Whipped Fresh Ricotta with Rhubarb, Candied Olives and Tarragon Syrup

“I’ve been making candied olives since 1998,” says Zod Arifai, executive chef/co-owner of Daryl in New Brunswick. “It’s not something made up just for Daryl. I was working at Crisci’s in NYC and we were experimenting with unusual ingredients for desserts. We used saffron, parsnips, and olives. We even played with celery. People like things they are used to eating. But it is all a matter of acceptance.”

“As I’ve said before, all my dishes are about balance. You have creaminess from ricotta, sourness from rhubarb—to which one has to add sugar to make it sweet. We needed a crunchy, salty flavor to balance it out, so we added candied olives.”
For the Candied Olives
1 cup pitted Kalamata Olives
2 cups sugar
1.         Place Kalamata olives in a medium pot, add 2 cups of water.
2.         Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes, then strain the olives.
3          Repeat the process 6 times, with a fresh two cups of water each time.
4.         Now for the seventh round of cooking, place the olives in the pot. Add 1 quart water and 2 cups sugar. Bring to boil and cook 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool. Place in a container and let sit overnight in the sugar water.
5.         The next day, remove olives from water and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Spread out, sprinkle sugar enough to cover each olive. Shake pan to coat olives evenly. Then place cookie sheet on the floor of the oven until dry and crispy. The heat from the pilot light will slowly dry the olives.
For the Ricotta
3 cups milk
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tb. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1.         Heat milk in saucepan to 175 degrees
2.         Add lemon juice, vinegar and salt. Stir for a minute. Turn off heat.
3          Let mixture sit for a few hours.
4.         When curd has formed, remove with a slotted spoon to a cheesecloth set over a colander and let drain for an hour.
5.         Refrigerate
For the Rhubarb
1 quart rhubarb, cut across into 1/3 in. slices
1 1/2 quarts water
1 quart sugar
1.         Place all ingredients in a pot and cook rhubarb till semi-soft
2.         Turn off heat and let fruit sit in syrup until cool.
3.         Refrigerate

 For the Tarragon Syrup

1 cup water
i cup tarragon leaves
1/3 cup sugar

1. bring water and sugar to boil. Then cool and chill.
2. puree syrup and tarragon leaves in a blender.
3. Strain out the leaves, leaving the tarragon infused syrup.

1.         Whip ricotta in mixer on medium speed with a balloon whip.
2.         Turn off mixer, add half of rhubarb and whip again until rhubarb is incorporated.
3.         Divide ricotta among 4 plates, top with remaining rhubarb and olives broken into pieces by hand.
"Shum nbir!" That’s Albanian (my heritage) for Enjoy!

Click here to leave a comment
Read more Eat & Drink articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Required not shown
Required not shown