March 1, 2011

Morning bribes

I am not a morning person. Never have been. On more than one occasion I have been known to burst into tears when looked at before 8:00 am. When I was about five I went through a horrendous meltdown phase (I know, surprising) that left my parents at their wits end. Ever the pragmatist, Nonna’s solution was to bribe me. She said that if I could go two full weeks without a temper tantrum she would buy my doll a new dress. It was fantastically tempting. After considering her proposition for a day or two, I picked up the phone and called Nonna with a counter-offer. “Nonna,” I began, “could the day start after 10:00 am?” She was so tickled that she readily agreed. I didn’t make it the full two weeks even with the time adjustment, but not unexpectedly my doll still got a new dress.

One of the consequences of not being a morning person combined with a rather willful disposition was that I rarely ate breakfast. My mom would go to great lengths to try and entice me to eat something to start the day, but if it was before 8:00 am I would have nothing to do with it. A few bites of toast maybe, but that was it. When I got a little older my mom got a little more creative.

Breakfast was my first introduction to cooking. Well, maybe not cooking, but preparing food to eat. My mom showed me how to soft boil the perfect egg and to melt cheese on toast in the oven. Something about having to taken an extra step or two to get breakfast ready gave me more time to become human and find my appetite. 

I wish I could say that my morning disposition improved with age. It certainly has been helped by coffee. Tom and I abide by very strict morning rules- no talking before coffee, and even then proceed with caution.  And if I go two weeks without picking a fight before 10:00 am I get a brand new, shiny teapot.

Just kidding. I got the teapot just for being me (willful disposition and all) and turning another year older.

Whipped Ricotta with Orange and Nutmeg

This is a nice substitute for cream cheese and is especially delicious on raisin bread. It makes for a very pleasant breakfast on a rainy Sunday morning and an even better not-too-sweet afternoon snack with tea. You can substitute low fat for whole milk ricotta if you must.

1 cup whole milk ricotta
¾ tsp orange zest, finely grated
1 tsp nutmeg, grated
1 ½ tsp sugar
2 tsp milk
Raisin bread for toasting

Drain the ricotta.

Combine ricotta, orange, sugar, nutmeg and 1 tsp of milk. Using an electronic mixer whip on medium speed for about a minute. Check the consistency and add more milk if needed.  Whip for another minute or two.

Adjust sugar, orange and nutmeg to flavor as desired.

To serve

Turn on the broiler

Spread a thin layer of ricotta on slices of raisin bread

Broil until the cheese is just melted, maybe two minutes.
*Warning- the second you walk away from the oven the ricotta will burn and you will have to begin again. Not a good way to start your morning.


  1. Ah, Anina, you made me smile. I had to tread lightly here as well with my children. The were too young for coffee; I should have tried ricotta.

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