The kitchen island has become a favourite gathering place in the modern home, as well as the office. Beyond a casual space to eat, connect and work, the right surface can make it a place of daily inspiration and beauty. With that spirit in mind, we present a fresh, spring-inspired recipe from lifestyle photographer and designer Gabriel Li.
GATHER WITH GABE
An architecture, design and food lover, Gabe is the founder of Lunchroom Toronto, a self-described collective family of artists who work, cook and eat together. Here, he shares one of his favourite recipes for a fresh spring brunch – rhubarb and golden beets on cornmeal pancakes, with a whipped lemon ricotta and ginger syrup.
COLLECT YOUR INGREDIENTS
- 3 medium golden beets
- 6 stalks of rhubarb
- 2 tbsp butter (melted)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ red cayenne chili, finely chopped (optional)
- ½ cup hazelnuts (toasted)
- ½ cup basil or mint (rough chop)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1½ cup water
- ½ cup ginger (peeled, chopped)
WHIPPED LEMON RICOTTA
- 2 cup ricotta
- 2 lemon’s zest
- ¼ cup lemon juice or to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp ginger syrup (reserved from above)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tbsp sugar
- 1 ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs (separated)
- 6 tbsp butter (melted)
PREPARE THE DISH
1. Steam golden beets in a stove pot for 40 minutes. Set aside to cool, then peel and chop into half-inch cubes.
2. For the ginger syrup: combine sugar, water and ginger in a saucepan and simmer over low-to-medium heat for 40 minutes, or until syrup has reduced to a syrup. Add in optional finely chopped chili after it has cooled.
3. Diagonally chop rhubarb stalks into one-inch segments. In a pan over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp of butter, 2 tbsp of sugar and 2 tbsp of lemon juice. Add in rhubarb segments and lightly toss together for 5 minutes, with minimal disturbance to keep their shape, then set aside to cool.
4. For the whipped ricotta: in a medium mixing bowl, add ricotta, lemon zest and juice, oil, salt and ginger syrup, then whip until texture is consistent and smooth, for 5 minutes.
5. For the cornmeal pancakes: whisk egg whites separately in a small bowl until soft peaks form, then set aside. In another bowl, whisk the remaining wet ingredients (butter, yolks and buttermilk). Mix the remaining dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt) and then pour the wet batter into the dry mix. Finally, gently fold the whipped egg whites in to complete the pancake batter. Heat a non-stick pan or griddle to medium heat, then ladle in ½ cup of pancake batter for each medium-sized pancake. They are cooked when lightly browned on each side.
6. Brunch is served! You may plate them individually or have your guests assemble them at the table. Assemble 2-3 pancakes into a stack on a plate, then add a large dollop of whipped ricotta on top. Place rhubarb and golden beet pieces across the ricotta, then drizzle with ginger syrup. Top with toasted hazelnuts, basil or mint, and enjoy.