
I heard tiptoes on the landing and a muffled groan of "this place looks like a bomb has hit it" from my rather disgruntled dad as he padded down the stairs in his sheepskin slippers. A jovial "morning Charlie" greeted me with a "would you like some toast?" Now, the first thing that comes to mind is what is going to go on top of my toast. Marmalade, honey, poached eggs, smashed avo, all of which I love as much as each other, however today I really wanted elegant simplicity. Some may chuckle at the concept of this "simple" recipe, since it does require a little labour. But it is a labour of love. And that affair is what makes breakfast so pleasant.
I cut five slices of bread from the rustic loaf and dropped them into the toaster. Leaning against the granite counter, I sipped my coffee and wiggled my toes, waiting for the bread to brown. The thought of a salmon and cream cheese bagel seemed extraordinarily appetising; the thick spread smothered onto crispy sesame-sprinkled halves. But all I could find after inspecting the fridge was a reduced-price ricotta I'd bought two days earlier. Some plump conference pears lay out on the granite worktop, firm and dotted with brown spots and freshly toasted almonds were cooling in a ramekin.
My toast popped. I stood two pieces together like a teepee to cool off whilst I ran thin ribbons of orange zest into the bowl of ricotta. I squeezed in some honey, gave it a mix and spread it thickly onto the crisp wholemeal squares. I sliced my pear and fanned it over the ricotta mix, taking a handful of almonds to throw on top and a little extra honey to finish. The table was set for five. Placing the toast on the table, I called up the stairs that breakfast was served and heard the feet of tiny elephants coming to greet me.