Meatless Mondays: Brandon Boudet's Recipe for Oven-Baked Almond Milk Ricotta
Chef-owner Brandon Boudet oversees the culinary development of 101 Coffee Shop, Little Dom's, Dominick's and, since last year Tom Bergin's Tavern by trying to focus on the cuisine rather than the chef behind it. "When people think about where they're going to go eat, they're normally thinking about a dish or a cuisine. I think that chef-driven restaurant has a bit of a shorter life expectancy."
Brandon Boudet Almond milk ricotta on a bed of black kale salad
Boudet and his business partner Warren Ebbink opened 101 Coffee Shop in late 2000. Twelve years later, the diner still keeps customer favorites on the menu.
"The idea was to create an old school 1960s diner, so we looked into what's done well at a diner in California back in the day. What were they serving? Just going back and having things like fried chicken as a special. But also updating and giving it a twist to accommodate today's clientele, such as [the eggless dish] No Huevos Rancheros."
Even as they've opened more restaurants over the years, the strategy continues to be idea-driven. Boudet is often on the phone speaking with his chefs and going over concepts. A few months ago, he came across vegan cheeses at Erewhon. Around that time, he was making an almond milk whiskey with raw Italian almonds.
"I was noticing the pulp from the mixture that comes out of making almond milk and thinking that there's something we can use with that," says Boudet. "I did a little research online, looked around and figured out that you can actually make almond milk ricotta."
Boudet was skeptical about the taste when he looked at the first batch. He and two sous chefs decided to add some olive oil, salt, black pepper and fresh herbs; they baked it and served it on top of grilled eggplant. The almond milk ricotta is not meant to be an exact substitute for cow's milk ricotta. "We thought, 'Oh wow, this is really good.' It has a different unique taste, because you taste the almond. I was pleasantly surprised by it."
At the time of this writing, Boudet and his team had already settled on the recipe for almond milk ricotta. He's now looking to add the baked almond milk ricotta with a salad of black kale to the menu at Little Dom's.
6145 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles, CA