With this recipe for Broiled Orange Whipped Ricotta Toasts, I tried to create a small ray of sunshine in my quiet kitchen during some incredibly dark times. I live in Santa Barbara, CA. As you’ve probably heard by now, we’ve been put through Mother Nature’s wringer over the past 6 weeks. The ash was finally settling after the largest wildfire in California history, the Thomas Fire, wreaked havoc on our golden state.
This week, heavy, violent rains brought Montecito to her knees as floods & mudslides destroyed homes, businesses, roads & closed a 30 mile stretch of the 101. In the wake of the storm, by far the most devastating effect has been the loss of 17 beautiful lives. With many more people still missing, this is a truly catastrophic situation.
While helicopters hover above as I scroll through countless videos and images of the powerful destruction, I find myself awestruck and overwhelmed with emotion. I can’t quite comprehend what has happened and my heart is breaking for the families, businesses and animals affected.
Through all of this, my work seems futile and insignificant. I am struggling to find it in my heart to write about and edit pictures of food when so many around me are suffering through the most challenging days of their lives. It seems insensitive and I haven’t been able to bring myself to go there, until today.
I tried and tried to write another post and found myself staring blankly at my screen. I realized what I needed was to get up and use my hands, I need to make and create, I needed to cook in order to deal. Feeling somewhat enlightened by an oldie but a goodie on the blog, my Broiled Grapefruit with Brown Sugar and Sea Salt, I took to the kitchen determined to brighten the day with a new recipe.
While these Broiled Orange Whipped Ricotta Toasts don’t involve a whole lot of cooking, they required just the amount of energy I had left in me. The bright and colorful slices of Cara Cara and Blood Oranges brought sunshine to this recipe, and to my day. Thick slices of grilled artisan levain bread are a sturdy and chewy base for a thick smear of whipped vanilla and honey ricotta topped with crunchy, raw almond sprinkles. These simple, sweet slabs are layered with honey brushed and perfectly broiled citrus slices that could light up any room. Mint sprigs bring freshness and sea salt flakes add a briny burst of brightness to the mix. These Broiled Orange Whipped Ricotta Toasts are as fresh as they are comforting, two things we could use a lot of around here.
I know these Broiled Orange Whipped Ricotta Toasts won’t change the world or anything but I am happy to say they brightened my day, and I have a feeling they can do the same for you. Trust me, if you’re feeling low and struggling to find a light, these Broiled Orange Whipped Ricotta Toasts will bring a sunshine to your day and your belly. Food heals hearts and souls.
It’s been a long, dark season of tragedy and devastation. I am still finding my way out of this darkness so please bear with me as I process what has happened to our community and reroute my energy. And above all else, please keep the people and animals affected by the Thomas Fire & now the fatal mudslides of Montecito in your hearts & on your minds. Life is precious & can change in an instant. May the light & love shine on.
Here are a few easy ways you can aid in the recovery from the Thomas Fire & Montecito Mudslides.
United Way: to support the United Way Thomas Fire & Flood Fund (supporting both Ventura County and Santa Barbara County victims), please visit: https://app.mobilecause.com/f/hjr/n.
Direct Relief: The quickest way for your donation to assist Direct Relief is by donating directly on their website and directing your donation to the “Southern California Fires & Mudslides” on its drop-down menu.
American Red Cross: The quickest way to help people affected by disasters unfolding in California through Red Cross is to text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, call 1-800-RED CROSS or donate right from the Red Cross website.
Bright & juicy slices of broiled Cara Cara and Blood Oranges bring sunshine to thick slices of grilled artisan levain bread topped with whipped vanilla & honey ricotta, crunchy raw almonds, fresh mint & briny sea salt flakes.
- 4 thick slices hearty artisan bread
- 12 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 2 Cara Cara oranges
- 2 blood oranges
- 2-3 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup raw almonds roughly chopped
- 4 sprigs fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together the ricotta, 1 tablespoon of honey and the vanilla for 3-5 minutes, until smooth and airy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Grill or toast the thick slices of bread to desired doneness. Set aside.
Using a mandoline or sharp knife, carefully slice the oranges into 1/8" - 1/4" slices. Cut off the peel and pith so just the juicy centers remain. Transfer to a foil lined baking sheet and gently brush the slices with remaining honey.
Set oven to broil and place the baking sheet under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until the honey bubbles up and caramelizes and the oranges start to blacken on the edges. Allow to cool slightly.
Smear the ricotta evenly on the toasts, sprinkle with chopped almonds. Then layer on the broiled oranges and mint leaves. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and serve any time of day with your favorite tea. Optionally drizzle with more honey for added sweetness.